How To Start A Rural Homestead, Part 1: Income (Making A Living Off The Grid)

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Homesteading used to imply rural, but nowadays you can “homestead” in urban and suburban settings as well.

The term has expanded to encompass people with a patio garden and a couple of chickens in the backyard who simply enjoy farm hobbies.

To be clear though, in this series of blog posts, I’m referring to rural homesteading.

My husband and I are working toward a homesteading lifestyle in the Washington wilderness, so our content is really aimed at others who are looking to live that old-fashioned pioneer lifestyle as well, in a more remote location, where town is probably not so close by and therefore driving to work each day is not practical, might be impossible, or at the very least doesn’t really align with the idyll.

If you really want to live the rural homestead lifestyle, close to Nature and her patterns and ways, you’re probably wondering how this is even possible in modern times when commuting to a job every day seems inescapable.

I want to tell you that the dream you have in mind, of living on your peaceful remote homestead, waking up with the dawn and working on homestead projects, tending your animals and vegetables, and spending ample time in peaceful solitude or with loved ones, is absolutely possible.

It just takes planning and transitioning, strategy and time.

If you dive in right now with the ideas I’m going to give you below, in two years it is entirely realistic that you’ll be ready to purchase your homestead and move onto it, with substantial income that doesn’t require you leaving your home everyday to commute to work.

So roll up your sleeves and let’s dig in!

It Might Be Time For A Career Change…

I wrote this post last year, which I think is really helpful: How To Make A Full-Time Income From Your Off-Grid Homestead, but I’ve honed my ideas since then, and I’ve learned a lot about what is possible and what is realistic for truly creating the quiet country life so many of us dream of.

Let me be very direct by saying: A career change might be in your future if you really want to be a rural homesteader.

Don’t worry - it isn’t as scary as it sounds, and it’s much more in reach than you might think.

First, you need to set aside some quiet time for reflection —

Really envision how you want your future homestead lifestyle to be:

  • What will the days look like?

  • Will you wake up with an alarm, or by your own internal clock?

  • Where does your income come from?

  • Will you work in a nearby town?

  • Would you rather not have to leave home everyday? Or is commuting okay with you?

  • How much would you need to make to live a comfortable and happy life and provide for yourself and your family?

If you determine that you don’t want to be leaving each morning to commute to a job outside of the homestead, this article is definitely for you!

Once you finish reflecting on these things, you’ll know if a career change is going to be in order for you or not.

If the answer is yes, that a career change will be needed to design this ideal lifestyle, then now is the best possible time to get started.

If you can dig in right now, learning skills online and setting up passive income streams, brainstorming and enacting ideas for location-independent revenue, I see no reason that you can’t be producing adequate income two years from now. Then, you’ll be ready to transition to your rural homestead, not having to worry about nearby job availability and the daily commute that throws you back into the rat race over and over again.

How To Start A Rural Homestead, Part 1: Income (Making A Living Off The Grid) make money off grid, make money homesteading, how to start homesteading, how to begin homesteading with no money, homesteading from scratch

Make Money Online (No, Really)

It was only recently that a friend of mine told me that when she hears “make money online” that it seems like a sales gimmick to her, and like it isn’t a real, tangible, legitimate thing.

This was eye-opening for me, because if she —a 30-something smart woman who uses the Internet regularly—thinks this, I can only imagine that a lot of other people do too.

Know this: Making legitimate income online is 110% possible, and an ever-increasing amount of people are doing just that while enjoying the freedom to work from anywhere with just their laptop.

You are no different from these people. They did not come from the womb with inborn capabilities and knowledge of how to make money online. They researched, they learned, they persisted, and if you can do those three things too, then you’re good to go. This is a paradigm shift that needs to happen in your mindset where something that before seemed impossible or unlikely is now viewed as very much possible and something to be worked toward and achieved.

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I know firsthand because I went from working random jobs (Postmaster, greenhouse worker, craft shop employee…) to running my own online business, completely self-educated. Now, two years later, I’m one of the leaders in my industry. I make more than I have ever made in my life, and I do so from my laptop, from anywhere there’s WiFi (right now, I’m typing to you from a little coffee shop overlooking the foggy Salish Sea!). This isn’t to boast, it’s to get the point across that you can do this too.

Online Income Ideas That I Recommend

The amount of online income opportunities is as vast as a person’s imagination.

But, I want to give you a few that I think are great to begin your research and brainstorming.

The following are significant ways to create online income, that you can self-educate with no former knowledge or experience:

1. Amazon FBA

While I personally think that this is a bubble of opportunity that may not be long-lasting, I think it’ll be an opportunity for several more years still.

Because the potential income is so great with Amazon FBA, this is a great way to make a large amount of income in a relatively short amount of time. This income can then be reinvested in other streams of online or passive income, or you could purchase a homestead outright, etc.

