Today I’ve got an awesome story for you — on the one hand, it’s about matching your interests and skills with a hungry market, but maybe more importantly it’s about documenting your work.
When you do those two things, like Craig Odem has, you start to see some fun results.
I found Craig through the Side Hustle Nation Facebook group; he’s a pastor in Tennessee but as a side hustle he sells plants out of his backyard.
Craig’s backyard nursery does around $10k in sales every year!
But where things get even more interesting is when you factor his Savvy Dirt Farmer YouTube channel.
Craig started his YouTube channel in early 2021. It’s already hit 1 million views and is starting to bring in some pretty significant revenue on its own via multiple revenue streams.
Tune in to The Side Hustle Show interview to hear:
- how Craig came up with the idea to sell plants
- how he is growing and selling plants
- what he’s done to grow his YouTube channel
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The Inspiration to Start Selling Plants
“I’ve always enjoyed growing things like a vegetable garden; squash, cucumbers, beans, that kind of thing. It just got me thinking about, is there a way to turn that into extra money,” Craig told me.
It was during a visit to Lowe’s garden center when the idea really hit Craig. He saw dozens of people queuing for plants, and happened to notice one woman spending $900 on blueberry plants.
At that time, Craig hadn’t tried to grow landscape plants, evergreens, or flowers. But seeing a market for it, it was something that Craig wanted to do.
“I just started reading about it and thought, ‘maybe I could learn how to do this?’” Craig said.
It took about 6 months of research before he pulled the trigger and started planting some plants and flowers, which was in late 2016.
Learning About Plants
Craig admits it took a while for him to get up to speed with which plants were popular, what they were called, and how to grow them.
Landscape plants were new to him, and to make it more difficult they often go by their botanical names and there are often hundreds or thousands of varieties of each plant.
In addition to that, many of the most common plants are under patent or are trademarked for a certain number of years.
As surprising as that sounds, you can’t grow and sell certain varieties.
To simplify things, Craig said he started by looking around his neighborhood to see which plants were popular and learned how to identify them.
He knew that if plants were popular around his neighborhood, there was going to be a market for them and they shouldn’t be too hard to grow.
As advice for anyone who wants to get started growing and selling plants, “You gotta know what you’re growing and you cannot guess,” Craig said.
Choosing Which Plants to Sell
Craig said he has “killed a lot of plants” figuring out which plants he can grow effectively and which plants are better for selling.
Craig has settled on growing outdoor plants, and he also focuses on plants that are easy to grow and maintain.
For example, his best-selling plant is a hosta. Craig said they are “super-easy to grow, and they never die over winter.”
This makes them perfect for him to grow, and also great for owners looking for a low-maintenance plant.
Craig said his other best-selling plants are:
- Two different varieties of arborvitaes
- Blackberry plants
Craig said edible plants like blueberries are in huge demand, but he has not had the best success with other plants bearing edible fruit.
Making the First Sale
Some friends of Craig’s were throwing a yard sale fundraiser for charity and asked if they could host it at his house.
Craig said yes, and decided to put out his first plants that were ready for sale.
Craig mentioned on the yard sale ad that he would be selling some arborvitaes, which are also called “screen trees” as they’re commonly used to line property boundaries.
The first person who turned up bought all of the arborvitaes.
Throughout the day, Craig said more people kept asking about the trees as they also wanted to buy some.
“If I had 200 of them I could have sold them all that morning,” Craig said.
That was all the validation Craig needed. He said he knew at that point that if he could figure out how to grow a lot of arborvitaes he could sell them.
Craig charges $7 per plant. Although, Craig admits he could probably raise his prices a little as he’s never had someone say it’s too high.
The problem Craig faces is that he doesn’t want to hold onto plants for any longer than necessary.
Craig has around 1,500 square feet to work with in his nursery. This is a decent amount of space, but he’s often near capacity.
If you want to see what 1,500 square feet looks like or how Craig is managing his nursery space, you can check out his YouTube Channel.
Marketing the Backyard Nursery
Craig said he sells around half of his plants through what he calls a “driveway plant sale.”
