From City to Off Grid
Whether you’re looking to go from the city to living off grid, or you’re already living on a homestead, you’ll need at least one remote income source.
A lot of content online about the off grid lifestyle talks about the importance of having resources in the form of food, land, and energy such as solar power.
However, to make the transition from living in a big city and renting an apartment for example, to owning rural land, you are going to need an income that you can take with you.
If you haven’t started your journey to becoming more off grid, then building a remote income stream is a great first step.
From my perspective, there’s three main ways you can earn an income whilst moving towards a more off grid life: developing skills that you can get paid for face to face in an off grid setting (like farming, plumbing, becoming an electrician, etc); earning an income online; or owning income generating assets (for example if you are retired).
In this article I’m not going to talk about investing because that implies you already have significant resources. Instead, I’m going to address Online Income and Offline Income for living Off Grid.
How Much Income Do You Need to Live Off Grid?
How much income you’ll need to live off grid depends mostly on what stage you’re at in your off grid journey.
Because money is only one type of resource, you will likely need more income to begin with. You’ll use this to invest in other types of resources that will then reduce the need for money. For example, buying solar panels and battery storage costs quite a bit up front, but afterwards the amount of money you need to spend on energy drops to as low as zero.
There are some expenses that you’ll most likely continue to have, such as property taxes, healthcare, pension contributions, etc. So you’ll want to always at least enough income to cover those.
Digital Nomad Off Grid: Earn an Income Online
If you’re willing to add “have internet access” your current definition of Living Off Grid, then this opens up infinite income source ideas for living off-grid.
Scams. We do need to have a quick word about Make Money Online Scams. Generally the same rules for not getting scammed as apply as in “real life”:
- If the product or service promises very fast results, it’s probably a scam. Real value takes time. It can be accelerated to a degree, but only to a point.
- If no work is required from you, then it’s probably a scam. Most products and services need more input from you than just money. Even a stay at the Ritz takes some work: purchasing and wearing specific clothes, finding your own way there across London.
Essentially, be a little savvy. You’ll be ok.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s take a look how you can make an income online:
Providing a service is typically the fastest path to being able to create value online. For most people it will also be the quickest path to earning an income online.
There is a range of services, from where you are ‘doing’ 90% of the work yourself, to the other end, where you are advising people who are ‘doing the work’ themselves.
Done for You Services
You’re doing most of the actual work. Things like building a website for a business from scratch, ghostwriting LinkedIn posts for a CEO, or editing videos.
Done with You Services
At this point you’re either doing some of the hands on work yourself, with the client working with you, or you’re providing advice to the client who then who goes away and does the work.
With Group Coaching, you’re providing advice or counselling to a group of people with similar problems.
It could be synchronsoly (live, in real time) via video chat, or audio group call, or it could be asyncronsoly via a group coaching platform like Skool, where you’re essentially messaging each other within the group.
Another way to earn an income online so that you can live away from big cities, is by selling products online. These can be digital, like software, or physical.
With ‘affiliate’ products, you are selling someone else’s product and being given a comission. There are many different products which you can promote in this way, from software to physical good, or even local plumbing services.
The advantage of selling other people’s products is that you can start more quickly, and you can select products which are already proven to sell. Which compared to developing your own product is much easier.
The disadvantages are that you have less control, and you could possibly invest a lot of time and energy building a business around selling someone else’s product, only for them to decide that they don’t want to keep paying you to do that, or pay less.
The best way to get started with this is to make a list of products and services you already use, then Google “[x product] affiliate program”.
Once you find one you like, you then need a traffic source, which I will talk more about below.
Every day there are millions of people looking to make changes in their lives and businesses that require learning new skills. Many are willing to pay for your knowledge, skills, and experience.
There are many ways to sell education online, such as one on one tutoring, but selling it as a product requires packaging your knowledge in a video course, or book.
It’s easier than ever to create your own software to help other people solve problems. The “Indie Hacker” movement has thousands of one person software businesses earning a healthy income by selling software as a service (SaaS).
If you’re interested in diving down this particular rabit hole, I highly recomend:
Many people in software development within communities such as Hacker News can be against what they call “lifestyle businesses”, but don’t let that deter you. You simply have different values and goals to them.
Traffic Sources for Your Online Income
To build a successful one person online business, you need Traffic. What is Traffic? Simply a flow of people interacting with your online presence.
A traffic source could be as simple as you sending emails and getting replies. Or a little more complex. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common ones:
In this context, direct traffic sources are where you are contacting someone ‘directly’. Generally this is the easiest place to start (most people have sent an email before) but it doesn’t scale.
So if you want to grow your income online, then you will need to be selling a high priced service for this to be sustainable.
Cold email has a really bad reputation, with lots of terrible scammers. However, it is also a legitimate way to reach out to people and offer your services.
To cold email responsibly:
- Only email business email accounts (e.g [email protected] rather than [email protected])
- Personalise each email
- Only email people who genuinely may have the problem you are offering to help solve. No bulk emailing random people.
LinkedIn can be used solely for direct outreach, but it works best when you post relevant content to your own profile, and then start conversations with people.
It’s a good platform if you are providing a service to other businesses, but also many coaches use it successfuly when they are providing a “consumer” service like fitness coaching, career advice, etc.
Broadcasting Traffic Sources
With “broadcasting” traffic sources, you’re sending out a message one time, that can possibly reach a large audience. Most social media works like this. It relies on your reguarly posting new content to your audience.
The best place to start is whichever social platform you already have the most experience with, for example:
- Facebook (creating a group is a good option)
Compounding Traffic Sources
With “compounding” traffic sources, you have the opportunity to take a more investing based approach, where traffic slowly builds up over time, because new people are constantly discovering your older content.
YouTube can be used as a broadcasting platform, or as a compounding one. I think it works better as a compounding traffic source, where you create videos based on evergreen problems or topics.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, and so you can create videos based around topics that people search for. That way there will always be a steady stream of new viewers. You can use a tool such as TubeBuddy to discover what people are searching for.
For example on my YouTube channel, when I didn’t post for months, the channel still grew in terms of subscribers and views.
YouTube also has a discovery algorithm, which unlike other social media, often reccomends content that is several years old if it’s good.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of creating content based around what people are searching for online. Technically what I just mentioned above about YouTube is a form of SEO. But mainly SEO refers to writing online with the aim of people finding your site via Google.
Because people are constantly searching online for solutions to problems, you can build a predictable flow of traffic that grows over time, without needing to constantly post on social media.
Also, people tend to have “higher intent” when searching for something specific, rather than scrolling their newsfeed. For example if you were searching for ways to earn an income so that you can live more off grid, and discovered this article, then you’re probably quite motivated to do that!
Earning an Off Grid Income Offline
This is something I have less experience with than earning an income online, and it does depend on the specific area that you’re planning on living in. That said, here are some suggestions for you to investigate:
- Small scale farming
- Traditional fruit and veg
- Providing local services
- Electrical work
- Car repair
- Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP)
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