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How To Brainstorm Homestead Income Ideas
Brainstorming is a helpful tool for exploring a new idea or practice, such as a homestead business, or ways of generating income from the homestead. But more than that, a good brainstorm can be fun, refreshing, inspiring, invigorating, empowering and enlivening.
I’ve used this process to brainstorm many things in my life. I’ve often used brainstorming to help come up with business ideas, long before I started homesteading.
In this guide we’ll be focused on homestead income ideas, but you can use this process to brainstorm anything big or small. From your next meal, to designing a homestead garden space, to your baby’s name.
I love the process of brainstorming because it helps me get out of my normal day to day patterns and into a place of playful dreaming. Brainstorming helps me get into the creative flow. Brainstorming helps me imagine new life possibilities.
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We have all brainstormed before, even if we haven’t knowingly practiced lately. Children are amazing brainstormers! I remember brainstorming with my friends all the time. We would brainstorm what games to play, who would act out what role, what amazing fantasy was unfolding and what we were pretending to do.
Children are naturally tapped into their imagination which helps them brainstorm effortlessly. Also when everyone is on the same page, one kid’s imagination can help inspire their friend’s brainstorming process.
We want to come up with a list of ideas from a place of inspiration so that we can identify possibilities that we may not have considered otherwise.
For kids this is easy. For those of us that spend a lot of time being analytical about our life and what success and stability look like in a normal world, it might be harder to imagine ourselves making income from homesteading.
When I am brainstorming I want to open a place of creativity inside myself, so that I can look past thoughts of reason, self judgements and my every day habits and routines that often prevent me from realizing new possibilities.
As I brainstorm I intend to open a flow of inspiration. When I start brainstorming, I start with one idea. When I am feeling inspired that one idea might inspired 5 or 10 more related, or even seemingly unrelated ideas. And those can lead to more.
I want to set myself up to sit outside of my normal routine, thought patterns and habits so that I can dip into the source of my inspiration and creativity in ways that might not normally come as easily to me.
Ultimately, as a result of brainstorming I want to come up with a list of ideas that came from a creative, inspired place. Later I can refer back to that list, which can be incredibly useful. I might refer back to the list for a few months or a few seasons as we design our homestead business or gigs.
I might even end up referring to our brainstorming list for years to come, perhaps even adding to it, or making new versions as our family evolves as people, has new experiences, learns from our past and as we become older and wiser.
Find Your Primary Motivation
I find it very important to identify my primary motivation for starting a new homestead business or gig before I start a brainstorm.
A long term reason for finding my motivation is aligning more closely with my purpose. Ultimately I want to be doing something that you’ll love as I earn homestead income. Making money often comes with compromises and getting through any rough patches will be easier if I am aligned with my primary motivation.
In the short term our immediate goal is coming up with a creative list of homestead income ideas. If we can identify our primary motivation, we will be able to hold it in our hearts as we brainstorm.
Imagine going into the future after you have already been earning homestead income for a while. Imagine what a future version of yourself 5 years from now will feel like. What will you have then that you don’t have now?
What are my motivations for earning income from my homestead?
Sit with yourself quietly for at least 5-15 minutes and think about your motivations for earning money from your homestead lifestyle. List out anything that comes to mind. Nothing is wrong.
Here are some of my current motivations for starting a new homestead business:
- Leading a more sustainable lifestyle.
- Resilient income in the face of economic uncertainty.
- Strengthening our family bonds through our work together.
- Deeper connection with nature.
- Offering value to our local community.
- Choosing a holistic path.
- Giving my body more opportunities for movement.
- Making a positive impact in our world.
- Working from a place of passion.
- Creating a tangible product that I can actually see and touch.
- Offering a service that can help my community in a real way.
Your list might be similar or it might be completely different. It might be shorter or longer.
After I come up with my list of motivations I like to look deeper. What do all or most of these motivations have in common? How does it make me feel to imagine them coming true?
What deep, perhaps unspoken longing do I have that would be satisfied by acting on these motivations?
