How to Make Your Hobby Farm More than Just a Hobby

The idea of making money from a hobby farm or homestead is extremely attractive. Working in the fresh air, enjoying nature, and keeping alive old-timey skills and crafts for a contemporary clientele—sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? What many homesteaders forget is that it is also a lot of work, some of it grimy, and some of it decidedly unromantic. Here are some things prospective homesteaders need to know, if they are going to pursue work they find satisfying while also making a sustainable living.

Decide on your product.

To make a living homesteading, you have to produce considerably more than you would if you were just tending to your family’s needs. So you need to have the time, land, and resources for consistent production. If you are planning on selling grass-fed meat, for instance, make sure you have sufficient land for healthy grazing, as well as a reliable water source and the structures you need to manage livestock humanely. Maybe you have sugar maples and intend to produce and sell maple syrup—you will also need equipment for sugaring off and for bottling in compliance with food safety regulations.

Determine your brand.

Once you know what you plan to produce and sell, figure out what makes your offering unique. This could be growing certified organic produce in an area where everyone else grows conventionally. It could be crafting soaps made almost entirely from ingredients produced on your own farm. Whatever the case, pinpoint what you have that your competitors don’t. Your brand should reflect this — both in the name of your homesteading business and in your logo and design.

Locate your market.

Having an amazing product to sell is just one part of a successful homesteading business. Another crucial aspect is the market. This includes both the customers themselves, and a venue or point of sale. Some popular ways for homesteaders to make their products available include farmers’ markets, natural retailers, and co-ops. Research the other vendors or homesteaders who are active in your area. It’s actually beneficial for you to have some competition, especially since this means other homesteaders have been building a market in your area. But you also don’t want to be offering something for which there’s insufficient demand.

Set a strict budget.

Once you’ve acquired your homestead, you’re probably excited to start shopping for the tools you need to make your property both productive and attractive. Whether it’s a new tractor for tilling your fields or a high tunnel for growing greens, there are many exciting items on the market that can make your venture more profitable. Just don’t forget to budget for these purchases. As useful as your new tractor will be, make sure you aren’t spending more than you can afford, especially if you have bills and loans to keep up with.

Don’t take on too much.

Diversity is often key to a homestead’s success, but you don’t want to overdo it. If you dabble in too many projects, you will be unable to give proper attention to any of them. Be cautious about rapid growth, too: Breeding a lot of calves in your first or second year sounds great until you realize you don’t have pasture to raise them all on. Trying to extend yourself too much not only is bad for your farm; it is also hard on you, and can lead to homesteading burnout.

Make your business official.

Making your homesteading business a legal entity is important both for financial reasons and for your own security. When you register your business as a limited liability company (LLC) you tap into tax savings that can make a huge difference for your budget. You also have increased protection from liability, which is especially important on a farm. A formation service like can help you register and keep you compliant with your state’s regulations for LLCs.

So, even if homesteading isn’t perfectly idyllic, this doesn’t mean it isn’t deeply rewarding. It’s just important to approach it like a business as well as a lifestyle, if you want to keep profiting from your labor for more than a few years. If you need more information on starting and running a successful small business, IdeaCafe has numerous resources for you.

Image via Pixabay


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