top of page


How to make money as a server in 12 ways

how to make money as a server

As a server in the restaurant industry you may find yourself in need of additional income streams. The nature of serving can lead to fluctuations in earnings, primarily due to the variability in tips and customer volume. Seasonal changes, economic downturns, or even shifts in local dining trends can significantly impact your financial stability as a server. This unpredictability is a driving factor for servers to explore other avenues to make money online or offline.

How to make money as a server: tips for success

When looking for ways to supplement your income as a server, the business ideas you choose must align with the unique demands of your profession. Here are some key qualities to consider when it comes to making money as a server. 

  • Flexibility: A server's schedule can be erratic, with shifts that vary from week to week. A good money-making strategy should offer the flexibility to work around these unpredictable hours. It should allow you to capitalize on your free time without conflicting with your primary job responsibilities.

  • Schedule compatibility: The ideal side business idea for a server complements your existing work schedule. Strategies that can be integrated during slow periods or on days off can be particularly beneficial. This compatibility ensures that you can manage both your main role and side gigs without overextending yourself.

  • Income potential: Finally, the effort invested in a secondary income stream should be worth the financial return. Look for opportunities that have the potential to significantly boost your earnings. High-income strategies can make a tangible difference in your financial picture, offering more than just a marginal increase to your regular income.

12 ways to make money as a server

As a server you have a variety of options when it comes to supplementing your income and with finding business ideas to start with little money. Below, we explore 12 different strategies, detailing what each involves and how servers can maximize their profitability.

Tip: Learn how to start a service business with our guide.

01. Catering events

Put your serving skills to good use by working at catering events during your days off. These events often pay well, are easy to organize around your set working hours and can ensure guaranteed pay at the end of the event, plus tips. This is an easy way to make money as a server as a part time business idea, and work like this is usually reasonably easy to find, some agencies organize it for you. 

Catering events that often require servers include:

  • Weddings

  • Corporate events

  • Charity events

Check out more service business examples.

02. Bartending

If you have the skills and experience, bartending can be a profitable way to make money as a server on top of your regular work. It often comes with higher tips and the potential for late-night shifts that are separate from regular serving hours. There is also demand for bartending at private events. 

03. Food delivery

Work with food delivery apps, like Ubereats or Just Eat,  to make extra cash during your free time. This is a flexible option food business idea that allows you to work when you're available. It also comes with few contract commitments on either side, so you can pick up work when and if you want. It's also a side hustle that tends to also work as a recession-proof business idea too.

04. Teaching cooking or bartending classes

Share your expertise in serving and food by teaching classes - either for servers, bartenders or general cooking classes. This can be done locally in-person or via a website, thus providing another flexible income stream. You can also record the classes and sell them, to make passive income as a server on the side.

05. Start a good blog or social media channel

Leverage your food industry knowledge by starting a blog or YouTube channel. This content can eventually be monetized through ads, sponsorships and affiliate marketing.

Use a blogger to start a food blog and begin by creating blog content that’s relevant to your experience and skills - this could be blogs on topics you know to be relevant to servers. For example,  ‘How to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a server,’ ‘ Or how to make money as a server.’ 

how to make money as a server

06. Personal grocery shopping

Make extra money as a server by offering your services as a personal grocery shopper. Busy city individuals often seek out this service and it can be scheduled around your serving shifts. Check out job opportunities with food delivery services such as Instacart or Hungroot. 

07. Selling homemade food goods

If your years of serving have also led you to gain some skills in the kitchen, you can consider selling homemade food products to make money. You can then sell them through an eCommerce store or at local fairs and markets. 

Not sure what food items to make and sell, here are some ideas:

If you’re looking to make money as a server with homemade food, make sure to follow all licensing and food safety regulations applicable in your state. 

08. Freelance event planning

Use your experience of serving at events to plan events yourself. You can start small, with family and personal events and build up to small parties for paying clients and eventually build up to larger gatherings. Event or party planning can include everything from planning the event, choosing the venue, designing menus and decorations, setting up everything and seeing that the event runs smoothly. You'll need to create a party planning business plan to get this venture off the ground.

Event planning not your thing? Consider one of these other ways to make money as a feeelancer.

09. Hospitality consulting

As a very experienced server, you can consider making extra money by offering consulting services to restaurants, events and other food businesses, such as food trucks. This could be everything from what food to serve, how many servers they need, and how to manage servers effectively.

10. Selling server gear

Make money as a server by selling equipment and gear to other servers. You already have a network to sell to and a good understanding of your target market. One potential idea could be comfortable shoes for standing on your feet for hours, or durable clothing. You could enter the world of eCommerce by also targeting restaurants and larger clients by selling relevant products such as server aprons. For this you'll need learn how to make an eCommerce website by choosing from one of the best ecommerce platforms.

11. Affiliate marketing

Get started with affiliate marketing and consider partnering with companies that sell restaurant supplies to earn a commission, for every referral you send them - sometimes you’ll earn more if your referral results in a sale. Make a website to create content for affiliate links and be sure to choose products and services that are relevant to your market and of high quality. 

12. Food truck or pop-up stall

One way to make money as a server and start a business of your own is to open a food truck or pop-up food stall. This will require more financial and resource investment and isn’t without a degree of risk but it can be a fun and creative business to start. 

To get started:

How to get started making money as a server

Embarking on a side hustle or business venture requires careful planning and execution. Here's how you can start diversifying your server income. 

  • Consider what you're passionate about and how it can translate into a profitable side business. It could be anything from crafting to consulting within the hospitality industry. Begin by outlining a business plan that includes your goals, target market, and financial projections.

  • Creating a website to showcase your services or products. Use website builders like Wix to design an attractive and user-friendly site. Ensure that your website is optimized for search engines to increase visibility. 

  • Develop marketing strategies and a marketing plan to attract customers. Utilize social media platforms to reach a broader audience and engage with potential clients. Consider email marketing, networking events, and partnerships with local businesses to promote your side hustle. Always provide exceptional service to garner positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals, which are invaluable in the service industry.

How to make money as a server FAQ

How can I make more tips as a server?

To increase your tips, focus on providing exceptional service, building rapport with customers, and being knowledgeable about the menu. Small gestures like remembering regulars' preferences or offering a complimentary service can go a long way.

Is it possible to balance a side hustle with a full-time serving job?

What are some quick ways to make extra money as a server?

Can server make good money from food delivery services?

What should I consider before starting a food-related business?

Other ways to make money you might want to consider

Was this article helpful?

bottom of page