How to Make Money on a Homestead

April 3, 2023

Hi, I'm Paige, half of the duo behind Fairway Stables™

This website is the one I've been searching for, for years; a compilation of knowledge on all things horsemanship, including practical advice on how to start an equestrian business.

No matter your experience level with horses or homesteading, I hope this is a place you can get lost in, and learn something along the way - we welcome everyone from vets, to lifelong ranchers, trainer, to nonprofits contributing.


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Homesteading is becoming a popular option for people to get away from the hustle and bustle, live a sustainable lifestyle, and learn to provide for their families with their own resources.

While many choose to homestead just for themselves, there are ways for you to monetize homesteading to generate income, scale operations, and build a safety net to quit your 9-5 job. If you want to homestead as your sole source of income, here’s everything you need to know.

Can Homesteading Be Profitable?

Homesteading can be profitable if you find a good mix of short-term and long-term projects that create a steady inflow of cash. Ultimately, running a profitable homestead is just like running any other kind of profitable business – the success depends on making smart decisions.

Keep in mind that some profitable activities won’t produce an income for the first year or two. For example, planting fruit trees like apple or orange trees can take years before you have fruit that you can sell.

Diversifying your income streams offers an excellent balance of short- and long-term profits that can sustain you.

Things to Consider for a Profitable Homestead

Even with the best ideas, no homestead will make money – much less a profit – without the right planning. Factors like space, time, and market opportunities matter, so consider your options.

How Much Time and Help Do You Have?

Coming up with ideas to make money is the easy part – bringing those ideas to reality is another thing.

Still, dream big. Make a list of ideas for how you can monetize your homestead and choose what you’d like to do. Then, think about whether you have the time to care for your homestead and family with the added responsibility of managing your side income source. If you don’t have time, do you have help?

For example, if you plan on selling your garden produce at the local market, you will need to grow enough to stockpile your own and to offer enough product for sale. This means not only caring for your garden, but planning extra time for weeding, harvesting, and packing those vegetables. Maintaining a large garden with a variety of crops is different than a small, personal garden.

It’s easy to plan in advance and end up overwhelmed later on. If you’re overloaded, some important tasks will slip through the cracks. You’re also likely to be stressed, and that defeats one of the goals of homesteading.

How Saturated Is the Market?

Homesteading is becoming more and more popular. Plenty of beginner homesteaders look for properties in areas with other homesteaders and a thriving local community, which is great for learning and trading but not so great for market competition.

For example, a lot of homesteaders sell eggs from their chickens as a source of extra income. This can be profitable, but if your entire community of local homesteaders is all trying to sell eggs, you’re not likely to sell a lot or make any real profit. Worse yet, the established homesteaders may have the advantage of dedicated buyers, making it more difficult for you to establish yourself.

There is a caveat. Even if the market is saturated, if you offer something unique, you may be able to thrive. Using the egg example, if everyone is selling white eggs and you have brown eggs, your product is unique. There will be a higher demand for brown eggs, and you may be able to charge more.

Consider the local market before you choose what income streams you’ll pursue. Research is invaluable to determining the best option for your current market.

How Much Land Do You Have?

There are a lot of profitable ideas that require land to work. Consider if you have enough property to grow or raise what you want to sell – or the raw materials to produce it – and what you can do if you need more space. Even if you have the space now, will it be enough if you want to scale in the future?

For example, having a “pick-your-own” produce farm, working with large gardens, keeping an orchard, or raising some animals may require a larger piece of property. Small gardens may be fine for a self-sustaining homestead but won’t suffice if you’re trying to sell produce.

Likewise, animals like chickens, ducks, and goats are fine on small parcels of land, but larger livestock like cows, bison, or horses will require many acres.

While you’re doing your research, consider the land you will need. See what the standard is for your chosen income stream and plan accordingly.

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Do You Have the Right Climate?