A huge amount of people who begin with Amazon FBA are making a minimum of $3,000/month within a few months of starting. A large portion of people are making $10,000-$20,000/month with Amazon FBA and a significant portion are making crazy numbers like $50,000-$500,000 PER MONTH.

Learn about Amazon FBA and take advantage while the bubble is here!

You can learn most of what you need to know on YouTube. The two YouTube channels I have learned a lot about Amazon FBA from are Project Life Mastery and Tatiana James. I recommend starting there and then branching out in your research.

INITIAL INVESTMENT: The time spent researching and learning, and then about $300-$700 for your first product inventory.

(I know this video looks hype-y, but it’s very much legitimate. Tatiana and Stefan are sincere people who want to help others succeed.)

2. YouTube

Consider starting a YouTube channel.

Not just any channel with random videos, but really think about what you could offer and how you could brand your channel.

Some ideas:

  • a cooking channel

  • a Mom channel all about the various aspects of pregnancy, labor, child-rearing, parenting, etc.

  • a political opinion / news sort of channel where you discuss current events

  • a hiking channel where you explore trails and highlight the trip to your audience

  • a finance and budgeting channel

  • a beauty tutorials channel

  • a homemaking channel with all of your tips and tricks

  • a craftsman channel where you show how to make a variety of things

  • a how to channel where you make various instructional videos (knitting, cooking, repairs, special skills that you have, etc.)

  • a lifestyle channel where you create and share vlogs of your life

  • homesteading or wilderness skills

  • philosophy channel where you discuss ideas

  • the possibilities are endless; use your own favorite YouTube channels as inspiration and brainstorming fodder

Once you’ve come up with a direction you want to go in, write down the first 20 videos you want to create.

Then, learn a video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro (you can use YouTube tutorials or a $12 Udemy class to learn how to make lovely videos on Premiere Pro).

Then, research “YouTube SEO” to learn how to title and tag your videos so that they get the most views.

Voila! Now start creating and uploading videos!

Once you have 1,000 subscribers you can monetize your channel and it will become a source of passive online income that doesn’t require you to clock in and clock out.

An average income for a moderately popular YouTube channel is roughly $5,000/month. The more high-quality videos you can upload, the more the income potential grows.

This method would take time to see profit, so the sooner you can begin, the better. If you started your channel one month from today —after having learned video editing and figuring out the strategy for your channel— then continued to upload one new video each week for the next year, you would have about 50 videos and should be making significant money from your channel. Imagine if you continued to do this for another year, and another year, the amount you could be making passively from YouTube three years from today!

INITIAL INVESTMENT: The only real initial investment is the time spent learning and strategizing.

3. Start a niche website / blog

What is a niche website? Pretty much every website you have ever visited is a niche website - meaning, a website that focuses on a specific niche and therefore targets a specific audience.

The idea is that you create content over time so that your website traffic increases and eventually your website/blog can sustain your livelihood.

How do you make money with a niche website / blog?

There are several ways:

  • sell courses or ebooks on your site

  • affiliate marketing

  • ads

  • add a membership subscription option that charges members a monthly fee

The easiest though, in my opinion, is to earn passive income via Amazon affiliates and Adsense. These two approaches alone can provide a substantial income for a family to live on if you have enough traffic to your website.

So, for example, let’s say you decide to start a website for preppers or a website for mothers taking a natural approach. After the website is built and ready to go (you can do this part yourself or hire a web designer - if you hire a web designer, hire someone who is also an SEO strategist and can help you generate blog post topics that target your audience and rank high on Google), then start creating content! By this I mean: creating and publishing blog posts. Get on a schedule if you can. Ideally publish one new blog post each week for one year.

Simultaneously, set up an Amazon affiliates account (this is free) and start linking to Amazon products in your blog posts where it fits. Don’t be spammy and write crap content just for the sake of inserting affiliate links.

Once you get 20+ posts and daily traffic, submit your site to Google Adsense and install ads on your site.

Then, all of the posts you have ever created will start to add up and you’ll be making what is essentially passive income through Google Adsense and Amazon Affiliates. By passive I mean, you aren’t trading your hours for dollars. You’ve put effort into something, so you’ve made a time investment, which continues to pay you for years to come.

See how this can eventually translate to that ideal rural homesteading lifestyle where you aren’t having to leave home all the time to go work? You’d just need a good Internet connection, and at minimum the ability to go into town once a week, hook up to WiFi at a local cafe or coffee shop, and publish a new blog post for the week, check in on your accounts, and that kind of thing.

INITIAL INVESTMENT: Research time, time spent formulating a strategy, money for a website (if you do it on your own this can be as low as $20 to set up), and then it’s just the time dedicated to research and creation of blog post content!

4. Teach yourself a skill like web design or graphic design

Before you scroll on by thinking Nooo that sounds too difficult or Noooo that isn’t me, I don’t know how to do anything like that, hear me out.

Just two years ago, it seemed like a pipe dream to me too.

