The number one thing you have to remember is that the beginning is the most difficult. Starting a business or any income stream that is not a job is tough.
Why? Simple. Because most people haven’t done it before. The more you attempt and fail an idea on this list, the better you will get.
I myself had to try a full 6 months of failed projects before I was able to earn anything significant to live off of.
Not sure how? Have a look at some of these potential income ideas. Figure out the ones that interest you. The more you have experience in an area, the higher the chance of success.
Then look at the market. Do a lot of googling and research. Ask the locals, talk to people at farmers’ markets. What’s in demand? What gaps could you fill?
And then bust out the calculator. Work out your expenses, income, timeframe. Try to plan out things as best you can. And if things don’t work out according to plan, figure out what went wrong. And try again.
It’s best to have some reserves of cash too in case things go south.
Some ideas like growing microgreens and herbs are much more suitable for beginners than raising cows. I will tell you when an idea is easy for beginners with low start up costs. And if there’s potential for big money, I’ll mention it too!
Table of Contents
Online Sources of Income
Article Publishing and Writing
Do you like writing? You can actually make a decent living writing articles for the web. Here are 3 ways:
- Write for your own blog – this requires the most time and effort up front and you will have to learn a set of new skills. Some of these include search engine optimization and setting up a website. You make money from either ads or other offers you show to your website visitors.
- Write articles for other websites – some websites pay money per article you write. This can be anything from $50 to a few hundred dollars. And some may be less. Here is a big list of websites you can make money with writing in a variety of niches.
- Freelance writing – you can get gigs off platforms like Upwork or find your own clients. You’ll most likely be writing for other website owners and publishers.
Books and eBooks
Writing books can also be lucrative if you market them correctly. Building an audience would be the best way to ensure your upcoming book launch is successful.
You can sell eBooks and physical books on platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Be sure to look into self-publishing and book marketing and learn all you can about the topic.
Etsy Handmade Products
Making handmade products to sell on Etsy can be lucrative. You will need to get initial traction and some good customer reviews. And work to bump up your listing so it will be easier for potential customers to find you.
Do you have an engaging personality? Or are you good at teaching and delivering information? Along with some basic video editing skills, you can grow a following with persistence.
The higher quality your content, the better. Try to serve a wider audience.
You can grow your following on YouTube, TikTok or Instagram. Keep in mind it could be a couple of years before you make a full time income.
If you are doing farm videos, you could show or educate people about your animals, plants, and life on a homestead. Once you are able to, monetize your audience by offering workshops, classes, books and so on.
If photography is your thing you can upload your photos to Instagram and Pinterest. There are also stock photo sites like Shutterstock.
Photography is harder to break into. To maximise your chance of making a profit, aim for photos that can be used by businesses and news articles.
Another job that allows you to work online is web design. You can work remotely for a company, build your own agency or work freelance.
Other Online Income Ideas
Some other ways to make money online include:
- Remote video editing
- Editing articles or books
- Twitch gamer
- Ecommerce store owner
Any remote job will do the trick. Also investing or trading online, or being some variety of social media influencer.
Keep in mind a lot of these forms of income need a ton of consistent effort up front to start earning money. Things like YouTube can take 2 years to get to the point of making good money.
So if you can start early, before you move to your dream homestead, even better!
Service-Based Income Ideas
These small farm income ideas involve you performing some kind of work for a once-off payment.
Barn and Shed Building
If you can build your own barns or sheds, you could do this for other people for money.
Bee Removal Service
Do you have experience with bees and beekeeping? Consider starting a bee removal service. This works better if you live in a more urban area as you have wider access to potential customers.
Living on a homestead, you likely have the required tools for clearing brush. You can offer a brush clearing service to other homesteaders and farmers who would rather not do the job.
Your neighbors don’t have a chainsaw, but you do. Like the previous point, you could clear brush. And expand this to include anything from trimming trees to harvesting firewood.
Chicken Coops and Tractors Builder
The chicken business is growing. More people are getting into raising chickens in their backyard.
You can supply this demand by building chicken coops, chicken tractors and cages, and grow out runs. This can be very profitable if rearing chickens is popular in your area.
