Self-Employment for Anyone

This is a guest post by Seeuncourt and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.

fake moneyOpportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Whether you want to leave the rat race, get off the grid, retreat from the city, enjoy a simpler life, or become self-sufficient, whatever your motive – to achieve your goals you need an income.  You can work for someone else or work for yourself.  Starting a cottage industry can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be.  Start by exploring your talents and hobbies.  What are you good at doing?  Could you make money from it?  Then, look at your area; is there niche market for what you do?  Are you able to create that market?  Starting small is key.  The temptation to “go big or go home” may cause you to invest your precious capital in the wrong areas of your business.

Hawking Your Wares

Begin with an analysis of your area for marketing.  Determine if your local area has a farmers market or flea market and how to participate.  Develop an Etsy or Ebay page, or your own website.  Ensure that you are not using colloquialisms or local lore to market your product.  I’ll explain; as a youth I went to a local restaurant with my father.  My father is from Tennessee, but I was raised in Iowa.  At the restaurant the menu read, “Ham n Aigs with Taters”.  I asked my father, “What’s an “Aig”?”  After he composed himself he whispered, “Egg”.  Some local cute-isms are lost on the young or international travelers!  Market accordingly!  The best and most enduring way to market your product, in my humble opinion, is to donate your product or service.  Your generosity will be remembered and passed on to new customers.  Often your donation can be accompanied by your business card revealing to others how to obtain such a good or service.  Happy and satisfied customers are the best advertisement.

Green Thumbs

If gardening is your forte, attend your local or regional farmers markets.  Take notes on what is there.  Identify the excess and the rare.  See what people like and are taking home.  Tailor your efforts toward what is popular, but not in great supply.  Some ideas that are surefire sellers:  Herbs, Onions, and Greens.  Nothing says “take me home” like fresh culinary herbs, onions, shallots, garlic, and fresh spinach, and salad greens.  All can be grown year round outdoors, in green houses and high tunnels, and in cold frames.  Low in overhead, simple to grow organically, and to harvest, they are easily packaged with a simple rubber band at the stems or stalks or in plastic baggies.  Think non-GMO, heirloom, and organic!

Cut Flowers and Floral Arrangements

This takes a bit more gardening knowhow, but if you are a flower mage, put them to work for you!  Donate an arrangement to a local church or nursing home.  Include a “donated by” business card with your business details.

More than Whirly-gigs and Lawn Ornaments

If your talents include wood working consider items picnic tables, vegetable hods, window boxes, book shelves, storage cubes, vertical gardens, antler mounting plaques, and natural walking sticks (add a hand carved wood spirit and leather grip!)  Donate a picnic table to the nursing home or a mini-table to the daycare center with a “donated by” card.  Take orders for your creations by posting with pictures on Craigslist or in the free local add paper.  Consider furniture refinishing as a side industry.

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Sewing can encompass everything from quilting to mending and alterations to custom tailoring orders.  It can be basic or include machine embroidery.  You are limited only by your creativity and the capabilities of your sewing machine.  Be aware that some may not be interested in your finished product, but in learning to make their own.  Offer sewing lessons as a mainstay of this industry.  Consider volunteering to teach a basic sewing course to a 4H or homeschool group.  Investigate how to teach an adult education course through the local school system choosing an interesting finished product.  Consult with local fabric stores and hospitals to determine if they will display finished class products.

Knitting and Crochet

While a fabulous pastime, hand knit and hand crocheted items are not often lucrative given the cost of fiber and the amount of time invested.  This, and the influx of cheap china-mart knits make handmade fiber crafts money losers.  Better to offer a class as above with a finished walk away product.

Givin’ the Dog a Bone

We love our pets, thus, the pet products industry is very lucrative if you can create a product that appeals.  All natural dog treats packaged in human-appealing packaging, for instance, are a boon.  Or, hit up the local thrift shop on “fill a bag for a buck” day (or ask for the unserviceable items at a deep discount) and buy blue jeans and fleece coats or blankets.  Turn these into creative two-sided recycled pet beds.  Stuff them with fabric scraps and cedar shavings for natural flea repellant.  Collars and leashes:  nylon webbing, paracord, leather – plain or covered in bling, these simple to make and high return for investment items are a must have for dog and cat owners.  Think of ways to make them original or trendy.  Donate a few of these items to your local animal shelter.  Ask them to post your business cards in return.