Your potential income projects are dependent on weather, like most things. You may want to harvest maple syrup and maple products, but that won’t work if you’re in Florida or Texas. If you want to plant an orange tree orchard, that’s probably not an option in northern climates with extreme winters.

Always consider the weather when you’re planning. Making the right decisions about what to raise or grow can have an impact on your profits and how easily you can bring your plan to fruition.

Do You Have Capital?

Whether you’re starting your first homestead or expanding your current homestead to monetize it, you will probably need some cash to survive for the first year or two. It takes time to generate real income from your projects, even if you own the property outright and take care of most of your own food and supplies. It’s just not possible to completely eliminate the need for cash.

You will need money to live on while you create your homestead business and income streams and allow them to turn a profit. You will also need money to invest back into your homestead to ensure it succeeds. Most things will cost more than you expect when you’re starting out, so you may not be able to cut a lot of corners.

You should have about three months’ expenses in savings at minimum. If you have more, that’s better. If you don’t have that, you will need outside income until you get your homestead up and running profitably.

Either you or your partner (or both) may need to continue working a job that pays the bills, at least for a little while. Having a self-sufficient homestead is the dream, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Taking time to work and build an emergency fund will be a huge help when you take the plunge into full-time homesteader.

How Much Can You Manage?

It’s easy to get carried away thinking of different income possibilities and aspirations for your stretch of land and its promise, but don’t forget to rein it in. If you try to do it all, you’ll just burn through your cash and end up with a bunch of haphazard projects.

Think of each income stream as a separate business. Whether you want to keep chickens for eggs, raise beef cattle, or grow berries for a “you-pick” operation, they all require different things and competing attention.

Before you go hog wild with all the ideas, think about the time you can devote to your own homestead needs, your income project, and your outside job (if you have one). It’s best to choose just one or two projects to start, ideally of the short- and long-term variety. Establish an income stream first, see what it entails, then start the next when the first begins to turn a profit.

Think of it this way – you probably wouldn’t start a bunch of unrelated businesses in the “regular” world, right? It’s the same with homesteading. Consider all your income projects mini businesses and plan accordingly.

Work with What You Have

One of the final considerations for your income streams is what you already have that will reduce your expenses. If you have to spend a lot upfront to acquire materials, supplies, livestock, and feed, you may need to wait for the cost and profits to even out.

Even then, you will have ongoing costs for growing or raising animals, so consider whether you will have enough left over after the expenses are paid out. If what you want to pursue will cost you more than you can make, that’s probably not the best idea to pursue.

Income Ideas for a Homestead

Now that all the hard truths are out of the way, let’s dive into the ideas you can use to inspire you for your own homestead.

Sell Fresh Produce

Most beginner homesteaders get their start with gardening. In fact, keeping a backyard garden is often the gateway to wanting to buy land and start a full homestead to manage food supply.

Once you have a sustainable garden and enough produce to feed your family, you can consider growing and selling your produce at the local market for extra income. Many consumers are willing to pay a little more for “farm-to-table” food from a local grower that’s made without additives, chemicals, or preservatives.

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Sell Seedlings

Selling seedlings gives you extra money without the work and time involved to grow a full plant. When you’re starting your own seedlings in your garden, include more than what you need for your own use. Then, list the extras for sale.

Farmers’ markets are a good option, but local gardening groups will often have a market for seedlings as the planting season begins. Virtually any plant will do, but if you grow heirloom varieties, this can be highly profitable.

Start a Pick-Your-Own

A lot of consumers enjoy picking their own produce, usually with berries, apples, and pumpkins. They not only get delicious local produce, but it’s an opportunity to spend time outside and bond with family.

Unless you have a large homestead with a variety of crops, hosting a pick-your-own will usually provide extra cash in the summer and fall. Still, it’s extra cash for not much extra work.

