How to Reduce Your Email Checking to Once A Day

June 30th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The Simple Way to Save Hours of Your Time

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A number of people emailed me after the last post to say that there was no way for them to stop checking their email 35 times a day. I hope this follow up blog post can help.

I’ve been using these strategies for years in order to lower the amount of time I spend on email to good effect.

Why check email once a day?

  1. Incoming messages distract, if you ignore them you’ll get important work done.
  2. So you can spend more time enjoying your life, learning, or simply sitting in the sun during this gorgeous summer.
  3. You spend less time reacting to other people and more time on your own work.
  4. Because your productivity will skyrocket when you aren’t flipping back and forth between email every five minutes.

Email is a non-urgent form of communication that’s weaseled it’s way into becoming a daily obligation for the entire world.

I’ve seen people out at bars at night frantically checking up on their emails between drinks, how silly is that? I’ve seen people sitting on the beach flipping through their email.

Stop! Enjoy the life you have, because eventually you won’t have it anymore.

The funny thing is, when you make people aware of the fact that you only check email once a day, in most cases they’ll understand wholeheartedly. Most people don’t make the decision to define how often they check email, so they end up spending most of their lives checking it.

In most cases it’s essential to give important people a way to get in touch with you for emergencies. Most of us have cell phones, so give your most important clients and family your number and make it clear if there is a real emergency to get in touch with you there instead of over email.

Here are five simple steps to work towards checking email once per day.

1. Set a time to check your email. I check email around noon, after I’ve completed all important work that I had to do during the morning, such as writing this blog post. If you want to start checking email twice per day first, check again at 4pm to make sure everything is taken care of. I used to do this two-pronged approach earlier in my business, but have recently stepped back to checking once per day.

2. Filter all unessential email to the archive or trash. We receive a lot of junk mail. Most people just read it mindlessly. Don’t be a zombie, filter that junk out! If a message you never want to see again comes into your box, create a filter (this is easiest with gmail) to automatically archive similar messages. If you really never want to see it again send it directly to trash.

3. Process all emails to done in one sitting. Sit down, open up your email box, and process the whole inbox until it’s empty in one sitting. This means you have to make judgement calls: can you act on this immediately? Do you need to act at all? If the answer is the latter, archive now! If an email will take up a few hours of your time, set it aside on your to-do list (if you have one.) and continue down the list. Your inbox needs to be at zero after you’re done.

4. Respond to most emails with 2-3 sentences. I get a lot of emails that are written like novels. I’m very grateful for the fan mail, but most ideas can be condensed down to a paragraph or less. The problem comes when you respond. We humans have a tendency to respond in equal length to long messages, this is the wrong approach to take! Respond to every email in less than 3 sentences and you’ll save a ton of time. Yes, some people might get annoyed, but that’s life.

5. Make it more difficult to contact you. Most people put their email addresses out in the open for everyone to see. Don’t do this if you want to check email once per day! You have to install barriers of entry to your email address, or only give it to people who you want to talk to. For instance, my contact page has a list of requirements to read over before sending email (because I got a lot of it otherwise.)

If you follow these instructions, eventually you’ll be able to reduce your email checking to once per day. Good luck!

Gwen Bell also uses this email strategy, and she’s one of the most influential women in technology!

13 Hidden Timesucks You Can Eliminate to Focus on the Essential

June 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The surprising truth about not doing things that don’t matter

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A few days ago I read Glen’s post on Viperchill about how he passed 10,000 subscribers by choosing what not to do with his business.

I’ve taken a very similar approach to building my own minimalist business, so I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered.

As a benchmark for the success of these strategies: my business revenue this month broke into the low five-digits, recently this blog passed 4,000 subscribers (not quite Viperchill benchmarks, but I can’t pretend to be as brilliant as Glen), and 50,000 monthly visitors.

That being said, I don’t really pay attention, or put any stock into statistics like subscriber counts and visitors and you shouldn’t either. I’ve seen plenty of 4,000+ subscriber blogs that weren’t saying anything important or making any change in the world.

I just thought I’d share these strategies for success anyway in the hopes that it can help you grow your blogging platform as well.

Why what you don’t do is more important than what you do.

I’ve become convinced that what you don’t do with your time is a lot more important than what you decide to do with it.

Empty space in time is a lot more useful than a frantically booked schedule.