Bartleby the Scribner

Tutoring, typing, medical and legal transcription, resumes –put those 65 wpm+ typing skills to work for you!  Legal and medical offices often search for individuals to take on “a la carte” typing jobs.  Canvass your local area presenting a professional business card.  Obtain a “good conduct” certificate from your local PD and indicate that you will present it upon request.  Consider tax preparation as a seasonal side industry.

Are You Being Served?

Process Server and Notary Public:  With a small investment in training and certification or licensure, depending on your area population, you can make a decent wage as a process server.  Upon certification, make your service known to the local courts and attorneys by sending a business letter describing your qualifications and services.  Include professional business cards.  Consider the dangers that accompany process serving and consider self-defense classes and/or a concealed carry permit.  Hang out a shingle stating you are a notary public, run a newspaper advertisement and post a notice on the community bulletin board.

Think Outside the Box

Do you own a truck and/or a trailer?  Put it to work for you!  Advertise “two grunts moving” on Craigslist, the free add paper, at the local storage units, and farm store.  Offer to move everything from hay bales and firewood to Aunt Fanny’s antique armoire.  Consider the overhead for packing materials, strapping, and added insurance when pursuing this venture.

Show me Angry – Now Sexy

Quality photography and photo products can be produced with a small investment in equipment and software.  If you have a digital camera, a computer, and a working knowledge of Photoshop, you have the makings of a popular business.  Use your innate creativity to make stunning birth announcements, senior pictures, graduation announcements, holiday photo cards, etc.  Consider specializing in pet or infant photography.  Add an additional creative niche selling matted photographs.  Take black and white photos of common objects that look like alphabet letters.  Arrange the photos to spell the name of a local popular establishment.  Mat and frame the photo montage and donate to the establishment with a request that they display your business card.

Tis the Season

Some work is only available dependent upon the season, or your geographic area.  The key is to observe what is popular in your area and determine how you can get in on the action.  Some seasonal industries include:  cleaning gutters, sealing hot-top driveways, wreath making, gift baskets, rotor tilling/garden preparation, lawn care, leaf raking, camp wood and ice vending.  Break up pallets (often free for the hauling) into 16 inch lengths, mix hardwood and softwood pallets, including a pack of matches and one commercial fire starter.  Saran wrap into a bundle.  Sell these and ice at or near local campgrounds (with the appropriate vendors’ permits, of course.)

Dressed in Overalls and Looks like Work

Don’t have all of the skills you need?  Explore the enrichment or continuing education credit courses at your local technical or community college.  These are usually offered at reduced price tuition.  Contact the local High School or Cooperative Exchange Office and determine what adult education classes are available in your local area.  Request to apprentice with a local trades person during the “off” season.  Offer to work for free during the high season as payment to learn the trade.  Some trades to consider include butcher, welding and fabrication, and carpenter.

Your choice of employment doesn’t have to be conventional.  You may develop the next big thing.  Above all else you must make wise choices and believe that you can be self-sufficient.

How about you?  What is your cottage industry success story or suggestion?

Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…

  1. First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo  courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and 1 Case of Survival Cave Food Chicken with 12 14.5 oz. Cans courtesy of LPC Survival.
  2. Second place winner will receive – $100 off of your next order of  Fish Antibiotics courtesy of, a Survival Puck  courtesy of and a Coffee Mug courtesy of Horton Design.
  3. Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of

Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on March 17 2014


  1. In my opinion, no matter how “good” your job is, you need to have a “self marketable” skill. Another way that you can earn money (not just save it) outside of you current employment.

    These are some great ideas.

    • seeuncourt says:

      JP, thanks for the kudos. I agree with your point that you should have a ‘fall back’ even if you currently have a job. The old adage, “one is none, two is one” comes to mind. Having an alternate source of income will help when you have a personal SHTF. Good point i didn’t consider fully when writing this article!

