They say a penny saved is a penny earned and I am certain most farmers live quite frugal lives. It isn't that we're cheap, it is just that we see the value of money more than most people.
Today's blog post is about entering contests or sweepstakes. Don't discount the idea of this as companies now offer online entries and there is no charge to enter. You don't even have to go to the post office and buy stamps.
Even companies which sell farm and homestead supplies are offering prizes. Granted many of these are for people living in the US and Canada but not all. You may wonder how I know this.
Besides this website, I also have one where I list online sweepstakes, giveaways and contests. When I started it I was amazed at the prizes on offer for homesteaders, small farmers, and even urban farmers. My site Ace Contests, lists many prizes which would benefit the small farmer. Whether you need a sit on lawn mower, a chicken coop, or recipe books there are usually a multitude of prizes which are useful.
It isn't just equipment though as many companies or even bloggers offer money as prizes. This is usually paid into a Paypal account. Some bloggers pool their resources and offer Amazon vouchers as prizes. Both Paypal and Amazon vouchers are extremely useful for the small farmer as we can buy what we need. Another bonus is, when it is a prize like money into Paypal or the vouchers, these are usually open to a worldwide audience.
If you do live outside the USA or Canada, be aware that the Amazon vouchers are country specific and as most of the sweepstakes are run from the US, it would most likely be Amazon.com vouchers. That said, many of the sellers now on Amazon will ship internationally.
One thing I need to mention though regarding entering sweepstakes and giveaways, it is prohibited in certain countries. Check the official rules on each sweepstakes page before entering.
If you grew up on a farm, you may not have experienced this. However if you are a transplant to a homestead from an urban environment, there will be many situations where you will find yourself saying, ewww. This might be followed by a how gross or an I can't believe I have to do this.
No one said living on a small farm was going to be clean but there are smells, and gooey things that we never realized needed handling. Yesterday I looked at my dirty nails and said,' a manicurist would have a fit if she saw my hands in this state'.
I use to be that type who had false nails which were renewed every two weeks. It was my one little bit of pampering I indulged in. Now, I think I could grow potatoes with the dirt I carry around under them. They do of course get cleaned but I question whether they could ever return to their former glory.
Today let's look at some of the things we now see as a day to day occurrence when not so long ago , we would have been freaked out by it.
I use to put as much space between them and me as possible and if I had insecticide near-by, they got a blast of it. Once I nearly burned my mom's house down trying to eradicate a nest (that's a story for another time though). Now I realize how beneficial wasps are to a garden. Did you know they remove caterpillars from plants? I have watched them hunting and carrying the caterpillars back to their nest. They are very good providers for their unborn offspring.
On a farm you are going to get shit, there is no way around it. What ever animal you have, it will shit. The upside of all this shit is that most of it you can use on your plants. Still the smell is strong and I personally don't think I will ever get use to it but that is part of living on a farm.
Here again, I never liked them but I see they play a crucial role on a farm. I feel like they are part of my arsenal along with preying mantises, frogs, and birds. Anything which is going to keep unwanted insects down is okay by me.
Even if you don't see them, it is likely you have snakes. Don't be alarmed, as they keep the rodent population down.
These are just a few of the things that make city folk cringe and run or at least get a “Yuck” out of them. When people dream of living on a farm, often they don't think about the gooey, stinky side of it.
How have you coped with the Eww factor? Is there still something which you don't like doing?
Do you blog about your activities on your small farm or homestead? Many homesteaders do and they are earning from it. They do this by having ads on their blog, as I am sure you have seen blogs with advertising links on the side or sometimes also in the text themselves.
There are of course Google ads which you can place on your page and then they match ads to the theme of your blog. To do this you need to sign up with Google Ads after you have already written a few articles. Sometimes people put the cart before the horse and want to place ads before they have written anything. Get a blog or website going, and then go for some ads.
Beside Google ads there is also Amazon who, as I am sure you know, have virtually everything for sale. For Amazon you can either select a specific product or allow Amazon to choose which to decide. This doesn't always work as well as it should but the more specific you can be when listing the search filters, the better. To give you an example, on my tilapia blog, they were showing running shoes made from tilapia skin! Although this was interesting I would be unlikely to make a sale from it as tilapia farmers, probably aren't going to buy these shoes.
There are also companies who specialize in affiliate marketing. They bring publishers and business people together. I use ShareASale and Commission Junction. They both represent many companies who are looking for people like you and me to place targeted ads one our websites and blogs. Both are free to join and you just find a company which you think will be a good fit for your blog. Some of these companies may pre-approve you and others may want to see the standard of your writing and your blog.
The importance of placing relevant ads will make the difference between making a sale and not.
