Homesteaders often say were first attracted to the lifestyle because of their desire to get out of the rat race. It doesn’t take long to learn that, even on the homestead, you need to earn an income. The world runs on money, and although there are a lot of things you can do for yourself or barter for, there are still a lot of things that take cold, hard cash. Fortunately, there are a lot of opportunities on the homestead that can give you a good income while allowing you to stay at home and enjoy the life you have made there. Unfortunately, no matter the product or the service, without a steady customer base, you are out of luck. For that reason, it is important to learn how to best promote your homestead and capitalize on the best marketing practices for the small farm.
1. Promote Your Homestead Through Word of Mouth
Word of mouth advertising is the absolute best first step for homesteaders in small communities. There are several ways to accomplish this. First, put your logo, name and contact information on a business card and hand these out to every customer. Keep some business cards in your wallet so you can hand them out when you get an unexpected inquiry.
Second, create attractive, professional-looking flyers and post them on community bulletin boards in local shops and schools. Make sure your farm logo, name, contact information, and product line are easy to read, and that any dates for special events are highlighted.
Third, don’t forget about snail mail! Email is great, but people are so inundated they are easy to miss. You can use a tool available on the USPS website to target people in a certain zip code. A postcard-sized mailer is a fun, simple and relatively inexpensive way to promote special events such as farm days and CSA sign-ups.
2. Using Local Media to Promote Your Homestead
Make good use of your local media. Create a press release to send to your local and surrounding papers. If you want to advertise a specific event, give the paper plenty of time to visit your homestead, take some photos and write the article. Advertising on your local radio stations is inexpensive and reaches a large demographic. Local papers and radio stations are always looking for local news and they are excited to help promote their community.
3. Promoting Your Homestead at Farmers Markets
Participating in one or more farmers’ markets is how most small farmers make their money. Get more bang for your buck by using the farmers market for more than simply selling your wares. Sell or give your customers promotional products such as tee-shirts, magnets, bumper stickers, and tote bags with your farm name prominently featured. Create promo stickers that you can stick on their purchase. Don’t forget to hand out your business cards.
4. Creating a Website for Your Homestead
Even if you are mainly depending on word of mouth to promote your homestead business, you should have a website. You can set one up for free or you can pay a small annual fee for hosting and use a unique domain name.
A website takes a bit of initial work but once it is up and running, it is a static site. People who land on your site should be able to see information about you, your farm, your products, and it should be easy for them to find your contact information.
5. Write a Homesteading Blog
If you live in a larger area or you have exhausted your word of mouth promotions, a blog is your next step. It is simple to add a blog to an existing website. The difference between a website and a blog is that a website is static and a blog is consistently updated with new content.
If you decide to start a blog, the most important thing to know in the beginning is to add new content consistently. Decide whether you are going to post an article (500 words) once, twice, or three times a week, and then do it. Create a six-month editorial calendar, listing the topics you are going to write about. Add pictures to each post—either photos you have taken or copyright-free photos you can find online. Always respond to comments and questions as quickly as possible.
A lot of articles on self-promotion will advise you to “use social media”. That’s a vague tip, especially if you have never used social media before so we are going to break it down a little. Once you decide on the platform you are going to use, there is a lot of free help online. Just Google your specific question and you will have all the information you need.
6. Promoting your Homestead on Facebook
Facebook is a monster platform, with a wide demographic; women, men, young and old people make use of this social media site, and your homestead will benefit from using it as well.
Your profile picture should be 180×180 pixels. This picture appears when you post to other walls, comment on posts, and when someone searches for you, so make sure it’s a good one. You can also have a cover photo which is a lot larger (820×312 pixels) than your profile picture, freeing you up a bit on your photo choices. Your shared images need to be 1200×630 pixels.
Your Facebook page should be interactive. You want people to comment, ask questions and “like” your posts. The best way to accomplish this is to post often, a minimum of once a day, and to reply to your customers’ comments.
7. Utilizing Pinterest
Pinterest is a huge platform that you should definitely make use of if you have a website and blog. 90% of the pins posted are external links, meaning you can use Pinterest to drive new people to your personal site.
Photos are important on Pinterest, as they are what captures the attention of a user, causing them to click your link. Long, skinny pictures with text are the types of photos that receive the most engagements. Because there are multiple types of pictures—profile, banner, pins, and board displays—I like to use Canva to create my photos. Canva is a free app that has hundreds of templates for all types of projects. Download the app, type in “Pinterest” in their search bar, and pick a design you like.
If you have a Pinterest account, start with a minimum of eight boards and pin at least three times a day. Your pins can be automatically scheduled so you can work on your content once a week and let it take care of itself.
8. Promote Your Homestead on Instagram
Instagram is a highly visual platform that gives you an excellent opportunity to share pictures of your farm and your products with your customers. The photos should be the very best you can take, and sized to 1080×1080 pixels.
The other important thing to remember when you are using Instagram is that it doesn’t matter how terrific your photos are or how clever your captions are; if no one sees them, you might as well have not posted them. The way to get your posts in front of people is to learn how to use hashtags. To choose the correct hashtags for your audience, go to Instagram’s Explore page and find the hashtags that work best for your message and business.
Once you have the correct hashtags and are attracting views, make sure you are leading them to your personal website or blog. You do this by writing a compelling call-to-action in your post captions.
9. Collaborate With Other Farmers
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you can drum up a lot of personal business by collaborating with other farmers and homesteaders. If you sell wool from your small flock of sheep, ask a local fiber artist if they would be interested in hosting an event with you at your farm. If your sheep are sold as meat, collaborate with a local chef. Because it is nearly impossible for you to do all things with one product, having someone who can demonstrate one or more of the benefits of your products is helpful. Make sure it isn’t only helping you, though. The person you are working with should profit, both in dollars and business contacts, as much as you do.
10. Continually Refine and Perfect Your Product Line
Your product, whatever it is, isn’t perfect. It is undoubtedly better than the first time you made it but it can still be improved upon. If you feel you have reached the pinnacle for one item, congratulations, and it is time to expand your product line.
Customers want to be continually surprised, and you are in a perfect position to do that. If you have faithful customers that buy your apple butter each fall, reach out to them and let them know you have some new apple-based products coming out. Ask if they will accept a sample in exchange for a testimonial/review you can put on your website. Not only will a new product-line keep your customers happy and interested, but it will also keep you interested. A farmer who is interested and excited about what they do is a much better seller than one who is bored.
So, there you have them: ten ways to promote your homestead. If you are searching for a way to increase your bottom line, pick one or two of these ideas. Small-farm and homestead marketing takes a little work at first but becomes easier once you settle on a strategy, and the rewards are worth the effort.