  2. These sound like great ideas. I need to do some serious thinking on this subject as I could use some extra income for debt payoff and prepping. How have others here used these ideas or others to earn extra dollars or to replace income. Details about how you got started would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • seeuncourt says:

      Getting started really begins with brainstorming what it is you can do well, then determining if you have or can create a market to sell whatever it is, either good or service. Once you have your product or service, exploit the free advertising of craigslist, your Post office or community bulletin board, the free advertisement newspaper, etc. Use a company like vistaprint or cafe press and create some striking business cards. DONATE your good or service to a worthy entity and display business placards or cards with the item as free advertisement. Make a FB page or FREE website. All of this takes a lot of energy and planning, but can easily be accomplished! My best tool was to make an outline of the process from thought to sale and everything in between!

    • seeuncourt says:

      Another great creative tool is to pick up a like item (an item like the one you wish to create) at a thrift shop, or new…consider it an investment in research and development. Deconstruct the item to see how it was made and put together. Don’t exactly copy the item, but make it your own. You have the benefit of knowing how the commercial item was made and you can improve it…YOUR 6 million dollar man!

      • A lady I knew started selling cameras for a local camera shop. She would see what was on sale and list it on Ebay. She could set it for the sale time. If it sold she would go pick it up. If not all she lost was some time running the kids around. She sold so many that the camera shop asked her to sell the close outs. One Christmas she found a coupon for the hottest selling toy at a large toy store. She asked for coupon to be returned when she would buy one and they did not have a problem giving it to her. Listed on Ebay and she made 4 thousand in a week.

  3. SoCalPrepper says:

    This is really tough when you’re already working a 50 hour week…BUT I am increasingly being approached by friends inside and outside of work about my “shooting hobby.” They want to learn, so I’m getting set up with the NRA Instructor certificates and learning as much as I can, and then I’ll start charging for range time. We’ll see how it goes!

    • seeuncourt says:

      So true. I am full time ++ employed currently, but long for the days when i can be self employed. I live in a very rural area, so determining what, or what group of goods and services will sell is important…and time consuming!

  4. Good ideas. Got me thinking.
    One thing I’ve done is sell on Ebay, and not just stuff I have laying around the house. If you can get hold of products that 1) are not available everywhere (like strike anywhere matches), or 2) are cheaper than people can normally find (see import sites), you can make a little money. Another idea is to put together a few items and make a kit out of it & sell it – any kind of kit is good. Check Ebay and see what others are selling.
    Making jewelry is another idea. It’s pretty easy, once you get the hang of it. Even guys can do it – think survival bracelets. They’re easy to make and sellable.
    If you have skills in prepping or survival-related subjects, why not teach it? Just a thought.

    • I had a friend who was retired military and disabled. He made women’s jewelry in all the pinks and pastels, pearls, and things women and teen girls like. He found a grocery store, huge chain, that allowed him to set up one card table. He carried his chair and folding table and his wares, set up in the front of the store and could barely keep enough made.

  5. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Those are some good ideas. I especially like the ‘make your hobby your job’, but beware – if you like your wares TOO MUCH, letting go of them will be tough. Select beforehand what you are willing to get rid of and go from there. It never hurts to start a secondary business that will help pay bills if your current job goes bust.

    Again – great job – thanks for your submission.

    • seeuncourt says:

      JR…especially if you are a gear-addict…and you are making gear…LOL! I know what you mean, though.

      • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

        Yes – definitely true – that one is my ”demonstrator’ . . . :^)

        Forgot to mention – if you work for the federal government, check into any employee laws you may be run up against. One acquaintance who works for a federal agency was told that she could not pursue an after hours pursuit because it would ‘influence her work’. So not only is she on call, its against the rules to work on her own time!

        Just check is all I’m saying.

        • seeuncourt says:

          So true. I work for the axis of evil and you have to get “outside work authorization” to have any volunteer or employed position other than the one the gov granted you.

          • See you in court. Would that also hold true for religious activities?

            • seeuncourt says:

              I don’t think religious activities are included, unless you are turning a profit, such as charging to conduct religious ceremonies, etc.