Here are my answers to this question:
- Being valued and recognized by my community.
- Living and working by my ethics.
- Feeling more whole and nourished.
- Spiritual growth through my work.
Now, I have found my primary motivations. All four of them are nearly the same primary motivation stated in different ways (I know because my heart feels the same when I speak them).
Again, your deeper needs and motivations may be similar or very different than this list that I shared. If you go deep enough, you might find just one strong, deep motivation that is wanting to align with your actions.
Once you’ve identified with your primary motivation(s) for earning income from your homestead, note it down and keep it somewhere handy so you can be reminded of it often.
When you start brainstorming it will help to hold your primary motivation in your heart and your mind. When you are more aligned with your motivation, you’ll feel more connected and it will be easier to get into a creative space.
Finally, knowing your motivation will be helpful later on, far beyond the you have then that you don’t have now?brainstorming process, as you continue to design your homestead and your life.
Setting A Conducive Environment
The best environment for brainstorming is one where you can feel relaxed, free and creative. If you already have a regular go to space that is conducive of this feeling then you are set!
I like to pick someplace that doesn’t remind me of work, chores or responsibilities. I like to find someplace where I feel safe to play, imagine and express myself without judgement.
Here are some examples:
- Walking helps get creative juices flowing.
- Vacations get us out of our day to day context, feeling free and alive.
- After exercise when I am feeling alive and enjoying the effects of seratonin, dopamine and endorphins.
- In nature where I feel inspired and safe.
- Over a delicious meal when happy bellies can inspire creative conversations.
- At a friend’s house, ideally someone or someplace inspiring.
- Doing something creative before brainstorming. Brainstorms themselves are a creative process, but if you’re not used to brainstorming it might help to practice your favorite creative process (drawing, sewing, singing, dancing, etc.) before starting so that you can get in the flow faster.
Are you homesteading by yourself, in a community of friends or with your family?
Brainstorming with other people can help inspire new ideas and bring new perspectives to your brainstorm. Your friend might have ideas you didn’t think of, and those ideas might inspire even more ideas in yourself.
The Brainstorm Mindset
Before you start brainstorming check in with yourself and see how you are feeling.
You’ll want to be generally content and feeling relatively free of concerns, at least for the moment.
If you are really tired, upset about something, dealing with a big challenge or distracted, it might not be the best time for brainstorming. Check with yourself if you can easily put aside any distractions. If not, take a rain check! Brainstorming works best when its not forced.
Imagine yourself being flexible and malleable with regards to trying new things (without any commitment). That’s what brainstorming is. Being in a place of openness to consider any possibility, however strange or silly it might sound.
Even if you never act on any of the ideas in your brainstorm you will be opening yourself to new possibilities. One idea might lead to another possibility that you never considered through conversation with friends, etc.
When you are writing down your brainstorming ideas, don’t worry about repetitiveness. Just write down what comes to you, even if it feels similar to what you just wrote down. Allow the act of writing down each idea allow the idea to move past the forefront of your consciousness so that you can notice the next idea that wants to arise.
Judgements may come up with each idea that you bring forward. You might get an idea and think “that’s too hard,” “I’ll never make enough money doing that,” “That’s not practical,” or any other number of judgements.
When we get hung up on a judgement it can hold back the brainstorming process by slowing us down and discouraging us from coming up with other creative ideas.
If you find this happening when you are brainstorming, know that there is a place for judgements to be heard after the brainstorming process. Your judgements can feel satisfied knowing that you are not going to act on any of the ideas in this moment.
This moment is for ideas to appear and flow through you, into the air as you speak them out loud, and onto the paper as you write them down. Judgements will come in handy later as we evaluate ideas and start planning a new business. But the brainstorming phase is not where evaluation or planning happens.
So when judgements come up, thank them for helping and ask them to hold onto those thoughts for the right time. There will be a good time for making evaluations and considering all reasonable judgements or objections.
