So, this actually applies to the afk area that was recently added.
What if, outside of donator status, we had a way to upgrade the profitability and/or get experience in the skill being done. This could be accomplished with the use of some sort of token, possibly to make the player actively chop the tree, mine the rock, or fish the waters. (Meaning you would only gain these tokens while not idle, or only for a certain period after clicking, etc.) These tokens could then be traded through an npc added to afk island for each skill to be upgraded independently, so as to make it more rewarding to be active on the island but you are still able to make use of the afking if you wish to.
Upgrades I had in mind are..
Skillful: 5-10 tiers of experience rate, with tokens increasing between tiers. This skill would allow you to gain xp from the skill of choice, and give you the ability to increase said xp.
Tactful: You use new (mining, woodcutting, fishing) tactics to gain more resources! This is an increase on the amount gotten in both bil tickets and tokens from the afk skilling. I feel like this could be a tier skill 1-5 possibly, or lower. I do feel that the tokens increase should be minimal so it doesn't become a meta.
Bait: Gives a very small percentage chance of obtaining a pet/casket/birds nest while afk skilling. High end token cost. The examples above don't have to be all there is, a unique crate perhaps with an interesting drop table? This is all open to suggestion, of course.