The 7 Decisive Elements of Minimalist Business Design

April 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How to Create the Basis for Minimalist Business Success

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

I’ve spoken before about the idea of creating a minimalist business — a zero-overhead location-independent business that practically runs itself.

Over the last year I’ve been able to successfully create my own minimalist business. During this year I’ve learned a good deal about how to create one successfully.

I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve also made some huge breakthroughs.

I conducted a lot of research, reading over 40 business books this year. Some of these business books were terrible, others like Timothy Ferriss’s 4 Hour Workweek and Seth Godin’s Tribes have set the foundation for what was to come.

The fundamentals of a minimalist business.

I’ve been thinking about the fundamentals that make a minimalist business successful, and I believe I’ve narrowed them down to just 7 decisive elements.

Not every minimalist business will need to use them all to be successful. However, I truly believe that if you ignore these 7 decisive elements, you’re going to have a more difficult time creating a minimalist business that works.

Why design a minimalist business?

We live in the age of day-job wage slavery. People go to work in the morning, do some stuff that they’re told to do, and then go home at night with a paycheck in hand. Somehow this feels empty, but we’re not sure exactly why.

The reality is that it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. The Internet has given every single individual with a dream the ability to make work online that will support them.

The idea of a minimalist business takes the location-independent business idea a little further. I want to give people the tools to create a business that allows them to work less and live anywhere in the world.

Obviously when you’re in the initial stages of creating a minimalist business, the work times will be quite longer than 10 hours, but eventually — if you follow the 7 decisive elements that I’ve laid out below — you will have designed a minimalist business that requires very little input.

Once you get to that point, you can sit back, relax, and watch the profits come in.

Designing a minimalist business isn’t for everyone.

Not everyone wants to be location independent or create a business that provides passive income while they live and work from anywhere. That’s okay! Creating a minimalist business isn’t easy, and I’d personally rather invite only the people who truly are interested in pursuing this path to freedom.

Whether you’re interested in creating a minimalist business, or simply want to apply these ideas to your work life or your not-minimalist business. Go for it! I hope I can be of help.

Here are the 7 Decisive Elements of Minimalist Business Design

1. No-overhead.

A minimalist business must have no (or very low) overhead.

This means that you don’t spend any money until you are making money. Many business owners insist on buying expensive hosting packages, costly equipment, or intensive consulting programs, before their business idea is even conceptualized. Don’t spend a dime, until you’ve got an idea that you’re ready to put into play. Even then, it’s more than possible to get your message to the world without having major costs.

Some businesses will need to spend a little bit for supplies, but a good rule is to keep start up costs under $100.

We think we need to spend money to make money, because we’ve been brought up in a culture where brick and mortar was the norm. Now the web is the norm, and in most cases you don’t need to spend much money at all to operate on the web.

If you think your business will cost a lot of money to run, think about what you can eliminate to make the costs vanish. Obviously there are businesses that do require start-ups costs –and these are totally legit businesses, but these aren’t what we’re going for.

A minimalist business has no-overhead. If your business design has massive overhead, it isn’t a minimalist business plan.

The best part about having no-overhead is that the cost of failure is small. If your business doesn’t take off, no harm done. All you have to do is start over again with a new idea.

2. Location independence.

One of the big advantages of starting a minimalist business is that it allows you to live and work from anywhere. On May 15th I’m going to move to San Francisco Bay, and my business simply comes with me. Last year I spent many months traveling from Portland Or through Chicago to New York.

If my business was rooted in one spot, I wouldn’t be able to move as often as I do.

A minimalist business is hosted in The Cloud. For those who are still living back in 1995, The Cloud is the networking infrastructure that has been created by large web companies to support networked computing. Almost every computing task, transaction, etc can now be completed online.

This means you don’t need an extensive amount of equipment to run your business. I like to keep it as simple as possible: just use a small Laptop. I have a MacBook Pro, but maybe you want a PC. It doesn’t matter, as long as the machine is portable.

This means that a minimalist business owner can tend to their business from anywhere in the world using WIFI, which is very easy to obtain is most places in the world at coffee shops and internet cafes.

This means you also don’t need an office, or even a permanent home, which eliminates many unnecessary costs.

3. Use existing infrastructure.

So many newbie entrepreneurs insist on constantly reinventing the wheel, especially when the wheel already exists. The tools you need to create your minimalist business already exist, do not try to invent new ones. Let other people in established businesses invest in infrastructure.

Infrastructure varies for every endeavor, but here are a few simple examples: Instead of coding a blog from scratch, use a nice free template and host on a well regarded blogging software. Believe it or not, I’ve been approached by start-ups who insisted the only way to get started was to start creating a blogging platform from scratch (ahem, WordPress exists.) Don’t be this business, you’ll waste literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, when you could have started for free.

The same path goes for communications infrastructure. Use established networks such as Twitter, and Facebook to reach out to clients. These services are popular for a reason, use them to reach potential customers instead of going the door-to-door route that so many people choose.

4. Automation.

A minimalist business needs to run itself. The foundation of passive income is that it comes in without you having to go looking for it.

Completely passive income is very hard to find, but that’s the ultimate goal. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to end up having a completely passive income stream, but just the possibility that it could go passive eventually.

Money coming in while you sleep is passive enough for most people. In order to do this, you need to automate everything. You can’t be accepting transactions by hand. You cannot be shipping and labeling individual orders as they come in. A minimalist business uses e-junkie, or another similar platform to handle all payments, transactions, and affiliate sales.

Once you automate all tasks that computers can do, this frees you up to do work that matters. And also allows you to travel and have massive amounts of free time to do what you want with your life. The ultimate goal in any minimalist business is freedom, and you need to automate in order to get to that point.

5. Isolation.

We’re constantly plugged into The Matrix: The Real World, that constantly on stream of information coming into your brain from social media, your cell phone, and any other stimuli that you allow into your space.

You have to turn it all off to create a minimalist business. Constant access to information leads to reactionary workflow — the most common symptom of this is sitting and refreshing your Gmail over and over every 35.5 seconds. Do you know what happens when you send and reply to email all day? You get email all day. This leads to nothing important getting done.

You aren’t creating the work which will be the foundation of your minimalist business if you’re just sitting around waiting for an email to come to your inbox so that you can reply to it.

Stop. Unplug. Sit in silence until you have regained the ability to have your own thoughts.

I recommend checking your email once per day if you’re trying to establish a successful minimalist business. I know this isn’t always possible, but it’s the end goal.

By decisively moving toward conscious isolation, you’ll be able to test if the automation systems are working, and also you’ll begin to create work that matters. Which brings us to…

6. Creating a movement.

Creating a movement the most important element. Your minimalist business needs to be about making the world better in some very specific way.

I’ve written about creating a movement before, and that’s because I believe it’s so incredibly important in any business model.

There are a number of different elements that come into play in any minimalist business movement. First, you need leaders. People who are willing to fight for the change that you believe in. When you have leaders, you will inevitably have followers. Followers are the people who support your minimalist business.

Second, a movement isn’t for everyone. Some people must be left out — the more the better (but not so many as to leave no one.) The reason for this is because if you create a minimalist business for everyone, you’ll end up helping no one. There are so many people in the world, they all need different things, they all have different beliefs.

Most businesses seek to create a product that suits everyone. Do the smart thing and create a niche business that you’re passionate about.

This is why I said above that creating a minimalist business isn’t for everyone, because it isn’t. Not everyone will have the skill or ambition to make location independent passive income a reality. Most people will just want to stay at their day jobs and go shopping on weekends.

7. Quality.

A minimalist business has to focus on creating a quality product. This is the making or breaking point for any business, and it must be the ultimate focus of minimalist business design.

Create a product that helps people, which harnesses your strengths to make change in the world.

The simple fact is that the world doesn’t have any more room for crappy stuff. We can’t be creating minimalist businesses that give people something they don’t need.

The single most important factor in minimalist business success is creating work that matters. Every minimalist business I’ve come across that has failed because they created a lame product that people didn’t need. There are enough of bad products in the world, what we need now is work that matters.

The thing is, I can’t tell you where your quality work comes from, this work is different for everyone. For me it was writing The Art of Being Minimalist in order to encourage people to stop consuming and start living their lives — this has been a huge success and now enables my location independent life.

For your minimalist business, the change you create will be different. You have to look deep inside yourself and honestly ask yourself what you’re passionate about creating. This passion is the foundation of your minimalist business.


I hope this helps those of you who are thinking about starting a minimalist business. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments, I’ll do my best to answer the ones that I can.

If this helped you, consider hitting the retweet button.

Thank you,

Everett Bogue

How to Find Your Minimalist Edge

April 25th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Challenge yourself to find balance and still reach for The Edge

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

I practice yoga regularly. On most days you’ll find me either on my mat at home, or at Yoga to the People — a donation-based yoga studio in Manhattan.

There is a place in Yoga that I call The Edge.

The Edge is a very special place, because it’s the balance between trying too hard in a pose, and not trying enough (checking out.) You’re challenging yourself to go deep enough into the position, but not striving so hard that you’ve gone too far.

You can hurt yourself if you go past The Edge before you’re ready.

If you hurt yourself, there’s a large possibility that you will undo all of the work that you’ve done so far.

The Edge is different for everyone. The Edge changes day to day. You’re constantly striving to find your Edge in any Yoga position.

I imagine The Edge exists in minimalism as well.

Before I practiced Yoga, I spent a number of years striving to be a professional dancer.

Dance is very different from Yoga. While they are both physical activities, the concept of watching The Edge isn’t quite as prevalent. In Yoga the aim is to do the work, it doesn’t matter if you can grab your foot and bend it back over your head. Some people can do this, some cannot, no one will hit you with a stick if you can’t touch your toes in Yoga.

Dance is the opposite. If you can’t bend your leg back over your head, you’re a failure.

The reason for this is quite simple: only the top 1% of dancers get paid. Dance is a performance-based medium, so your singular aim in life is to make it to the stage. If you don’t make it to the stage, you’re just an amateur.

In many cases, this means that dancers don’t watch The Edge as they move toward their end goal of being on the stage.

This leads to injuries, eating disorders, and a lot of pain and frustration.

A dancer wakes up every morning, looks into the mirror, and says themselves “damn, I’m getting older and fatter, and I’ll never be Baryshnikov.”

You have to watch your Edge, even as a dancer (and even if very few dance teachers are aware that The Edge exists.)

It’s easy to look at the fact that I’m living with 50-Things and assume that I just dropped everything all at once. This isn’t true at all.

I slowly worked towards The Edge of minimalist existence.

