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10 Best Ways to Make Extra Cash in Rural Kentucky

Updated on March 10, 2016
Stacie L profile image

Stacie L became a DIYer for many reasons—mostly to save money. She has tips that she has used herself to help with your DYI projects.

White Sheep  David Master Flickr photo
White Sheep David Master Flickr photo

Rural living

Making money ideas comes from my own experiences as a person that moved to a rural area of Kentucky from the suburbs of New York. These ideas will work in other sparsely populated areas of America as well. since I live in Kentucky I will show some examples from this area.

The economy is tough so jobs are scarce for those in the city but even tougher in the rural areas of the state. Country people have ways to make money that metropolitan areas don't.

I am frequently asked, "how do people make money outside of a city?" Farming is the first thing that comes to mind, but there are other options.

Manufacturing positions are usually available on a seasonal basis, with long 12 hour shifts on your feet. The summer work season is short with minimum pay with no benefits may help some, but it usually isn't enough. Waiting tables, short order cooking, marina help,cleaning houses, farm crop planting and harvesting are not high paying jobs. People have to be resourceful and country people are the most resourceful around.

Since I moved here over 8 years ago I've discovered how resourceful and hardy the people are here. It's also helped me to become more resourceful. Money is not a luxury and the weather plays a large part in a farmers life. Here are some ways to make ends meet in rural Kentucky

Shearing time

Raising animals provides a steady income

1.Raising animals on a farm or small plot of land is not new in rural areas. This is probably the number one way to earn a living.They can have many uses and provide different streams of income.

I've seen an increase in the number of farmers now raising cattle on their land. The animals such as sheep, chickens, goats, llama, alpaca, rabbits, beef cattle all serve more than one purpose. Their fleece or hair is sheared for yarn. The wool is washed, dyed, spun into yarn and then sold at fairs, on line stores or at the flea market. Many enterprising people make sweaters, caps, mittens and scarves to sell on line.

Baby chicks are raised for eggs and meat. They are fast becoming one of the easiest ways to make some money for their owners. Chickens can thrive in a small space and their eggs are nutritious. Selling off the extra ones when they are older is a good source on income.

Goats are becoming the second most popular livestock behind cattle in Kentucky. They are easy to raise, are good sources of milk and meat and are bought by people all over the world.

The beef cattle are brought to market and slaughtered for the meat and the hide is sold for leather. When the fleece or hair is no longer good, then they are butchered for their meat. Every part is used; even the hooves. The hooves and bones make good 'Ole Jell-O, a gelatin dessert everyone loves.

You may have heard people joke about pigs feet. Well there are people that think this is a delicacy. Not me.

Gardening and farming

2. Another idea to make some extra money is to grow vegetable gardens and sell them at the local farmers market. My mother told me that all her neighbors had "Victory gardens" during World War 2 , and now there is a return to the basic gardens. This is a Godsend for those with a market in town. It can make or break a family's chances to survive a long, cold winter.

Canning vegetables and fruits is becoming popular again. These, too can be sold for some extra cash.

Flowers are also a good money maker. There are far more farmers growing plants for sale now in this economy.

Fruit trees farms are a good tourist attraction. They like to get out in the country and fresh air to pick their own fruit.

Hand carved wooden animals Kentucky Artisan center
Hand carved wooden animals Kentucky Artisan center

Support local artisans work

3. Make wood products. There are some talented woodworkers in my area that can make better then factory products such as kitchen cabinets, tables and chairs, shelves, desks or custom trim and molding. These woodworkers have their own shops and are much easier to deal with than a large box store. You can find the best by word of mouth.

If you don't have a woodworking shop, but are handy with carving you can make crafts to sell. Just check out sites like Etsy and Artfire , or the State Artisan Center in Berea to see what is being made.

The Kentucky Artisan Center , located off I-75 in Berea, KY, is a wonderful way to see and support the states local artisans. The money they make at this center and other outlets helps to bring money into rural communities. Without this center, many talented craftsmen and artists would go unnoticed.

Handmade quilts are a favorite hobby and a money making venture for many women here. Some men have started making them as well.The Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, has some wonderful samples. You can see many old and new handmade quilts are the crafts shows. Almost everyone I know has quilts handed down from each generation. You can get a beautiful quilt custom made.