Pumpkins, in particular, offer a great opportunity to charge more with amenities or experiences like a petting zoo (if you have animals), a fall hayride, or a produce stand. You could also hire a photographer or entertainment. Consider how you can turn a pumpkin-picking experience into a fall-themed excursion for the whole family.

Sell Herbs

If you’re working with limited space and capital, selling herbs is an easy way to start earning income. Herb seeds are inexpensive and easy to grow, plus you can start with pots or raised garden beds to maximize your space. Research the demand for herbs in your local market and go from there.

Sell Cut Flowers

Homesteads often have vegetable or fruit gardens, but they may also grow flowers. If you have flowers on your property, you can sell them cut to local wedding planners, funeral homes, churches, or florists. They also sell well at local markets.

Make and Sell Jams and Preserves

If you’ve already begun canning and preserving at home, you have the foundation to make extra money for your homestead. Homemade jams and preserves are popular all year round, but especially around the holidays or at specialty markets.

While you’re making jams and jellies for yourself, make some extra and set them aside. When you have enough, take them to the local market to sell. Use the profits you get to pay for supplies to make more, and over time, you’ll build a reliable income stream.

Sell Baked Goods

Similar to homemade jams, home-baked goods tend to be popular at farmers’ markets and around the holidays. Artisan breads, pies, muffins, and other desserts tend to sell well, and you could always set up your own roadside stand.

If you have a locally owned café or restaurant, you may be able to sell the baked goods to them for extra cash. Baked goods may not provide a full-time income, but they are good for some supplemental income.

Make and Sell Syrup

Maple syrup is a popular product, but you have other options if your climate doesn’t suit maple trees. Birch, cranberry, rosehip, blueberry, and other syrups are great options. Think about what you have locally and what syrups can be made.

Sell Farm-Fresh Eggs

If you’re already keeping chickens, it doesn’t take a lot of time or work to collect extra eggs to sell. Many domestic chicken breeds are abundant layers, so you’re likely to have extra eggs even if your family eats a lot of eggs each day.

Farm-fresh eggs sell fine in the right market, but you can get more for heritage breeds that lay unique eggs. If everyone is selling white chicken eggs locally, but you offer brown eggs or even blue eggs from Americaunas, Araucanas, or Cream Legbars.

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Sell Day-Old Chicks or Poults

This income stream depends on the local laws, but you can sell day-old chicks or poults (baby turkeys). These are popular with people looking for ways to secure their own food supply on a homestead. With homesteading growing more popular, this demand is likely to grow.

Sell Quail Eggs

Chickens and turkeys are more common than quail. If your local market has an abundance of chickens and turkeys, consider raising quail and selling the eggs.

These birds are quieter and easy to care for. They produce small eggs, but they’re often preferred for gourmet recipes and can fetch a high price in the right market.

Raise Dairy Animals

Fresh milk, which means milk that is unpasteurized, is becoming a highly sought commodity in rural and urban areas. A homestead is the ideal place to breed and raise dairy goats and cows if you have the space and produce milk, butter, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or cottage cheese.

States have their own law on raw milk sales. Some states have statewide laws, while others may leave the decisions to local governments. The FDA regulates milk on the federal level, however – all milk sold across state lines must be pasteurized and meet the standards of the US Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. Check your local laws regarding dairy sales.

Cultivate Your Compost

If you’ve been homesteading for a while, you’ve probably perfected your composting process. If you’re producing more compost than you can practically use, you can sell it for some extra cash. This is especially helpful for people nearby with small gardens or beginner homesteaders.

Make and Sell Your Own Candles

Handmade candles have a different feel than mass-produced candles that you can buy in a store. People appreciate the extra care and work that goes into them. In addition to selling candles locally at the market or mom-and-pop shops, you can sell them online on a platform like Etsy.

Harvest and Sell Hay or Straw

Straw and hay can be used for a lot of different things. Farmers use straw and hay as bedding and feed for animals like horses and cows, gardeners may use it as mulch, and mushroom growers need it to produce mushrooms. In the fall, small hay or straw bales are often purchased for decoration.