Think about all the things you have some knowledge about. You can offer consulting services on homestead design, setup, rearing animals, soil and erosion, growing crops in colder climates, homeschooling and parenting. Or it could be a skill from your pre-homestead life.
Yes, you can build fences for people.
Garden Planning and Design
Design and plan other people’s gardens for a fee.
If you have a truck or truck and trailer, you can make money hauling things like hay, grain and livestock.
Brush Hog and Finishing Mower
You can offer these services if you have the equipment. A brush hog clears land (for pastures etc.) and the finishing mower makes the grass nice and level.
Pet, House, Farm Sitting
Take care of other people’s pets, houses or farms while they are away. This one is harder if you need to tend to your own farm and home, but still an option nonetheless.
As a homesteader you are generally handy. If you can repair cars, computers, plumbing, farm equipment and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), consider this. Make sure you have the license to operate, of course.
If you have a stud animal (male for breeding purposes), you can rent him out to other farmers.
Talks and Demonstrations
Educate your local community at places like community centers and schools. Many people are interested in farming, cooking, canning and so on and will be willing to pay for a class.
People can hire you and your tractor to till or disk their soil.
If you have the equipment, offer a tree removal service.
Split wood for others for money. If you heat your home with wood, make that log splitter earn you some extra cash.
Crops to Grow for Income
Now we turn to crops – you know, the lifeforms that grow out of soil (water in some cases).
These you can sell at farmers’ markets and to local businesses and customers.
Aquaponics is an example of killing two birds with one stone. It combines raising aquatic animals (fish), with hydroponics – growing plants in water.
You can grow and sell both the fish and the crop at the same time.
The basic process is this. Fish poops. The poop is full of ammonia which is broken down by bacteria into nitrites. This nutrient-rich water is pumped into the hydroponics system.
In hydroponics plants are grown in water. And this water comes straight from the fish tank. More bacteria break down the nitrites into nitrates, which the plant can then absorb. The water is then filtered and pumped back to the fish tank. And the cycle repeats.
Aquaponics is a great way to make money on a small farm. The setup costs are low (usually a few thousand dollars) and you don’t need much space. A small greenhouse or even a room setup in an urban setting could work.
The process of aquaponics is also very economical and efficient. You can raise fish like tilapia. For plants you can grow lettuce, beetroot, cucumbers and tomatoes. This is a solid idea if you live in an urban setting and you can provide food and fish to local restaurants.
If you live in a warmer climate, growing and selling bamboo is very profitable. A quarter acre is enough to make about $60,000 a year. You can sell the shoots and the wood brings in a good price.
Growing cannabis is another choice if it’s legal in your state. It’s easier at first if done outdoors and you have a large backyard. Later on, you can upgrade to a greenhouse or a more controlled environment.
You can sell flowers in many ways. Sell cut flowers to florists or to the public. Sell them at farmers’ markets. Grow them for nurseries in pots that are ready to be resold.
Sell the seedlings, sell potted flowers yourself. Dry some flowers to sell to art and crafts shops. Grow edible flowers for something unique.
Fruit trees take longer to become profitable, sometimes years. It’s best to plant these as soon as possible. Once they get to fruit-bearing age, there is little maintenance.
Some fruits to grow for profit include strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pomegranate, nectarines, apples, apricots, plums, cherries and raspberries.
Try to find dwarf varieties if you don’t want your trees being too high to make harvesting easier. They can also get to fruit bearing age quicker.
One of the most profitable crops to sell.
Ginseng is very profitable. If you live in a warm and moist climate, this is a good idea to consider. According to Profitable Plants Digest, you can net $16,000 per year on a half acre garden.
You can sell the seeds and roots. Year 3 is when you start to see seeds, and by year 6 you could have a large sum of money coming in. Seeds sell upwards of $150 per pound, and roots for $2 each.
You can grow specialty grains for local craft breweries and distilleries.
One of the best income ideas to start with is growing herbs. Start-up cost is low, about $2000, and you can pick some of the easier herbs if you’re not experienced with gardening.
Herbs like rosemary, basil and thyme can be sold to local restaurants. You can grow medicinal herbs. And don’t forget herbs for herbal tea.