Lake Cumberland Jamestown marina
Lake Cumberland Jamestown marina

Lake for Fun and Profit

4. Living near a large recreational lake allows these local fishermen with many years of experience to become fishing guides. They know where the best spots are and can bring weekend sport fishers to catch the "big one". Selling your catch to the local restaurants is a good way to make a few dollars as well.

Renting fishing boats and houseboats is big business on the lakes. Individuals may wish to rent heir boats out for the day. Marinas have large houseboats for rent; either their own or customers.

Old Cars  KB35 Photo credit Flickr
Old Cars KB35 Photo credit Flickr

Writing,selling Items,and Odd Jobs

5.Writing online like I do is not as popular as you would think. More people are getting on the Internet now but you'd be surprised how many people still don't have a computer!

Writing articles and doing graphic design is an extra way for me and a few others I know, to make some extra money. The younger generation is computer-savvy so they are starting to write more and sites like Hubpages are gaining more followers.

6.Sell unwanted items and services on the local Swap Shop program. I listen to two local swap shop every week and it's amazing what people have and are selling.

7.Selling parts off an old car sitting in the barn is a lot more profitable than selling the whole car, many times. if you're handy with repairing there are collectors that scour the barns in Indiana and Ohio to locate sold cars sitting for years.

Auctions are very popular here and attract many potentials buyers for your items. Houses are routinely sold at auction but leave this to the professionals.

Providing services such as painting,cutting up and trimming trees,cutting the grass, or doing odd jobs keeps money in the local community.

Child care

8. Babysitting is a tried and true job that everyone can do and most parents need. A neighbor,a friend or someone that is recommended can probably watch 3-4 children in their home or the child's home for some decent money.

Caretakers can have up to 12 children in their home they have to qualify as a type I daycare facility license.

Any non resident daycare facility with over 12 children is classified as type II licensing. Check with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. read more about becoming a daycare provider here.

Daycare for before and after school is a very big business in this state. These facilities help low income parent watch their children before school so parent can go to their early hours jobs and they are dropped off after school.

Yahoo Falls

Yahoo Falls closeup
Yahoo Falls closeup | Source

Sell Art and Nature Photography

9. Nature photographers will love the natural outdoor sights such as Cumberland Falls, Barkley Lake, Cumberland Lake, the Eastern Appalachians region, and the wildlife.

I venture into the state and national parks most weekends to capture Mother nature's wonderful creations to offer them on my photography sites.

Capturing just the right angle of a lake at sunrise and sunset, wild animals in the forest hike, a forgotten road and bridge are a few ideas. Sell your art in flea markets, farmers markets,art and craft shows, or online as I do on Fine Art America. Check out my gallery.

There are so many waterfalls, arches,caves and woodland trails to shoot so take a hike!

Be human clinical trials participant

10. If you want to take a trip to the largest cities in the state, you may be able to make some money being a guinea pig. There are clinical trials that need paid volunteers to try out their new drug. The major Universities and Drug companies will advertise for paid volunteers form time to time.

Try your luck and get some money helping to bring a new prescription to market. Not every clinical study involves testing a new drug, though. There are also have non drug studies as well.


Summary of 10 ways to make a living in Rural Kentucky

Well, these are 10 ways people can make some much needed extra money. Even though I geared this article to making money in Kentucky, these ideas can be utilized in almost any rural area. Raising animals such as sheep,goats, llama, alpaca, rabbits and beef cattle can provide many ways to earn cash.

Restoring old cars or parting out the car is a good way to earn some extra money.

Babysitting is always a good way to earn cash and provide valuable service.

Writing online and graphic design are fast becoming a favorite way to earn extra money for the younger people.

Photographing nature and wildlife to sell online or at art shows and galleries is fun and profitable.

Fishing and boating on the lake is the main summer vocation for many. The factories don't always provide enough workers the hours and pay they need.

Become a human Guinea Pig for a clinical trial for a new drug treatment.

Selling unwanted items around the house can fetch some extra cash. Many people also barter their items for services.

Doing odd jobs such as painting,cutting grass, repairs around the house is easier to do in a rural area. The less populated regions have less regulations so any handyman with great skills will find work.

Even though,some of these can be done in more populated areas of the state, but trying to make it work here is twice as hard and I give the resourceful and hard working rural people a lot of credit!