If there’s enough demand in your area, some people may be willing to pay to come and collect your hay, eliminating a lot of the work for you. This is ideal if you’re just getting started and you don’t have the system or equipment to harvest hay, but you can plan to cut and bale your own hay and straw to sell.

Produce Animals for Fiber

Wool from fiber animals like sheep, alpaca, and angora rabbits is in high demand for crafting and fiber arts. If you have a lot of land and want larger livestock, buffalo and yak may also be raised for fiber.

Raising backyard fiber animals is rising in popularity as consumers seek traditional textiles for yarn-based crafts like knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning, needlepoint, needle felting, embroidery, and fiber dying.

Rent Your Goats for Lawn Maintenance

Using goats to “mow” the lawn is becoming popular for people with small properties. Goats free-range on large country properties and eat grass the down, removing the need for a riding lawnmower or push mower that consumes gas. If you have a herd of goats, look for opportunities to rent them locally to help with natural lawn maintenance.

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Make and Sell Furniture

Artisans and craftspeople can earn part-time or even full-time income from a homestead by producing handcrafted goods from their raw materials. Many consumers like to “shop small” and prefer the quality of handmade goods over mass-produced and commercially sold products.

You have plenty of options, depending on what’s available to you. Handmade furniture, fiber crafts, pottery, and essential oils are all growing in popularity.

Create and Sell Bath and Body Products

Consumers are increasingly moving away from chemical-laden bath and body products and onto all-natural beauty products. This increased the demand for homemade soaps, body lotions, and other bath and body products. If you have bees or goats, there’s a great opportunity to make beeswax body products or goat milk soap.

It’s completely legal to manufacture cosmetic products like soap and body lotion in your home, and the FDA doesn’t have regulations specifying good manufacturing practices for cosmetics. Keep in mind that the responsibility to manufacture products in a safe environment falls on you, however.

Sell Honey and Other Bee Products

Many people like honey and bee products like propolis, bee pollen, royal jelly, and bee bread. If you keep bees on your homestead, you could make extra money by making and selling your bees’ produce.

The laws can vary for honey processors, however. To sell honey anywhere, your honey must comply with FDA regulations, which includes labeling your honey correctly. Be sure to check your local laws for honey processing.

Rent Out Your Land

If you’re just getting started with homesteading and bought a lot of land, you may not be ready to use all of it yet. It doesn’t have to go to waste, though. Other homesteaders or farmers may want to rent land to graze animals or grow their own crops.

The best part of this is that you don’t have to supply any of the equipment or do any of the work – you’re only providing use of your land. Just make sure you’re protected with a proper land lease.

Tan and Sell Your Hides or Craft Leather Products

Virtually any animal you’re raising for food – sheep, goats, rabbits, cows – will produce a lot of extra hides. Instead of throwing it out, put it all to use by tanning and selling the hides as raw product.

If you’re handy with leathercrafting, you can use the hides to make gloves, belts, purses, bags, and all kinds of products. People will often pay well for high-quality leatherwork.

Sell Manure

Whether you have chickens, rabbits, horses, or cows, you probably have a lot of manure lying around. Animal manure needs to be handled differently – horse and chicken manure must be composted before people can use it in their gardens. Rabbit manure, on the other hand, can be used directly in gardens and offers a high concentration of nitrogen and phosphorous that helps plants thrive.

You can sell manure in small amounts locally, but if you have a lot of manure, consider offering it to a local garden center or landscapers with bulk pricing on a regular basis. This can create a reliable income stream, and you can unload it all at once instead of bagging it for individual buyers.

Raise Worms for Bait

If you live near a popular fishing area, selling worms for bait is always a viable option. Local fishermen or tourists will always need bait for their favorite fishing spots, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to raise worms.

Another option is to sell worms to local farmers and gardens to add to their garden or compost bins.

