I talk to a lot of farmers that think it’s impossible to be a profitable farm. With high competition and grocery stores (including online!) flooding the market, it’s no wonder you think this.
I’m here to tell you it is absolutely possible and I can show you how. I’ve done it for myself over the last decade and I’ve shown thousands of farmers how to do it too.
This list will give you the essentials and foundation you need to start making money on your farm.
Yes, I believe your farm should be profitable and you should be paid for all the hard work, labor and love that you put into everything you do.
No matter how much we think we’re doing it for the love of the land, the animals, and farming — love doesn’t pay the bills.
If you don’t have these steps in place, then you’re right, you probably aren’t making money on your farm.
I don’t believe farmers (like you and me) should work for free or give their products away at a discount.
As a farmer’s daughter, I saw the struggles my father faced as he closed the barn doors and sold everything when he went bankrupt in 1980.
Today, I’m proud to say not only do I have a profitable farm, I get to teach thousands of farmers in the U.S. and around the world how I was able to make this my reality.
My hope is that you’ll take these initial steps, do the work, and make your farm profitable so that your family and community can benefit for years to come.
Teaching farmers how to build a profitable farm is my passion and I’m so happy to share this information with you today.
1. SHIFT YOUR MINDSET
You have to embrace this concept of “there is no competition.”
“What, Charlotte? How is that possible? Everyone is selling meat, eggs, raw milk, vegetables etc.”
When you try to compete with others selling the same products, perhaps by having a lower price or offering a coupon, you’ll never be successful.
It’s impossible; there will always be someone cheaper, faster, better.
Instead, when you find your tribe (a loyal customer base) and develop a deep relationship of trust with them, you become “their” farmer. They will not dream of purchasing their milk, meat or vegetable elsewhere.
Because they aren’t buying your product, they’re buying YOU and what you do for them.
When you learn to communicate this difference and how your products help them solve their problems and reach their goals, you’ll have customers for life.
The sooner you get on board with this belief, the more successful you’ll be.
2. ATTRACT YOUR DREAM CUSTOMER
Now that your mindset is shifted to that of “there is no competition,” you can focus on attracting a loyal customer base.
Your goal should be to create your own unique dream customer by talking to a current customer you love. You know, that customers you wish all your other customers was like…
Ask yourself these questions when it comes to identifying who they are and why they shop with you.
- What’s his/her name? (most of the time women are doing the purchasing of farm products, so consider that your dream customer is potentially a woman)
- What is her age range?
- Does she have children? If so, how old are they?
- What is her lifestyle like?
- What does an average day look like?
- What’s her income level? Household income level?
Your list could look something like this.
A woman that:
- Loves buying high-quality meats, fruits, vegetables and flowers.
- Feels connected to you (maybe she is going through similar struggles that you had early on in your journey)
- Will drive an hour every week or two to visit your farm store.
- Has two kids ages 12 and 15, a husband that works a corporate “off-farm” job.
- Is in her early 40s and wants to eat healthier, more natural foods, but doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare them.
Trust me when I say this exercise works. Going through this process to identify your ideal customer is critical to making money on your farm.
Your dream customer is out there, it’s your job to find them and build a lasting relationship.
3. BUILD AN EMAIL LIST
After you’ve shifted your mindset and identified your dream customer, it’s time to build an email list of subscribers.
Now, I’m not talking about sending emails from a personal Yahoo, Outlook or Gmail account (that’s illegal and will get your account shut down, by the way!).
I’m talking about using an email service provider like MailChimp, Mailerlite, or ConvertKit. If you don’t know what these are, that’s ok.
If you’d like a FREE 6-day course on email marketing, click here to sign up.
All you need to know is that you can open a free account and start collecting email address from people that “raise their hand” to hear from you and your farm.
Maybe you met them at a farmers market or they’ve visited your farm store and purchased something.
Keep in mind that you need permission and consent to send someone an email so make sure they agree and you treat their email address with the utmost respect.
You can not add someone to your email list without their consent. It’s illegal. Please don’t do it.
If you don’t get them on your email list then you can’t stay connected or reach out to them.
Overlooking or skipping this essential and critical step will cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
And if you’re trying to build your “Likes” on Facebook or following on Instagram, you’re doing it wrong.
Social media is used to build engagement and drive traffic to your website. It’s not for selling!
And take this FREE 6-day email marketing course I have ready for you. You’ll learn how to get more customers
Don’t know what to say now that you have their email address? Keep reading and I’ll give you some ideas.
4. CONSISTENCY FOR THE WIN
Once you have an email list, be consistent with your content. If you’re consistent and send your customers information they enjoy reading, you’ll win the email marketing game every time.