I have further developed my writing skills and renewed my love of art while living here. I now paint, create crafts, and make jewelry. The people are a great influence on my creative juices!

© 2010 Stacie L


Submit a Comment
  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    5 years ago

    Thanks for reading and commenting on my 10 ways to make extra money in rural Kentucky,TimArends.

    I love to visit Berea and watch the craftsmen . The college has helped so many students over the years!

  • TimArends profile image

    Timothy Arends 

    5 years ago from Chicago Region

    Plus, as an alma mater, I would say that Berea College is one place where you can actually get paid for attending college, if you meet the financial requirements.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    7 years ago

    monicamelendez: thanks for reading my hub about making a living in rural kentucky. Yes, writing is a good way to go and I do that now.

  • monicamelendez profile image


    7 years ago from Salt Lake City

    If I lived in rural Kentucky I would blog for a living. Or I would be a pro HubPager. Probably #2.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    7 years ago

    @RoziM: Thanks for reading my hub on making money in rural Kentucky. You're right that these ideas can work in West Virginia as well but since I live here, I made the ideas a little more local.

  • RoxiM profile image


    7 years ago from West Virginia

    I just ran across this while looking for ways to make money in WV. We have similar problems here, and some of your ideas may help me make some extra cash this summer.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    8 years ago

    @RacheIN; thank you for the comments.Going back to basics may be the answer for you and many others now. Good Luck.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Great ideas! I'm thinking of trying homesteading in southern Indiana on some property owned by my parents. As work is hard to come by anywhere, I'm grateful for these tips.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    9 years ago

    thanks for reading and commenting 4youreyes! live near a large Amish community myself. They are hard working people!

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Great hub Staci I live in a small rural town with a 50% Amish population some of their family live in rural Kentucky .We should all learn how to live less we are such a wasteful country.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    9 years ago

    thanks for reading and commenting James McV Sailor!

    Its tough now in rural America and I think you're right about bringing back the barter system!

  • James McV Sailor profile image

    James J Mills 

    9 years ago from Northern California

    Stacie..... good article and good ideas. You're so right about the rural economy. I spent three months helping a friend out on her little horse / stud farm in Georgetown area and looking for work there.... not much available, and with the winter season coming up it is looking pretty bleak. There are a lot of small farmers there just barely hanging on..... How about setting up a weekend "Farmer's Market" on a street side corner? Maybe we should all go back to a "barter" economy. JM

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    9 years ago

    Sylvie Wallace; thank you for reading and commenting. I like that idea and think it's a good addition to this hub! :)

  • Sylvie Wallace profile image

    Sylvie Wallace 

    9 years ago from Cumberland, Maryland

    I got to your hub by way of farmers market articles. I think the trend toward local foods is bound to help people in the most depressed areas, although right now they sometimes have less access to local food than people in cities. I know someone in southern WV who can attest to that fact. Raising hens and having your own free range eggs with some to sell is another good ole country money maker. interesting hub. keep writing.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    9 years ago

    bayoulady; don't get a lawnmower,get sheep or goats or cows to cut it!

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Cutting grass! It is hard in rural areas to find someone to cut your grass. I'd pay top dollar just to get someone to cut my steep slope, which I am unable to do!

    Great hub!

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    9 years ago

    @dahoglund-yeah i remember how hard the 70's were! Jobs were hard to find and everyone in the family did odd jobs to make ends meet!

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 

    9 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    I remember hard times for us were in the 1970s. I never found much in the way of making money but I sure had to find ways to cut back on expenses.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    9 years ago

    Ann Lee that's another good way to make money.

    I don't know where's "here" is but I guess it works in most places. thanks :=)

  • Ann Lee profile image

    Ann Lee 

    9 years ago

    Around here, some women make money by sewing, and baking pies to sell to restaurants.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    9 years ago

    Kaie Arwen;these are tough times and opportunities are harder to come by in rural areas...but people manage to eek out a living.

  • Kaie Arwen profile image

    Kaie Arwen 

    9 years ago

    These are great suggestions for anyone............ it's a rough time right now! Thumbs Up! Kaie

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    9 years ago

    thanks for commenting SoDivine..

    i was trying to concentrate on the rural area I now live in.bu ti ti probably ca be done in most rural areas.

  • SoDivine profile image


    9 years ago from Florida

    I think you could do a lot of this stuff almost anywhere. Good job!


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