In 1985 I signed paperwork making a 91.5 acre piece of very rural farmland and forest my own, and I did this with two things in mind. First, I’d earn a living in the country without leaving the property. And second, I’d earn this living doing something I love. For more than 25 years I’ve supported my family that has grown to 7 people on a single income I earn from the keyboard of my laptop, producing stories, photos and videos for magazines and websites, including my own. I have no boss, but work entirely freelance, teaching people how to build everything from houses to furniture, how to fix things, and how to grow food and thrive in the country. These are the hands-on activities that make up my life, I love doing them and I spend half my time at the keyboard – many times sitting under a tree or on the porch. The rest of the time I’m getting dirty building things, growing things and making the homestead life happen. On the rare occasions when I travel, my work goes with me. All I need is wifi. My wife and I were able to adopt our youngest daughter, Ellie, in 2008 precisely because I could take my work with me to South Africa when we travelled to get her.
Life as a Digital Peasant
I call myself a “digital peasant” and there are three main things you need to know if you’d like to become one, too. First, you must begin with (or develop) passion, knowledge and hands-on skills that other people would like to learn and be entertained by. Both skills and entertainment are what you’re selling. Second, you need to develop good digital and communication skills: writing, photography and videography are the stock in trade of the digital peasant I am, but so is sales. You need to convince people to buy what you make. Third, you need to invest in good computers, good cameras and other digital tools. The world has more than enough blogs and videos done with mediocre equipment. Using good gear properly is one way to make your work stand out.
Success Takes Time
Expect success to take time, too. With help and good advice you can get up and running much more quickly than I did, but don’t forget I was inventing all this stuff from scratch before anyone else was trying it. Blazing trails is always much slower than walking on them.
It took me three years of homestead living before I realized that working at the computer might just be the best way to keep checks showing up in my mailbox without leaving the property. After that it took 7 more years before my digital income level rose enough to let my wife quit her job as a registered nurse and to stay on the homestead full time. Today my oldest son, Robert, is financing a life for himself and his wife and daughter on our family homestead doing the same kind of digital work I do.
Is being a digital peasant for everyone? No, but what venture is? If you like the variety of combining computer work with hands-on living, and you’d like the freedom to earn money from anywhere on planet earth, then maybe another digital peasant is about to be born.
Fleeing the Fishbowl
Robert is someone you’ll hear about from time to time as I offer insights on working remotely on your own terms. Robert is 31 now, and back when he was 18 he took my advice and did what I call “flee the fishbowl. Rather than go to university or college, after high school he headed out on his own to develop skills he cared about – writing, photography, videographer and design. Twelve years later he’s doing well with lots of great work that he does from home, enjoying plenty of time with his wife and young daughter. People come to him with enough work that he can barely keep up sometimes. Back when Robert made the leap in 2008, and was the only one in his high school class to not go on to college, he wrote a song around the ideas I’d been talking about around the dinner table for years. Naturally, it’s called Flee the Fishbowl. Click below to hear it.
So far several hundred people have joined my free “earning a living anywhere” community. It’s a place where I’ll share content on working from home (or anywhere else you want), ultimately leading to a course that explains how you can succeed, too. Join us below if you’d like to learn more about being a “digital peasant”.
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