Now, not even two years later, I have a successful online business designing websites! I get to work from anywhere and I have consistent clientele. Right now (it’s a day later since I began typing this post), I’m sitting at a coffee shop watching out an open window as a Viking Boat Building workshop takes place outside. I’m not too stressed because I’m all caught up on projects and I’ve set aside a period of no work for the next two weeks. In two days, I’m flying across the country to spend a week with my family in Kentucky. I had no idea this kind of freedom was even possible two years ago.

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This happened because I took a YouTube tutorial and built my first website on Squarespace.

Then, I built another one, just for my own little side endeavors I was tinkering with.

Finally, I learned about a website called Upwork where freelancers can create a profile and get related online work.

I created a profile despite hardly having anything to put in my portfolio. I figured I’d never get any work, but thank goodness I gave it a shot, because two weeks later… I signed a contract for my first ever real web design job. It would take me about a month and a half to complete (and it paid $10,000!).

How did I pull that one off?

The human element - I talked to the clients on the phone before they decided to hire me, and our personalities just jived. They loved that I was inspired by what they were doing. It wasn’t even the web design portfolio that seemed to matter.

This was my takeoff! Since then, my business has only continued to grow and I continue to get paid to learn with each new project I take on.

And you can do it, too!

I’d recommend teaching yourself a valuable skill such as web design or graphic design, then setting up a freelancer profile on a site like Upwork, using that platform to get jobs and build your portfolio for the first year. Simultaneously work on your own website to market your services and in the second year you might see, like I have, that all of your clients now come straight from Google through your website, no more middle man.

If you want to try the web design route, first figure out which platform you want to build on — Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix, etc. then start with YouTube tutorials or Udemy classes. Build a couple of websites, offer local businesses or entrepreneurs a free website while you learn (this will also contribute to building your portfolio), advertise on Craigslist or in person.

If you want to try the graphic design route, I suggest taking the highest rated Adobe Illustrator course on Udemy (Adobe Illustrator is the most popular program for graphic designers). Then, create that Upwork profile and start looking for graphic design projects - this can include logo design, infographic design, etc. You’ll figure out your specialty in time within the graphic design realm. Then, same as above, start branching out with your own website so that you can eventually eliminate the middle man and have a sustainable business online!

5. Ebooks

Another way to start earning an income online is to create ebooks that you can self-publish and sell on Amazon.

The possibilities are really endless, just like with any book. You can write how-to guides about topics you know a lot about or you can write short stories, folklore, natural history of an area… anything!

Imagine, for example, you decided to create an ebook all about Great Pyrenees dogs. You could branch out from there and create a series of books about different large dog breeds or a book about livestock guardian dogs contrasting the different breeds. Eventually, you might have ten ebooks available on Amazon and that income will add up!

This is another form of passive income — you put the effort in to writing the book, but once it’s published and made available online, you receive a trickling flow of income for years to come without putting in your time.

I’d recommend perusing Amazon’s Bestselling Books list to get an idea of the most popular books in all of the different genres. This should aid you in brainstorming what you could write about.

INITIAL INVESTMENT: Time spent researching and writing.

6. Sell your wares in an online store

If you are a maker, consider starting an online store!

This could be anything from woodworking to candle making, creating unique linen dresses if you are a seamstress to selling prints of your photography or artwork.

Etsy is a great place to set up an online shop and test the market.

In time, you could start your own website with a built-in e-commerce feature (which is just an online storefront where you can accept secure payment from customers).

I noticed that Tom from the show Mountain Men fulfilled orders to be shipped out from time to time which leads me to believe he has (or had) an online shop as a source of income despite living in the remote Yaak valley of Montana.

If you’re interested in this online revenue model, I would research the most successful Etsy sellers and see what they are doing. Also research other sellers who are offering products similar to what you might plan to sell and find out if they’re having success.

INITIAL INVESTMENT: Setting up an Etsy shop is free.

The sooner you begin, the better. All of the above take time to start seeing dependable profit.

You will need to commit to whatever you decide to do as a side hustle that will one day allow you to escape the 9 to 5 rat race and live the rural homesteading lifestyle.

Many people have a hard time putting in work without seeing any immediate gains. It can feel pointless and like it will never pay off, but if you hold strong to consistent efforts and a clear strategy, I promise you it will pay off and will likely change your life for the better.

If you have any questions or anything to add, don’t hesitate to leave those comments below. I’m happy to help in any way I can, and I love brainstorming solutions with others.

Now, you can make your way over to Part 2 in this How To Start A Rural Homestead series: Pay Off Debt!

How To Start A Rural Homestead
Part 1: Income (Making A Living Off-Grid)
Part 2: Pay Off Debt
Part 3: Budget & Save
Part 4: Deciding Between Raw or Developed Land
Part 5: Determining Location

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make money off grid, make money homesteading, how to start homesteading, how to begin homesteading with no money, homesteading from scratch

Enjoying life on the Olympic Peninsula while we work toward a homestead in the northeast Washington wilderness.


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