You can sell them by the roadside, at farmers’ markets, or to businesses like restaurants and tea shops. Organic herbs do well, too.
Herbs are useful and versatile. You or your customers can use them to make all kinds of value-added products – think soaps, essential oils and candles.
Hops are flowers and cones of the plant Humulus lupulus. It is one of the four main ingredients for making beer. You can sell hops to distilleries and breweries. They can be grown on vines if you don’t have much space.
Indoor plants are growing in popularity thanks to their benefits on mental health. Many startups are popping up specifically to sell houseplants.
So you know the market is there. If you can pick popular or rare varieties of plant to grow, even better.
We have touched on hydroponics in the aquaponics section. Hydroponics is essentially growing crops in nutrient-rich water.
The roots of the plant are in contact with the water and absorb nutrients this way.
You don’t need much space for hydroponics or aquaponics, which makes it great for small spaces.
If you have a smaller plot of land and don’t want to stick to one crop, a market garden is perfect.
A market garden comprises a whole range of crops. Vegetables, fruits, flowers and livestock can all be grown in the same market garden. They don’t need any fancy equipment and are often maintained by hand.
Look at what gaps there are in the local market that big farms don’t produce, and have your goods fill these gaps.
Microgreens are one of the best types of crops to get into when starting a homestead for income.
They aren’t difficult to grow, don’t need much space, can be grown indoors, and you can be selling within a few weeks. Markets and restaurants love microgreens. Start small in your basement or backyard and build up from there.
So what are microgreens?
They are young vegetables and plants a couple of weeks old. This is right after the sprouting stage and before they grow fully into baby or mature greens. Microgreens have 4 to 6 times more nutrients per leaf compared to a full grown vegetable leaf.
Lettuce, spinach, parsley, basil, celery, carrots, broccoli and radishes are examples of vegetables that can be grown as microgreens.
Sell them at farmers’ markets, to restaurants and chefs or straight to customers.
Mushrooms are not only one of the easiest crops to grow, but are grown in the damp and dark.
Live in an apartment? Got a closet? Space under the kitchen sink? These are perfect for cultivating mushrooms. They can be grown year round which is great in the winter when you can’t grow other crops.
The highest yielding money-wise are gourmet mushrooms like oyster and shiitake. Medicinal mushrooms also fetch good prices. For the gourmet varieties you can make $12 per pound.
Mushrooms also grow incredibly fast. Oysters can be harvested in 6 weeks and button mushrooms in 3-4 weeks.
Demand for organic fruit and vegetables, and free range dairy and meat is high and only growing.
People want to eat healthier food that also helps the environment, and are willing to pay a higher price for it.
Salad Vegetables and Salad Greens
Salad greens mature fast, are easy to grow and fetch a pretty good price. You can use hydroponics or grow them in soil.
Unique vegetable, fruit and flower seeds are profitable. These are also easy to sell as you can sell online and shipping is cheap for a small and light package. Note that you can’t ship to other countries.
Seeds – Heirloom
Heirloom seeds are seeds that are the same generation after generation. They haven’t been altered through cross pollination or genetic modification. They aren’t hybrids. They produce fruit or vegetables that taste the same throughout the generations.
Their superior taste is what makes these seeds popular.
Starts are also called seedlings. They typically make more money than just the seeds.
Trees and Saplings
You could start a tree nursery and raise baby trees to sell. There is very minimal startup cost. All you need are the seeds and soil.
It is possible to pre-sell these before you even grow them. Of course you’ll need some samples to start to take some good photos. Then market them to the right audience and you could have orders before you know it.
Sell them to homeowners and people wanting to decorate their gardens. You could offer them to landscaping companies.
Start an adopt-a-tree scheme and get people to plant more trees in their gardens. It’s good for the environment and for mental wellbeing.
Animals to Bring in Income
Raising animals is the next step up from veggies. It can be tougher due to the learning curve and higher maintenance, not to mention the cost of feed. But meat fetches a good price.
Beekeeping is excellent for anybody. Beginners, experienced homesteaders and those with backyards can enjoy raising them. There are a huge variety of products you can sell from bees alone.