  • In 2003 I moved in a Truck.
  • In 2007 I moved in a Honda Civic.
  • In 2009 I moved with three bags.
  • In 2010 I will move with one bag.

I slowly reduced my possessions. I created boxes of stuff that I thought I didn’t need and put them in the corner for weeks until I was sure it was time for them to go.

I’ve structured my life so that my work is done in either the virtual realm, or I’m working with only my body.

My point is this: I’ve been pushing my minimalist Edge for my entire life. I’ve been working, and reworking the practice until I’m comfortable with living with less.

I’m sure some people have gone from McMansion to backpack in one day, but I certainly didn’t do that. I fear if a person changed their life that drastically, they’d be going past The Edge.

If you go past The Edge in minimalism, there’s a good chance you’ll hurt yourself.

That being said, you need to be conscious of the end goal.

Minimalism isn’t minimalism if you aren’t actually practicing. There’s such a thing as not reaching your Edge. If you don’t reach your Edge, you aren’t reaching your full potential.

Minimalism is such an abstract concept. It can really apply to any number of things. You can get lost activities such as clearing off you desk, or re-organizing your bookshelf, and then smiling to yourself and calling yourself a rockstar minimalist. You are a minimalist! But you’re missing the point.

There’s a point when you aren’t pushing the edge.

Sometimes you aren’t making the effort. You’re just settled down, and waiting for something to happen. This, in my opinion, is most of society.

These people are constantly consuming endless amounts of junk, putting it in their houses, wondering why they aren’t happy. It’s sad, really.

I know, I’ve been there. I spent an entire year completely checked out at my day job. I drank too much and gained twenty pounds of belly fat. I had days during that time where my minimalist ambitions included gathering up six-packs of empty beer bottles and multiple take-out packages from the floor of my room in Brooklyn.

We’ve all been down that road, but there’s a point where you have to take a look what you’re aiming for. To set a goal and push your Edge consciously until you actually reach it.

At some point you have to set goals for yourself.

One day I simply set a goal: I was going to move across the country and start working for myself, or I’d die trying.

To do that I knew that I needed to reduce my possessions to less than 100 things. I didn’t do this because I thought I’d one-up all of the other minimalists –I obviously didn’t anyway. I didn’t do this to make a statement about society –though apparently people have told me that I have.

I made the decision to have less than 100 things and fit everything in the bag, because it was the only possible way that I could see for me to succeed. I wouldn’t have been able to start my own business, and be an average American consumer at the same time. Maybe you can! Good.

Last year I had a difficult choice to make: life-time servitude to the system that wants me to be in debt and buy buy buy until I die, or minimalist freedom. I opted for freedom.

I couldn’t have done this without taking minimalism to the top 1%.

I’m not saying that to gloat, I’m not saying that because I have less stuff than you. Who cares how much stuff I have, I’m not trying to one-up any of you.

The thing is, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I did, without going all the way to The Edge. I need to go to this place of less at this moment in time.

Yes, this means that:

I probably won’t live with 50-things forever.

I probably won’t live and work from anywhere forever.

Sooner or later I might find a new challenge to pursue. (But it won’t be learning how to buy stupid stuff.)

[UPDATED: Actually, screw the people who criticize counting things.

We need to stand up for what we believe in: living with less is better.

There is nothing obsessive about having less (and making a point of showing people.) What is unhealthy: having tons of stuff. Stuff holds you down, it keeps you from being free and pursuing your dreams.

Living with 50 things and being location independent is pretty damn awesome. I wouldn’t be able to do this and have buckets of junk.

In response to Charley Forness’s thoughtful rant.]

I do enjoy living with less at the moment.

Part of me knows, that you can’t really know a thing until you’ve gone all the way with it.

  • You haven’t known dance until you’ve pushed yourself to The Edge on a stage in front of a full house.
  • You haven’t known Yoga until you’ve pushed yourself to The Edge through an entire sequence, collapsed into Savasana and passed out from blissfulness.
  • You haven’t known minimalism until all of your possessions fit into a backpack (my Edge) and hopped on a plane to a place you’ve never been before.

Maybe your Edge right now is cleaning off your desk and donating a few books. Donate those books, but make sure you’re pushing your Edge when you do it. If the junk just comes back you’re not making progress.

Maybe your Edge is simplifying your time in order to work for yourself by generating passive income.

The point is, The Edge is different for everyone.

Maybe your Edge will never get to the point where you’re hopping on planes. That’s okay! But you have to push yourself to The Edge (but not too far.) or you’ll never see progress.


I’d love for you to retweet this post if it helped you — this is the best way to help people find my writing. Thank you.


If you’re interested, I have a guest post over at The Art of Great Things about pursing quality in life.

And Bud Hennekes wrote a reviewed The Art of Being Minimalist and interviewed me at PluginID.

Putting Leo Babauta’s ‘Society, Reimagined’ into Practice

April 21st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The world needs to change, if we’re going to survive.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

This entire post is based off of Leo Babauta’s “Society, Reimagined” on Mnmlist. You should read Leo’s post before this, or you’ll be a little lost.

[UPDATE:] Leo posted a follow up to his original post on Mnmlist: society, reimagined: how to make it a reality.

Why I’m writing this.

“Sometimes I wonder if society could be vastly different, redesigned almost from scratch.” – Leo Babauta

The reason that I wrote this post is not because I’m an idealist dreamer, I really believe that we’re on the verge of being able to reimagine society in the way that Leo’s dreaming of.

I believe this because I’m already doing much of what Leo describes in his post.

This society is actually coming about in a much more natural way than we think.

The developments in localized Internet make many of these sharing opportunities more of a matter of implementation than chasing idle dreams.

The biggest point that I want to make here is that Leo’s reimagined society doesn’t involve as many sacrifices as you might think that it does. This entirely minimalist neighborhood, with the community building the houses and shared food, with a willing community to implement the ideas, would in fact allow people to live a much more free existence.

I know this because I’ve been implementing most of these ideas for almost a year now, and I’ve found that my time has been freed up considerably.

I used to work 40+ hours a week, and I still spent more than I earned. Now I work much less, and on projects which I am willing to pursue (such as this blog post, and art directing a magazine to help a friend.)

We’re already seeing big business being taken down in arenas such as information production (newspapers, magazines, publishing industry.) This is why I’m able to make my entire living off of this blog, as I’m supported by a group of enthusiastic readers who’ve decided they want to opt-into this movement.

It’s not hard to imagine the same developments, spurred by the technologies we’ve developed on the Internet, to soon carry over to other industries such as localized food production and independent entertainment.

Looking forward and looking backward.

It’s easy to compare Leo’s imagined society to how our societies used to live. Localized economies which were defined by their geography. This is definitely true, but the difference between then and now is the Internet.

The internet transcends the inefficiencies that existed in the society we used to have, previous to the explosion of industrialized big business that we saw around 150 years ago. I’ll go deeper into detail on this further down in this post.

This society reimagined isn’t stepping back to a simpler time, it’s applying simplicity to a better future.

The car, junked, in practice.

“I’d start by banishing the car. It’s supposed to give us freedom, but we’re chained to it and its expensive payments, maintenance, repairs, fuel, parking, pollution, and so on.” – Leo Babuta

Cars are on their way out in a couple of places in the United States.

I wouldn’t dream of owning my own car at this moment in time. It’s just too expensive, too impractical, and too much of a headache.

This year I’ve needed a car a total of one time. I rented a Zip Car for a few hours within moments of figuring out that I needed a car. It cost me $55.

Last year I rented a Zip Car to get from Portland, OR to Seattle, WA. It cost around $135 to rent it for a two-day trip.

Zip Car provides insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking/storage for their vehicles. That’s the four headaches of car ownership completely eliminated from your life.

Think about it:

  • How much of your life have to spent working to pay off your car?
  • How much have you had to spend working to pay for your car’s insurance?
  • How much time have you spent while your car was in the shop?

All of this is eliminated when take cars out of the picture.

We simply don’t need to dedicate the mental and monetary resources to car ownership anymore. Having a car is one of the many things that’s keeping you in the modern day rat race. If you opt-out of car ownership, you open a world of resources to dedicate to pursuing goals that you’re passionate about.

If the town you live in is too car centric, the answer is simple: move to a place where walking is possible.

It’s not impossible to re-think cities and towns across America as being walkable. You vote by where you live, if you choose to live in Portland over a sprawling metropolis like Los Angeles, these cities will be forced to reimagine their poorly designed sprawl when people declare that they want to live in cities and towns that are walkable.

This is totally doable, and many cities in America this is already happening.

Schools, erased, in practice.

“I’d also banish the school, at least as we know it: institutions that force learning, that homogenize children, that teach them to be robotic workers instead of thinkers, creators, independent learners.” – Leo Babauta

I have a secret to tell you, for most of my life I didn’t go to school.

“WHAT?!” You say.

It’s true. I’ve spent 5 of my years on this planet enrolled in school. Kindergarten, then I dropped out. Freshmen year of high school, then I dropped out. Then I went to New York University and graduated in three years with 2 majors. I went on to work at one of the leading magazines in the country for three years. This year I created my own location independent business in less than 6 months.

I was unschooled.

Unschooling is just as Leo describes it in his article. My parents pulled me out of school for 1st grade and just let me figure out what I wanted to learn. They never sat me down at a table and forced me to learn math.

We got one of the early Macintoshes when I was around 11, and I started to learn web publishing skills immediately. I had small websites on Geocities by the time I was 12. By 15 I was blogging regularly and gaining a following on Livejournal. By the end of college I was blogging professionally with Gawker Media and then was hired on by New York Magazine’s blogging team.

I credit Unschooling as teaching me the most valuable skill that anyone can ever have: the ability to learn to do things by myself. This is intrinsic motivation to pursue a skill that I need to obtain as quickly as possible with the resources that I have at my fingertips.

  • I wanted to learn how to write, so I did.
  • I wanted to learn how to program HTML so I could publish on the Internet, so I did.
  • I wanted to learn how to be a professional photographer, so I did.
  • I wanted to learn how to dance professionally, so I did.
  • I wanted to learn how to do journalism, so I did.
  • I wanted to learn to practice yoga in order have better health, so I did.

I wanted to learn how to create my own business online which will support my location independent existence, so I created a business on this blog in only 6 months. Now I can live and work from anywhere, and write crazy blog posts like this one.

I probably spent two hours a day learning the skills that I needed to survive in the modern world, when I was unschooling — most kids spend 6-8 hours in school a day. This translates into my spending probably two hours a day working on my business — most rat racers spend 8-12 hours a day in an office. The rest of my time I spend doing what I want, reading, practicing yoga, and relaxing.

The disaster that is modern schooling.