Work From Anywhere
So now you know how you can make money from your blog, you may be wondering what to write about. Write about your life on your small farm or homesteader. I love reading other farming blogs for ideas of what to do on our farm. It is like a global farming community sharing ideas. It isn't just other homesteaders though, as other people who dream of living on a farm are also loyal followers.
Here's a list of potential 'farm blogging' topics:
- Gardening ideas: Have you found the perfect solution to a gardening problem? If so there is a huge audience out there who wants to know. Gardening isn't just about farming as many people are urban gardeners.
- Recipes: Think about how many cooking shows there are on television and you'll know there is an audience who is hungry (see what I did there?) for recipes. Good 'ol fashion home cooking is back on the menu and that is where you come in. If you have never heard of Ree Drummond, check out her site, she has it down to an art form.
- Simple repairs to farm equipment: I don't know how many times a week we look on the internet to find out how to repair something or a quick life hack for an easier way to use a machine. Some evenings my husband gets lost on the internet watching tractor videos from around the world.
- Upcycling: When I think about the things we have reused on our farm, my head spins. Now we look at something and see other possible uses for it. To give you a current example, we are planing on making a trailer using.... wait for it..... a wheel chair, a door, and a fish cage. Not only will this type of quirky outlook get you views from other homesteaders, it is the type of thing which would do well on Pinterest.
I hope this has given you some ideas of what you can write about and how you can monetize your work. As small farmers, any extra streams of income are always welcome.
How to Make Money Selling Seeds
Have you ever bought a packet of seeds? Of course you have, anyone who grows plants has bought seeds, at one time or another.
If you're like most people you will also have accumulated various seeds and plants from people you know and even used the seeds from the the fruit or veg you bought to consume.
Now you may be wondering where I am going with all this. Well I'll tell you. Consider selling seeds as a way to earn more income for your farm.
If you have just made a sound something like, “pfffft!” and waved your hand in a disregarding fashion, let me tell you a little story about a man from Switzerland.
Switzerland is known for many things such as the Alps, excellent timekeeping, and chocolate but who knew about their award winning pumpkin? Hands up, who knew?
I can see from the lack of raised hands, I wasn't alone in not knowing that a man named Ben Meier had entered the record books for growing the world's largest pumpkin. How big was it?
Are you sitting down?
A whopping 2,323lbs (1,054kg) . That is a heck of a lot of pumpkin pie!
The truth is Mr. Meier won't be needing to make any pie with that pumpkin because he now has a very valuable assets. The seeds.
I hope you're still seated because he sold one seed, yup just one for a staggering £1,250 ($1,760) in auction. This was bought by a seed company in the UK who wants to bring the covet title to the UK.
Now do you still think that selling seeds is a bad idea?
Saving Seeds for Planting and Selling
Where to Sell Seeds
Let's look at various avenues for doing this.
There is a big push for heirloom seeds. Those which are passed down through the generations and loved by all. People are wanting natural foods and are seeking out traditional and non GM seeds for their garden. It is this grass roots movement which is having a big impact on manufacturers. The public is demanding and sourcing natural seeds to use. Therefore the time is ripe (see what I did there) to enter the market.
If you are going to become a supplier, there are avenues open to you for selling your seeds.
You will need information about the plant. Starting with the name. Get a photo of the plant and the when it has the fruit or vegetable growing on it. The more information you can provide, the better. Where is the ideal place for it to grow? Sunny, partial shade. What type of soil does it like? Is it hardy, can it take a light frost? The same type of information you would read on a seed packet, is what you should be including with your seeds. This doesn't have to be fancy, a simple printout with the information will suffice.
There is a lot of information about various plants on the internet and you should be able to extract the needed information from there. Of course if you already have it growing in your garden, then mention the conditions that you have provided for it. Remember people like that one to one feeling especially when buying something over the internet. Make it personal and it is likely that customer will buy other seeds from you in the future.
If the plant is prone to pests, give a helpful sheet of prevention. This could include information about a natural pest control, also available from the internet.
If you would like to see a picture of the giant pumpkin, here is a link to the BBC which was just one of the sites which carried the news of the massive pumpkin. Remember you don't have to have an award winning pumpkin to make money from selling seeds, although it would be great if you did. Plants you have growing now, could be your first venture into this market. **Important Note:Check with your local Department of Agriculture and Post office. There are restrictions on importing and exporting of seeds.
You may never have heard the term before but micro jobs are small online tasks, some which take less than a couple of minutes to do. There are companies online which specialize in these types of jobs and require people.
These tasks are ones which can't be done by a computer. For example, one of the micro jobs I have done is looking at images which will appear on Amazon. You have to determine a few things about the image.