  6. mom of three says:

    But make sure you check out all rules, not just state but local. I was going to start a cottage business, doing canning but my state, will only let me do jams, jelly, apple, pear, butters. You have to have a health inspector’s, be able to come in your home any time of the day, and any time of the week. $125.00 fee and other start up fee’s, plus how much the farmer’s markets charge . Ours is $75.00 a month for space fee, because we are in the city limits. By the time we added everything up plus having a health inspector’s, drop in anytime, we choose not to go this route.

    • seeuncourt says:

      This is part of Research and Development. You are right that sometimes the regulation will drive you out of business or prevent you from starting(thanks TDL). One thing that can be done in my state is to rent a local restaurant kitchen to prepare and can the foods. Local mom and pops allow me to can my mustard using their health certificate and license…and they sell my stuff in their restaurant! Developing that relationship takes time, but is a loop-hole around the regulations in some states.

  7. SoCalPrepper says:

    Just a heads up – the price of silver is down quite a bit, so if you are looking to buy, now may be a good time to stock up a little. I have been buying from JM Bullion (a bit higher than true spot pricing, but I don’t but in good enough quantity to get any good attention from the wholesalers in Los Angeles area) and just got a few more 90% silver US coins.

    • PGCPrepper says:

      They also have an extended free shipping from their holiday special. Before I think I had to buy about $2500.00 to get that.

      Noteworthy. Please use or mention MD’s link.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      I think this may be the last opportunity to get any below $20. My worry is that the stock market crowd will abandon their playground because the fed is reducing their monthly bond purchases, and head for P.M.’s.
      We are tapped out and cant do anything about it but whine.

      • PGCPrepper says:

        My wife changed her IRA from aggressive to basically savings four days ago. Moreover, it is time to bail when $AMZN posts a “not met earnings” IMO but I made my livin’ as an equity trader for the last five years. I would dump now. Admittedly, I was saddened to see the “survivalists” getting out too early due to the prognostications of our, and, the dollar demise. It was not accurate. But we’re out now for a spell. 2014 will be interesting.

  8. If you do get into self-employment and things don’t go just right, don’t give up. I failed 3 times before I made a success of my computer repair business that I ended up selling for enough to buy my place outright and be debt free. Learn from the mistakes, these are called experience, and keep moving forward.

    • seeuncourt says:

      If you are comfortable sharing, i bet that we could all benefit from knowing where you “failed” and what you did specifically to overcome and succeed. Congratulations on your success, you are what i am striving for!

      • I was an engineering major, never had a single business class. I just jumped in head first with both feet…lol. Plus I spent most of my working life in the oilfield, not a place you pickup a lot of polish and you could get most things done by handing out gimme caps, stickers, bottles of whiskey and the occasional BBQ. Only had to bust one head in 20 years.

        Failure of business #1: Went into partnership with someone I thought I could trust. Turned out I was wrong and should have done a thorough background check. I’ve never had a partner since.

        Failure of business #2: Went into a business that made a lot of money but I hated every single minute of it. I’m not a people person and the whole job was about selling. I was a square peg in a round hole. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Best thing about this failure was getting to burn every suit and tie I had. To this day I don’t own a tie. Got one suit for funerals and that’s it.

        Failure of business #3: The failure here was not reinvesting in the business. A few years in the whole dynamic changed and I needed to upgrade systems to stay in the market. Didn’t have the cash to do so from failure to anticipate needed cash reserves.

        The Success: I was doing what I do best, fixing things. Minimal customer interaction, hired temporary contractors as needed to maintain productivity during high volumes and supervised them closely. Kept a strong cash reserve available for expanding and to meet changing inventory needs as computers evolved. Plus I recognized when my hands were getting in the way of running the business and sold it while it was still healthy and the customer base was still growing.

        • PGCPrepper says:

          Nice story. I was a business/economics major but just needed credits to advance as a warrant officer in the Army.

          When I retired in 2000 I moved to Northern Virginia with my new wife and all I had was a pension that my “X” got .33 of. I moved back to NVA due to sensing that some are about to re-invest their dollars that they withdrew from the DOTCOM bubble into real estate; coupled with Greenspan’s policies.

