How To Make A Full-Time Income From Your Off-Grid Homestead: A Comprehensive List of Ideas
Update: Since writing this post, I’ve come to the conclusion that working online is really the best route for anyone wanting to live on their rural homestead and not have to commute away every day. If this is interesting to you, you’ll want to read this post: How To Start A Rural Homestead, Part 1: Income (Making Money Off Grid)
I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who would love to move to the wilderness (or someplace rural) to live a slower life, more connected to the natural world, but ONE thing prevents them from making the leap. One thing.
You can read articles about the hardiest breeds of chicken, how to grow food, and how to install off-grid solar power all day long, but there is a fundamental step that precedes all of this homestead knowledge, something you have to figure out first...
How to make money from your off-grid homestead?
Homesteading requires money, particularly in the beginning stages.
Honestly, the startup is the hardest part.
One you've been on your homestead for some time, a snowball effect will probably start to happen and you'll find more and more ways to generate cash as you get systems established on your property.
The real struggle most people have is transitioning from a modern 9-5 setup with reliable income to a remote area that offers very few jobs, and the jobs that are available typically pay less in rural areas.
But, I have good news: solutions do exist! You don't have to be confined to the rat race for the rest of your life.
(Thank goodness, right!?)
With proper planning, you can absolutely make a legitimate income from your off-grid homestead.
I've developed a comprehensive list of ideas for off-grid homestead income. They primarily fit into two categories: local and online.
The strategy you employ is up to your own wits - maybe you jump on one single idea and really give it your all, or maybe you weave together two or three ideas in order to secure a full-time income capable of supporting your homestead dreams.
The ideas below are real; I've seen them work for other individuals and families, which means they can work for you if you play your cards right.
And remember, if you're serious about wanting to live the off-grid homestead life, the sooner you can begin establishing these income streams, the sooner you'll be on your land. So let's get started!
Local Income Ideas In A Rural Area:
Build a rental property on your land
This can be a bed and breakfast style Inn or a stand alone cabin. You don't have to get fancy! Airbnb's most popular listing last year was a treehouse with no bathroom and no running water.
Develop a CSA
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.They work like this: You, the producer, will determine what you can offer in your CSA package. Maybe it'll contain so many pounds of organic produce, a jar of honey, a dozen free-range eggs, sauerkraut, butter, herbs... whatever it is you're producing on your homestead.
Do the math to figure out how many members you can sustain and at what kind of intervals -- one box a week per member, one box bi-weekly? -- whatever the terms are, you and your buyers will agree and they'll sign up for your CSA!
There are people in America making six figures from this type of setup!
If this is appealing to you, you'll definitely want to read The Market Gardener.
Become a hunting guide
If you're an experienced hunter and you live in an area with the right kind of demand, you can become a hunting guide.
If this sounds appealing, but you aren't an experienced hunter, you can start learning now and within a year have a lot of experience under your belt. Guide schools are available, too.
In Western America or the far Northeast, this can be especially lucrative as hunters travel from all over to hunt big game like bears, moose, and elk.
Do a Google search for "hunting guide jobs" to learn more about which areas have the highest demand.
(This is how Erik Salitan from the TV show Life Below Zero made his income in the far north Alaskan bush).
If you plan to homestead in an area with significant winters, snow plowing is very in demand. We know this first-hand.
Investing in a snow plow for the front of your truck makes you instantly valuable.
This is an excellent way to make money in the depths of winter in a rural remote area.
Lease part of your land
The two ways I've seen this done that have worked are to lease land for hunters to hunt on and for people to graze their animals on for a season.
But there are more ideas too, like offering space for campers to camp or farmers to grow crops.
Sell at a farmers market
Once you start producing goods from your land, take the weekly haul to the farmer's market!
Pro tip: You can make even more money if you sell value-added products like sauerkraut, kimchi, baked goods, and other homemade goodies.
Friends of mine used to make a decent income from their delicious kimchi which they sold out of every Saturday at the local farmer's market.
Again, read The Market Gardener. Trust me. And read about my gardening method, which produces a TON of organic veggies in any climate.
Become a trapper
Running a trapline is still a way of life in many parts of the US and Canada.
Marty & Tom from the TV show Mountain Men both trap as a means to support their families while living in the deep wilderness.
Google "how to become a fur trapper" to start learning the steps you need to take.
Offer a local service
If you have experience with a rural skill like landscaping, fence installation and repair, or irrigation system installation and maintenance, why not start a local business?