Modern schooling pushes out cookie cutter individuals who are forced to learn things that they aren’t interested in. If they don’t learn, they get hit with a stick.

When someone hits me with a stick, I hit them back.

Schooling creates legions of extrinsically motivated individuals who are created for the sole purpose of working in factories (factories being any job where you do what you’re told.) These kids do what they’re told, and don’t understand what’s wrong.

  • They buy things because people told them to.
  • They enter the rat race because they were told to.
  • They know the basics to get by.
  • They have been discouraged from specializing in any one subject that they’re passionate about.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, there are brilliant kids out there who are rockstars at school and life. But for every rockstar, you have legions of kids who are forced to learn things they don’t want to know. These kids have their creativity killed by the time they graduate.

Seth Godin probably said this one best:

“The tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.” – Linchpin.

Genius comes from learning how to teach yourself the skills you need to succeed.

Why we don’t need school anymore.

The internet has changed everything in regards to how information is delivered. You can have almost any answer to any question with a simple google search.

When you’re in school, you’re sitting at a desk without a connection to the Internet. No offense to teachers, but humans have limited knowledge. Teachers went to school themselves years ago, and they only know what they know.

Teachers are doing their best, but the Internet is doing far better.

The internet, when you’re given access to it, has far more knowledge than a teacher directing a classroom to learn specified approved knowledge that everyone is forced to learn.

What this world needs is not more factory workers. All of the factories are in China now. This world needs free thinking individuals who know how to obtain information on their own. We need people who aren’t going to accept the status-quo as the one and only option. We need people who will develop their own ideas and implement them.

The openness of the knowledge of the Internet has made this possible. Given the right tools, kids don’t need school anymore. I certainly didn’t, and still don’t.

Consumerism reimagined, in practice.

“It stems from my belief that somewhere along the line, we allowed ourselves to be sidetracked from what’s important — people — and instead have put profits, corporations, productivity, and consuming at the forefront of everything we do.” – Leo Babauta

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know how I feel about buying things.

We simply don’t need to consume and destroy at the rate which currently do.

The reason that we buy so much is quite simple:

In the early 1900s we all started working in factories. The problem with factories is that it’s incredibly easy to pump out more product than people will ever possibly want. The factory owners had a problem, what do we do with all of this junk? They had to sell as much as they were making.

So, they created a little tool called marketing. Marketing took the products that the factories were churning out and taught you to that you needed them.

Then the TV came around and we had a perfect situation for marketers: dumb people sitting in front of the tube every night! So someone somewhere came to the brilliant conclusion that they could run a commercial for a product and people who were watching on the other end would want to buy it.

Fast-forward to 2010, and we have an entire society who thinks because celebrities told them to buy millions of products that they don’t actually need, that they should.

The schools are setup to pump out factory workers who think buying things will make them happy.

The reality of the situation is the purpose of this blog: stop buying things and you can be so much more free than the rest of society. If you stop consumerism, you stop having to work 60 hours a week to support your over-extended lifestyle.

Once you stop buying, you can begin to support yourself doing what you’re passionate about.

What do we put in the place of consumerism?

The answer is coming about quite naturally. The internet has enabled people to make a living doing what they want. In Leo’s society reimagined, we are all connected through the Internet to people in our neighborhood who create clothes.

When we need a pair of jeans, twice a year — this is honestly how often I buy quality jeans. If you don’t buy crap, your jeans last longer — We will contact our local jean maker who will make a stunning pair of jeans by hand which will last for the next six months. We can make almost all of our products this way.

Yes, this means that products will cost more, because it will be essential to support the local industry — the jean maker guy is also your friend! You won’t be able to get 14 pairs of jeans for $35 each. Instead you will pay more for one or two pairs of jeans for more which will be locally design, made to fit, and by a person with a face.

How do you put this into practice?

  • Start seeking out local artisans who create the goods you need. Support local independent industry.
  • Buy used stuff. There is so much out there already, use Craigslist and visit flea markets to find stuff that you need, when you actually need it.

We obviously need to design Internet communications systems like Craigslist/Facebook/Etsy which allow us to locate local products and services in our neighborhoods. With enough searching you should be able to buy locally made products.

That and stop buying stuff you don’t need from big business.

Health Care, reimagined, in practice.

I’m a huge fan of Jay Parkinson’s Hello Health. Using the tools of the Internet, Jay Parkinson is busy reimagining health care as a system that supports the health of it’s neighborhood.

This health system would fit perfectly in support of Leo’s reimagined society.

In Jay’s reimagined health system you can video chat, text message, and occasionally have in-person visits when they are necessary. Doctor’s are compensated for their time, instead of being compensated for fixing you when you’re deathly ill. Imagine that?

I can’t discuss this further, because I just don’t know enough about health to detail everything. Jay explains it better in his recent interview with Big Think.

Agriculture, reimagined, in practice.

“I’d get rid of supermarkets and huge agribusinesses and food flown and shipped from thousands of miles away. Instead, we’d grow our own food, right in our backyards, or in community gardens.” – Leo Babauta

The final piece of this reimagined society is that we need to stop eating food that’s grown thousands of miles away on monoculture farms that are coating all of their products in pesticides.

Leo suggests the best way to do this: grow your own food. Rooftop gardens, and backyard farms are going to need to become a reality.

We are so disconnected from our food in modern society, we don’t even know where it comes from.

Have you seen Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, or his Ted Talk? Many kids in this country don’t even know what a potato is anymore. This goes back to the failure of schools, above. How can we teach math, and not teach our kids to identify vegetables?

Growing food solves that knowledge gap. So does pulling kids out of school.

Health is one of the primary responsibilities of any individual, and the easiest way to be healthy is to learn how to eat food that is good for you.

Another option is shopping at local farmers markets. In many cities you can walk to your local farmer’s market and obtain locally grown vegetables from permaculture farms. For more on this see my True Food diet, and read Michael Pollan’s An Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Yes, shopping locally for food costs more. Pollan states evidence such as locally grown Apples have 4-times as much nutrients as a monoculture pesticide-produced shipped-across-the-country Apple. There are nutrients in permaculture soil that has been wiped out by big business.

Spending more money and time on food will make you healthier.

In addition to growing your own food and shopping at local farmers markets, we will need to use the Internet to establish vegetable trading systems for local economies.

I want to be able to know that my neighbor has a sack full of onions that he’s trying to trade or sell, so I can go knock on his door and buy a onion when I want to. The internet makes this an easy reality, we just need someone to develop a Facebook/Craigslist like system for local food trading.

To wrap this all up.

I don’t have all of the answers, and I certainly don’t know how to code a local food trading web 2.0 application. I think it’s only a matter of having the need for this system for it to come into being.

I’m just doing my best to live this life as best I can, and to the best of my beliefs.

I’m sure some of you will disagree with me. Some of you had school kick the imagination out of you long ago.

I just hope this will help you recognize that this life is possible.

  • You don’t need to own a car anymore.
  • You don’t need to go to school anymore.
  • You don’t need to buy stuff anymore.
  • You don’t need a big house anymore
  • You don’t need to buy crap food from supermarkets anymore.

There are alternatives to all of this, as I discussed above and Leo discusses in society, reimagined.

This reimagined society is cheaper, more efficient, and in a lot of ways has much less impact on the planet than the current situation. Yes, it will reshape this country if more of us start to implement it.

Best of all, we can make it happen now. We have many of the tools that enable it to happen.

I know there will be challenges, but I also know that it’s easier than you think it is to make this a reality.

This is a conscious choice that we can make, and it’s possible. I know this because I feel that I’m already implementing it to the best of my ability.


Thanks for reading this incredibly long article! If you think I’m not crazy, feel free to share this using the buttons below. Thank you!

Colin Wright on Minimalist Business Networking

April 21st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How minimalism can help you focus on networking

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Colin Wright is one of my favorite minimalists. He’s built a sustainable design studio with a 6-figure income, while moving to a new continent every 4 months. He blogs at Exile Lifestyle about lifestyle design, minimalism, and working from anywhere.

Since leaving the United States last year, he’s been through dozens of countries: Buenos Aires, Peru, Australia and now New Zealand. Meanwhile, he reduced his physical possessions to just 51 things.

I interviewed Colin for the first time last year, when he was still in South America.

An interview on minimalism, networking, and building awesome relationships.

When you’re building a location independent business, it’s incredibly important to develop good networking skills.

Colin is one of the networking masters — using his skills to get himself onto TV in New Zealand, build strong relationships with clients, and build network of remarkable bloggers to support his business.

Today, Colin released his first premium e-book, Networking Awesomely. This is a follow up to his two other two free e-books available on his site.

While Colin’s e-book isn’t exactly minimalist focused, I can’t stress how important it is to build strong relationships when building your location independent business. I learned a number of important networking strategies while reading my preview copy of Networking Awesomely.

I imagine that this e-book isn’t for everyone! That’s okay. I enjoyed learning how to network better, and if you’re into making human business connections, this can teach you more than you need to know.

Included in the e-book is 26 short essays by other rockstar networkers, including myself! I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to contribute to this project.

How to Network Awesomely with Colin Wright.

Anyway, here’s the interview. We spoke about building relationships in unexpected places, helping people, and how minimalism can lead you to focus on making strong connections.

Everett Bogue: You relocate to a new continent every few months. What is one strategy that you have for meeting people in new places?

Colin Wright: A big part of meeting people in a completely unfamiliar place where you don’t know anyone is to figure out a way to get yourself on the right people’s radar and position yourself from the get-go as someone worth knowing.

This can mean many things, but for me this usually means getting in contact with people of influence who live where I’ve moved and then meeting more people through that group.

In Argentina I made a lot of fantastic connections through a social network called A Small World, and in particular through one connector named Justo, who was also a member. Justo and his wife love to introduce people around and have visitors over for tea and conversation, and they are also entrepreneurs, so they run with the kind of people I want to meet.

In New Zealand I made an appearance on a widely-watched morning TV show, which led to hundreds of emails, invitations and new opportunities. Being on TV gave me an immediate advantage in networking in that people knew something about me and what I did, and could even recognize me in public. Boom, instant network.

Doing a quick search on Twitter to see who is active in your area is a great way to meet people, too, as generally folks who are active on social networks are more likely to want to make new connections.

Everett: What is one way our readers can break the ice with a new contact in a
strange place?

Colin: Do something nice for them.

Invite them out to an event you’re going to, share a meal, offer your services, whatever. If you pay it forward a bit, the other person will know right away that you aren’t a threat, and in fact can be an asset to them. This gives them incentive to help you out where they can, as well.

Everett: Can being minimalist help you focus on meeting people and developing quality relationships?

