Less than one year ago today, having just returned from the wilderness of northeast Washington, I sat in a local coffee shop in a small town in Kentucky, perusing the Internet.
I had just returned from spending the summer in the Washington wilderness and I was hell-bent on figuring out how to live there full-time.
Not just live there, but live there in a certain way - I wanted land, a homestead, not to be crippled by the intense winters from lack of proper equipment, I wanted to be able to make a lucrative income so that I could establish an off-grid homestead in the wilderness and enjoy daily life on this landscape I loved so dearly, without it always feeling transient.
In a place with only three people per square mile, jobs are few and far between. Especially good ones.
But even if there were jobs available, I wanted to escape the morning alarm ritual, living life by a clock, wearing busy-ness as a badge of honor, commuting to work each day feeling like a cog in a machine.
To build out the dream that existed only in my imagination, though, was going to require money.
I wanted a small but cozy home that felt inspiring, I would need water systems, power, high-speed Internet, 4wd vehicles, snow plows, a sawmill, I would want to design long-term food growing systems and have animals…
The cold hard truth is that homesteading requires capital.
You can, of course, live in the wilderness in a tent and carry on in the hunter-gatherer fashion (something I’ve considered many times, and did a bit a couple of years ago while recovering from toxic mold exposure), but even then you’ll need some money. It’s just the way society is setup nowadays. We rely on it for a lot, but that is the topic of a whole other conversation ;)
The upfront work that has to be done and the money this requires both allow for long-term relaxation and enjoyment. Eventually, you won’t need nearly as much money because you have all of these systems in place that allow you to be more self-sufficient.
For anyone looking to actually enjoy living a peaceful life in the wilderness, on land that is theirs, in a home that they own, with systems in place that are sustainable and off-grid and reliable, there is a lot of initial work that has to be done. And most of that work is far from dreamy.
I have spoken with so many people, and I used to be one myself, who state how they want to live in a cabin away from it all, reading, writing, photographing, spending plenty of time outdoors, growing their own food, and so on. The off-grid, wilderness living dream.
But I don’t often hear about the details of how they’re actually going to pull off this dream, and most importantly - sustain it.
And so, dreams remain dreams and they carry on conventionally, not getting much satisfaction out of their days, or always dreaming of a different way of life…
Not this gal.
I had a clear vision of what I wanted, and after courting this dream for many years, I finally started getting serious about it that September day in the coffee shop.
I wasn’t willing to let a lifestyle that felt so deeply right in my heart just remain a dream.
If other people had achieved this way of living, so could I.
Digital Nomad Stories
In the coffee shop that day, as I sat sipping my breve latte, watching the urgent traffic pass by outside, and despairing at my situation, I came across a new (to me) phrase: digital nomad.
Simply put: these folks were working online from anywhere in the world, and many of them were doing so using skills they had taught themselves. I read story after story of success and my brain began to churn…
I had been redesigning my website that day (I was a freelance health content developer at the time with a far-from-lucrative income, so I was also working at a local craft shop), and I had just finished a digital nomad story about a lady who was a web designer and who was living and working in Bali that summer (saving money because the USD stretches a lot further there!) and would be heading to Austria (or somewhere) later that year to live for a while.
Wait… a web designer? With no college degree in computer science or…. something?
I switched tabs at lightning speed, logging into one of the main freelancer sites I used to connect with clients. In the search bar, rather than typing in “health writer” or “nutrition blog posts,” I entered a new query: web design.
But I didn’t know any programming languages at that time…
So I did a more specific search for web design on the platform I had used to build a couple of my own websites on in the past.
This returned projects in the $1,000’s instead of projects in the $50-$300 range I had been draining myself dry with.
Light bulb moment? Yes.
All Aboard The Self-Education Train!
I spent the rest of that week and the subsequent weeks learning so…many…things about how I could develop better web design skills, really learn the platform I had chosen, seeking tips and advice from other self-taught web designers, researching my target audience and client base, and redesigning my own website in a big way!
I put blinders on to the rest of the world during that time and learned as much as I possibly could.
Looking back to that week brings a huge smile to my face, mainly because right now I sit typing this in a whole other coffee shop - the only coffee shop in the nearest little town to where I now live, in the wilderness of northeast Washington!
It’s safe to say: The work has paid off!
I’m still within the first year of being a self-taught web designer and I definitely didn’t expect things to go as well as they have.
Am I rich? Nope. Not even close.
Do I generate a decent full-time income? Yes.
Do I do so with significantly less hours of my time than the standard full-time employee? Yes.
The best part? I started generating a worthwhile income right away.
It turns out web design is in big demand (and a lot of other online skills are, too). And nowadays I have a larger toolbelt of skills I can offer my clients, more skills that I’ve taught myself which continue to prove valuable in the marketplace.
How To Make Money Online
I still have a long way to go, and hopefully my business just continues to grow.
I’m still learning rapidly in order to boost my chances of success and produce high-quality work, but I feel that I already have a lot of valuable insight to offer others who want to follow along this same sort of path.
For this reason, I’ve decided to write a small E-book which will delve far deeper into my story. In this E-book, I’ll be explaining the exact steps I took to get to where I am now.
I’ll share personal information and tactics used, how I self-educated, how to get clients as a beginner, how to build a portfolio, how I got paid to learn instead of paying to learn, and yes - even details on first year earnings.
I’ll also help you brainstorm ideas for other self-taught professions, not just web design.
If you’d like to be notified when this E-book becomes available, sign up for the newsletter here to be notified:
Something else that would be really helpful, since I’m writing this Ebook right now, is if you have any specific questions for me, let me know! Please!
Just leave a comment below here and feel free to ask me anything. I’ll try to make sure the E-book answers your questions.
Thanks so much for your input.
Until next time ~
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This is a space to share glimpses into daily life here in the Washington wilderness - full of nesting & nomading, & forging deeper relationships to self, to old ways, & to the natural world.
I write about:
health & wellness
wild food foraging
DIY & craft projects
making a living online from home (or anywhere)
my own recipes from scratch
and much more