As Derek Sivers said on this blog, if you aren’t “HELL YEAH” about something, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. Because if you don’t, you’ll have time to do something you really care about.

The reason I’m doing this is because I see a lot of people who are also building minimalist businesses who are also doing a lot of things that they don’t need to do.

The irony is that by choosing what not to do you can enjoy a lot more success than if you try to do everything.

When you run around frantically trying every strategy in the book in the hopes that something will work, inevitably nothing will actually work.

All of these strategies may not apply to you, but I hope that one or two can inspire you to save an additional 2-3 hours a week while conducting your business.

Here are 13 things that I’ve decided not to do in order grow my minimalist business.

1. Write about topics I don’t care about.

Many people create content about subjects they aren’t really passionate about. The problem with that is we can tell you don’t care, so we tune it out.

In the digital world there’s plenty of useless noise already, why should we listen to something that you’re saying but don’t care about? So we tune it out.

I decided early on with my minimalist business not to write things if I wasn’t 100% passionate about what I was saying. This means I post a lot less than other people, but it also gives me a lot of free time to do important things like sipping coffee and thinking about what I’m actually passionate about.

2. Write long responses to everyone who emails me.

As your business grows, you start to get incredibly large amounts of email. Most people choose to spend incredible amounts of time responding to all of this email, I’ve decided instead to not do that.

This frees up another 2-3 hours a day –and that’s current estimates, imagine if I had twice as many people reading and sending me emails?

I still send 1-2 sentence responses to most people (and if you get more, that’s because what you said really made me want to help you individually.) Instead of spending 2-3 hours responding to every unsolicited message, I spend my time helping people who I really care about grow their own business.

Bonus: When I first started receiving large amounts of email I added a list of requirements for people who needed to contact me on my contact form. This helped cut down the noise considerably.

3. Respond to every comment.

I decided from the start of this blog that every comment I receive doesn’t necessarily need a response.

This isn’t because I don’t care, because I really do, it’s just that when you focus all of your attention on making a relatively small pool of readers (I estimate 5%) feel appreciated, you end up spending a lot of time doing it. When you put a priority on responding to every comment, you just end up getting a lot more comments.

That’s one way of measuring success, but I personally don’t think it’s a good one. When you spend all of your time waiting around for a new comment to drop in your cue, you end up not doing important things in your life like reading books that blow your mind, creating content that matters, or simply enjoying life.

This is why A-list bloggers eventually turn off their comments, because it isn’t a necessary metric for success.

Obviously take this with a grain of salt, as many other people do build successful blogs around conversations, I’m just mentioning it here because I estimate it frees up 2-4 hours a day that I’d otherwise spend reacting. This allows me to create work that I think really helps people instead.

4. Debate topics with a non-committal devil’s advocate perspective.

Many people debate things just because they think they should, not because they really care.

For example, sometimes I see people arguing that cars are necessary to human life, even though for millions of years we didn’t have cars and millions of people do just fine without them. It just doesn’t make sense to debate that any longer, these people need to sell their cars and start making the world a better place to live in — they’re just afraid to do it, or aren’t making the easy choice to move to a walkable city.

When you take an oppositional perspective, even if it’s not what you believe, you’re mostly just wasting people’s time. Speak from what you believe, and you avoid that situation.

Try starting your argument the sentence: “I believe that…” instead of “I’m just being annoying but…” The first is a much more productive and healthier way to approach a conversation, it also makes people like you more — because it makes you more believable, as you’re talking from your heart instead of some weird hypothetical place that even you don’t care about.

There are obviously so many other opportunities to play devils advocate even if you don’t care or you aren’t right. Why argue about something even if you aren’t right? Spend that time enjoying the day instead.

5. Post twelve times a day.

Some bloggers think that in order to grow their business they need to post once a day, some even think they need to post twelve or forty times a day. This is silly, because if you post that much you end up just annoying people with information that isn’t important.

Filling quotas is filling quotas, it isn’t doing work that matters. If I don’t have something important to say that will help people, I simply don’t write anything. This means eventually I might go for weeks at a time without posting to the blog, because I have more important things to do –like taking mini-retirements.

6. Check email constantly.

There’s been a lot of debate about the idea that we need go check our email constantly in order to stay on top of things.