Colin: Absolutely. If you are focused on accumulating possessions, generally you spend more time trying to earn earn earn and the dollar becomes the main priority.

If you are focused on meeting new people and having novel experiences, on the other hand, money ceases to be quite so important, making it easier not to be such a penny-pincher and to take opportunities as they come along.

As a minimalist, I find I’m also a lot less stressed out, which is great for my mood when dealing with other people.

Everett: Are there any common networking practices that you’ve learned to avoid?

Colin: Yes! The hard sell drives me crazy.

You’ve seen this before, I’m sure; somebody with a big personality comes on very strong, hamfistedly dominates the conversation and then immediately focuses on making a sale, be it a product, service or idea.

What’s worse, you’re at a wedding. Or a funeral. Or the aquarium. You couldn’t care less about what he’s talking about, but he’s been told to be persistent and to guide the conversation and to use certain marketing tactics that more or less guilt or shame you into buying.

Does this seem like a good way to build a network? Even if this guy sells you something, you won’t want to ever hang out with him again, much less be a long-term customer.

Screw that.

Everett: The Internet has changed how we network on a fundamental level. In
your view, how has networking changed since the good old days?

Colin: I think we have a much wider array of tools to choose from, and therefore a wider array of tools that can be abused and used incorrectly.

That’s not to say that social media and new technologies shouldn’t be used for networking – on the contrary, they are amazingly powerful and I make use of them every day! – but to focus completely on metrics and numbers and ‘Followers’ over valuable connections and real, legitimate relationships is a BIG mistake that far too many people make.

Like the Buddhists say, everything in moderation.

Everett: What’s the one most effective way that you apply your energy to build relationships online?

Colin: I create content that people get value from.

Blog posts, videos, ebooks, Tweets about interesting things that I read…all of these things allow me to show my expertise on various subjects while at the same time helping other people gain more expertise in those fields. To put this kind of information out into the ether really builds up one’s visibility and networking prestige.

Everett: Ultimately, what do you think is the most awesome way to spend your energy when networking?

Colin: Out having fun, of course! At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, anyway.

If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.


Thanks so much for the interview Colin.

If you’re interested in the cutting edge of networking from anywhere in the world, you can learn more about Networking Awesomely at Exile Lifestyle.

Why This Minimalist Life Has No Manual

April 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

At some point you have to give up the map.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Yesterday I took Yoga from a teacher who was simply reading the manual.

She said all of the stuff you’re supposed to say in a yoga class, but there was no feeling, no connection, no emotion. She was just doing what she was told.

There’s a huge difference between intellectualizing a process and creating an experience worth living.  I suppose that’s what I try to do with this blog. I want to create an experience that makes you think about the implications of your actions.

I could just read the blog manual and create a successful blog. Something would be missing though. The heart, the soul, the quality of the work.

Yes, that means that occasionally I tell you things that challenge your perception of reality. Sometimes I tell you things that a generation ago would have been so completely untrue that they’re accepted as false by most people still.

Yes, you can work from anywhere.

Yes, you do not need many things.

Yes, advertising has enslaved you.

That doesn’t mean the things on fringes of reality are false. Conventional wisdom is often very wrong, because it’s conventional.

Life is a balance between reading the manual — the public record, the modern mythos of what is acceptable and what is not — and pushing the boundaries of what the rest of everyone thinks is acceptable.

I understand that it’s scary to wakeup from the American dream and realize there is another reality which might just be better. You could aspire to owning a McMansion and filling all the closets. You could find your freedom in French Fries.

Or, maybe you’d rather go vagabonding. You’ll find the secret of life on the road, in the hills and valleys, in the trees and the swamps. Silence in the newness of everything is beautiful.

Or you could read the established manual. Do what they told you to do in school. Get the house, the career in a dying industry, the aspirations of generations past. That life might be possible too, I admit that. But honestly, is it really what you want? Especially if this is the blog you’re reading.

I think not.

This minimalist life has no manual — though I’m did my best to write a small guidebook. Leo’s simple guide is brilliant too, but a guide can’t explain every nuance of every situation. You have to make your own decisions eventually, you have to pick a point where you decide to go where the map hasn’t been written.

There is no right way that’s been tread before on this path. Yes, it’s terrifying to open yourself to infinite possibilities. Yes, maybe something will go wrong. Yes, it’s you’ll make mistakes and take the wrong road once in awhile.

But isn’t that better than taking the same road, day after day, that millions of others have already tread?

I think it is.

Here are a few links that I hope will help you:

Your Backup Plan is Your Plan by Chris Guillebeau

$0-$5000 How to Make Money With Blogs by Glen Allsopp

Email and the Art of Short Replies by Jonathan Fields

Incoming! by Seth Godin


If this article made you think, I’d love if you could help me out by hitting your favorite share button below. Thank you.

How to Cultivate Minimalist Health

April 19th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Our mind, body, and spirit are intimately connected.

If you neglect one part, many times another will start to fail.

If you start to consume junk, your thoughts will be junk. If your thoughts become junk, you might start creating it too.

Here’s what I like to do, when one part of the triad fails. In the long run it’s always better to slow down and regain health, rather than to ignore the problem until later.

How to focus on minimalist health:

1. Slow down. Usually health starts failing because you’re going too fast. We tend to think that we’ll get healthier by going faster, but I’ve found the opposite is true. We run all day, and this makes us tired. When we’re tired we tend to eat worse, and we want to drink, this is a vicious cycle. Health and rest are intertwined. Stop moving so fast before everything else can begin.

2. Disconnect. It’s incredibly hard to stretch for an hour if you’re checking Twitter every five minutes. Turn off the computer, turn off the smart phone, before you move to the other steps. Communication cracks out your mind when you’re constantly plugged in and makes it difficult to concentrate developing good health.

3. Take the time to begin eating right again. Good food is a commitment, one it takes time to fulfill. The worst food is also the easiest to consume quickly. Dedicate an hour for each meal, start to finish. Create each meal with fresh and raw ingredients that we’re just purchased from the market.

4. Walk to and from the market before meals. I know this isn’t possible everywhere, but I find that it helps me focus on what my body needs and gets my body active. You can’t always plan ahead for what your body will need for dinner. Be conscious of what your body is telling you to eat, sometimes it might want something you don’t have in the fridge.

5. Take the time to stretch. Not everyone is like this, some people are gumby. But I’ve found that stretching is one of the most effective ways to improve my health. Set aside one-two hours a day for calm relaxed stretching positions — don’t force anything, listen to your body’s needs. Mine needs an hour of stretching today, I can hear it. Start slow with forward bends and calf stretches, move on to pigeon pose and plow at the end.

6. Only then move to intense exercise. I often fail if I try to exercise without first doing the above. Slowness, food, and stretching are the basis for everything that comes after. If food is hard, only focus on that. If stretching is hard, only focus on that. Everyone has their favorite method of strengthening their bodies and burning calories. I stick with Yoga and biking, you may like running and acrobatics.

It’s easier to injure or burn yourself out without first slowing down, eating right, and stretching. Start with foundation for good health before hitting the hard stuff.

I dedicate today to minimalist health. I will slow down, disconnect, eat right, stretch, and then move for health.

I hope you will dedicate this day too.


Two things worth checking out, if you’re more interested in my work.

1. Matt Cheuvront posted this video review of The Art of Being Minimalist, which is excellent.

2. John Anyasor interviewed me on his blog about designing your minimalist life.

26 Essential Ways to Achieve Minimalist Freedom

April 14th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The basics of applied minimalism

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

There’s a reason zombie movies are so popular. They have an uncanny resemblance to modern reality.

People go to zombie movies to stare blankly at a screen for an hour and a half. Occasionally something scary will happen, and they’ll jump out of their seats as another low-dosage bit of adrenalin fed into their systems.

Now they feel like they did something, so they can walk to their cars and drive home without feeling as empty as they did before. They brush their teeth to remove the little bits of popcorn still stuck in between them. Satisfied that they actually did something, these people go to bed.

At least there aren’t zombies in the world, right?

The truth is that there are zombies. Millions of people are delaying their lives for the idea of security that’s been pumped into us by a modern society that wants us to comply.

Think about it. The TV wants you to sit down and buy things. The mainstream media wants you to sit down and buy things. The big food businesses want you to sit down and buy things. All of this combined is an overwhelming message to the people: buying things is what we’re here for.

Being a minimalist and traveling the world just doesn’t fit into the Walmart’s second quarter projections. That’s why the schools don’t teach you to be minimalist — in fact, that’s why schools don’t teach you how to use credit cards effectively.

Because if you knew how much your life should cost (answer: less) when you got out of high school (or college even!), you wouldn’t go out and buy that Prius, would you?

Nope, you’d walk to the farmers market like any individual minimalist who desires freedom does.


Why I didn’t want you to read my blog.

My last post created quite a split in the community.

On the one hand we had the people who are living this life, the ones who are pursuing a minimalist existence. They saw the post as a call to arms, as a message to practice minimalism better, because there are people who aren’t practicing at all.

Many bloggers linked in and retweeted that post because it took courage to say those things.

Then there were the people who felt like I didn’t want them here anymore. They were confused, and a bit hurt. This is understandable, I said some mean things to a certain group of people.

The truth is, I want almost everyone here. Honestly, there’s no way I can keep you out — this is and will always be a public blog.

The point of the post was just to say: I’m writing about being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere. I won’t write a blog about going to Walmart in the minivan, because that blog isn’t my blog — stop emailing me and asking me to write a minimalist-lite blog where shopping is an okay thing to do.

There’s a reason I tell you not to do things, it’s because you shouldn’t do them.

Far Beyond The Stars isn’t about decaffeinated minimalism, it’s about changing the planet.

These ideas are out there at Walden Pond, and your six-bedroom suburban house with the central vacuuming system that you can’t afford isn’t going to fit on the beach.

One last time: I wanted the people who want me to write a DIFFERENT BLOG to unsubscribe. Not the people who are interested in this life.

Believe it or not, my subscriber count has continued to skyrocket since my last blog post, so I can only imagine many of you are still listening. Good! I won’t be content until you’re actually doing some of these things below though. It’s time for you to start now, if you’re still reading.

I’d love if you’d stay, if you feel these ideas are helping you.


For this post I’d like to go back to basics.

I’ve integrated every single of these things into my life, but I have a distinct feeling that many of you (especially on the ‘up-in-arms’ part of the community that I described above.) aren’t practicing many of these things.

I also recognize that the other half of the blog audience, the ones who have achieved some level of minimalism in their lives, are already doing many of these things. If this post bores you, that’s awesome — I give you permission to go to the beach. I’m so glad you’re practicing minimalism in such an advanced fashion.

