A self-proclaimed “digital peasant,” Steve Maxwell is able to work from home by producing articles, videos and photographs for online viewers.
Steve Maxwell demonstrates how to build a cabinet in his home-based, nontraditional office, which is part workshop and part media room.
Photo courtesy Steve Maxwell
In 1985, I signed paperwork to make a 91.5-acre piece of rural farmland and forest my own, with two aspirations in mind. First, I’d work from home without leaving the property. Second, I’d make a living doing something I love. For almost 20 years, I’ve supported my family, now seven people, on a single income earned from my laptop. I’ve secured hundreds of online freelance gigs from home. I produce stories, photos and videos for magazines and websites, including my own. I have no “boss” and do entirely independent work. Through the content I produce, I teach 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 activities that shape my days anyway. I love my work, and I spend one-third to half of my time at a keyboard — often sitting under a tree. When I’m not telecommuting, 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. To clock in for online jobs from home, all you need is Wi-Fi.
I call myself a “digital peasant,” and I have four main pieces of advice for anyone who’d like to claim the same title. First, begin with (or develop) passion, knowledge and hands-on skills that you can teach to others. Second, develop effective digital communication skills: Writing, photography and videography are the clear stock in trade of the digital peasant, but so is salesmanship. You need to convince people to buy what you make. Skills and entertainment are what you’ll be selling. Third, invest in good tools: computers, quality cameras, and other digital hardware and software. The world has more than enough blogs and videos created with mediocre equipment. Properly using good gear is one way to make your work stand out.
Fourth, expect success to take time. I lived on our homestead for three years before I realized that working at a computer was the best way to keep checks showing up in my mailbox. Then, I worked for seven more years before my digital income was high enough for my wife to quit her nursing job and stay on the homestead full time. Today, my oldest son is financing a life for himself and his new spouse on our family homestead doing the same kind of work I do.
Is being a digital peasant for everyone? No — but what venture is? If you like the combination of computer work and hands-on living, and you’d like the freedom to make a living from anywhere on planet Earth, then maybe you, too, can snag some online work from home, and another digital peasant will be born.
Steve Maxwell calls himself “Canada’s Handiest Man.” He connects with a worldwide audience to share his carpentry and DIY expertise. He lives with his family on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Follow his work online.
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