And I don’t mean get them on your email list and randomly email them throughout the year or only when you have something to sell.
Actually, that is THE WORST thing you could do (they feel like they only matter to you when you have something to sell).
Do not spam your potential customer with “buy my stuff” from day one. That’s the fastest way to lose a customer and MONEY.
Your customers need to feel like you’re there to help them and they feel this when you communicate with them at least once a month (12x a year), even if you sell a seasonal product.
When your email communication is consistent, this will lead to more sales and a deeper customer relationship.
5. PLAN YOUR CONTENT
Now that you have an email list and you’re determined to be consistent, what do you say?
I get this question all the time. “Charlotte, I agree I should be consistent, but I don’t know what to say.”
Let’s assume you’re going to send 12 emails over the next year. Here’s a list of possible “things to say” month-by-month.
Yes, that’s a year’s worth of email content that you can plan and start writing today.
January = It’s cold outside and the farm is in hibernation. Tell a story of something that happened or that is happening now. The cows are doing this… The pigs are doing that… Photo of pig/cow etc.
February = We got 21 inches of snow yesterday and my husband, kids and I got our exercise in and used the new plow for the first time. Photo of snow, plow, kids playing in the snow. Or a special Valentine’s Day post/recipe.
March = Spring is right around the corner. The flowers are coming up,. I’m ready to get outside and start preparing for xyz events. Photo of flower buds, new baby bunnies, kittens.
April = It has not stopped raining, but I have seeds ready for planting. We’re prepping for our first farmers market of the season. Photo of behind the scene prep-work.
May = First farmers market was a success! Tell a story and have them come to the farm for a visit. We have xyz available!
June = Summer is in full swing! List of events, activities, things to do on the farm with kids. How to volunteer and get involved with your community. Photo of summer days, swinging from a tree, weddings, camps etc.
July = It’s 4th of July and it’s hot. The farm is running full steam ahead. Happy Birthday, America! Photo of fireworks, farm life, family.
August = Back to School and the tomatoes are ready to eat! Photo: Backpack/kids/tomatoes
September = Tell a story about life on the farm. Keep it positive and happy. Photo of you, family, animals.
October = Pumpkins, fall recipes. Photos of pumpkins, leaves changing, crockpot meal.
November = Email about Thanksgiving Turkey for sale. Things you’re grateful for. Photo of a turkey, a family meal, favorite things.
December = Share Christmas/Hanukkah gift ideas. Your family traditions. Photo of your family/friends, faith, love and celebrations.
There you go!! A year’s worth of ideas you can “steal” from me right here and you’ve got your marketing in place. And you just tweak it a little and reuse it the next year.
6. SHOW UP + TAKE ACTION
I work with two kinds of farmers.
1. A brand new farmer that just bought land and is starting out. They’re less than two years into farming.
2. The seasoned farmer that has been in business for years and wants to learn how to become a better marketer and increase their profit margins.
I teach content marketing, which is building a relationship with your current and potential customers.
I do not teach you how to discount your products in a competitive market, run contests or give away everything you own.
In fact, I teach you how to stand out in the marketplace and position yourself as an authority with your customers so that you will be the “go-to” farmer in your community for your products.
“I believe that when you engage with your dream customers, show up everyday in front of your customers, talk to local business owners about what you do and who you are, customers will trust you and want to buy from you.”
Listen, I know it’s not easy to put yourself out there and to talk about your farm, but you must if you want to make money.
If no one knows about you, how on earth will your ideal customers ever buy from you?
So my challenge to you is to build a relationship with your current (or potential) customers that is so valuable that they would never dream of buying their products you sell from anyone else.
Show up at your farm store or market booth and meet the people that are buying from you.
Using the “honor system” to sell your products is not profitable or sustainable long-term as is having set, limited store hours where you or someone just like you is there to interact with your customers.
Not because customers are dishonest, but because you need to show up, interact with and talk to your dream customers (in-person) so they feel that connection. An honor system will not serve customer retention.
And I hear this all the time too..
“But Charlotte I’m an introvert. I’d rather be milking cows than talking to customers. I never know what to say.”
I completely understand that it can be scary and awkward, but if you’re here to learn how to make money you have to talk to the customers that are buying from you.
Here is a list of questions you can use to get the conversation rolling:
- What brought you out to buy our products today?
- What problem does my (chicken, beef, vegetables, eggs, product) solve for you and/or your family?
- What did you love most about the meat (or other product) you bought last week?
- Would you like a good recipe for this cut?
There you have it. The six steps you need to start making money on your farm.
I’ve been using these steps for years and it’s the fastest way I know how to make money as a farmer and start living that farm life you’ve dreamed of!
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
Which step(s) are you missing on your farm?
On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you going to take action and make a change?