My name is Tara. I live in Portland, Oregon and have been unemployed/under-employed for the better part of a few years now (partly due to having a baby one year ago and not being so keen on putting him in full time daycare). Luckily, my partner became fully employed when I was pregnant, and have his income to get us by.
We have been struggling to get by these past few years, going on and off food stamps, going through low-wage jobs and renting overpriced apartments. Well... I want to change all that. Our dream is to get some land with a little fixer upper on it and start a small-scale farm in order to be self reliant and live off the land as much as possible, while still holding outside jobs so that we don't have to worry about struggling financially. The problem is - we don't have much money. We've started a first-time homebuyer's IDA program that will help us with the down payment for our home, which we should be able to have access to by this summer. But once that money is gone, we are completely broke (in debt, in fact with student loans and all...)
Here is my question: I'd like to have a reliable source of income to fund this dream. Ideally, I'd like to work remotely so I can be home with my son and have a buffer zone between my home and the city. I think I read somewhere on the Permies site once that Paul Wheaton made his income initially by doing web design, and used those funds to start getting into permaculture (correct me if I'm wrong!)
I was wondering if there are any other web designer/permaculture people out there and if you recommend this as a career path? How is the work-life balance? I already know basic coding skills and am brushing up on my skills in the hopes of finding a decent paying work-from-home job to fund my permaculture/homesteading dream... In an ideal world I imagine working the land, gardening, planting, raising rabbits, goats and chickens during the daytime and coding a few hours each night after my son goes to bed. Is this realistic?
If you're underemployed now, it's the perfect time to try this out! Try it for the next 6 months and see if it brings enough success that you could make a living while homesteading. Web design is an ideal job to get into remotely without a big investment!
It worked for me for 10 years. The residual income was the best part about it. But life happens, and then it didn't work for me.
Work-life balance is what you make it be... Some people will demand your time inappropriately... Because -- since you don't have a real job -- you aught to be available to them anytime they want you to do something. That's the same in web design as it is in farming, so the skills at saying no, which are developed in one endeavor can be applied to both.
What Joseph says is very true. Beyond the time thing, I've seen people have a lot of trouble getting paid. To do well, aside from the technical/artistic ability to actually do the work, you will need the networking/marketing ability to get the work, and just as importantly, the ability to manage/weed out difficult clients.
If you've got all three skillsets, you're golden, and it should be a great way to earn money. As Eric mentions, no great investment is required to try it out. Of course, like most freelance work, it isn't likely to be as consistent a revenue stream as full time employment.