I made the decision to not check my email more than once or twice a day, and this frees up another hour or two that I’d spend hitting the refresh button on gmail.

By not checking email, I have additional time to create scalable works that really help people, and then I can spend the rest of my time pursuing quality free time like learning to sail on the bay, or reading books on how to live aboard a sail boat and sail around the world.

I know a lot of people disagree with me, they think that spending 8 hours a day hitting the refresh button on their email is important. I really think this is a personal choice, one that I’ve taken because it inevitably leads to my work being greater. Some people are different, other businesses are based around reaction times, to each their own.

This strategy simply works for me. If you haven’t tried it, I’d suggest giving it a shot for a week and you’ll see your ability to make work double or even triple in the same amount of time.

7. Work more than two hours a day.

Many people think that working a lot will earn them more money, but I’ve found this is the opposite of true.

Yes, I realize that some jobs pay by the hour, but I’m convinced these are designed to keep people down. When I used to work 60 hour weeks, I could barely afford to pay my bills.

When you’re super-tired you want to spend more money to make you happy, and also when you’re tired you can’t come up with ideas that create huge amounts of revenue. I realize that this isn’t a strategy that works for everyone, but working less than 2 hours a day works for me, so I do it.

Eventually I hope to scale this down to 4 hours or less of work a week as I develop more passive income sources. This will allow me to spend more time doing what is truly important to me, like cooking good food for dinner. The bonus of working less is that you can get paid more per hour.

For instance, this month I just worked out that I was paid approximately $250 per hour of my time that I spend doing real work. That doesn’t happen if you spend all day working, because productivity has diminishing returns as time goes on.

8. Write something just because it will be popular.

Many people create with the idea that it will be popular with the world. This means they end up creating something they aren’t truly passionate about, which ends up not impressing anybody. This isn’t high school anymore, you don’t need to pretend to be like everyone else.

Because the Internet destroyed all of the boundaries between people in time and space, there’s no reason to create something you aren’t 100% enthusiastic about. The funny thing is, creating junk you think will interest people generally ends up interesting no one.

9. Sit at a desk.

A lot of people think that sitting at a desk for twelve hours a day is the solution to paying the bills.

I never sit at a desk, in fact, I don’t even own one! I find all sorts of nice places to sit down at, such as many of the local coffee shops in Oakland and San Francisco. Sometimes I sit at the bar in my kitchen and work while I’m sipping coffee I just made for myself. Sometimes I even work in bed! You can’t do those things if you’re sitting at a desk under fluorescent lights.

10. Follow everyone back on Twitter.

When you start to build a popular platform for getting your message to the world, you’ll eventually start to get lots and lots of followers on Twitter.

The thing is, if you follow all of these people back, it’s impossible to hear the important stuff coming from people who matter to you.

I only follow people who I really care about on Twitter, people who are doing work that I want to read. Yes, this means that I miss out on some stuff, but instead of spending all day reading tweets (which I’d have to do if I followed everyone back.) I can focus on the work that matters.

11. Respond to angry haters.

When your work becomes more popular, if you’re saying anything important, you’ll inevitably have haters. For everything I write at least 10% of the reaction is people telling me that I’m crazy. Now, I could spend all day responding to crazy people (most of whom are wrong) who think I’m nuts, or I could get real actual work that matters done. I choose to tune out the haters and focus on the important. This strategy works for others as well.

12. Try every strategy on Problogger.

If you read popular blogs such as Problogger, you begin to realize that there are 235,654,434 different strategies for growing your blog.

You can’t try them all, or you’ll end up doing one thing every day until you die and nothing will ever work. Instead, you have to test out a few of the best strategies and stick to them until they show results (or kill them off if they don’t.)

For instance, I’ve found that guest posting doesn’t really work as a way to grow my blog. Maybe it works for you, but it hasn’t for me. I’ve found that doing Interviews is a good way to grow my blog, so that’s an approach I take. Try things out, if they don’t work don’t do them.

13. Consume unimportant information.

The Internet is filled with unimportant information that people really want you to read right now, this moment, or you’ll be missing out. Well, the thing is if you spend all day reading everything you come across on the Internet, you end up not doing anything important at all. There is infinite data out there, and you only have finite mind-space. It’s important to realize that you can only consume so much, and so you need to focus on what you’re truly interested in. Subscribe to only the blogs that really help you. Learn to stop reading things when you aren’t getting any real information.