          I had a condo I rented for years in Alexandria, VA with no upward price movement that I purchased during my stint at the Pentagon. My wife and I moved in with intent to sell in two years to co-opt the tax issue that requires one must live in a home 2 of 5 years to not pay capital gains taxes. It was a simple condo worth $98,000. I sold it in 2003 for $200,000 with no taxes. I got my Realtors license for no reason whatsoever and it turned out great. Biggest sham job ever. I paid 30,000 taxes in my first year so you can guess the income maybe but I knew how to sell their homes. Everyone else in my rookie year washed out. It all depends. Keep trying to find your way. There’s is some great motivation reading about Thomas Edison, Ford, or the old school writings of Napoleon Hill.

    • Desert Fox says:

      What legalities to you have to fulfill to create a “home-based” business and eventually selling it at a profit? Do you need a license…etc?

      • seeuncourt says:

        Home based businesses require a permit of sorts in many locations. Check with your county or town office, or the chamber of commerce on your area. Taxes are another concern, so keep receipts, and records of money spent and money earned. Amazon has several free or almost free kindle books about starting a home business.

  9. Great article!
    I have been working as a tax preparer for over 25 yrs. My DH was self employed for most of his life, until he became disabled. He is now trying to find a different way to make money. He is talented in art and I have been encouraging him to explore that. He is taking art lessons from a family member and hopefully by the time it gets warm we will start going to arts and crafts shows. As soon as tax season slows down I am going to start making jewelry for the shows.
    I also sell stun guns and pepper sprays. I do not have a website yet and I know that is what I need to do but I do not know how to do it and we can’t afford to pay someone to do it for us just yet.

    • seeuncourt says:

      Poke around on

    • Take a look at the Web Design program “WebEasy”. It’s priced at around $30-$40 and has a very good “Help” section built in. You can create a simple or complex website without having to know how to program in HTML directly. I used it to create a fairly complex website for a local non-profit group and everyone seemed to like it!

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Google “free web site development”.

      Well, we don’t ‘google’, we ‘DuckDuckGo’.

      If that doesn’t make any sense, google ‘duckduckgo’.

      • seeuncourt says:

        I just want to yell, “Goose!”

        If all else fails, contact your local high school or youth group. A LOT of kids know how to create websites. Our local high school has a class for just that purpose. I bartered some lessons/tutoring for assistance. 🙂

    • Check with your library…they have all sorts of classes. Perhaps you could even suggest one on building a website.

    • Thanks for all of the suggestions everyone. I will definitely be checking them out. Right now I just have to get through tax season! 🙂

  10. Backwoods Prepper says:

    I hear the stories about working too much or too many hours. I used to do the same thing. Till 2005 I picked up my things and moved to my own little 7 acres of heaven. I live a homesteading life / mini farm. I work 40 hours a week. And I have been doing taxidermy on the side since 2003. If I can do it anyone can.

    • seeuncourt says:

      BWP, that’s what I’m preparing to do. A few more loose ends to tie up. When theDH returns from Iraq, we will make that leap of faith.

    • My wife and I moved onto 20 acres 18 months ago. I have never enjoyed life as much as I do now. I never see anyone unless I invite them here. I have so many projects I will never live long enough to finish them all. It is Heaven on Earth.

  11. Chuck Findlay says:

    A couple of things to think about.

    1: It takes a long time to build a customer base that will support your business.

    I do handyman work and it took several years before i had anything close to full employment in the winter. I was lucky in that I had and have no debt so it was a lot less stressful on me during the lean years (Yes I said years.) But the result was that I learned to live on only a few days work per week. Having did this I now don’t want more then 4-days of work a week. I often spend the free time enjoying life instead of working to give my money away to others to pay debt. The last 3-weeks has been busy with 6 and 7 day work weeks, but this is rare. I bought a lot of silver in the last month with all the extra money.

    2: Debt will very likely make it impossible to start your own business.

    You need a cash buffer to survive the lean times while the business builds. Debt will not allow you to build a cash reserve, buy preps and not work every moment you can in your present job to service these things. Also a new business will require many hours of very low pay or even no pay to get the business going. It’s hard to justify working 15+ hours a week and not getting any instant money on Friday if you have to worry about all the bills.