For some it may be very difficult to quiet the judgements when it comes to speaking new business ideas out loud, especially when those ideas are not familiar. It can be helpful to brainstorm with a friend or family member that can remain objective when we are speaking.
The less hung up we can be on judgements, objections or evaluations, the more we can be in the flow and receive one new idea after another.
Litmus for Flow
When I am brainstorming from a creative space, ideas flow more naturally, with ease and without too much friction. When I am in the flow during a brainstorm, I notice myself bounding from one idea to another. Each idea may immediately inspire one, two, three or perhaps many more new ideas, which in turn inspire more new ideas.
If you are starting your brainstorm and having trouble coming up with more than a few ideas, or if those few ideas are taking more than a minute or two to arise, chances are something is holding you back from connecting with your flow. It could be due to judgements, lack of inspiration, exhaustion, or any number of other reasons.
This is the best opportunity to be patient with yourself and grateful for your effort. It might help to check in with your environment and your mindset (refer to Setting a Conducive Environment and The Brainstorm Mindset above).
When I get stuck in a judgement or analytical thoughts about a new idea, my partner can help me by reminding me not to overthink it.
I might say something like “But I don’t know if its going to be easy to run a business selling eggs. What if I waste time and money because I never had experience raising chickens before?”
At that point, its helpful when my partner reminds me “Don’t worry about what it will involve. Let’s just write down the business idea and keep brainstorming more ideas. We can evaluate them later!”
Our Best Homestead Income Brainstorm
Ann and I held a brainstorming session before we started homesteading together. We had both just wrapped up our apprenticing and volunteering at farms and homesteads in the Pacific Northwest and we had decided that we wanted to homestead together.
We had some savings but neither of us had jobs or income at the time, having given that up to immerse ourselves in learning about farming, homesteading and permaculture. At the time, neither of us wanted to continue our previous careers and we were inspired to make a living from our new homesteading lifestyle.
We were traveling across 2 1/2 states from one homestead to another as we wrapped up our apprenticeships. In those few days we were on vacation, on the road, jobless, away from our volunteer work, extremely inspired for a lifestyle shift and generally feeling pretty free.
It was during this road trip that we naturally began brainstorming income ideas as we drove down the highly, past beautiful mountainsides, forests, rivers and open skies.
In that moment I remember feeling excited about literally every idea we wrote down. That’s such a beautiful thing about being human, that we can achieve literally anything we imagine is possible.
In the right state of mind, its easy to imagine myself doing anything and enjoying it, as long as it was by my own choice.
The ideas gushed out of us as we drove down the highway and we ping ponged ideas back and forth and inspired each other more and more, until the flow of ideas stopped. Then feeling satisfied we stopped!
That setting and state of mind was pretty ideal, if not perfect, for a brainstorm. But they don’t have to be perfect every time, they just need to be conducive of getting into the flow and putting some ideas on paper.
Our List of Homestead Income Ideas
I would love to share our brainstorming list with you from that session, but unfortunately it was lost sometime over the years as we moved. But not to worry because I recreated it here now by re-brainstorming (and partially from memory).
I am glad I did, because it helped me get back into the mood and mindset that my younger self was in at the time. Its not exactly the same, but its close enough to share with you here.
Here is the result of our brainstorm for homestead income ideas:
- Cut Flowers
- Dried Flowers
- Floral Wreaths
- Tea Blends
- Dried Herbs
- Fresh Fruit
- Fresh Produce
- Nut Butter
- Perennial Fruit
- Rare Fruit
- Culinary Herbs
- Medicinal Herbs
- Herbal Beers
- Herbal Tinctures
- Plant Starts
- Trees from Seed
- Grafted Trees
- Vegetable Seeds
- Herb Seeds
- Perennial & Tree Seeds
- Airbnb (short term rentals)
- Long Term Rental
- Hosting Weddings
- Homestead Workshops
- Teaching Growing Flowers (locally or online)
- Teaching Permaculture (locally or online)
- Teaching Homesteading (locally or online)
- Natural Photography
- Naturally Dyed Fabric
- Naturally Dyed Wool & Yarn
- Naturally Dyed Clothing
Your List of Homestead Income Ideas
When you hold your own brainstorming session, your homestead income idea list might look very similar to ours, but chances are it will look completely different!