To run a driveway plant sale, Craig puts an announcement out on his local Facebook Marketplace and some other groups that he’ll be selling plants.
He then puts his plants out on his drive and people pop by and buy them or call him and make an appointment to see specific plants.
This season alone Craig said he’s sold more than 1,000 plants doing this.
Growing a YouTube Channel
Being on camera wasn’t something Craig was comfortable with at first and he didn’t have experience editing video when he started his YouTube channel.
He’s come a long way in the year or so he’s had the channel, both in production quality and using it as a revenue stream.
In fact, at the time of the interview, Craig had recently upgraded from filming all of his videos with an iPhone SE to using a wireless rode mic and a GoPro.
One of the videos that took off and helped get the channel monetized was a video about propagating hydrangeas which Craig recorded last July.
Craig remembers his first check from YouTube for ad revenue, it was for around $700.
“I couldn’t believe it, and it was because of that video,” Craig told me. That video about propagating hydrangeas now has more than 110,000 views.
That was the point where Craig and his wife realized that they could turn their YouTube channel into a decent revenue stream.
At the time of recording the interview, his Savvy Dirt Farmer channel was about to hit 20,000 subscribers, had just hit 1,000,000 total views, and Craig had just posted his 100th video.
Craig puts the success of that video and his channel simply down to him being himself.
He didn’t study the YouTube algorithm or do anything on the SEO-side, he just publishes videos of himself working in his nursery.
Monetizing a YouTube Channel With Multiple Revenue Streams
Craig has leveraged his YouTube channel to create the following revenue streams:
- Ad Revenue – Craig is making around $1,500-2,500/mo in ad revenue during the high season.
- Sponsored Videos – Craig has already done 2-3 sponsored videos and he’s been receiving more offers recently as his channel grows.
- Selling Cuttings – Last year Craig advertised plant cuttings on his videos and ended up selling more than 500. He’s planning on doing it again later this year.
- Affiliate Commissions – Craig has added Amazon affiliate links to the bottom of all of the videos and that brings in $60-80/mo. He also has a relationship with a third-party affiliate through ShareASale.
Craig told me, “right now we have more plants in our backyard for next year than we’ve ever had.”
Craig said he’s not sure how he’s going to manage all of those plants, and he was also dealing with a heatwave when we spoke. But he’s confident he’ll find a way.
Selling plants is still very much a side hustle for Craig. But with his YouTube channel and the number of physical plants he’s selling increasing, it looks like he’s going to keep turning over more revenue.
Craig’s #1 Tip for Side Hustle Nation
Links and Resources from this Episode
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6 thoughts on “The Backyard Nursery Side Hustle: $10k a Year Selling Plants”
This is such a great article! Craig and I both belong to a backyard grower’s group where we help each other with gardening questions, give advice, offer cuttings, plan ‘shindigs’, and all means of sharing ideas between plant people. There are literally thousands of us across the country. I am so happy to see him on your Side Hustle Nation. My backyard nursery is only two years old but I hope to be increasing sales more each year! We are up for this year as compared to last, so that’s awesome!
Thanks for this article!
That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing, Lisa!
I know the group as I also belong to that same backyard Growers Group. It’s a great group and it’s nice to see a fellow member doing so well.
I spent about 6 years propagating and growing a wide variety of plants. It’s a lot of work and I was working full time while doing it. I had no help and lived out in the country, so I decided that growing plants wasn’t for me. I’ve found a side hustle that brings in a good income year round and I don’t have to work so hard.
Continued success to Craig and to you!!!
Great episode! Sounds like he needs a bigger place with a greenhouse. :)
This is a fine article! I’ve been researching side hustle ideas the last few weeks and feels like my head is going to explode sometimes due to all the reading and YouTube watching. I’ve turned into a book worm, now reading daily and turned my car into a rolling university on wheels listening to YouTube videos on how to be successful and side hustle ideas. But the last couple days, I’ve kind of zeroed in on 2 ideas. Both ideas, coincidentally, are passions of mine. Photo editing and gardening (planting). As I chisel away, I run into great articles like this which encourage me to move forward and act on my side hustle ideas.
What are the best places to buy wholsale liners and plugs???
Thank you Savvy