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, my plan was to earn a living in the country without leaving the property. And second, I’d earn this living doing something I love. This was the plan of an idealistic 20-something young man (me) and if I knew how crazy it sounded, I may have never attempted it. But I fully expected it to work and it did. And these days it’s even easier to make a crazy dream like this happen. Read on to get ideas and inspiration on how you can do this for yourself, too.
- Reading Time = 5 minutes
Why would I tell you about this in a newsletter that’s about practical, hands-on living? Precisely because the ability to earn from anywhere, on your own terms, is the best way I know of to make a hands-on practical life possible, in the county or anywhere else you might want to live.
How It Works
For more than 30 years I’ve supported my family (we maxxed out at 7 people in the house a few years back) 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, practical activities that make up my life, I love doing them and I spend half my time at the keyboard – sometimes sitting under a tree or on the porch. The rest of the time I’m getting dirty building things, growing things and making our modern 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 only 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, 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, and before remote work via the internet was the big thing it is now. Blazing trails is always much slower than walking on them.
It took me three years of modern 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, and so is my daughter Katherine. It’s also much easier to succeed in this way today, as the world becomes more digital.
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 32 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. More than a dozen 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 I’ve run one online class I call “How to Earn a Living From Anywhere”, along with my colleague and friend Steve Biggs. Are you interested in getting on the waiting list for our next class? Send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll let you know when the next one will run. There’s no obligation, but if you do feel the urge to become a digital peasant, there’s no better way to begin.
Here’s what some previous student said about the course:
“If you’re thinking about getting into online earning, this course is a great place to get started. The two Steves have an abundance of experience and not only provide great information, but are also a sounding board for your own ideas and can advise you on how to mold them into a plausible strategy for success. In addition, you can draw on the experience of other participating students. The Steves are very personable and knowledgeable and easy to work with. I’d highly recommend this course for anyone looking for an introduction to online earning.”
– Jim L.
This was a very new course about a very new subject: Thriving in the Digital World. The two leaders come from quite diverse backgrounds. However, they tended to complement each other very well. They both brought a ton of knowledge to the table and there was no question that they have “walked the walk” and have learned from their mistakes. At no time did I feel that I couldn’t ask a question about anything regardless of the subject. We students certainly benefitted tremendously.”
– Ian W.
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– Steve Maxwell