In our list our combined main interests were focused around growing perennial food bearing plants and trees, crafting with dried flowers and working with herbs. We didn’t discard any other ideas that came up that also sounded even mildly interesting to us in that moment.
In your case, your main interest(s) may be totally different than ours. Your interests might be focused around:
- Tool Making
- Community Service
- Cheese Making
- Primitive Skills
- … and many more not listed here!
For example: If one of your primary interests is healing, your brainstorm might include ideas like:
- Herbal Remedies
- Massage Therapy
- Guided Meditation
- Nature Therapy
As you can see any interest can be broken out into many, many individual income ideas. Each idea can be further broken down into specialties, so don’t be afraid of getting granular in your brainstorm if that’s where the flow takes you.
If you’re not satisfied with the results of your brainstorm, its OK, brainstorming is a skill that can be honed with practice. Try again on another day or week.
You can plan ahead when you are going to brainstorm, but it might turn out even better to let the moment come to you when you are feeling very inspired and excited for future opportunities.
If you notice that inspired mood striking you, grab your pen and paper and start writing your ideas down! Remember to keep the mood light and fun. The more playful you can keep it, the better your brainstorm will be.
So you brainstormed a bunch of homestead income ideas – congratulations! Here are a few places you can go now. You might follow these steps on your own or with your homestead family, friends or land mates.
Now I recommend marinating in your ideas. Go over the list several times on different days. Try to find a time when you can be in a positive and uplifting mood.
Return to that feeling of inspiration and playfulness as you revisit your brainstorm list. Slowly go down your list one idea at a time. Give each idea a chance to play out in your playful imagination. Hold each idea in your mind and heart for a few moments.
Imagine what it would feel like to dedicate a significant portion of your life to this practice. What kind of person will you become as you incorporate these new practices in your life? How will your life change in 5 or even 10 years as you continue to follow this new path?
As you marinate in each idea make mental notes of these thoughts and feelings. You can write them down too if you feel that is helpful.
Continue to allow your curiosity and inspiration to speak up and remember that there is still plenty of time for questions, judgements and concerns to be addressed later on as you move further through these “next steps”.
You can spend as much time marinating on your homestead income idea list as you need. It can be one or several sessions. It can take one day or many. Its totally up to you and only you will know when you are ready to start action on one or more of these ideas!
By the end of your marination you might have naturally narrowed down the list to some set of ideas you are most excited about.
Playful experimentation is the most ideal first action to take after choosing your favorite homestead income ideas! You could skip ahead to starting a side hustle or designing a business, but starting with playful experimentation has some great advantages.
When you casually try something new there is much less commitment. Ideally you are not spending much money, you are not committing much time and your energetic commitments are minimal.
Pick one or a few ideas to try at a time. I personally wouldn’t try more than 3 ideas at a time. You can spend days, weeks, months or years playing and trying out any one practice.
You can also cycle ideas as often as you want. Maybe some ideas weren’t as fun as you thought. If you get bored or dis-interested in one idea, try another that is calling you!
The idea is to have fun trying something new.
For example one of my favorite homestead income ideas was selling young fruit and nut trees. So I started growing fruit and nut trees from seed for myself and for my own enjoyment.
My partner and I were renting a rural home and garden space at the time. I didn’t own a property where I could plant the trees that I was growing, but I didn’t let that stop me from trying this out.
After I started a few plants from seed, my confidence and interest grew and I started learning the basics of propagating perennials from cuttings and grafting as well. In 3 years time my humble nursery hobby exploded into a lot of plants.
I’m glad I didn’t wait to move to our permanent homestead because it turned out to be one of my favorite hobbies and a viable homestead side hustle. I also learned a ton of skills that came in handy when we moved.
