To make money early on you need to be able to trade at the Fair. The simplest way to do this is to get Eco- nomics 5, otherwise you already have a village with a Trading Post and Eco4 or Dip7.
You’re new, you’re broke, it will be years before you can make large quantities of booze, find and exploit that salt mine or be able to dump swords in volume. You can’t afford to waste time developing skills that you don’t otherwise need to produce relatively low value junk that the quantity limits mean won’t be worthwhile producing for more than a fair or three.
If you have found a forest, with Weapons 1 you can make shafts. As many as you like. No 10 people per skill level limit. In winter that means you can make thousands of them. The fair doesn’t want a huge number of these, but at current demand, that’s 7000 silver from one of your 10 trade slots.
You are likely to have plenty of provs early on. You can sell 3514 of them at the fair for a silver apiece.
Slings can be made at Leatherwork 2. These sell for 8 silver each. What’s more you can buy the one leather required to make a sling for 3 silver each. You can currently purchase 1759 leather (5277) from the fair and easily turn them all into slings. Sell 647 for 5176 and that has paid for almost all the leather buy. Sell another batch of slings next fair or equip your hunters with slings for extra provs. The leather you buy at this fair you cannot turn into goods to sell back until the next fair, so buying maximum leather is a good thing to start as soon as possible.
Ropes – you need Leatherwork 4 for these (there is a rope at Weaving 3 using gut and bark, but the leather option is simplest and none of those leather levels will be wasted as you gain the capacity to make leather armour and backpacks getting to 4.) They sell for 41, require 5 leather which you can buy for 15 and if you buy max leather you only need to produce another 198 in half a year to produce maximum slings and ropes. The ropes sell for 10,742 silver and are good economics for many years.
Woodwork is a little harder to justify. Wd1 lets you make clubs (no economic value) at 3 you can make wagons, they need logs but sell for 41 each and you can earn 13407 with them. Your log production is severely limited by the restriction of 10 people per Forestry skill level. On the other hand you can buy logs for 3 silver each, making these profitable to buy inputs for and construct (in winter.)
Furs. If you have nothing else to do with them in winter, try furriering. Don’t take the skill, returns will be low, but you will generate some furs and can make a little cash from them early with no inputs other than people (remember to equip them with hunting gear for increased returns.)
For the input of just labour you can make small amounts by assigning up to 500 people each to Art, Music, Cooking and Dance. Worth it for the winter Fair early on. Being Group C skills you can also increase these without impacting on those important Group A skills that you need so badly early on. The moral increase from taking these is also useful.
TriBall has a higher limit of 800 participants and can be boosted using clubs and horses.
Cultural income is boosted by the cultural skill and the Economics skill, which you probably already have at level 4 or 5 if you are taking part in the Fair. Triball has the biggest potential to remain a worthwhile income generator into the future.