Lots of people are looking for ways to make money homesteading. But what, exactly, do they mean by “make money”? And does it need to be literally from their homestead?
Some people just want to make enough money to cover part or all of their chickens’ monthly feed bill. Others want to earn enough to quit their jobs and have more time to pursue homesteading.
There’s a big difference between these: one’s a hobby and one’s a business.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HOBBY AND A BUSINESS
A hobby is something you do for enjoyment.
You might sell some things occasionally that reduce your expenses or maybe even cover them in full. But you’re really just doing it because you love it and don’t really care whether it makes any money or not.
Example: Your chicken flock costs you $50 in feed and other expenses every month. You sell $30 of eggs to your coworkers each month. Your chicken expenses are reduced to $20/month. Let’s not even mention paying you for your time…
A business is something you start and grow with the primary purpose of making money.
The goal of the business is to create profit (aka money left over after all expenses and payroll).
Example: Your rare breed chicken flock costs you $100 in feed and other expenses every month. You pay yourself $20/hr for your time and spend 20 hours a month working with your flock ($400). You sell hatching eggs for $36/dozen + shipping and typically sell at least 20 dozen every month. After payroll and expenses, you have at least $220 in profit to use how you think is best.
Obviously, both examples are oversimplified but you should get the idea!
At this point, you should be able to decide if you just want to have a hobby that mostly covers expenses or a business that earns money.
If it’s a hobby you want, then simply sell off extras of whatever you produce. You can sell locally by listing on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
But if you want to start a business, read on to get some ideas.
THERE ARE 4 KINDS OF BUSINESS BASES THAT YOU CAN BUILD TO MAKE MONEY HOMESTEADING
Product – A product-based business is where you sell a finished product or supply. You might create these yourself or work with another company such as a manufacturer. Example: You build and sell goat stanchions.
Service – A service-based business is where you sell your skills and time. Example: You offer your services to trim hooves, vaccinate, and do blood draws for other goat owners.
Education/Information – An education-based business is where you teach someone how to do something. Example: You teach classes on making goat milk soap.
Influence – An influence-based business doesn’t really have a product, service, or information to sell. Instead, they use their influence to promote other businesses through ad placements, sponsorships, and/or commissions. Example: “This is my favorite kind of milking bucket. Use the coupon code ‘THEGOATSARELOOSEAGAIN’ to get 15% off!”
In general, it’s easiest to build a service-based business. Product-based business (which is what I, personally, do for a living) is a little harder and has more expenses. Education and influence businesses are the most difficult and will take the longest to see a return on your money.
It’s best to start with either a service or product business first and you can grow them into an education and/or influence business from that solid base. One example of someone who has done this is “The Hoof GP“. He started with a service-based business, trimming cow hooves, which he then turned into an influence-based business by filming the trims and posting them on YouTube. He has since created an online course (education).
DIVERSIFY OR SPECIALIZE
With any kind of business, you might choose to specialize and only offer 1 thing that you do really, really well. Generally, we see specialization in mega-farms that grow a very select group of crops, or feedlots, or chicken farms. Most homesteaders don’t want to go in the direction of a mega-farm for a variety of reasons like finances or ethics.
But, with any homesteading-related business, I would recommend you diversify.
A couple of reasons for this are:
If one thing fails (such as crop failure or a weasel killing all of your chickens) you have other things that can pick up the slack and reduce your overall risk.
When you have multiple things to offer you reach a bigger audience. Someone might come to your farm stand to buy your fresh basil and then end up buying some soap, a hand-carved spoon, and ask if you have chicks for sale because they want to start their own flock.
HERE ARE 25 TYPES OF BUSINESSES YOU COULD START TO MAKE MONEY HOMESTEADING
Please keep in mind that there may be rules and regulations in place for your area and you should check them before starting any business!
#1 SELLING SOMETHING YOU GROW
Lots of people immediately think of starting a farm stand or a farmer’s market stall to sell tomatoes and other veggies.
While a viable idea, you might be more successful by growing something with a higher profit margin like:
- Medicinal or Culinary Herbs
- Or making your crop into canned or baked goods.
You could also start a CSA or U-pick with the same products to make money homesteading.