Honey is the most obvious, but you can also sell beeswax and beeswax candles. Then there’s bee pollen, royal jelly and honeycomb products.
You could sell the bees themselves, or full hive setups. What about a bee starter pack for beginners? There’s also split hives and nucleus hives, with the bees in them of course.
Raising bees is perfect for small farms and homesteads, and the start-up cost for a bee farm can be as low as $500 to $1000. You can also give beehive tours, hold classes, workshops and educational experiences.
Superfoods like bee pollen and royal jelly bring in some nice cash, too.
Keeping bees doesn’t take up much time. Half an hour a week could mean this is one of the lowest maintenance income streams you have.
Interested in raising chickens? You may be considering them for meat and eggs for your homestead. You can also rear them in a suburban backyard.
Meat chickens are also called broilers or broiler chickens. Pastured chicken (chicken allowed to roam on pastures), is popular with consumers.
Pastured chicken can be profitable at scale. It will be hard breaking even with a small flock as feed is expensive. After feed and processing costs, you can make $3.50 per pound of meat.
As for selling chicken eggs, this is also very hard on a small scale. You can consider hatchling eggs instead. This article goes into more detail on making money with eggs.
Cows and Dairy
Raising cows is more difficult than chickens and requires more land.
If you have 20 acres, you can fit 11 cows. Less and less people are opting to raise dairy cows, so there might be an opportunity here.
As with poultry farming, dairy farms also are highly regulated and you need the appropriate license to operate.
To make a full time income from a dairy farm, you need 60-80 cows. For a beef herd, you need 50 cows.
For small farm income, this isn’t possible. You can make a sizable side income though. Best to combine it with another income source.
Raising ducks as an alternative to chickens is rising in popularity. They tend to be hardier, lay bigger eggs, and their meat is a delicacy. Duck meat is healthier than chicken, too.
Many bakers use duck eggs, and restaurants pay a much higher price for duck meat than chicken.
A duck farming business could be very profitable. Ducks are also easier to keep than chickens, though you would need to provide a little pond for them. They don’t occupy much space and you can keep them alongside chickens.
Usually you would need a lot of land for a commercial scale fish farm. But it’s possible on smaller plots of land.
The size of a farm pond ranges from a quarter of an acre to 5 acres. The depth is about 6 to 12 feet. For a pond around 1 acre in size, you can raise bass, catfish and bluegill.
For anything smaller, use an artificial tank or aquaponics system. Some good species of fish for aquaponics are silver perch, tilapia, barramundi and trout.
With an acre of land, you can raise 6 to 8 goats. You will need to make sure your land has the type of forage that goats like to eat.
There are many products you could sell from keeping goats. Some are goat milk, cheese and meat, and goat milk skincare products.
You can also rent them out to fellow farmers for brush control.
Day old chicks, ducklings, quail and turkey can yield extra profit. You can also sell fertilized hatchling eggs.
Pigs take up less space as they don’t move around as much. 8 square feet of space per pig is adequate. Feed costs will be the highest expense. A pig sells for around $300.
If you do the butchering yourself you can sell ham, bacon, pork loins and sausages. Renting out pigs is also an option. They are great foragers and can help clean up the debris on harvested land.
Quail are excellent to keep on a small farm. On a homestead of 5 acres, you can make a solid income.
The quail industry is not as regulated as chickens, which makes it easier to start up. Quail are smaller in size and don’t take up much space. They also grow quickly and produce many eggs for the amount of feed they consume.
You can sell both quail meat and eggs.
If you don’t have much land, rearing rabbits is another good option. Rabbit meat is lean and protein-rich. They also forage and gain all their mass from this alone.
You can sell rabbit meat and pelts, or sell them as pets.
Sheep and Lamb
Like goats, raising sheep for meat, milk and wool is possible if you have the land. 2 sheep per acre is a good amount.
Lamb is a sheep under 12 months old. Sheep/lambs are easy to raise and are great at mowing the grass. As long as you have grass that grows fast enough, feeding them is free.
There is an increase in demand for snail products. You can sell fresh snails to restaurants. The cosmetic industry also uses snail slime for their products.
Snails are simple to raise. Use a garden bed with green, leafy plants, which they eat and shelter under. But don’t pack too many snails in the same space, or they won’t breed.