    I was very lucky in that for years I worked very low end jobs and did not get into debt because I simply didn’t make enough money for anyone to loan me money. And it trained me to get buy on what I’m sure was well below the poverty level. Now that I make more money and am able to buy lots of preps, silver, autos I no longer want to buy super expensive things. I always pay myself first every week by buying silver before I buy anything else. I’m in the coin store 3-times a week. I drive a $3,000.00 van that I paid cash for the day I took it home. You should see some of the junk autos I use to drive, they all ran good as i use to be an auto mechanic, but they looked rough. All this came about by the conditioning of living on low income and having to justify every dollar i spent. I still do this because it became a way of life and I now do it to build a retirement nest egg.

    I know a select few (very few)are able to start a business and have it go from the get-go. but you realistically can’t expect it. If you work 40-hours paying for your life right now and have almost no money left I really don’t see self employment as much of an option. Pay off debt, or get out of it by selling your bankers-dream auto and buy a $800.00 junker. Get out of your huge house payment and start over and live well below your means. If that means living in a $500.00 mobile home so be it. Heck in my city you can get a free mobile home to live in if you agree to sign a 1-year lease in a trailer park. Don’t worry about your credit rating as you are NEVER going to buy anything with credit again.

    There are several books that tell you how to buy land (called “Junk Land”) you can put a trailer or tiny home on and slowly build your own home.

    Debt is the most evil of things, it sucks the life right out of you.

    • seeuncourt says:

      Great Points, CF, if you live within and by your means, you can earn a living with your own business and by your own hands. If you have tons of debt, you are a slave to the debt. However, an additional side-job can be what you need to pay off that debt and release yourself to the freedom of being your own boss.

  12. Chuck Findlay says:

    And NO I did not go to the government for any help at all. No checks, No food stamps. I shopped at The Dollar Tree for food, bought rice and grains. I had some help from family in the form of cast-offs like old computers, old autos. If I needed an end table I shopped for furniture on trash day. 3 autos back I was driving a 26-year old van that really looked 30+ years old. But I got by and still managed to enjoy life because I had no debt to weigh-down my spirit.

  13. I love this article! And the best part is thinking outside the box in order to generate some additional income for you and your family, which can help fund your prepping passion, as well as help you to prove to yourself that you can do it, and trust me, you can do it!
    Take something you love, and turn it into a little business. For example, I have always had horses, and enjoyed jumping, but buying horse jumps is REALLY expensive. So I decided I would try to build my own. And after that I wondered if others might be interested in buying some jumps from me, instead of spending thousands of dollars. So with about $60.00 I built a set of jumps, and listed them for sale on Craigslist. The set sold for $500.00 in a weekend, so I built some more, and sold them as well.
    Then I decided to write a book about the jumps building process for those like me who might want to do it themselves. And every month I have extra money from the book sales, along with a couple of orders for jumps a month.
    It may not be a full time employment check, but by creating this little business my husband and I have been able to pay down our debt, and also been able to fund some of our prepping endeavors. And it all started just by taking a hobby that I love, and offering a product.
    It does take work, but with all of the tools available for free on the internet, the work and time involved has been worth it. Just knowing that I have a skill to create a viable product, and people want to buy something I have made, is an awesome feeling, and it generates extra money every month.
    If you have a product you are thinking of making, or offering for sale do a test. Meaning, offer it for sale on Craigslist, or try eBay and see how much interest is generated. If it’s huge, you might be on to something. If you don’t get any responses, maybe think of a different avenue to advertise (always try for free advertising) or think of a different item, or skill to market.
    Once you have a good product or idea, invest a little more time into it. Find out about getting a website, and do what legalities need to be completed for your business if you decide to pursue this even further.
    Invest the time into your product or service that it deserves. Sure, you may already be working 40-50 hours a week, but you will be the sole beneficiary of what you make from your idea. And when you start making money from whatever it is you want to do, that hard work will be so worth it.
    The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. And no, it won’t be easy, and yes it will be frustrating, and hard, and it will feel overwhelming at times, but it will be worth it.
    When you start getting a return on your investment (meaning time, money, work) and you actually “see” what you are able to do, and that you are making money, it will be worth it.
    The best thing you can do is stop talking yourself out of doing something, and actually trying. You never know what can happen and even a couple of hundred dollars a month can be enough to motivate you to do even more. The only thing stopping you from being successful is you!