My real goal for writing this post.

I could go on and on about how not to spend your time. In fact, I had twenty-seven more bullet points ready to go that I just deleted — because I want to save your time and mine.

The point is that building a platform for your business is about focusing your attention on what is important to you. A huge part of that is eliminating the unnecessary and focusing on the essential.

This are just a few ways that you can do that. I admit they aren’t for everyone, and some of them are very difficult to fit into a modern workflow, especially if you work for someone else.

If you find you’re doing something that takes up 2-3 hours of your day, take a moment to justify whether or not that activity is really giving your business the return on investment that you need. If it isn’t bringing in money, you might be better off not engaging in the activity.

Everyone needs to decide for themselves what is important.

Be decisive with your time, and you’ll start to find that you only need to work 10 hours or less a week to bring in the same amount of money that you do working 50 hours a week right now.

How You Can Actually Help With the Gulf Oil Spill (but probably won’t.)

June 25th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

An uncomfortable minimalist solution to a problem everyone wishes they could fix.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Editor’s note: I’ve been sitting on this article for a week or so because I was honestly afraid it would offend a good portion of the readers here. Tammy Strobel’s article on The Moral Imperative to Drive Less convinced me that this message can no longer wait.

This is the defining change that needs to happen in our time, and if the idea that you are responsible for the health of this planet offends you, then I want you to unsubscribe from my blog. I’m serious.

If you’ve googled the news lately, you know there’s a lot of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

I won’t go over the exact details here, because I’m not an expert on oil spills, but from what I hear it’s a ecological disaster the likes of which we haven’t seen before.

And no one knows how to fix it.

Here’s what most people like to do in this situation: point fingers at people in power and say “how did you let this happen?” They like to whine, cry, complain.

And do you know what? Whining doesn’t do one damn bit of good. Why?

Because the oil spill is our fault. It’s not Obama’s fault, it’s not BP’s fault, it’s ours. And our whining isn’t doing anything to fix it.

Large amounts of oil aren’t being pumped out of the ground to fill a business’s pockets with money, that’s just a side effect.

The reality is that oil is being produced to fill the needs of a large portion of America that thinks commuting an hour and a half to work and driving to the mall is what you’re supposed to do with your life.

Why is it our fault? Because we drive. A good portion of our population own (or are paying back a giant loan for the next ten years.) a huge block of metal on wheels that does a couple of things:

  1. Cars kill people who walk, bike, and drive other cars.
  2. Cars consume an expensive limited resource that is spilling itself all over the Gulf right now.
  3. Cars pollute the environment with their construction, emissions, and finally when you junk them at the end of their lives.
  4. Cities built around the idea of cars are in many cases inhospitable to people who walk, bike, or take alternative transport.

And do you know what? I’m guilty too. Even though I haven’t owned a car in my entire life, and I live with less than 75 things, I still fly occasionally, I still drive a few times a year, and I still buy things off the Internet, and these things come in trucks.

So we’re all guilty of this, but if enough of us make the right decisions, we can put an end to demand for oil in this country (or at least put a dent in it.) That will make a difference, I really believe this, because it actually matters.

So here’s a brief guide on how to stop whining and start making a change in the world.

1. Stop driving now.

There are no longer any excuses. If you stop driving, that big lump of metal you drive around stops consuming the oil that BP was drilling out to fill your gas tank. How do you stop driving? You donate your car to recycling center that will turn your car into something that isn’t a car. Or sell it if that makes more sense to you.

Then you move to a city that you can walk in, and you buy a bike off Craigslist. If you already live in a city where you can walk or take public transit, and you’re still driving, you have no excuses. Stop now.

And guess what? You’ll be healthier and skinnier once you start walking and biking. It’s an epic win on so many levels.

2. Stop buying stuff now.

Stuff is a triple whammy: it’s keeping you in debt, it’s tethering you to a location, and most of all it takes oil to make and to deliver stuff. Stop buying junk, and start living your life. If you stop buying 1,000 things a year, and reduce that amount to one that is reasonable, say 50 items a year, you can make a difference in your oil consumption.

I think enough of us are living with less than 100 things at this point to prove that living a freedom lifestyle is much more enjoyable than filling your 4th bedroom with junk you don’t use. If you’re not on board with this idea yet, I don’t know what’s stopping you.