My husband Eric has a lot of professional landscaping experience, for example, and in the area we live there was only one other landscaper in the county (a county twice the size of Rhode Island) and she was looking to retire. So Eric saw an opportunity and jumped on it! Now he has local businesses in town and even real estate companies calling on him to complete projects for them this summer.
This is one lucrative stream of our diversified income living in the middle of nowhere!
This is something else Eric has done in the past.
We love to go explore the beautiful wilderness we live in, so we started taking along a chainsaw and coming back with a truckload of firewood! In our area, this sells for a couple of hundred dollars, plus we got to enjoy a day together while getting exercise in the beautiful wilderness.
Think about it: a seed costs a few pennies, and a vegetable start costs anywhere from $2-$4. Turning a few pennies into a few dollars sounds pretty smart to me.
It doesn't just have to be veggies, you could start hard to grow perennials for increased retail value or even fruit trees.
If this interests you, definitely check out my post detailing the most productive way to grow food because every single seed I started in my hoophouses using that growing method turned into a healthy veggie producing plant!
Start a plant nursery
Take growing veggie starts further and begin your own plant nursery!
I'm a little biased because this is something I want to do in the future, but hear me out.
Greenhouses and hoophouses can be very cheap to build. Combine that with the cheap cost of seeds, build your own soil, catch your own water, and you've got a profitable business with relatively low startup costs.
Not to mention - what a dream! Being a plant nurturer, from your own property, as your "job!" Pfft. Yes please. I used to operate two commercial greenhouses and it was the most pleasurable work.
If this sounds like an attractive route to you, you'll want to read So You Want To Start A Nursery.
Rent out any valuable equipment you own
If you have valuable equipment, consider renting it out to local residents.
This could include anything from chainsaws to excavators.
Again, if you have the right equipment, grading roads is a great way to make money in a rural area where many roads are not paved.
Become a wild game processor
Rather than butcher the animal and package it themselves, many hunters will take their kill to a local wild game processor.
If you're already familiar with butchering wild game, great! If not, this is definitely a skill that can be learned.
Another big benefit to this sort of work is that many hunters aren't interested in certain parts of the animal so this would give you access to furs and bones which have plenty of potential to be crafted into valuable items.
Master a craft
Maybe you have a homestead skill that you're just naturally drawn to - knitting, making honey, growing vegetables, woodworking, making sauerkraut, baking, horseshoeing, making goat milk products, etc.
Go full force into it! Get so good at that craft that people can't help but take notice.
Someone who comes to mind right away is Mark from Honey Grove, who started baking bread casually many years ago, began selling it at the local farmer's market, and eventually his breads were so loved and in such high demand that he opened a brick and mortar.
Invest in a sawmill and mill lumber for folks
It's a big upfront cost, but with a huge payoff over time.
Not only does a sawmill enable you to mill lumber to build a home and other infrastructure around your own property, but it's endlessly valuable to everyone in your community. Especially if there isn't a good lumber yard in the vicinity.
(Eustace Conway from Mountain Men milled lumber for cash).
Teach classes and host workshops
As a homesteader, you probably have a lot of skills that others want to learn. Why not offer classes on your property or at a local venue?
Go even more in-depth and offer workshops! Most workshops last a few days so you could host a workshop over the weekend and make several thousand dollars depending on how well you market yourself.
What you offer is up to you and your skill set, but some ideas are: how to build a chicken tractor, how to grow a no-till garden, bushcraft and survival skills, how to tan hides, how to sew your own parka from a raw fur, and so on.
Truck driving isn't exactly on the homestead, BUT it's a great way to be able to live anywhere while having a reliable income.
The down side is that you might spend a lot of time away from home (unless you secure a local driving position), but the up side is that usually you get several days to a week off at a time.
CDL schools cost several thousand dollars, but if you don't have the cash upfront you can go to a company-sponsored program and all of the costs will be covered upfront and paid back from small deductions off your paycheck over time. Google "company sponsored CDL trucking school" to find out more.
A CDL license is a great thing to have if you live in a rural area.
Make Money Online From Your Homestead
Making money online is a great route for anyone who wants to live in the middle of nowhere and work from home(stead).
In fact, this notion is gaining such momentum that a new phrase has been coined: digital peasant.
A digital peasant is someone who combines old-fashioned skills and lifestyles with modern technology.