    • seeuncourt says:

      “The best thing you can do is stop talking yourself out of doing something, and actually trying.”

      This is the best comment ever! Taking that leap of faith is the first step.

  14. I second the “thinking outside of the box” remark. There’s a lot of money to be made on Craigslist if you know how!

  15. Even if you dont have any skills that you can immediately use to earn an income large enough to sustain you, you can at least add to it by making simple purchases at ayrd sales, then putting them on craigslist or ebay. Ill give 3 examples of my most recent transactions. I bought an electric scooter, a powerluber made by lincoln,still in its unused condition in its case, and i bought a stihl fs 45 weedwacker. My total investment was $45 . I repaired the weedwacker with just some minior carb tuning. I replaced to inner tubes on the scooter (6 bucks each) and cleaned the dust of the case of the power luber. I put them on craigslist and sold all three of them in two days. I sold the weed wacker for $85, the power luber for $150 and the scooter for $125.Pretty good bit of extra income for just hitting two yard sales on a weekend. I also bought a brand new, never used zojirushi breadmajer for 5 bucks and ive already made two loaves. That makes 3 bread makers i have now. Your probably saying , why does this nut have 3 breadmakers? This summer ill be going to the farmers market to sell my eggs, tomatos and all the bread i can make. its a half a day every saturday until fall. If i can do it, anyone can.

    • I wasnt going to talk about this but i decided to share a little about my income from my youtube channel.this is the first time ive ever spoke about it to anyone,ever. Im only going to talk about it now because it is so easy to do,and it might help someone create extra income. My youtube channel brings me about $1400 a month of extra income. A channel/youtube account is simple to start,simple to maintain and simple to monetize with ads.My channel is somewhat a reflection of my interests,and if i had more talent in videography and editing,and lets face it, a little easier on the eyes,i could easily generate twice the income i am now.If you have a skill or craft or even just strong opinions with a birt of attitude, you can create a catolog of videos that,once uploaded,do nothing but generate income with little to no more action required on your part.if anyone has any interest, i would be glad to give you tips on increasing your views and subscribers.

  16. One idea I didn’t see mentioned is eldercare. With an aging population this is a need that there just are not enough trustworthy and reliable people to do. Not even medical care, but running errands, taking them to the doctor, grocery shopping, and light housework. Families are busier than ever and with dual careers there are families paying for others to be companions.

    • seeuncourt says:

      This is so true, and a niche industry that i had overlooked! Thank you for pointing it out.

  17. Frugalmom3 says:

    I will echo everyone else and say great article!
    I have wanted to operate a small CSA from our home. I just haven’t actually sat down and put it all in all in writing how to go about it. It’s just a time thing for me. Finding it to be exact! Lol!
    But the hubby and I have discussed planting pumpkins and or watermelons, heirloom-type, and starting that way! Just specialize in one thing, grow it well, grow it organic, and make it the one item we sell.

    I would also like to mention that if you have a skill that can benefit another person via tutoring, you could make money this way. I have a child who is profoundly Dyslexic and requires the majority of his curriculum to be Orton Gillingham-based. One of the subjects offers training in becoming a Certified Barton Tutor and, around my neck of the woods, there are many families in need of tutoring and not enough tutors.

  18. Excellent article with great ideas. I am constantly trying something different to bring in extra income. I have done tax preparation in the past because I am an accountant and have worked for a CPA before (I despise doing taxes). I currently sell personal care and other products for one of the two big name independent rep companies. I have had people at work trade cash for my jams, butters, and amaretto. I am also a notary, but can only charge $3 per signature/stamp thanks to local laws. Some things work better than others and a LOT depends on your own personality. My dream job is a second-hand book store so I’ve just started attempting to sell used books via Amazon. I’m a serious introvert so talking to strangers is difficult for me. Thanks for the ideas! I have many more to consider.

    • GA RED My stepmom used to sell books on ebay. She would buy books at the thrift stores and yard sales and sell them on e bay. She did real good doing it before her health went fubar.