Below are some books that I enjoyed reading and you might find useful too. I own all of these except for The Flower Farmer, which was a library book.
aff links & pics to Flower Farmer, Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer, Lean Farm, Market Gardener
#2 HATCHING EGGS AND CHICKS
We covered in an example above how selling fresh eggs for eating can cover some of your hobby expenses. But it’s not something the average homesteader can grow into a viable business due to scale (i.e., most homesteaders aren’t going to raise thousands of layers and buy feed by the tonnage).
However, homesteaders can raise rare poultry or waterfowl breeds and sell hatching eggs or the newly hatched babies for a small profit.
Now, this probably won’t allow you to quit your job, but it can be a part of your homestead that makes actual money.
#3 SELLING LIVESTOCK
This is one of the harder and riskier businesses you can run. You’ll need to carefully research what species and breeds sell well in your area, what your market is (meat, dairy, breeding stock, pets, etc.), your stocking rates, and how much you can realistically sell for.
Start SMALL and grow slowly. I would not recommend putting all of your eggs in this basket when you’re looking at ways to make money homesteading.
However, if you’re breeding livestock or poultry then you should 100% be running the numbers on how much you should sell animals for AND at what age they’ll give the best return.
As an example, selling pullets at the point of lay won’t be profitable in almost any situation. In my area, 6-month-old pullets sell at a loss for $20 – $25 each. You’d need to sell for double to make even a little money but nobody wants to pay $50 for a chicken. But, you can sell 8-week-old pullets for $15 easily and turn a little profit.
#4 HAY & GRAZING
You’ll need acreage for this one but it can be a good option if you don’t want to spend too much time on it. You can lease out land to people wanting to graze animals or plant a hay crop and hire out the cutting and baling.
Our hay supplier is a retired couple who lease out their land for cattle grazing in the winter and then cut and bale their fields in the summer for a hay crop. They spend much of their time traveling.
#5 MAKING AND/OR SELLING TOOLS
If you’re good at woodworking or metalworking you can build or repair tools and equipment. Some ideas are goat stanchions, hay feeders, carved utensils or dishes, tractor repair, and gardening tools.
You could also work with manufacturers to purchase at wholesale prices and then sell them at retail prices.
#6 MAKING AND/OR SELLING SUPPLIES
Many people have hobbies and know their favorite supplies to use. If this is you, you could start selling supplies that you either make yourself or purchase at wholesale.
This is actually what my husband and I do for a living. We sell craft supplies for a couple of related hobbies and work entirely from our home. My husband was able to quit his job within a year of me starting the business.
My sister also does this for a living and was able to quit her full-time job, despite being the breadwinner, 3 years after starting.
#7 BATH & BODY PRODUCTS
Selling bath & body products can be a great way to incorporate things you grow or raise on your homestead into a product with higher profit margins. This can be a good way to make money homesteading!
Some ideas are to incorporate milk and eggs into cold process soap, infuse oils with plants you grow (like calendula), make bath teas from plants you grow, or use dried flowers to decorate your soaps.
There are a number of businesses you can start with plants. You could sell seeds, plant starts, cuttings, and scions or rootstock. You can grow these on your homestead!
Consider putting together planting kits that people can purchase to fill a raised bed or a decorative planter with plants that you’ve selected to grow well and look nice together.
#9 DIGITAL PATTERNS
Are you experienced at sewing, knitting, crochet, or some other hobby that requires a pattern? Consider creating and publishing your own to sell.
While digital patterns don’t sell for a lot of money they only need to be made once and then can be sold forever. You also don’t need to worry about shipping them because they get delivered automagically as a PDF when someone purchases them.
#10 BUILDING PLANS
Like creating digital patterns, you can create and sell digital building plans for furniture, beehives, chicken coops, and more. The same things that you build for your own homestead can be used to make money homesteading!
Many people grow their own flowers and sell the arrangements or they do arrangements for events like weddings. You could sell your bouquets with a CSA model, to local shops, at a farm stand, or at a farmer’s market.
If you’re good with horses and are skilled at taking care of their feet then you could consider becoming a farrier. While hard work, you can make a comfortable living especially if you work with large horse barns.
Farriers typically charge a trip fee and then varying rates for trims, hot or cold shoeing, and resetting shoes. Hooves typically need a trim every 4-6 weeks.
