Living Off Grid – Working At Home

Reader Contribution by Ed Essex
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In 2010 we had to close our commercial masonry construction business due to a complete lack of work. What were we going to do? One could only guess as to how long the economy was going to be either slow or even nonexistent. We decided we needed to make a change and set about to research new options.

We made a lot of other changes as well. While we were in the process of closing the business down we were also building a new home on the other side of the state. We were going to live off grid in the mountains of Eastern Washington.

We had been looking at websites for sale online as a viable option for people living in a fairly remote setting and still needing income. Apparently someone forgot to tell the brokers there was a bad economy because the purchase prices were typical of a much better economy. We decided to build a new website instead of buying an existing one. After much research and consulting we launched Good Ideas For Life.

In all of our research we were able to look at quite a few sets of accounting books of online companies. It appeared that with good programming and a little creative code writing you could get ahead quickly, become “visible” to the search engines so that people could find you to buy your products. Unfortunately about the same time we launched, Google came out with a whole new set of rules and since they dominate the Search Market at this time you have to play by their rules. To this day no one knows what (if any) big secret lies in Googles new algorithm that might allow you to get ahead quickly.
I didn’t’ see the economy getting as bad as it did and I didn’t see this change from Google coming either. I can’t believe they didn’t consult with us before they turned the whole SEO (Search Engine Optimization) upside down with their new formula.

Bottom line was that it was going to take a lot longer time to become successful with an online store. It was going to take a lot of hard work and even more patience. What were we going to do in the meantime?

It’s been a struggle. We live too far (100 miles round trip) to travel to a full or part time job that pays less than $12.00 per hour. Jobs here average $9.00 to $12.00 per hour. When we chose our property to build on, gas was $1.50 per gallon, not $4.00 or $4.50 for diesel.

The gist of all of this was that we got caught without an income in spite of our research, hard work, and good intentions. Because of that we have been doing whatever we can to survive. Our website is getting better but still has a long way to go. This past year we have done the following types of odd jobs to stay afloat:

  • Laurie has done custom sewing for paying customers.

    I have done tractor work for neighbors.

    We both worked for a moving company that needed extra help.

    I’ve done contract work for a local Contractor that isn’t familiar with government paperwork and need some help bidding.

    I’ve also done permit work for people who want to build here but live far away. I represent them in acquiring address’s, permits for sewer, water, and power and meeting all of the proper entities to get quotes for everything needed prior to actually building.

    I helped construct a root cellar.

    I helped install a new pump in a new well and set up the water system.

    Sold products at the Mother Earth New Fair.

    Sold products from our website.

    We also make some money from our blog site Off Grid Works from Google Ads.

    We even traded cleanup labor for free apples, pears, and pie cherries.

Whatever it takes is what you have to do. We’re hopeful that Good Ideas For Life will continue to grow but in the meantime if you need something done in the middle of nowhere, give us a call, we are available.

Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their website and .