Don’t get me wrong, being minimalist is hard work. The rewards are extraordinary though, you will live a freer life and have less of an impact on the planet. Those of you who are doing the work deserve recognition for the difficulty of walking the path.

The most important element of being minimalist is applying these lessons.

Obviously these will not be available to everyone all the time. Some people live in the rest of America where cars are a must-have, I recognize that. Other people will work in a profession where they need to have more than 100-things. That’s okay! 100-things isn’t for everyone. Try instead to focus your life around the things that your profession requires, even if that’s 300-things.

The point is the practice, the practice is the point.

Here are 26 essential ways to start to achieve minimalist freedom.

1. Walk everywhere. One of the most basic things our species can do is walk, but so few of us actually do it. Walking is one of the simpler joys in life, and is completely free. If you’re used to driving 15 blocks to the store, try walking 15 blocks to the store. You’ll burn calories and feel more centered when you return home. For more: The Simple Joy of Walking.

2. Bike everywhere. Biking is one of the best ways to get around quickly under your own power. You’ll lose weight and start to cultivate a sexy body. I realize this is easier in some cities than others. You can get an inexpensive bike in most cities for less than $150 that works amazingly. Wear a helmet. For more: How to Rent a Bike in Any City for Free.

3. Prepare your own food from fresh ingredients. Making your own meals is another one of the habits you can pick up that will change your life. When you buy prepared and processed foods you are filling up your body with preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup. When you make your own food from fresh ingredients, you’re eating what our bodies have been eating for thousands of years — good food that’s made out of real food. For more on preparing minimalist food, I highly recommend Stonesoup: Minimalist Home Cooking.

4. Purchase only things you need. We only need a fraction of the things that we buy, the other 80% is junk that we won’t use. This stuff tends to end up in the dumpster, because once you buy junk it’s value decreases immediately to zero. A minimalist recognizes that we only need the basic necessities of life in order to survive, and so buys less.

5. Buy digital. There are two reasons to buy digital goods over physical ones. 1) They aren’t created out of natural resources. 2) They support the artists more because the cost isn’t being eaten up in the production process. This isn’t to say you should go on a digital spending spree, just that if you have a choice between buying a physical CD and a digital CD you might as well choose the MP3s — you’re just going to MP3 it anyway.

6. Do a freedom test. Test the boundaries of your freedom. How far can you go before you start to feel uncomfortable? Can you take a week off from work and spend it on the beach? Can you do this for a month? A year? Put everything you care about in a bag and just set it by the door until you can’t take it anymore, then just go. If you push the boundaries of freedom, you’ll start to see that there aren’t any boundaries anymore.

7. Connect with less people online. The more-is-better philosophy carries over to the Internet for many people. I see so many people in Twitter who are following 4,534 people. How can you possibly connect with that many people? You can’t. Dunbar’s Law states that we can only connect with 150 people, after that we start to forget names and make mistakes. Reduce your Twitter follow count to less than 150 people and start to grow real relationships.

8. Get off the deferred-life plan. Are you waiting until old to achieve freedom? One of the biggest modern myths is that we need to work whole entire youths away in order to save for a distant future where we’ll retire to a beach somewhere. The problem with this obvious: you can have a lot more fun on the beach when you’re young! Start to rearrange your life so you spend more time not working. Spending 80% of your time being free is more than enough, in my opinion.

9. Go paperless. With technology as advanced as it is now, there’s no reason why you can’t go paperless. I recently stopped using paper completely, which I hope to write an entire article about. Scan all of your important documents into Evernote (which is completely searchable and accessible anywhere.) and keep a separate backup on an external hard drive — then shred them. Opt for paperless statements from your bank and credit companies. Instead of using notebooks to write in, use your computer. I do most of my preliminary writing on my iPhone, which saves directly to Evernote. From there I can do an edit and publish from my computer.

10. Work from home. Commuting takes time and resources. Ask your boss (if you still have one.) if you can work from home or from a coffee shop one day out of the week. Chances are your productivity will improve once you’re out of the office. You’ll also save the planet because you won’t be commuting. Consider encouraging your office to move to a ROWE (results only world environment) in order to separate results from time in order to increase company profits and save everyone time.

11. Focus on what matters to you. It’s so easy to become scattered in our modern lives. Consider writing down three or four focus points for your life. This way you can concentrate your time and resources around what matters to you. My focus points are Writing, Reading, Cooking, and Yoga. For more: The Stunning Truth About Focusing on the Important.

12. Retire your souvenirs. We’ve been told to keep things from our travels, to cherish items that hold memories. The problem with souvenirs is that they take up space and usually serve very little purpose other than to remind us where we’ve been. We know where we’ve been, because we were there. Start to kill the habit of collecting useless things, and begin cultivating a habit of having amazing experiences. You will remember an amazing experience a lot longer than the wooden turtle you bought for $3 in Chinatown.

13. Check your email less. We check our email way too much. Once a day is more than enough to deal with everything you need to in a work day. This way you can spend more time creating work that matters, and less time waiting to receive emails that you have to answer, and getting nothing done while you’re hitting the refresh button. For more: The Indispensable Guide to Timejacking.

14. Downsize to a smaller house. If you move into a smaller house, you’ll be able to fit less stuff in it. This will also dramatically reduce your utility bills. You’ll also have to spend less money on your house, which will enable you to work towards having 80% free time, which I described above. We don’t need five spare bedrooms to store our junk in, in reality, we only need one bedroom to sleep in and a kitchen to prepare our food in. When you have a smaller house, you’ll have more incentive to get out and spend time in the great big world, because you won’t spend all of your time dusting the table you don’t use in the fifth bedroom.

15. Disconnect for a day. We’re constantly connected, which can’t be good for our brains. Give yourself a day (or even a week!) off from being connected. Turn off the phone, unplug the internet, just be a normal person who isn’t jacked into The Matrix all day. For more: 7 Simple Ways to Disconnect.

16. Practice saying no. No is one of the most powerful words a minimalist can use. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in projects that we aren’t 100% passionate about. This leads to doing a bad job at a lot of things, instead of focusing our attention on the important. Saying no is hard, but it’s incredibly necessary in the modern age to keep from being overwhelmed. For more: How to Say No Gracefully.

17. Start a blog about being minimalist. There are so many amazing minimalist blogs out there, and I think the more the better. If you’re taking a minimalist journey, consider blogging about it. This will help keep you focused on your goals, and also can become a great way to generate income on the side. When I wrote my last post, someone emailed me to say they were starting a blog about keeping all of his stuff and being minimalist at the same time! Good for him, I think he’s missing the point though.

18. Sell your car. Go Car-free. This is an amazingly simple way to reduce carbon emissions and also get yourself out of debt. One of the biggest myths of the modern age is that we need to have a car to get around. Buy a bike, start walking, you’ll dramatically improve your health and also save a heap of money. For more: Simply Car-free by Tammy Strobel.

19. Make a list of your 100 most important things. One of the most powerful things you can do is identify your top 100 possessions. These are the things that you’d take with you if you were to achieve minimalist freedom. Open a document, start with 1, and recite from memory which items that you’d want to keep. If you can’t remember them, you probably don’t need them.

20. Reduce your possessions to 100 things. Now that you have the list, get rid of everything that’s not on it! Start with things you haven’t used in years, and work your way down to things that you haven’t used in months. Sell things on Craigslist and eBay in order to earn money. Have a yard sale and charge $1 for things that aren’t worth much. Give away everything that you have left. Now you’re free!

21. Observe the 30-day rules. There are two rules you should adopt. The first is getting rid of everything that you don’t use at least once a month. This rule is helping me decide what stays and what goes as I work my way towards 50 possessions. I got rid of my tent and my moleskin, because both of these things I hadn’t used in more than a month. The other 30-day rule is simple: create a list and put anything purchases bigger than $20 on the list — you now have to wait at least 30 days before you can buy these things. Do you still want them after 30 days? Probably not.

22. Destroy your TV. You know how I feel about televisions by now, I don’t like them. TV is passive entertainment in a world where you can choose what to watch. Having a TV in your living room promotes sitting on the couch eating Cheetos. Sell it, destroy it, whatever you need to do to free yourself from the infernal ad-spewing machine. For more: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

23. Shop at the farmers market. Eating local food is one of the best ways to promote health in your own body as well as save the planet. Walk to your farmer’s market and buy food that’s grown locally. Locally grown food is more expensive, but it’s also a lot more nutritious because it hasn’t been frozen and shipped halfway across the country or the planet. For more: The True Food Diet.

24. Have opinions about things that matter. Life’s too short to not have opinions. If something angers you, it’s your job to speak out. Don’t be a sheepwalker, towing the middle line between mediocrity and normality. Instead, be a leader, make a difference, start a movement, and start to bring change to yourself and this planet.

25. Learn to entertain yourself for less. Entertainment doesn’t have to cost money. There are many ways to have fun that don’t involve spending lots of money. Go for a walk in the park. Sit on a bench and watch the birds. Cook a healthy dinner for your friends or family. For more: Minimalist Fun

26. Get on a plane and go somewhere. Ultimately, the best way to become minimalist is to just drop it all and get out of town. End your lease, put all of your stuff on the side of the road, jump in a plane and get out of town. When you leave the comforts of home, you will start to learn amazing things about yourself and begin to have new experiences that you never thought were possible while you were sitting on the couch.

The possibilities are endless, so get out there and explore. Don’t wait until your old and wrinkly to have a life. Two weeks of vacation a year is a crime, and you deserve more than that. Use the skills that I’ve taught you, start building new income streams, and declare independence from the zombie-state.

The reason you should do this is not because it’s the only way, and it’s not because I told you to. You should do this because it’s possible.


If this post was helpful to you, share it with as many people as you can. Retweeting is one of the best ways to share my work with other people.

Don’t Read This Blog If You Want To Be Ordinary

April 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Defining the reason I write Far Beyond The Stars.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

There comes a point in every movement when you have to tell certain people they can’t come along for the ride.

I think it’s time I set some proper expectations about who Far Beyond The Stars is being written for.

The reason I’m doing this is simple:

I’m becoming tired of receiving e-mails and comments from people who want me to stop telling the truth. These people want my blog to be something other than it is.

These people want me to write a safer, cleaner, more picturesque idea of what reality actually is.

I won’t change my blog to cater to these fantasies. The harsh reality is that being minimalist can free you. You can’t have the McMansion and also do what I’m doing, it’s just not possible.

So, I’m sorry, I’ve got to establish some limits. I can’t cater to these people and still make meaningful change. So, at the end of this post I’m going to do the unthinkable, I will ask these people to leave.