#13 GOAT CARE
Many goat owners either don’t know how or don’t care to do the trims, vaccinations, blood draws, or other skilled tasks that their goat herd requires. If you know how to do these things you can offer your services.
Like a farrier, you’ll want to charge a trip fee and set rates for the services you offer.
#14 FARM SITTING
One question people frequently ask is how they can leave their farm or homestead behind for a vacation. Who’s going to let the chickens out, milk the goats, or feed the horses?
That’s where a farm sitter comes in. If you’re already experienced with livestock and poultry then you can offer your services as a farm sitter.
I did this during my college years and wish I’d known enough back then to grow it into a business as it had the potential to be profitable.
#15 GROOMING & SHEARING
If you know how to do show grooming (particularly horses), dog grooming, or annual shearing for fiber animals then you could start doing that for a business.
Professional horse groomers typically work at horse shows (mostly weekends) while shearers typically work a few months of the year.
Way back in high school, my math teacher ran a shearing business in the summer. He always stated that he earned more in 3 months of shearing than he did in 9 months of teaching. I believe it!
Like other services that require you to go to someone’s farm, be sure to charge a trip fee + set rates for your services.
#16 ANIMAL TRAINING
Are you skilled at training animals? If you are, this is one of the best ways to make money homesteading with animals. Maybe because the animals aren’t yours? 😀
Some ideas are starting horses under saddle, training cattle to either pull or milk, training goats to milk or pack, and training dogs to herd.
Rates will vary based on your area and your expertise. If the animals will come to your property for training you’ll also need to calculate what to charge for feed and board.
Some people like their properties to look nice, but don’t really have the time, skill, or desire to do it themselves. You could offer your landscape or yard care services as a business. You could even grow the plants yourself that you use for landscaping!
#18 PHOTOGRAPHER OR PHOTOGRAPHY LOCATION
Photography can be much more than a hobby! You can either offer photography services, sell stock photos, or create a beautiful location that you rent to photographers.
Some ideas include becoming a wedding photographer, planting a field of sunflowers to rent for family pictures, or selling your photographs on stock photography websites like Stocksy or Shutterstock.
There are many different freelancing jobs you can do online. Some of these include virtual assisting, accounting, social media management, copywriting, and website design. While you won’t literally be making money homesteading, you can still do this from your homestead.
How much you can earn with freelancing will depend on the services you offer and the amount of time you can work. On average, a beginner freelancer with 10 clients can expect to earn $2,500 – $5,000 monthly with the higher end being for either more hours or a skilled task like website design.
Teachers or those with degrees can tutor online or in-person as a business. You can expect to earn more if you specialize (like preparing students for SATs).
#21 TEACHING LESSONS
A little different than tutoring, teaching lessons includes things like music, knitting, sewing, horseback riding, or other hobbies or skills. Some lessons can be taught online while others need to be done in-person.
Rates will vary depending on what you’re teaching, how long each lesson is, what your qualifications are, and if you’re teaching private lessons or groups.
#22 CLASSES & WORKSHOPS
Classes and workshops are usually taught in groups and can be done either online or in-person. Classes are usually geared towards learning without hands-on work while workshops typically combine learning + creating something.
Some ideas include a beginner goat owner class and a soapmaking workshop.
If you love to write you might consider publishing an eBook or book, being a freelance writer, or ghostwriting.
#24 START A YOUTUBE CHANNEL OR PODCAST
While not businesses in and of themselves, starting a YouTube channel or a podcast can be great ways to build a platform for you to market your own products or services and connect with your audience.
With podcasts, you can also work with sponsors who pay you to read an advertisement about their product at some point during your podcast.
And with YouTube channels, you can allow ads on your video once you have enough subscribers. Earnings on ads are around $2-$5 per 1000 views.
Earnings vary greatly depending on how successful you are, ranging from pennies to multi-millions.
#25 START A BLOG
Like YouTube and podcasts, a blog is not a business. It’s just a way to market your business and connect with your audience.
Again, earnings can vary widely from pennies to multi-millions.
THERE ARE A LOT OF WAYS TO MAKE MONEY WITHOUT LEAVING YOUR HOMESTEAD FOR A REGULAR JOB.
While this list doesn’t include every possible way, I think it should give you some pretty good ideas of potential businesses you could start.
Keep in mind that most businesses take time to become profitable so if you want to start one you should do it sooner rather than later.