For every true homesteader, there are thousands of people who are interested in homesteading. These are people who drive their car from their normal suburban home to their normal city job in normal city traffic. Many of them yearn for a simpler life with fresh air, open spaces, and farm animals. The idea of a simple, low-cost, natural life without all the noise and demands of city living is very appealing. Before anyone can escape to their own homestead, they practice by escaping to the idea of their own homestead. In order to do that, they need true homesteaders (like you) to share their experiences.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember the giant chasm between my homestead life and the city life I used to live. I forget that there was a time when I didn’t know how to hook a bush hog up to a 3-point tractor hitch. I was never required to keep snakes out of my chicken coop or build a solar food dehydrator in the suburbs. In the city, life is dominated by “the job” and driving. Driving back and forth to work, driving the kids to activities, driving to restaurants and stores. Sites like Homestead.org give city folks a chance to compare the difference and dream of the day they can escape.
If you have ever heard the phrase “he’s forgotten more than most people know about…” then you can start to understand the difference between doing something and just thinking about doing it. Any homesteader has probably forgotten more about how to keep chickens alive and safe than most other people know. When I see chickens, I automatically know what breed they are, what they are good for, and how healthy they are. That’s because I’ve raised hundreds (if not thousands) of chickens from eggs to layers (or meat chickens). Perhaps you have as well.
Before moving out of the city to our own homestead, my wife and I read dozens of books on farming, animal husbandry, and farm/barn building. It turned out that many of those books simply gave the same generic information over and over again with pretty pictures. None of them got “in the weeds”, so to speak, on how that information translates to real life. Homestead.org gives actual homesteaders the ability to show those who are interested what the nitty-gritty looks like.
If you are a homesteader, then you are an expert—even if you are new to homesteading. The hardest transition to homesteading is the first few months and years. Building the skills, the resources, and the literal buildings of a homestead without any real experience is a daunting task. Reading about others who have done it (and how they did it) is a welcome resource, but also some comfort that it can be done. In order to make that information available, someone has to share their experiences. That someone could be you.
I wrote before I homesteaded. I wrote blogs, articles, and a couple of books (that no one reads). So writing about homesteading was a natural thing for me to do. I started with blogging. One day I noticed Homestead.org had a call for authors, so I contacted them with some article ideas. Before I knew it, I was published on the site and received a check for $100 shortly thereafter. That didn’t happen because I “wrote a couple books.” It happened because I wrote a simple email to the editor of the site. They didn’t care what I had written in the past. They cared about what I was going to write for them. Anyone can write an email to the editors of Homestead.org, even you.
If you have never written for publication before, or even if you have, let me propose two scenarios:
Experience #1 is writing and submitting fiction to national and regional magazines. In that experience, you pour your heart and soul into a piece. After researching which magazines are taking subscriptions, in what months, and by what formats (mostly by mail), you submit your precious piece. Months later, you hear back from some (not many) with a note that says, “At this time we are not interested in your submission. Thank you.” Your soul is crushed but you keep writing because “you are a writer” even if you never get published. Generally, even if you are published, you aren’t paid.
Experience #2 is writing a short email to Jessica at Homestead.org telling her about what you do on your homestead and a few ideas you have for articles. In a few days or a week (maybe two), you get a response back that says something like, “Thank you. That’s very interesting. I like the idea about… Can you do a 1,000- to 2,500-word article about it for submission? Can you provide your own photos?”
1,000 words might sound like a lot… but in this article, I have already written exactly 795 words. Words are easy to write when it’s something that you know, are interested in, and are excited about sharing with others. These articles are generally written in a conversational style. I made a “C” in my college Composition II course, but I’ve never gotten a bad grade on any article I submitted here. Additionally, my college composition teacher never sent me a check for $100.
How to Earn Homestead Income by Writing
Writing about homesteading is easy and fun. New perspectives are always welcomed since different types of people enjoy reading about homesteading. I have written stories about animals, money, relationships, and more. I even wrote a short piece that is “artistic” in nature called “First Morning on the Homestead.”
If your ideas aren’t something they’re looking for, Jessica will (gently) let you know why not. She may suggest a slightly different tack on a subject or ask if you have experience with something else they might be looking for.
Here are some tips that you might find useful when Writing for Homestead.org:
- Read and follow the submission guidelines page for authors. That’s self-explanatory.
- Edit, spellcheck, and edit again. The Homestead.org editors will correct your article for you, but it’s still your job to make sure your writing meets a basic level of professionalism. You don’t want your published article to make you look bad by not editing before submission. Remember this when composing your introductory email, as well.
- Photos make a difference. Every article on the site has a photo header and many have photos inside the article. Look at how they are formatted: wide format for the header photos, and standard format for inside articles. Photos are easy! Take lots of pictures with your phone and edit them using either your phone editor or your computer. Submit only the best. Here’s a tip: take outside photos of animals or gardens first thing in the morning or right before sunset. The low angle and color of light make for great ambiance. Avoid midday photography since the shadows are harsh when the sun is too bright.
- Do a quick search on the topic on Homestead.org. If they don’t have an article on your topic they are more likely to be interested. When I saw the site did not have an article on how to make moonshine, I wrote a submission based on my experience. If you are going to write about a common subject, such as chickens, find an interesting take: “My Grand Children’s Favorite Chickens”; unique information: “How to Raise Naked Neck Transylvania ‘Turken’ Chickens”; or submit really compelling photographs with your article.
- Think about how you form sentences for maximum interest. “I was” and “There are” include two phrases to never use to open a sentence. Passive openers like “I was” and “There are” make for flat articles. Instead try to open sentences with verbs or nouns. For instance change “There are many types of egg-laying chickens” to “Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and Australorps… funny names for chickens that lay great eggs.” or “One egg, Two egg, Green egg, Blue egg.. did you know Araucana chickens lay blue eggs while Americana chickens lay greenies?” Homesteading is fun, let your article reflect that.
- Learn a little bit about writing for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to help increase traffic to your article.
If you enjoy homesteading, you can easily write articles that reflect your passion and expertise. Homestead.org currently pays $100 (via check or PayPal) to share your experiences with the world. Remember that most people who read homesteading articles don’t have a homestead. Many will never make the leap from their city life. Just like watching the Discovery Channel, reading colorful and interesting articles about living in open spaces with animals and freedom allow people to escape for a moment. Give them a fun escape by sharing your special view of homesteading.
Imagine posting a link on Facebook to your own published article on Homestead.org. It will beat your sister’s repost of a cat video, for certain. At least mine beat my sister’s cat video posts! Plus, it’s fun to call yourself a writer… and even more fun to call yourself a paid, published writer.