I don’t care of my subscriber count goes down. I don’t care if less people buy my book.

The most important thing is that we weed the naysayers and the dream zappers out of this movement, so we can focus on the ultimate goal for everyone involved: being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere.

This is where I’m coming from.

I’m writing this from the perspective of how I’m actually living my life. I know it’s possible because I’m living the life that I write about.

It’s my fault, it’s not very clear when you come on the site what I write about. The internet is a big place and there are a lot of different people (with different goals) who may stumble across my blog. I’m going to make some changes to the layout so my purpose for writing is clearer.

I borrowed the above headline from Jonathan Mead’s Illuminated Mind (a blog which I highly respect), because I think it is the best way to describe the way I’m feeling. I hope you’ll agree, or stop reading this blog.

Far Beyond The Stars is about being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere.

What Far Beyond The Stars is not about:

  • Being happy at your day job until you get old retire and die.
  • Purchasing heaps of disposable goods because the TV told you to.
  • Buying expensive handbags and reading fashion magazines.
  • Having babies, getting a minivan, and going to soccer practice.
  • Being content with having a dull and stupid life.
  • Settling for less for the best because you think you aren’t good enough.
  • Accepting the status-quo and embracing mediocrity.

Why am I saying this?

The comments and emails are from people who want to live safe lives buying too much stuff, instead of pursuing their dreams until they get old and retire and then die.

I’m challenging their perception of how they live their lives. It makes these people scared, because I’m different.

I’ve found a way to live free in a society that wants you to conform, spend more money than you make, and settle for less than the best.

It’s no wonder people think I’m wrong. These ideas destroy the notion that a safe, secure, and incredibly expensive future is what everyone wanted.

The American Dream is dead, there are now millions of American Dreams. This is simply one dream.

A brief definition of being minimalist.

Being minimalist, for me, is about living with less than 100 things so I can move wherever I want. This allows me the freedom to move to San Francisco Bay in May for literally $125 (plane ticket!) + costs for new housing.

I can do this because I am not moving a huge U-haul full of junk across the entire country. All my stuff fits in a backpack.

This doesn’t mean your definition of minimalism can’t be different. Joshua Becker is one of my favorite minimalists, and his e-book Simplify is about applying rational minimalism while living in the suburbs with a family of four. If y0ur definition of minimalism is closer to Joshua’s, I definitely suggest reading his blog (maybe even instead of mine.)

I define minimalism for myself and for my blog as reducing your possessions to make it easier to live and work from anywhere.

There are many ways to apply minimalism, mine is simply one way. It is not the only way.

The benefits of being minimalist.

Being minimalist, as I’ve defined it above, also means that my life-overhead is only food + housing. For instance: last month I spent $750 on rent in Brooklyn and $350 on food. I had a few beers with awesome people. There are a few other costs, but it’s not uncommon for my life in New York of all the most expensive places to cost less than $1500 because of the life choices I’m teaching you to make here.

When I tell people to move to Portland, it’s because your rent will be $350 and your food costs $200. I know because when I lived in Portland these were my expenses.

The reason this scares people is simple: If your life can cost less than $1500 in New York, why aren’t you here if you want to be? It’s a myth that living in a city has to be more expensive. It can be, but it doesn’t need to be.

This freedom from cost enables you to build a better life.

It’s a myth that our lives should cost so much. This lie is perpetuated by advertising and a dying factory culture that dominated our society for the last 150 years.

If your life costs $5000 a month and you’re struggling, it’s because you’ve been lied to by society. Not because I’m writing things that aren’t true.

I assume that everyone reading this blog is somewhat into the idea that being minimalist leads to having more freedom. This is what the blog is about, this is what The Art of Being Minimalist is about.

A brief definition of working anywhere.

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way we do business. People who bought things in a physical form and in physical stores (except for food, which will eventually all be locally grown) are becoming a dying breed.

I’m 25 years old, and my generation is revolutionizing the way we learn and the way we consume information. We do not listen to what the TV tells us to buy. We get our information online, and for the most part we don’t pay for it — unless it’s incredibly good stuff.

What does this change mean?

The reason you hear about newspapers dying, bookstores struggling, and the car manufacturers filing for bankruptcy is all connected. It’s all one big conspiracy that almost everyone doesn’t know about yet.

Everything is changing because of one simple fact: everyone can make a difference.

Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, wrote about this redistribution of power and influence on his blog a few days ago.

The democratization of everything.

The Internet has enabled every single person in the world to be a creator. Previous to this only the people who could get on TV could create things — which led to 150 years of big business domination.

This is why I keep telling everyone to start creating online. Because now, right now, is the moment in time when it is actually possible to create amazing work, start a movement, and make a difference while supporting yourself online.

I don’t think it’ll get any harder to create a movement online, but you might as well start now. You could have 2600 subscribers after 6 months of blogging, like I do. This is plenty of subscribers to support your life without a day job if you apply minimalism the way I do.

How are being minimalist and working anywhere connected?

It certainly isn’t easy to strike out on your own and start creating your own movements in order to work from anywhere. This is why I combined the idea of being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere.

If you have less stuff, if your overhead is low, you give yourself permission, funding, and time to pursue your goals.

If your life costs $500 a month, you can do almost anything.

If your life costs $5000 a month you will be a prisoner to the dying corporate system until someone decides you aren’t needed 5-10 years down the road. Then where are you? Out on the street because society changed while you were working under florescent lights.

This is what happened to the people who lost their jobs (and the ones who still don’t have them) when the great recession happened. They woke up one day to a world that was vastly different for the one they thought they’d signed up for. Then they were asked to pack up their stuff and leave their cushy cubicle chairs.

Big business cares about you until the moment they don’t need you anymore, and then that dream you have of retiring to the beach dies with your job — this happens far more frequently in the velocity of the modern world. Besides, waiting until you’re 65 to have fun is a silly way to live your life.

When someone tells you it’s safer to be a career employee at a company (or in education for that matter,) they are the ones telling lies to you.

Be free now, stop waiting for when you have arthritis.

Why I write Far Beyond The Stars.

Far Beyond The Stars is written to teach people, who want to change, how to make the transition to the life that I’ve described above.

This movement is training people to live a minimalist freedom lifestyle like Karol Gajda and Cody McKibben are in Asia right now. To live like Colin Wright is living in New Zealand right now.

Far Beyond The Stars is not being published to teach you how to be ordinary and to settle for having a boring life where you don’t push your limits.

I’m actually living this life. I’m a minimalist, I live and work from anywhere. It’s possible.

So, please stop emailing me and asking me to write a blog about being conventional. You don’t need to read a blog to learn how to be normal, it’s easy enough to do what everyone else is doing. The hard part is making a meaningful change in your life in order to make a difference in the world.

I hope that wasn’t too much to handle, I hope it didn’t blow any minds.

With all of that being said, I have one request of you:

  • If you aren’t interested in living a minimalist life.
  • If you aren’t interested in working for yourself.
  • If you aren’t interested in living anywhere in the world.
  • If you don’t believe what I’m saying is true.

I want you to unsubscribe from this blog. Because Far Beyond The Stars isn’t being written for you.

The ideas that are put forth on this blog are different. I believe this movement is nothing short of a revolution in the way we consume and the way we live our lives.

I have a feeling that this minimalist movement will go down in history. A generation of influential people are rising up, saying no to stuff, and they’re starting to live their lives in freedom. Now that is change happening.

Thank you to those who believe in what we’re doing here, and I appreciate your help and I love hearing stories about how you’re changing your lives.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” -Henry David Thoreau

Bonus: Sam Spurlin interviewed me at The Simpler Life. Definitely worth checking out — forgive the fact that it was my first time doing a video interview, it’s a little awkward.

The 3-Month Minimalist Survival Guide for Quitting the 9-5

April 7th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

So you’ve quit your job to live and work from anywhere. Now what?

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

There’s a decision that everyone has to make at a certain point in their lives. After toiling for years searching for the modern myth of job security, you wake up to the reality that is.

The decision we make is simple:

Give up and settle for a life of mediocrity at a job that doesn’t care about you and won’t pay you enough to survive.


Strike out on your own in search of the opportunity to make great work in new places. To boldly go where your heart is taking you.

Ignore the people who say it’s “hard” and you “can’t make it.” They’ve already made the other choice.

This is the last post in my extended series on using minimalism to free yourself from the mediocrity of your day job. The other three posts are:

The Minimalist Guide to Leaving Your Soul-Crushing Day Job

The Simple Guide to Making Money Online

The Surprising Truth About Using Minimalism to Leave Your Day Job

Fair warning: this article is 3,000 words long. It’s incredibly in-depth and I hope that it helps you become successful after leaving your day job. Definitely read the other articles first.

Also: this guide assumes that you’ve saved up at least enough money to survive for three months after quitting your day job, as discussed in the previous articles. As I noted in my e-book, The Art of Being Minimalist, $3000 should be plenty of money if you’re living with less than 100 things and you don’t buy anything except food (which is all you really need) and pay for cheap housing.

Portland, OR and anywhere in South America is probably an ideal place to move for your first three months, while you’re getting established. If you’ve figured out how to make money in your sleep before you quit your day job, all the better!

Set aside some time and bookmark this page in order to study this and the other articles thoroughly.

There are two things you have to do before you strike out on your own.

1. Decision day.

Before you can be free you have to make the decision to go there, this is decision day. This is the moment I described above, when mediocrity just becomes too much to handle. This is the breaking point when change is inevitable.

Decision day can come as either a silent revelation. Sometimes it can take much longer than one day — I spent an entire year contemplating the decision to strike out on my own. I’d suggest not taking a whole year, that was a lot of time to spend on one decision.

Decision day might be a loud exclamation to the world, when you update your blog and you say: “I’ve had enough, it’s time to go.” Then you might call your mom, who will think you’re crazy and tell you to think about your (non-existent) career options in mediocrity-ville. Just smile and tell her you’ve made up your mind and that you’re a grownup now.

2. Quitting day.

This day is harder. It’s the moment when you walk in and make the change known to your manager.

Here are a few things to think about for quitting day.

  • Prepare a price point for which you’ll stay. If you’re valuable enough the company might just want keep you. I suggest a 50% pay raise, a ROWE work environment, and more decision making power than you currently have. If they only want to give you $1000, it’s not worth it.
  • Don’t burn bridges by being very clear about your goals. Even bosses love the idea of freedom, don’t underestimate their willingness to embrace the idea that you simply want to pursue a life that doesn’t require you to be in the office every day.

Prepare a written statement if you’re unsure of being able to articulate exactly what you mean to say. Rehearse in the mirror before you go into work.