3. Eat local now.

Finally, our food distribution system is screwed up by big agribusiness in this country. The best way you can fix it is to seek out local food. This means taking the time to make sure your tomatoes didn’t get flown in from the Philippines, it means shopping at farmers markets, and yes, it means your food will cost more. What it won’t cost is the health of our planet, and also? Local food is healthier for you because it hasn’t been pumped full of chemicals to keep it from turning the color puke by the time you eat it.

4. Share this message.

If all 4,000 subscribers of this blog convince 10 people to stop driving, 40,000 people will cease to be consuming huge amounts of oil. I know it’s unrealistic to think that can happen, but you all known I’m an idealist.


If you can’t start doing one or all of those three things, then I want you to stop talking about how terrible the oil spill is over coffee before you jump into your car to commute to work, and instead go down to the Gulf and start scrubbing turtles with a tooth brush.

Because you are responsible for this. You, me, everyone.

This is our planet, and we’re destroying it with our choices.

I realize this is terrifying to most of you, but you haven’t been living in a little place I like to call reality. Your impact on this planet matters, and only you can change it.

Minimalism is about saving the planet.

Thank you, have a good night.


If you have time, check out Tammy Strobel’s article on The Moral Imperative to Drive Less.

How to Avoid Scaling Your Life-Overhead With Your Income

June 23rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why minimalism can keep your overhead low and your freedom high

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

One of the biggest challenges of minimalism, especially when you apply it to the idea of creating a minimalist business, is avoiding the inevitable pull and pressures to scale up your life expenses with the rise of your personal wealth.

There’s a good deal of pressure in society to spend more money. We congregate around malls in most parts of the country, there are advertisements to buy buy buy everywhere, there are endless luxuries that we’re told will make us happier.

Why spending more won’t make you happier.

Obviously if you’ve been following my writing for any amount of time, you know that I’m convinced that buying stuff doesn’t make you happier — it just tethers you location and consumes your income.

I originally discovered the idea of minimalism when I left my day job to pursue a location independent life. In order to do that, I had to figure out how to live on very limited resources.

I asked the question: how do I survive without money? Inevitably that lead to minimalism, which lead to living with less than 100 things and being able to live and work from anywhere.

However inevitable it might have been from the beginning, I never conceived of the idea that my income would reach the level that it has in such a short amount of time.

The dangers of income growth.

Once your minimalist business grows (and if you do the right things it will) you might discover the same challenge.

You’ll suddenly find yourself working less than 10 hours a week, and making more than you did at your day job.

When you don’t scale your income with your overhead, you suddenly produce a surplus of money which you can use to your advantage — say to get out of debt, retire early, or simply pursue the dreams that you’re passionate about.

That’s why I’ve prepared this list of 16 strategies to keep your life-overhead from scaling in direct proportion to your income. I hope this list can help you keep your spending low and your income high, whether you’ve successfully created a minimalist business, or you’re trying to leave your soul-sucking day job.

Here are 16 strategies to keep your overhead from scaling with your income:

1. Use free transportation.

One of the easiest and healthiest ways to keep your overhead low is to use free or inexpensive transportation. We live in a society where having a car is the norm, however cars are expensive, destructive, dirty, and anti-social. If you care about the state of the Gulf oil spill, I’d better not see you driving. The truth about the matter is that it’s fairly easy to live car-free by purchasing a bike, walking, or simply using public transportation.

2. Live in a place that’s walkable.

Not all cities are created equal. Places like Portland, OR. New York, and San Francisco are created in a way that you can obtain everything you need to survive by walking a couple of blocks. If you live in a city or the suburbs where sprawl is the norm, you’re keeping your overhead high by needing a car to obtain your groceries. Stop, think about where you’re living, and make the right choice in order to keep your overhead low.

3. Prepare your own food.

Eating out for every meal is costly, and also not healthy. Fast food, and even most restaurant food, is filled with stuff you don’t even want to know about, especially salt, fat, and processed sugar that metabolizes faster than our bodies can handle. If you prepare your own food out of whole ingredients such as vegetables, meats, beans and grains, you’ll both lose weight and save money. Shop the periphery of the supermarket, only buy unprocessed food. Jules just came out with a free minimalist cookbook that can help you with this.