    • GA Red
      I just talked to a woman who has a relative that buys books at goodwill and sells them on amazon. He has a (oh what’s it called), it’s a small handheld device that reads the barcodes on the books and you can look it up to find it’s retail value. He bought a book at goodwill and sold it on amazon for $400. She said he netted over $20,000 just doing this part time last year.

      • seeuncourt says:

        W O W…now that is a hobby i could turn into cash! I love books and usually end up taking them to the good will….hmmmmm

      • Wow! I could use that kind of extra cash. I used to work in a second-hand bookstore in my early college years. I always thought it was a wonderful way to spend my time.

      • I have the barcode reader on my phone that did not cost my anything. I use it in the store all the time because I cannot see the price and want to know how much it is.

        • BamaBecca says:

          That barcode reader is on a smart phone, right? I’ve avoided getting a smartphone for the longest. I still have just a plain cell phone. I thought I was being smart but I would love to have access to a barcode reader! I recently signed up for an amazon seller account as well, with the intention of selling used books. (I too am an avid reader and get many via my local 2nd handstore.) The problem I ran into was that after listing a book with the book price, shipping and amazon fees, I would barely be making anything at all. Certainly not enough to be worth all the trouble. If anyone knows the trick to making this work, I sure would appreciate the info. I have a LOT of books that need to go somewhere else and they don’t sell well at yard sales.

  19. Chuck Findlay says:

    On the selling books from thrift stores, About a year ago I was in a Goodwill store and this guy was scanning the bar code of all the books with his smartphone. I watched him for a few min and it would beep every so often. He had this app that would look for books that he could sell on e-Bay. I talked to him about it and he said it made him several hundred dollars per month. I’m sure a little net searching could get someone this app for their phone.I have no interest in it, but hopefully someone here can run with it.

  20. Author, what does, “Obtain a “good conduct” certificate from your local PD and indicate that you will present it upon request.” mean?

    • seeuncourt says:

      Sorry, sometimes i speak “agency”….

      A “good conduct certificate” is a criminal background check. You go to your local Police Department or Sheriff’s Office and request a fingerprint based check of your criminal record. The certificate is basically a paper on the PD or SO letterhead that states you do or don’t have a criminal record. Some places want to see that you are not wanted for a crime, or have a criminal record if they are going to entrust you with medical records, legal documents, etc. It usually costs about $25 dollars. If they give you a blank stare, tell them, “like teachers get” and they will have an epiphany 🙂 This also applies to Process Servers and Private Investigators.

  21. Great article. I’m full time employed with a pretty good job but it’s a lot of stress. I make wood signs for people carved with a router. I’ve made some pretty fair money on the side. With a web site and some selling I know I could make it a full time occupation. The money would be a lot less than what I’m making now however. We have a five year plan to get to where we only need half of what we require now. Then it’ll be time to switch gears. All in good time and effort. Thanks for this article.

    • seeuncourt says:


      That’s my issue too…going from this amount of yearly $$$ to what I can earn solo. Leap of Faith!

  22. Chuck Findlay says:

    T-Dawg I do the same thing for a small lumber yard. I contract to do the work in customers homes and I do a lot of address sings made out of cedar. You are right it’s not something I could live on if I only did it, but with the hundreds of other things I build, repair and make it all adds to the bottom line.

    For me it has worked out well to do numerous things to make money. I don’t really think of it as different businesses as they all involve the same tools and methods. It’s all part of my handyman work.

    I really enjoy the diverse things I do, it keeps me interested in the work. Sitting at one station stamping out the same auto part for years at a time would drive me up a wall. Not to mention it would interfere with getting out and enjoying life as working for others means you have to ask for and get permission to take a day off.

  23. Great article, and very timely. Barring anything unforeseen, I’m eligible for early retirement next year, but will need to have a secondary source of income to make up the gap. I realize that I will save money on certain things (ie: not driving 50 miles each day), but I still have kids in school, and I do enjoy the occasional meal out. 🙂 I really don’t want to take on another full-time job in order to do it, and I’m being picky about what kind of job I would take (don’t want scheduled weekend hours or holidays). After all, the point of retirement is to have more time to do the things you want to do, right? I’m thinking I need to be starting now, so that I have some time to build up some sort of clientele.

  24. seeuncourt says: Free Kindle Book

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