Offer Farm Stays

Just as the homesteading lifestyle appeals to you, it appeals to others as a unique vacation opportunity to enjoy the country life. If you have the space, rent out a room or two – or a cabin or guest house, if you have it.

You can take it a step further with farm or homestead activities, such as learning to garden or compost, milk cows or goats, and tend to chickens. Guests may also be interested in learning any handicrafts you rely on for your homestead, such as making furniture, sewing, or canning and preserving. Get creative and think of the aspects of your homestead life that may be unfamiliar to guests.

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Start a Cow Share

A cow share is when someone pays upfront for the season to get part of the cow when it’s slaughtered. People often buy a quarter or a half a cow to stock their freezer, but they may not have space for the whole cow. Homesteaders with small property may not have the space for cows, so this gives them an option for getting meat without raising the animal.

Depending on how many cows you have, you can have quite a few people to buy shares of each cow that you raise. Then, when your cow is ready for slaughter, you know your meat is sold. This works with other large meat livestock, such as pigs or bison.  

Build a Corn Maze

If you’re growing corn on your homestead, you can generate extra income with a corn maze close to harvest time. You simply harvest the corn to clear paths to create a maze, then charge visitors to come and walk it. This is especially popular with families.

Corn mazes are great on their own, but you could make them part of a bigger event like a harvest festival with hayrides, a petting zoo, and pumpkin picking. You may even be able to sell some of your other produce and handicrafts.

Learn Blacksmithing

Blacksmithing has been around for over a thousand years, but it’s still relevant and necessary today. Though it was traditionally a male-dominated trade, more and more women are learning to blacksmith and craft stunning and functional objects out of metal.

While this isn’t a passive income stream or something that you can just learn overnight, if you want to replace your regular job with a homestead job, blacksmithing is a great option. You can not only create products to sell, but you could do demonstrations at the local fair or offer courses once you master it.

Speaking of…

Teach Homestead Courses

Homesteading is a dream for some, but they may not know where to begin or how to learn. You can teach courses and workshops on essential homestead skills that you’ve learned along the way, such as baking bread from scratch, canning and preserving, caring for animals, gardening, and more.

You could also offer tiered learning experiences for beginner to advanced homesteaders, including more advanced courses on learning a specific skill like carpentry or working with fiber. Other homesteaders – or some people who just want to learn to be more self-sufficient – will be interested in what you have to offer.

Start a Homesteading Blog

Similar to offering courses or workshops, starting a homesteading website gets knowledge of your homestead and products out there. Blogs can generate some income with marketing, but they’re more of a tool to raise awareness of your products or services.

Your blog can be valuable for selling your products, announcing any appearances you may have at a local market or fair, and selling digital courses or resources for homesteaders. Your imagination is the limit!

Farm Photography

If you have photography skills, you can make decent money selling stock images of your homestead. Pictures of garden produce, cute animals, a flock of chickens, a sunset over unspoiled country, or even a good shot of a compost pile have demand. Someone will need a picture of compost or a pile of manure at some point.

As you build your skills, you could offer photography services and take advantage of your property for unique shots. With the popularity of farm-themed weddings, and farm life in general, there’s demand for country photos (and venues) for engagement pictures, weddings, graduation, senior photos, and more.

Tips for a Successful Homestead Business

Now that you have some ideas to make money with your homestead, here are some tips to ensure you’re successful.

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Take It Slow

This can’t be said enough – start small, go slow, and test your business ideas before you dive in headfirst with a lot of money and time invested. Check to see if there’s an interest in your local market and whether people will pay for what you’re offering.

Once you have that interest, you can take things to the next level, but test your concept for success first.

Always Charge

A lot of people fall victim to giving away their goods, services, or knowledge, especially with homesteading. For example, you may have gone a little wild learning canning, creating a surplus that you gave to your friends and family.