4. Track your possessions.

Nothing can blow your overhead out of proportion like buying lots of junk you don’t need. The easiest way to keep your stuff under control is to commit to living with less than 100 personal possessions. I’ve been doing it long enough now that I wouldn’t even dream of living any other way, it’s just not practical to have to worry about lots of stuff everywhere.

5. Live in a smaller space.

One of the big fallacies of the American Dream is the McMansion that MTV convinced us we were supposed to buy. Having a big house with a huge yard and a two-car garage can or will blow your overhead out of proportion. Opt-out of this lie and rent a smaller space in a walkable area.

6. Avoid watching TV.

The television is designed with handy 5-minute breaks to convince you to buy an unrealistic amount of stuff that will quickly swell your overhead. If you ate all of the junk food that comes up in one hour of typical commercial breaks, you’d die. Avoid this situation by not being a passive consumer of mindless entertainment, destroy your TV and cancel your cable.

7. Avoid reading mass media.

Newspapers and magazines are created around the same advertising model, which is largely unsustainable — that’s why the newspaper and magazine industries are dying. If you look at your average fashion magazine, you’ll be convinced the only way to be cool is to spend $6000 on a handbag. This is absurd, you don’t five-hundred beauty products and sparkling gold jewels. All of this stuff was created to make other people rich and brain wash you into living a life with no meaning. Don’t read newspapers or magazines as most of them encourage consumption (and also kill trees.)

8. Establish a minimalist social circle.

Be careful who you hang around with. If your best friend’s idea of having fun is racking up credit card debt at the mall, you have a social circle problem. Cultivate relationships around less and encourage people you know to embrace minimalism, or find friends who already have. A great way to do this to share minimalist writing through your social networks like Facebook and Twitter in order to make it clear to people where your priorities lie. Invite friends over for dinner and enjoy good conversation over inexpensive home-prepared food instead of going to the movies or spending hundreds of dollars out at the bar.

9. Share resources.

We all done need everything that we’ve been told we do. Cars for instance are quickly becoming a shared commodity in most cities because of amazing resources like Zipcar. There are of course countless other ways to share resources. Join a tool lending library for when you need to create things (these exist Portland and Oakland, and if your cities doesn’t have one you should convince them it’s necessary.) Use Zikol to rent anything that you need ,or offer your own useful items for rent in your neighborhood. Consider setting up small neighborhood collectives to share things that you might not need on a regular basis. This is becoming easier with social networking and the rise of the Internet.

10. Pursue simple pleasures.

The idea that you have to spend money to be happy is absurd. Realize that simple things such as sitting at the beach, or on a bench at the park can be a free or inexpensive way to spend time. Cooking food can be a great way to get enjoyment and also pass the time. Read books about things that matter in order to improve your knowledge of the world and pass time. Lately I’ve been volunteering to crew sailboats on San Francisco bay, which is a free and helpful way to have an amazing day.

11. Use simple tools.

There are so many expensive gadgets and tools out there to buy. The pressure to upgrade to the latest and greatest nonsense is absurd. You don’t need five different ways to access the Internet, you only need one. You don’t need to invest in the top of the line gadget when you only need a simple tool to get the job done. Sometimes a simple pad of paper is the best way to get any job done.

12. Do less.

Walk slower, breathe oxygen, simply be content sitting and watching the trees sway back and forth. All of the endless and frantic running around won’t be remembered, it will just make you tired. When you slow down and do less, you begin to realize that everyone is doing way too much. Why work 60 hours a week when you can work 10? Why run to the grocery store when you can walk slowly? Walk slowly, breathe, do less.

13. Focus on the work that matters.

Not all work is created equal. A large number of people I know are caught up in routines that just spend lots of time, but aren’t creating any value. When you spend your time creating things that help people, and automating your distribution process, you can eventually spend a lot less time working and a lot more time enjoying your minimalist life. Eliminate all activities that aren’t creating value for you, or anyone else, and focus on the important.

14. Dedicate time to self-education over all else.

We’re taught that we need to be taught to learn things, I’ve found that the opposite is true. Self-education can be the most effective way to use your time. There are hundreds of free, or inexpensive resources that can help you learn a huge amount of information. If you’re wondering what to do with your life, don’t go buy a pizza and play video games. Instead, log on to TED and watch some of the world’s greatest minds talk about the ideas that they’re passionate about. Don’t spend $150,000 on a business degree when Empire Builder or a Personal MBA can give you the tools to create a very small business for a small fraction of that price. Resolve to read a book a week for the rest of your life — believe it or not simply reading give you the keys to creating your ideal reality.

