One of the biggest issues many of us face is how to make ends meet. Having secure homestead income streams that pay the bills and provides for you needs (and a few of your wants) is the goal of most homesteaders. While I LOVE the idea of self sufficiency, you always need some cash to survive.
If there is one thing I have learned from experience, and from listening to the experiences of other homesteaders, security comes from having MULTIPLE income streams, and I offer these thoughts about the three major possibilities:
Three homestead income streams
Homestead income streams 1:
Holding down an off-farm job
For many of us, the dream of owning a homestead is complicated as we hold down a job ‘off-farm’. We need that steady income to pay the bills and live the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed. I personally have no problem at all with this concept – although I know many homesteaders who feel that they have let down the dream of complete self sufficiency by working off-farm to make the dream stay alive. The BIG downside of working off-farm is that you can’t devote 100% of your time to the farm and as a consequence your farm goals need to be adjusted. It will take you longer to get things done and you will have to work harder and smarter in a shorter amount of time to keep the homestead running.
A sweet compromise is to become a telecommuter – a person who works from home but for a distant company. While you still have to put in the hours (and maybe more), you don’t waste time commuting from the farm – and those hours/minutes can be used to be productive around the homestead. For more about telecommuting see this blog post, or visit such sites as Telecommuting Basics. There are some great books on the process as well, like this one:
Homestead income streams 2:
Making money from your farm products
Growing, raising or creating products from your farm to sell is the absolute dream of many people who homestead. Many people become very successful at this and as far as I can see there is a few secrets that those people have worked out. Those are:
- Find a niche product and become an expert. Like the excellent chicken farmer, the fatted calf farmer, the mushroom spores farmer and so on.
- Become a marketer. Without marketing no one will know what you have to sell.
- Be flexible so you can catch and ride the trends.
There are many books on different farm product niches – and its worth reading as much as you can and trying the learn from the mistakes and successes of other. Here are some:
The important point here is that to make a good profit you need to be an expert in your field and be able to offer excellent products are the very best prices. Some niches are saturated (how many farms to you drive past with ‘eggs for sale’ signs?) and others have such a narrow market that they require considerable marketing finesse to survive. At one stage being an ‘organic’ farm gave people a real edge, but that niche is quickly becoming saturated. The issue to grapple with is the narrower the niche, the wider you have to market.
When it comes to marketing, there are some great resources out there for doing this…including my own free eBook on how to be a better marketeer.
Being flexible is really the key to meet the highs and lows of your markets. How can you deliver your product better in the low times? What about when you have a glut of product? Can you change your farm practices to work around these issues? What can you do to turn your organic farm into something even better?
A good story here is a local apple orchard near us. At one stage they sold apples by a roadside stand. Then they turned to ‘pick your own apples’ style operation and customers boomed. Now they also offer home made donuts and coffee…and people make the place a whole day outing and their profits soared. Flexibility was the key here.
Homestead income stream 3:
Making money online
Many folks look to online ways to making money for their homestead. The most success seems to come from selling products online, through Etsy, eBay and even CraigsList.
Others attempt to make money through blogging and other writing skills. We, for example, make a little money by writing items for others on science items. Last year we made around $3,000 after tax – not bad for something we can do when its dark outside or the farm is covered in snow. The hardest part of this income stream is finding someone who will pay for your writing skills – but if you are a good writer, there are a few websites to hook writers to people with cash. WriterAccess is one.
This blog makes us a trickle of money….people like you clicking on adverts etc has paid us commissions totally $66 so far (which has paid for the cost of the domain name and hosting). Other blogs (especially those about investing or making money) can make the developers/owners handsome incomes. Farm blogs are more about sharing information around like-minded folks rather than turning huge profits (lets face it, we all want to know how to do things for free or on the cheap, rather than paying big dollars for advice….and thats why I love this community!) I also have advice on what make a good blog post here. Homestead blogging is not new (wow – there are a load of them out there), and they do contain a wealth of information. I doubt that any of them provide a huge income stream – but rather pay the costs of what is more of a hobby for the writer.
Still, if you are interested in blogging and using websites as an income stream, I would recommend you follow Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog and podcasts.
Having secure homestead income streams does provide you lots more freedom to follow your homestead dreams. I hope this advice might help you to think about ways to make that dream more secure for you.