It’s awkward to ask for money, but it’s important to treat your business like a business if you want it to succeed. If you want to reward your first customers, offer a reduced price. Make it clear that they’re getting it at a special discounted rate in exchange for feedback. This way, they won’t be shocked when you charge your desired rate.

Keep Good Business Records

Receipts and records are key for any business come tax time. Ideally, you should be keeping records for a hobby homestead, but it’s essential once you try to monetize it. Keep track of your expenses to determine your rates and profit margin, track breeding records for your livestock, and keep feeding records to determine patterns in meat or dairy production.

For cottage businesses, keep notes of recipes or proprietary processes so you can recreate them in the future. Consistency and quality control are important, even if you’re selling homemade or hand-crafted goods.

Know Your Laws

Whether you start a small passive income stream or you turn your homestead into a full business, it’s important to do it the right way from the start. This will make it easier in the future as you scale or add more income streams.

Make sure you have all the appropriate licenses and insurance you may need. Though the goal is to be self-sustaining as a homesteader, investing in a good accountant can be a huge help in ensuring you’re doing everything right for your county, state, and federal taxes.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

Trying to monetize your homestead is a worthwhile endeavor, but it doesn’t always work out. Like any business, you may try and fail at different income ideas, products, or services. For example, you may do well selling your produce and meat, but perhaps your soapmaking products don’t generate any interest.

If you’re not producing enough to cover expenses and generate a profit, re-evaluate. Maybe you need to tweak some things to make it work, such as finding new customers or venues, but it’s possible that your endeavor isn’t gaining traction.

Maybe you have a good profit margin but you dread what you’re making or the process to sell it. You may want income, but you didn’t get into homesteading to be miserable every day.

Don’t be afraid to give up anything that isn’t working. It can be tempting to keep trying and stick it out, but you’re only hindering your own success. Ditch any ideas that aren’t fruitful and focus your efforts on different options that offer more promise and enjoyment.

Turn Your Homestead into an Income Source

You can always have a homestead for self-sustainable living, but if you want to generate income, there are virtually limitless possibilities. Get creative with what you want to produce and sell, focus on your interests, and start building your income streams to design the life you want.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? Here are some answers to the most common questions about making money homesteading.

Why Do Homesteaders Need to Make Money?

If you’ve purchased land for your homestead, you probably have mortgage payments. You’ll also have property taxes and utilities, depending on your setup. If you’ve purchased equipment to manage your land, such as a tractor, there will be additional expenses.

Even a self-sustaining homestead can cost money, at least at first. There will be things you need that you can’t produce yourself and can’t trade for. While homesteading can be in expensive way to live, it’s unrealistic to think you won’t need any money, especially at first.

And for that, you will need some income streams. You may not need a lot of money coming in each month but having some cashflow will provide peace of mind and security.

Can I Keep a Homestead without Generating Income?

Yes! A lot of homesteaders do it for themselves and their families. They may still work, or have a partner who works, and live simply to sustain their way of life. If you prefer to keep homesteading as a lifestyle and not a business, that’s okay. But if you want to make money homesteading, that’s completely possible.

Do I Need a Big Homestead to Make Money?

No, there are ways to make money on small or large homesteads. In fact, not every possible homesteading income stream even needs to be outside. It’s all about working with what you have and choosing the most practical and enjoyable income streams for your land size, climate, and interests.

How Do Most Homesteaders Make Money?

There’s no one way all homesteaders make money, but a lot of them save money by producing a lot of their own food and goods. Homesteading is about a subsistence lifestyle, so homesteaders learn to make do and get by with fewer material things.

As far as generating money, homesteaders often work toward a few different income streams to diversify with short- and long-term returns. This offers peace of mind of knowing that they have some money coming in.

There’s usually also a mix of active income and passive income, such as growing and selling produce (active) and creating digital homesteading courses (passive). The latter requires upfront work but continues to earn, providing a financial cushion for the active income sources. 

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