Here’s a script, if necessary.

Hi X,
I’m quitting this job to pursue a freer life by working for myself. This has been a huge opportunity working with you for the last X years. That you for your guidance and leadership. I’m really sad to go, but I feel that I need to pursue a freer lifestyle at this moment. I hope you understand.

Your name here.

3. Give two weeks notice.

I know, you’re valuable and your company can’t survive without you. It doesn’t matter if the company is going to explode at the seams after you leave, the moment you give notice everyone will look at you like your an alien life form.

Save yourself the three months of weirdness by not telling everyone that you’re quitting three months in advance.

4. Plan for the fact that you might not have two weeks.

I’ve known people who gave their two weeks notice only to be fired immediately. This is rare, but if you’re counting on pay from those last two weeks it might complicate things if you’re let go on the spot. Save more just in case!

Two weeks later, and you’re free!

The minimalist freedom survival guide to month 1.

The first month is the hardest. You’ve been in captivity for awhile, so the freedom of your new life will be quite a shock. You’ll wake up on Monday morning and frantically get dressed only to realize that you have nowhere to go.

First things first: take a mini-retirement.

After X years of corporate slavery, with only two weeks of vacation, I can guarantee that you will be burned out. Don’t expect yourself to recover after a weekend and start working for yourself.

Take a few weeks and don’t do anything. Practice yoga. Slow down. Watch the trees move. Read good books. Do the minimum of things during this time.

Go somewhere new. The best way to start a new life is to get out of town. Book a flight to that place that you’ve always wanted to live but were scared to move and go with all of your stuff on your back.

Starting a new career is a lot easier in a place where you don’t know anyone. If you don’t go somewhere new, you have the danger of getting sucked into hanging out with friends who still remember the corporate drone you. Your life is different now, you don’t want to spend the first couple of weeks in a social drama with everyone asking you questions like “how will you possibly survivvvveeeee?”

Do yourself a favor, distance yourself from your friends during this period of time. You can come back home after everything is settled and reconnect with people once you have an answer to the “how will you…?” question.

Budgeting the first month.

The first month after you leave your job needs to be the least costly. This is the time when you slow down and reconnect with yourself. Here are some ways to make this month the cheapest.

  1. Cook all of your own food.
  2. Don’t buy anything at all.
  3. Move to a cheaper house. When your rent is $450 you can survive longer than when your rent is $2500.
  4. Live with less.

If the idea of getting your finances under control scares the crap out of you, I suggest reading a copy of Adam Baker of Man Vs Debt’s amazingly useful e-book Unautomate Your Finances. Adam used his financial techniques to sell his ‘crap’, dig himself out of debt, and travel the world with his wife and daughter. His signature Unautomation technique is very similar to the way that I saved money before and after I quit my job in order to be free, it’s definitely worth studying.

If you’re already a financial master, you should be good already though.

Just don’t buy stuff and save your money, because who knows when your next paycheck is coming. It’s a recession, money isn’t growing on avocado trees.

Don’t have any expectations for yourself (for the first month).

One of the biggest mistakes that I made when I jumped onto a plane to Portland in September ’09 was that I would be doing the same thing that I did in New York once I got there. I eagerly got off the plane telling everyone who greeted me that I intended to be Portland’s greatest photographer.

Well, that didn’t happen for a number of reasons that don’t really matter now. Eventually I had to acknowledge that my planned assumptions about my career weren’t going to pan out.

When you have no expectations, you can be free to see the best options.

The most important element of the first month of freedom is to not put boundaries on what you can become. Take the mini-retirement. Sit in the grass at the park and just be open to the universe of options that are available to you.

You aren’t who you used to be anymore. You are a blank slate, free of expectations and freed from confinement. Don’t ask yourself what you’ll do with that freedom until…

The minimalist freedom survival guide to month 2.

After a long mini-retirement, there’s a moment that happens to everyone, when you realize that it’s time to get back into the game.

You want to create things. You want to work hard. You want to make a difference.

Once you get to that moment, it’s time to harness that new-found creativity explosion and begin to craft your ideal life.

What to do when you want to work again.

How this moment happened for me: after a month or so wandering Portland’s drippy-wet streets in silent meditation for a few weeks, I suddenly found that I had a huge hunger for knowledge. One day I wandered into Portland’s Powell’s book store, grabbed a handful of books from the business section and started reading in their coffee shop.

Over the course of the next week, I’d read two books business books a day. I liked to read one leadership book combined with one marketing book.

The first book I picked up was Tribes by Seth Godin, which promptly blew my mind and completely changed the way I thought about creating movements and generating income online.

Tribes literally opened the door to the successful blog that you’re reading now.

Here are some business books to get you started: The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz (sounds cheesy, but this book is a brilliant classic. Seth Godin and Timothy Ferriss both cite it as one of the books that completely changed their lives.) The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Purple Cow and Linchpin by Seth Godin. Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod. Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim. Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself.

For other awesome books I’ve read this year, see my newly updated list of the books that I’ve read so far this year.

I read probably 20-30 business books in two weeks. This experience completely reconfigured the way that I thought about self-employment, how work can be done, and how money can be made.

Everyone actually likes to work when they’re intrinsically motivated.

Why did I suddenly want to devour business books during every waking hour of the day? Because after you get past being a burned out corporate corpse you start to regain your humanity.

You discover that there is still blood flowing through your veins and you want to make great work.

This is why I’ve designed the first month of your release from the cubicle chains as complete recovery time. Yoga, meditation, walking in the park, sitting on the beach. All of these things enable you for what comes next: the will to work again.

Intrinsic motivation is very different from being forced to work at the threat of losing your health insurance. It comes naturally, and it’s spontaneously brilliant. Learn to harness it, and use the skill for life, because it’s remarkable.

For more on intrinsic motivating, see Daniel H. Pink’s amazing book Drive.

Create a home base online.

Month two is all about establishing a beachhead on the web.

I really mean this: everyone should have a base on the web. If you restrict yourself to the real world the only way you will find work is through 1 to 1 communications, which means it very hard to land jobs because you can only talk to two-three people a day.

The internet allows 1 to infinite communications. This means you can reach out to many more people. Focus your attention on the web and you cannot fail.

Learn the tools to establish yourself online as a reputable person who people can trust in your field. When you do this successfully you will be able to rocket yourself above 80% of your competition.

  • Register a domain name for yourself.
  • Install a blog.
  • Become active on Twitter.
  • Get a decent template, then stop messing with it.
  • Set a blog schedule and start creating helpful* work at least three times a week.

*Helping people is a huge theme here for a reason. Very few people are truly unconditionally helpful, and that’s why I’m so into teaching you how to be helpful.

“If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s a dated mentality from when we were forced to work in factories pre-2000. Do not expect compensation in return for your services on the internet. Give away everything for free and be unconditionally helpful to an outrageous extent.

Helping people is the best way to make outrageous amounts of money. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to conventional wisdom, but it’s the way the world works.

The top-secret non-scientific method of determining helpfulness.

How do you know when you’re being helpful? I find a good judge is your Twitter follow count. For a quick “helpfulness points count”, divide your follow count by the number of people you follow. If the number is larger than 1, you’re being helpful. If the number is .002, that means you’re not.

Leo Babauta‘s helpfulness under this non-scientific method is: 775 helpfulness points.

Tim Ferriss‘s: 443 helpfulness points.

Mine: 13.6 helpfulness points.

Random dude who followed me just a second ago: 0.001 helpfulness points.

Why you shouldn’t send out resumes.

Resumes are so 1985 and don’t get people jobs anymore.

Hiring managers receive untold numbers of bad resumes from people who aren’t qualified for their jobs.

It’s impossible to sort through this many resumes to find qualified people.

Because the barriers in the cost of communication have broken down, now any old unqualified individual can send their resume to 5,000 people a day. This has destroyed that system of hiring, and thus it should be avoided by intelligent people like you.

This means that the people with the cutest resume get hired instead of people who are qualified for jobs.

You don’t want to work for a company who hires people via Career Builder, because they’re backwards — there are much better ways to find people than to sort through a stack 10,000 sheets of paper, not to mention that a tree just died. The chances of getting a job at a company that hires people via submitted resumes is like trying to win the lottery.

Unless you work in one of the rare fields where you need 15 years of higher education in order to be qualified to do what you do. Then you’re truly in a limited pool of talent.

The secret to avoiding this situation is actually fairly easy to master. Gatejump the competition by establishing yourself as an authority in your area of expertise on your home base online.

When you do this, potential companies will seek you out, because you’re an expert in your field.

Once you’ve established yourself as an authority, you can contact whoever you want and offer to help them out personally (for free.) Prove your awesomeness and they can’t help but hire you when they see how much you need you.

This is how you get hired at a new job — if you wanted a job in the first place.

The minimalist freedom survival guide to month 3.

Month three is all about elimination. If you haven’t been overwhelmingly successful, or built income streams independent of the job you already quit, you’re going to start to see the income dipping into the low-zone.

Don’t get depressed! But this is make or break time. The most important element of this month is focusing on the important by eliminating everything that isn’t necessary to your success.

What can you stop doing to leverage your abilities to make a living?

Create a not-to-do list.

Not to do lists are one of the most powerful ways to focus on the important. Take a sheet of paper and write down everything that you started in doing in month 2 that isn’t working now.

Be brutally honest with yourself. You probably reached out into many potential areas of possible income during month 2. Many of these aren’t panning out, so it’s time to eliminate them and focus on what you’re truly passionate about.

Pick one profession.

I see so many people who are all of these things: marketer, blogger, writer, social media guru, photographer, and also designers. Don’t label yourself as all of these things at once. In fact, the harder you look at most of the careers I’ve mentioned above, you start to realize how nonspecific they are.

It’s okay to have these skills, and everyone does to a certain extent. That doesn’t mean you should make them all your primary focus all at once. Eliminate every job title from your thinking until you only have one.

For instance: if you’re a photographer, writer, marketer, copywriter, social media guru who is only making money from writing. You are now a writer. The rest of those professions get axed in month 3.

Some people pursue dozens of careers at once for their whole lives. You can’t be successful at dozens of things all at once. Pick one path that you will take to success in month 3.

You can also reconsider later if it ends up to not be a path that leads to income.

Then focus on a niche within one profession.

If you’re a photographer, I want you to start to focus on one element of photography which you can really blow people away with. I want you to become the best nose-hair photographer, tail-less kitty photographer, or the only photographer who got permission to tour with a famous band.

You can’t just label yourself as a generic example of a profession and then hope to succeed.