Pastured turkey is another good option. If you choose turkey, be sure to time it so that you can sell during seasonal events – like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Consumers buy the meat rather than eggs.
This is also a good option for a small homestead. There are a variety of worms you can raise to sell.
Mealworms are a popular poultry feed. Then there’s bait worms for fishing shops. And worm castings or worm manure is a fertilizer to sell to farmers.
Worms are very easy to work with and you can house them in tubs in a spare room. They are also silent.
Value-Added Products to Sell
Value-added products are items made from things you grow on your farm. Think food, soaps, tea and leather.
Baked Goods – Homemade
Although this requires a lot of work, you can make a fair amount of money selling baked goods at a farmers’ market. It’s even better if you can find more channels to sell to. Local bakeries, fairs, tourist shops and cafes, for instance.
It will take a lot of time in the kitchen though. If you don’t have much time to spare, this will be difficult.
Take into account the cost of your labor and ingredients, many of which you grew yourself. If you can recoup the cost of labor in growing the ingredients as well and make a profit, you have a winner.
Consider cookies, pastries, truffles, cupcakes and cakes, quiches, brownies and bread.
If you have bees, turn your beeswax into candles to sell. Etsy is a good place to list your candles.
Anything you can jar or can, you can sell. Like pickled vegetables, sauces, jams, jellies and salsas and preserves.
Bag and sell compost if you have extra.
Make compost tea by steeping compost in water. The nutrients from the compost are transferred into the water.
This nutrient-rich water is excellent as spray on fertilizer. Bottle them into spray bottles, and sell them.
Crafts – General
If you are handy with crafts you can sew clothes, quilts and bags. You can knit or crochet. What about making wreaths or jewelry?
If you have skills in painting or pottery, make some items to sell on Etsy.
Crafts – Housing
Prefer hammer and nails over knitting needles? You can make houses for animals.
Some ideas are dog houses, bird houses, bee hives like top bee hives, bird feeders and rabbit houses.
Crafts – Wood
Woodworkers can either sell on Etsy or to local shops. If your items are unique then set up a website, get the word out and ship across the country.
Items you can make from wood include: Signs and plaques, bowls, knife handles, furniture and toys, walking sticks, rolling pins, planters, pallet furniture and other wood art.
You can make essential oils from herbs. Then use these essential oils to make soaps and skincare products.
Feathers from your poultry can be sold as is, or after you’ve turned them into a beautiful piece of feather jewelry. Craft shops would also be interested in buying your feathers.
Feed – Livestock
If there is not a feed mill nearby, you can provide feed to local farmers by mixing your own blend and selling it. You would have to buy the individual ingredients though.
Herbal Tea and Salves
Using your herbs, make herbal tea and herbal salves to sell.
Hide and Leather
You can sell hide from your animals. Or tan it and sell the leather.
Manure from your animals can be sold to garden centers as fertilizer.
Meal Kits, Premade
Pre-make meal kits and sell them at the market.
Personal Care Products
Using a range of products from your homestead, you can create a ton of personal care products.
Shampoos, soaps, deodorants, lip balm and lotions can all be made from herbs, beeswax, goat milk, honey, flowers and butter.
Salves and Ointments
Made from herbs and beeswax. Sell them locally or on Etsy.
What to do next
I hope you got some good ideas from this list. Here are some tips depending on your situation:
You have no homestead yet and have no backyard – start with the low cost, easy indoor ideas. Mushrooms, herbs, snails, worms, online income etc.
You have a backyard – any of the easier indoor/outdoor ideas plus ducks, chickens, aquaponics etc.
You have a large area to work with – anything you want on this list!
Not much money to invest – start with the cheapest options and work up from there. The service-based businesses will give you money right away. They also take up time and you are away from your farm.
You can start with service-based and gradually shift to selling crops/animals/value-added products as you gain more experience in farming and marketing. And you need to build business relationships.
More money and experience – dive into growing crops and animals right away.
Growing/making all these products, including online is half the battle. The other half is finding the right market and selling your goods to them. Do both of these and you’re golden.
Literally, you’ll be seeing the gold (or green).