I first heard the term used by Steve Maxwell, who makes a full-time income from home while doing things he loves on his homestead.
If you're a casual internet user but don't have in-depth computer skills, that's ok!
These things can be taught. Trust me. I more than quadrupled my income from one month to the next by self-educating and "skilling up!"
I think online income is the best way to go, personally. I go into more detail about how to get started here.
Here are some online income ideas for you to start thinking about, researching, and perhaps learning:
Freelance writers can make a great income online.
If you are experienced in a certain topic - writing recipes, online gaming, finance, travel, photography, yoga, etc. - start writing articles and building a portfolio.
From there, you can connect with clients on freelance forums throughout the Web.
The key is to pick a specific niche and excel within it.
Jorden Makelle was a helpful mentor for me when I began freelance writing years ago, check out her YouTube channel to start learning about freelance writing as a business. Another great motivator for becoming a copywriter and growing it into a legitimate business is The Middle Finger Project.
Maybe you're already experienced in graphic design - great! If not, but it does sound appealing, simply download Adobe Illustrator, hop on YouTube to watch tutorials, and start working on projects.
This is the best way I've found to learn.
Google "freelance graphic design business" and learn about how others have made a full-time income this way from home.
Have you ever designed a website from scratch or using Wordpress, Wix, or Squarespace platforms?
Websites are in high demand nowadays; every business needs a website to compete in the online marketplace and get noticed.
I started building a website for my health writing portfolio back in 2016 when I was working full-time at a greenhouse all day (very hot, sweaty, and tiring work). I loved designing using the Squarespace platform. For some reason, it didn't click until more than a year later that I had way more fun designing my freelance writing site than I did actually writing content for people!
From there, I delved deep into teaching myself web design and SEO and I've never looked back.
Start a dropshipping business on Shopify
A dropshipping business basically means you set up an online storefront (Shopify is good for this) and instead of investing a lot upfront to purchase inventory, you purchase the product and get it automatically shipped to your customer after they have made the purchase on your site.
Does that make sense?
So, essentially, you work with a dropshipping supplier like Alibaba or Aliexpress, linking from their site to your storefront. You market the products in a creative way on your site, retail the products at whatever price you decide on, and when someone makes a purchase on your site, you fulfill their order paying the lower wholesale cost to your supplier and keeping what is left over as your profit. From there, your supplier ships the product to the customer - "dropshipping."
In my first month of trying this business model, I had 6 sales and I didn't even know how to market and use SEO back then!
I learned about this method from Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Work Week, which I highly recommend if you're wanting to escape the rat race.
Start a niche website / blog
You can make a full-time income blogging and work from home(stead) by starting a blog and gaining a following.
This blog can be about anything - homesteading, parenting, food, travel, specific lifestyles, and so on. The more specific you get, though, the more success you're likely to have. Niche is the name of the game in most online endeavors!
Set up a Squarespace or Wordpress site, or hire someone to do it for you, and start creating content. Market your content through social media platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and use SEO strategically to build a following.
Once you have an audience, you can make income from affiliate links, ads, and by selling digital products (or other creative ideas you come up with!).
Many homesteaders that I know have taken this route in order to work from anywhere.
Sell your arts and crafts online
Last but not least, if you're an artist (painter, sculptor, woodworker, photographer, etc.), you could set up an online store using a platform like Shopify or Etsy and sell your products online!
This allows you to tap into a global marketplace, rather than just relying on your local community to make purchases.
There are updated ideas for you over in this recent blog post: How To Start A Rural Homestead, Part 1: Income (Making Money Off Grid)
This is a long list of options, but I'm sure there are many more! Please share any ideas you have in the comments, and if you have any questions at all - feel free to ask! I'm happy to share what knowledge I have on the topic.
I'll leave you with this: Start now.
Though the beginnings of any big endeavor can seem clumsy and overwhelming, you must begin.
Think of it this way: one year from today, you could look back and think: "Wow, I did it! I learned ____ and made ____ happen!" OR will you be in the same scenario as you are right now, wishing you had a way to live the life you dream of living?
Without sounding like a motivational coach, I want to tell you personally that you can make something out of anything listed here. If you commit to teaching yourself and learning all you can on the topic, in one year who knows what your life could look like...
I hope this had been at least a little bit helpful. As always, thank you for taking the time to stop in and I hope you'll come back often.
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My husband and I are working to build a homestead and a life in the Washington wilderness.
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