I’m not a blogger, in fact, blogging isn’t a profession. Blogging is a communications platform which enables people to bring their ideas to the world. I am a writer who writes about being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere.

In order to be the best writer who writes about being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere, I had to eliminate writing about other things.

You can’t work on anything that suits your fancy and build a solid body of work.

You have to focus on one being the best at element of one specific profession.

Take your profession and find a specific area if it that you can dominate. Eliminate your work that enters into other areas.

Once you start working on something specific, you catapult yourself above all of the competition who are labeling themselves as writer, photographer, marketer, social media experts all at the same time. Then you can make money.

The foolproof way to figure out what to focus on.

I’m reading Good to Great right now, a business book on how to make a great business. One of the most key chapters is about a theory called The Hedgehog Concept.

Every great company was able to outdo the competition by focusing on the one element of their business that they could be better than everyone else at.

The hedgehog concept revolves around three overlapping circles. You can view the hedgehog diagram here (don’t want to embed it, because of the big copyright notice.)

Circle 1: What are you passionate about?
Circle 2: What can you be the best in the world at?
Circle 3: What drives your economic engine?

Every person and business needs to do this in order to succeed. Refine your aspirations until you find something that fits into the overlapping area of these three circles.

What can you be the best at the world at, that you’re also passionate about, that will also pay you?

The best in the world concept is key here. Take a look at how many generic ‘photographers’ there are out there in the world. Insert name of your career for photographer. Every individual with a camera phone is a photographer. Just like every person who can spell is a writer.

Focus on a niche, one that you can work to be the best in the world at, and by the end of month 3 you will be rocking the economic engine.

Eliminate any activity that you’re doing outside these circles until you only spend time on what is important to your success.

Go now and be free.

By now you should have the skills that you need to quit your 9-5 and survive in the wild. Congratulations!

Obviously there will be lots of things that come up that I haven’t addressed here. I give you the right to improvise and create systems up as you go.  Make a difference in your own life by making your own key decisions.

Ultimately, your own success is up to you. You make your choices. Good luck!

Check out the other articles in this series:

The Minimalist Guide to Leaving Your Soul-Crushing Day Job

The Simple Guide to Making Money Online

The Surprising Truth About Using Minimalism to Leave Your Day Job


If this helped you, I’d love if you’d share it with someone who could use the information. The best way to spread the word is to use the retweet button below, if you’re on Twitter.


Thank you — and please let me know if you have any questions about this article in the comments. I’d love to help you out if I have the answers.


Everett Bogue

15 Bits of Wisdom from 6 Months of Blogging Success

April 4th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

What I’ve learned from 6 months of blogging at Far Beyond The Stars.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

At some point at the end of last month we silently passed the 6-month mark since I began writing this blog. It’s time to celebrate!

Thank you so much for being a part of this minimalist movement.

I wouldn’t be anywhere without you, the amazing people who read this blog and support my work.

I’ve been fully supporting myself via income from this blog for two months now. This is the first month that my income surpassed my monthly income at my day job.

I can feel the momentum building behind my writing, my words. Change is happening. People are finding a way to bring simplicity into their lives in order to get their finances under control, stop buying junk, and start living free. It’s blowing my mind the kind of stories I hear from people on Twitter and over email.

Thank you for coming with me on this journey. I can’t wait for what comes next, I hope you’ll stick around for the future of this movement.

I don’t pay attention to stats that much, but here’s a few:

As of today (April 5th 2010) this blog has 2500+ subscribers. I have 1200+ followers on Twitter.

If you want to follow my writing and join these 2500+ amazing subscribers I’d love if you’d sign up for free updates via EMAIL or RSS. Thank you.

Far Beyond The Stars receives more than 35,000 unique views a month.

Some of the top traffic sources are Rowdy Kittens, Zen Habits/Mnmlist, and Becoming Minimalist. Thanks for your help guys, every mention makes change happen.

Many of the new readers find me via the wonders of Twitter. Thank you for every retweet — this makes huge difference in who finds this blog.

Thank you so much for everyone who’s linked into the blog from their own blogs. This is probably one of the most important ways to make this blog succeed. There are 710+ active inbound links to Far Beyond the Stars — thank you so much for your mentions.

I know a lot of you are also trying to become full-time bloggers, so I thought I’d put together a list of things that I’ve learned. I hope this writing helps you find success as well.

If you aren’t a blogger, these tips can probably apply to your field of work with a little translation.

Here are 15 bits of wisdom from my 6 months of blogging success.

1. Assemble a group of remarkable allies. I have the pleasure of being friends with some of the brightest minds in blogging today. In order to succeed you need a team of all-star people to share the stage with. This is why I spend so much time writing about and helping other bloggers succeed. Rockstar up and coming bloggers like Colin Wright, Jeffrey Tang, Tammy Strobel, Ashley Ambirge, Joshua Becker, Adam Baker, and Karol Gajda are making a huge difference in their own work, and their support of my work has been amazing. Thank you for being my allies guys!

2. Study the best and the brilliant. It’s so incredibly important to study the work of people who have been successful in any field that you enter. I owe a huge debt to the successful bloggers who’ve done this before I did. Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, Jonathan Fields, Glenn Allsopp, Hugh MacLeod, and Seth Godin have all contributed more than they know to my success. Thank you all for your brilliant work.

3. The more you give the more you get. Chris Guillebeau mentioned this last week over at The Art of Non-conformity, and it’s so true. If your blog is struggling, it’s probably because you’re not giving enough. The people who succeed are the ones who give as much as possible, that’s why I’m constantly pointing you in the direction of people who I respect and admire. I’ve had the fortune of some amazing support from remarkable people who’ve noticed and helped me out — I try to give twice as much in return.

4. Help your readers as much as possible. This is the #1 reason that I’ve been able to get to the professional level so quickly. If your blog is struggling, take a look at your posts. Are you honestly teaching anything important? Are you making a difference in people’s lives? One struggling blogger who I had a lot of hopes for is now simply selling bad products and writing boring information that doesn’t help people. Don’t be that guy.

5. Fortune favors the bold. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, even if it goes against the status-quo. Some of my most successful work has focused on ideas that honestly scare people — these ideas are hard to hear. Sometimes I’ll write things that make people feel bad about their lives and consumption choices. Sometimes people send me emails telling me to stop saying what I’m saying because it challenges their perception of reality. This is good, we need to challenge people in order to make change happen. You can’t succeed if you aren’t willing to challenge belief systems.

6. If you aren’t passionate, don’t publish. If you’re not 100% certain that your writing is going to change the way that people think about the world, don’t publish it! I only hit the publish button if I’m absolutely certain that I’m going to help people. Sometimes that means scrapping multiple stories before I hit on one that’s contributing enough value to make the cut.

7. The moment you go pro, everything changes. When I told the world that I intended to make a living from this blog, everything started happening. I began getting offers from people who wanted to help me make it. I also started writing some of the best work that I’ve ever created. Going pro forces you to rise to the occasion in order to make everything come together.

8. Perfect is the enemy of done. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I focus on the ideas. Sometimes I don’t have perfect grammar and I’ll spell things wrong. I do my best to have perfect prose, but ultimately it’s the good ideas that matter. Don’t get caught up trying to be perfect, if it keeps you from making work. Generate ideas that will spur remarkable change — I don’t care of there is a comma missing, or a word isn’t spelled properly.

9. Give your best work away for free. You can’t succeed in the digital age if you withhold your best work for paying customers only. Prove that you have the ability to help people by giving them everything for free, and your audience will support you by buying your premium product. People will support the value that they receive. Give your best work away for free and you’ll reach so many more people who can help you make the change that’s necessary.

10. Don’t be afraid to change direction. Sometimes you have to kill your babies. At various points during the last six months I’ve had to make some hard choices in order to succeed in other areas. I shut down a business blog that wasn’t taking off. I stopped photographing professionally. Sometimes you have to make hard choices in order to succeed. Be flexible enough to follow your interests until you find what you’re really passionate about. Also, trying to run two blogs at once is like trying to date two women at once — neither of them end up very happy with you.

11. Social proof matters. Take a look at the front page of your blog. Can new readers tell you have a community? Can they see your best work right away? These factors matter. This is why my retweet button is the first thing you see (192 retweets? I better read this!) and my biggest accomplishments are easy to see (Interviews with Chris Guillebeau and Leo Babauta? This blogger must be with the in crowd!) Don’t bury your best work, and make it clear that other people are actually reading your blog.

12. Good headlines matter. I use professional copywriting techniques to craft every one of my headlines. Sometimes this means they’re a little over the top, and I’m okay with that. Think about it: most people decide what they’re going to read based on the headline as they’re reading other blogs, flipping around on their phone or in their RSS reader. Would you rather read a post titled “it’s my blog’s birthday” or “15 Bits of Wisdom from 6 Months of Blogging Success?” Don’t short your ability to grab someone’s attention by using boring headlines. A great resource for learning to write remarkable attention grabbing headlines is Copyblogger.

13. Don’t undervalue yourself. Yes, I give away my best work free, but I also am not afraid to ask for people to pay me. My readers understand that if my work helps them, they should also help me out in return. It’s not easy being a full-time writer, you can’t work for free — at some point you have to ask people to support you. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help people who contribute value to their lives. Thank you for everyone who’d purchased The Art of Being Minimalist or generously donated to support my writing. Your support has made a huge difference in my life, it makes the work I do possible.

14. Live what you preach. I write about being minimalist in order to live and work anywhere. I actually am a minimalist and I actually live and work from anywhere. Take a look at the message you’re sending, does to match the way you live? Some bloggers just talk about ideas they think might be cool if they were to try them. The successful bloggers and writers (maybe even successful people in general) actually live and breathe a reality that they believe in. If you’re trying to make change, you have to live the change you’re making.

15. Support the work of amazing people. When I see a good blog, or a good story, I do everything I can to help that person out. I want you to succeed, because this isn’t a zero-sum game. If you can surround yourself with a community who you enthusiastically support, they will support you.

Here are a few links you should check out from writers who I enthusiastically endorse:

An Interview with Ashley Ambirge by Tammy Strobel.

The Lost Art of Solitude by Leo Babauta.

Man Vs Debt Turns 1 Year Old by Adam Baker.

I also wrote a short guest post for Gaping Void on how to focus on the important.


Thank you for reading this!

If you want to follow my writing and join these 2500+ amazing subscribers I’d love if you’d sign up for free updates via EMAIL or RSS. Thank you.

Stay tuned for the part 4 in my series on using minimalism to leave the 9-5 on Wednesday.

If these words helped you, I’d love it if you’d take a moment to share this with someone who it can help. Thank you so much for your help.


Everett Bogue

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