But it could easily have gone the other way and I through my playful experimentation I could have discovered that it wasn’t as interesting or exciting as I thought it might.
For example one idea I was really excited about was making and selling herbal beers. After brewing a few herbal beers it turned out to be less exciting than I first realized. I also realized that I loved making herbal beers for myself but I didn’t want to repeat the process hundreds of times in order to make some income from it.
I am glad that I took that time to experiment with this idea before committing to it as a business because I saved myself a lot of time, energy and possibly money.
I also think its nice if a playful hobby or experiment later becomes a business because it started off on a playful note. If that element of play and passion can be carried over into a business or side hustle, we’ll find more fulfillment and stay more inspired.
After all, those are qualities that I want to embody as I am homesteading or I wouldn’t be doing it!
Start A Homestead Side Hustle
Do you have a homestead hobby that you absolutely love doing and would like to earn some side money as a by product? Its time to start a homestead side hustle!
Homestead side hustles are the natural next step after playful experimentation. You’ve been playing with your new hobby for some weeks or months. You’ve established that you love doing it! And now you have some excess products as a result of your playful experimentation, and/or you have the ability to offer services, as a result of what you have learned.
For example, maybe you have more eggs, herbal remedies, tanned hides, handmade tools, veggie starts, or artwork than you can use. Maybe you already gave away a bunch to friends and family and you still have more. Maybe you love what you’re doing so much that you keep doing more and keep ending up with excess!
Start putting word out to your friends and local community that you have this product or service. If they are easily ship-able, you might list your products for sale online.
The nice thing about side hustles is that there is not a huge expectation about making a certain quota of income. With side hustles any extra income or cash is welcome.
You are essentially being paid to keep practicing your hobby! A reasonable goal might be to raise enough money to break even with any supplies or tools that you are purchasing for your hobby.
For example I know homesteaders that raise chickens and try to sell enough eggs to cover the cost of their chicken feed. Any excess beyond that might go towards new tools or a new chicken house, etc.
When I sold nursery trees, I didn’t ask for much money, but I received enough to cover my expenses with nursery pots, soil and some seeds.
Your side hustle may stay a side hustle or it may eventually become a business. The nice thing about side hustles is that there is less commitment of resources and time, and there is less expectation than starting a business.
Research and Learn
Investing time to educate yourself in your passions is helpful to take your side hustle or business to the next level.
You can be researching and learning at any point in your practice. It can come before your playful experimentation or it can be during your side hustle or as you implement your business.
Ideally you will continue learning on an ongoing basis to keep things interesting for yourself, but also so that you can continually improve the value that you offer to your customers.
Reading books and researching online is excellent. Making friends with other homesteaders that are ahead of me in my practice is a must have for me.
Ideally you may find a mentor along the way, whether locally or online, that can help you when you are stuck, answer your questions and provide constructive criticism as you are learning.
Ultimately you may decide to take your homestead income idea all the way to a part time or full time business. Amazing! This is exciting! It is also probably going to be a lot of work, so its a good thing that you chose something you are especially passionate about. Designing a new business is a topic for another article that will be available here later.
Revisit Your Brainstorm Roots
No matter what stage of the process you are in, it can be helpful to revisit our brainstorm notes from time to time.
If you are feeling ready for another change some months or years later, re-reading your brainstorm list can help remind you of your options. If some significant time has passed, it is a good idea to have another brainstorming session.
Our interests and who we have become may have changed enough such that our brainstorm results can be completely different.
When I brainstorm homestead income ideas now, they are definitely different than they were 7 years ago because I have developed new passions and skills while getting to know my homestead interests more intimately. I’ve also picked up new interests and passions along the way. My motivations have also shifted.
I am grateful that you are taking this time to consider a shift in your life toward producing income from your homestead practices.
I am grateful that you are taking the care to design your life so that it is more rewarding and gratifying.
I am grateful that you are helping to make this world a better, more vibrant place through your intentions.