How To Make Money Living Off The Grid

Tricia Drevets

No matter how much you have simplified your lifestyle, you likely still need to have some money in order to survive in today’s world. Even if you grow most of your own food, make most of your own clothes and harness most of your own energy, you still have a number of needs and expenses that require you to have an income. In fact, even though it sounds like a Catch-22, you need a steady stream of income to realize your dream of independent living.
The problem is that now that you have moved away from the city and the rat race it offers, your options for making money are limited, right? Not necessarily.
A first step would be to talk to your current or previous employer about the possibility of telecommuting. Many companies are open to the idea of you working for them — at least part-time — from home. The advantages to the company are that it can keep you as a trained, valuable employee without needing to provide you with office space or other benefits. The advantages to you are the flexibility in hours and the fact that you can work from home.

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If your previous job does not lend itself to telecommuting and/or if you are ready to make a complete career switch to go along with your new lifestyle, it’s time to do some brainstorming. Begin by making a clear-eyed assessment of your talents and skills, deciding which ones can provide an income stream. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
carpentry
painting
remodeling
art work (especially high-quality artisanal work)
beekeeping
herbs and traditional medicines
housecleaning
home delivery service or driving service
pet sitting
babysitting
animal care
In addition to these services that you can offer locally and advertise by way of your community bulletin boards, local newspapers or though Craigslist, the Internet provides a wide variety of opportunities to offer your talents to a much wider audience.
You can sell your arts and craft via sites such as eBay or Etsy. You can market your professional services through Internet freelancing sites such as Elance, Freelancer, oDesk, People per Hour and Fiverr.
These sites offer work for everything from graphic design to computer programming and from translating to proofreading. Other options are bookkeeping, research and website development. Most sites require you to complete a personal profile that lists your experience and provides links to examples of your work. The sites either require a membership fee or take a percentage of your salary. In return, you have access to a variety of jobs for clients located throughout the world who are looking for your services.
Another online work opportunity exists for tutors. Many websites are looking for online tutors for students, ranging from elementary school kids to graduate students. Additional opportunities exist for people who would like to teach English to non-native speakers.
Building a steady business online will take you some dedicated time and not a little patience. Many online clients will hire you based upon your rating and your feedback from clients. Even if you have established yourself in a career in the “real” world, you may need to build up a client base in the virtual world from the ground up.
You also will need to determine a work schedule that meshes with your family time and the time you need to devote to maintaining your home and property. Many freelancers find it best to maintain regular work hours for their freelance business just as they would with any business.
Other options for income might pertain to your specific home and property. Think of ways you can turn your interests and hobbies into a profit center. Do you love dogs and have plenty of room for them? Perhaps you could start a dog boarding business or a licensed kennel.
Do you make your own jam and honey? Look into opportunities for selling your product at grower’s markets or natural markets.
Do you raise horses? You could offer boarding or riding lessons.
Lastly, although it may seem counterintuitive, try volunteering. As a volunteer in your area of interest, you will gain valuable experience and be able to network with people already in your field. Join professional organizations or chat rooms with like-minded people and ask questions about how they got started. The Internet has broadened opportunities for so many people that you will be surprised at how willing others are at sharing what they have learned.
And don’t forget about the ancient art of bartering as a way of making ends meet. Many people who live off the grid exchange their labor for useful items and services, thereby bypassing the need for money in certain cases. You might have just what another family needs, and they may have what you need. You never know until you ask.
Here are some helpful resources on this subject:
How to Survive Without a Salary: Learning How to Live the Conserver Lifestyle by Charles Long
The Simple Life: Thoughts on Simplicity, Frugality, and Living Well by Larry Roth
Undress for Success: The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home by Kate Lister and Tom Harrish
Zero Cost Living: Exploring Extreme Frugality by James R. Delcamp
Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business by Joy Cho
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