Any homesteading off-gridder knows that income from selling produce isn’t always sufficient. Costs for the building and repair of farm structures, purchasing additional livestock, veterinary expenses, real estate taxes — and everything else in between – can leave a homesteader struggling to keep afloat.
If making extra money is in your bucket list right now, then here’s a few things you could consider. The key is to think outside the box. Look for new or unusual needs in your community, and find ways to meet them. Keep an eye out for opportunities that may come up. If you start thinking like an entrepreneur and marketing like a pro – and of course, delivering extraordinary goods – customers will soon be knocking at your door.
And with a little hard work, you can be making thousands of extra dollars.
1. Conduct farm demos and nature tours. Give talks and workshops. Share farming and bushcraft skills with schools, scout clubs, youth and church groups. Gather all your pets and farm animals for a weekend petting zoo. Hold a fall festival, complete with a pumpkin patch, games and bounce houses. Train large goats to pull a cart, and offer kids goat-drawn buggy rides! Do hiking, horse-riding, ATV, mountain-biking and snowmobile tours – complete with a picnic of your family’s specialty meal. If you have wooded acreage, consider building platforms on treetops with hanging bridges or ziplines between them. Offer paintball games. The amount of money people are willing to pay for unique outdoor experiences can be astonishing, especially in areas where there are scenic spots.
2. Rent your land. Depending on the size, features and proximity of your land to towns, industry and tourist attractions, you could rent a portion of it for different uses. Camping. Outdoor team-building workshops. Location for film and photo shoots.
Parking or storage for trailers, ATVs, snowmobiles or boats. Billboard space, if it’s near a freeway. Solar farms and wind turbines. Airstrips or heliports. If you live next to other farms, consider leasing portions of your property as extra cropland or grazing area, seasonally or annually.
3. Rent your structures. Rent your barn for special events like workshops, parties, Thanksgiving banquets and wedding receptions. There’s also good money to be made in leasing a room or cottage for a bed-and-breakfast stay or a winter holiday retreat. Depending on where you live, the attractions in your area and the recreation that can be done, you could lease a small cabin for a good fee. Potential clients are individuals or couples looking to get away from the city on weekends; a writer, theologian or doctorate student wanting peace and solitude to write and meditate; a young family looking to familiarize their children with the outdoors. If you have a camper, an old shipping container or a yurt that you had used before moving into your current home, you could use that for starters. Then if business grows, you can start thinking of building a bigger cottage that can host bigger families. Marketing is key — register with your local tourism board and with AirBnB.com.
4. Offer specialized services. Carpentry, welding, plumbing, car maintenance and farm equipment repair are trades that are always needed in rural areas. So are trucking and hauling goods like hay, lumber, livestock and all kinds of produce. Don’t think it’s too late for you to acquire any new skills, too. If there’s an opportunity, learn new trades that can be marketable in your area: butchery, tanning, brick-making, weaving, blacksmithing, shoeing horses. Even simple things like tree-pruning and brush-clearing are chores people are either too busy or lazy to do, and would rather others do for them.
5. Teach art, sports or a special skill. Do you have a unique talent others might want to learn? Even with this age of You Tube tutorials, there may be students in your area looking for teachers that can offer specialized, on-the-spot demonstration — without having to be licensed instructors.
They may just want mentoring or coaching. If you’re great with people and are passionate about your craft, consider teaching it. Photography. Martial arts. Piano. Massage therapy. Herbalism. Home-brewing. Permaculture. The list goes on and on.
6. Do professional service online. There are dozens of websites where you could sign up for part or full-time contracts: Flexjobs, Upwork, Fiverr, People per Hour, and Guru. These are location-independent jobs you can do whenever and wherever, if you have fast, reliable Internet. Most of these sites allow you to create a personal profile where you can outline your credentials and provide samples of your work. Once you clinch a few good, loyal clients, you’ll be good:
- Any design work: graphics arts, photo/video editing, animation, architecture, website design, apps, furniture, clothes.
- Writing: blogs, e-books, product reviews, newsletters, technical reports.
- Virtual assistant: data entry, online research, making reservations. (Check FancyHands.com for jobs like this.)
- Web maintenance or managing someone’s social media account.
- Affiliate marketing.
- Bookkeeping, accounting.
- Legal and financial consulting.
- You don’t need a teaching degree to help young or beginning students to learn a new subject you’ve already mastered. You can even teach English to new migrants or overseas students.
- Music composition.
7. Make and sell crafts. Do you fancy refurbishing furniture? Repurposing old doors, windows and used pallets into unique new home decor? How about making scented candles, hand-spun yarn, pottery and faux jewelry? You can supply these to your local craft store or sell online, through Etsy and eBay. Or, you can start your own online store – it’s a lot cheaper and easier than buying or renting commercial space.
8. Sell non-edible farm produce. Sell goods that are off-shoots of what you already grow and do in your homestead. Timber. Firewood. Medicinal herbs. Fresh or dried flowers. Exotic ornamental plants. Vermicompost as potting soil. Worms for worm bins. Soaps and essential oils. Rabbits, dogs or birds that others can keep as pets.
With some of the above, you’ll have to check local and federal laws for restrictions that may apply. And particularly for those that involve some level of risk, you’d do best to include a liability insurance.
Go the extra mile on advertising. Capitalize on social media, telling everyone in your life that you’re in business. Inform your neighbors and the local chamber of commerce. Network with affiliate industries. Leave posters at the community center, church bulletin board, local college, library, grocery store, pet stores, veterinary supply outlets, even on your vehicle.
Focus on one business first, grow it, and then move on to another as time and capacity permit. Each small venture potentially could have a snowball effect. If you have a spouse or older children that you could recruit, ask them to pitch in. You’ll be establishing a successful family enterprise sooner than you think.
What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
- Evangelista, Anita. 10 Ways to Make Money On Your Land. http://www.backwoodshome.com/10-ways-to-make-money-on-your-land/
- Wickison, Mary. 26 Ways to Make Money From Your Small Farm. com. https://toughnickel.com/self-employment/small-farms
- Dodrill, Tara. 7 Ways to Make Money While Living Off-grid. com. https://www.efoodsdirect.com/blog/top-7-ways-to-make-make-money-while-living-off-grid/