- Is it blurry
- Is there a person in the photo
- Is it photographed on a white background.
Other tasks might include such things as product categorization.For example you might be shown a pair of sandals and so far, it is only classified as 'shoes'. You can either put this under summer footwear or classify it as sandals and then flip flops (depending on its style).
The tasks are simple to do and can be done fast. There are several companies on the internet but the one I use is called Clickworker.
The good thing about microjobs is they can be done when you want to do them. You just click onto the site and do a few jobs when you have time. Although the pay for each job isn't much, they don't take long and it soon adds up. If for example you have 10 or 15 minutes, you can go there do a few and that money will stay in your account until it reaches a payout level. It is surprising how quickly it can add up.
This company, for me is great because they don't require you to live in the USA, which many US based companies do. That means no matter where you live, you can sign up.
If you have a large room in your home which you don't use or could convert, consider renting or selling wedding dresses. I know this is a completely different area than farming but if you have the space, put it to use to earn some revenue.
This of course isn't only applicable to a small farm, anyone with space in their home or garage can do this.
No matter what time of year it is, people are getting married and many still opt for a traditional style wedding dress. That said, not everyone wants to buy a dress they will only use once so this a boom for you. Getting paid several times for the same dress is a great way to earn money.
Many years ago I knew a woman who did this in her front room. She had a lovely Victorian house which was bleeding her dry with the upkeep. This is when she decided to rent wedding dresses. At the time, she didn't have the luxury of Ebay and had to find other means to source her dresses.
To start you will need some capital but not as much as you might imagine. Begin with buying good quality used dresses in the most popular sizes. Check charity shops and also on Ebay but stay away from those which have been made in China. I have heard some awful tales about dresses from there. Remember most of these dresses will only have been worn once and some not at all. This could be for various reasons, perhaps the bride gained or lost weight, maybe the wedding was called off.
Either way, they will be willing to accept much less than they paid and remember that you are in this for the long term. Each dress if it is a popular size and lovely style will be hired out several times repaying your initial investment many times over.
There will of course be other outlays which will include cleaning once it is returned. If there are wine or food stains the person who hired it should be charged. Some people charge a cleaning fee no matter what the condition, so this is something to bear in mind. If the dress is simple without adornments such as sequins, beads or inlaid lace, it may be machine washable on a gentle cycle. If in doubt take it to the dry cleaners. Remember, that dress has the potential to make you money.
Occasionally there will be a need for minor repairs. I am not referring to providing a fitting service for the bride, I mean general repairs such as a split seam and such. If you have sewing skills, that is great. If not, seek out a seamstress who can do the work for you. Aim to check all you dresses frequently for minor problems.
Allow the women to try on the dresses in a private room or supply screens for them to change behind.
Once your business gets rolling along you can add in tiaras, wedding shoes, veils and even hair adornments if you wish.
To advertise your business in now much easier because of the internet and much cheaper. Use Facebook and ask your friends to share. Post business cards in prominent places such as grocery stores. Keep business cards with you at all times and any time you hear people talking about an upcoming wedding, give them a card. It isn't being pushy, they will appreciate it.
Now that you have rented them a wedding dress that's it, right.
If you have a usable barn or covered open space, this is the ideal place for a reception. More and more people are looking for something different. Your responsibility would be to get it clean and the wedding party can decorate. The wedding party would also be responsible for the hiring of caterers and the rental of equipment such as table and chairs, plates, and cutlery all needed for the reception.
For the guests, ensure you have adequate parking and w/c facilities available.
Now when you look at your large building, don't think, we can't do anything with this, ask yourself,
“How can we use this better”. I am going to be giving you a lot of ideas of how to use your space. Hopefully you will take these ideas and meld them into something which fills a need in your local area.
Your whole farm has unlimited potential and it is down to you to capitalize on it.
Although farming has always been working from home, I am referring to other types of activities today. As sad as it sounds, many small farmers quickly realize that they just can't live on the money generated from a small farm. This leads to a few hard choices.
- Get a job off the farm. This can be for either just one of you or both. This of course leads to problems as farms need managing and tending.
- Live frugally. I think most farmers live more frugally than most people on the planet! I know I do, I can make a chicken last a week. Tightening the belt is necessary as spending money foolishly is never a good idea
- Work from home but not necessarily with farming activities. The internet has made the marketplace for homeworkers much easier. If you live in the States your options are better as there are more companies who want US based workers. Sometimes this can be frustrating if you aren't in the USA. This is something I have encountered. Although I am American, and a native English speaker, many sites won't allow me to enroll in their program because I live in Brazil. Therefore although my options are more limited, there are still sites I work for.