15. Realize that you already have more than enough.

We’ve been living with so much more than we ever needed for generations. When you wake up and realize that advertising tricked you into consuming so much more than you ever needed, and that you can be content right here and now, you suddenly have the key to keeping your overhead low in order to prevent your life from scaling with your income. You don’t need anything else, everything you have now is enough.

16. Keep the end goal in mind.

The end is the beginning is the end. Don’t get distracted by meaningless pursuits by setting an end goal that has some meaning to you. Do you want to leave your soul-sucking day job in order to pursue a minimalist life and live and work from anywhere? Maybe you want to build a boat and sail all around the world? Maybe you just want to sit on your porch and read a good book.

There’s no reason that your end goal has to scale with your income. If it doesn’t scale, your income will skyrocket with no-relation to your spending, and freedom can become an inevitability.


If this helped, you know the deal. Share it with people, it’s the only way my work finds new people it can help. Thanks!

Minimalism Vs Debt: 7 Simple Strategies to Liberate Your Finances

June 21st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

“Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner.” – Warren Buffett

The last few years were defined by credit cards, bank busts and ultimately bankruptcy for a lot of people.

The reason we got into this mess is simple: we all took too much, and no one told us we couldn’t.

The world exists on checks and balances, and a check without a balance isn’t a smart thing to write.

The solution to any debt problem is easily said than done, but I’ll go ahead and say it: to get out of debt you have to spend less. Easy, right? Well, not so much for many people.

I’ve been dealing with a hunkload of student debt since college. Right now the balance is a little under $15,000. When I lived my over-extended day job life, the idea of ever being able to pay this back was hard to comprehend.

Now that I apply minimalism to every action I take, digging through that debt seems like a much easier reality for me. I hope to pay it all back by the end of the year, and in order to do that I need solid strategies in place to repay the debt.

I think that if you apply minimalism, getting out of debt can be a reality for you as well.

How minimalism can help you get out of debt.

First I want to tell you the story of how I paid off all of my credit card debt (around $2,000) last month. But I have to start with how I had that debt in the first place: in March my computer exploded — the screen just died and it was a year out of warranty. This was a month after launching The Art of Being Minimalist, and while the e-book was paying for my minimalist lifestyle in New York, I wasn’t quite making enough to buy out of pocket a brand new Macbook Pro.

So I had to make a hard choice, one that I hated doing, I put the computer on my Discover card — this is one of the decisions that people have to make all of the time: at the time I had to pay the rent first and figure out how to pay off the computer later.

Here’s my solution for the credit card debt: to pay it off immediately all at once. After the pre-release of Minimalist Business I had more than enough to move to California and continue to pay for my minimalist lifestyle. So, I simply paid the $2,000 credit card debt off. Now I don’t have to worry about it anymore, because I paid it off.

This is where most people approach debt incorrectly. They let it sit there, and game credit card offers with zero-interest, swapping the balance back and forth between card providers but never really addressing the biggest issue: that they’re in debt and they need to get out.

The best approach is to sacrifice your immediate desire to splurge and instead kill that debt now, so you can live a freer life in the future.

There are no good kinds of debt.

When you’re living a freedom lifestyle, there are no good forms of debt. Your education, your mortgage, and especially your consumer debt is all debt you shouldn’t have.

Why? Because debt weighs you down.

It’s a lot harder to make good decisions in regard to your freedom if you’re worried about $15,000 in debt from your education. It’s nearly impossible to make good choices if you’re $900,000 in debt on a house.

You’re never going to live a location independent life if you’re paying into the debt trap.

I realize this is hard to hear, we’ve been brought up on this sick idea of an American dream that was dreamt up by McDonald’s and Walmart to keep the American population buying crap to fill their oversized homes and bodies.

You don’t need anything enough that you should be willing to go into that much debt over it.

Well, enough about the problem, let’s look at some solutions.

Here are 7 strategies you can use to apply simplicity in order to get out of debt.

1. Reduce overhead by adopting a minimalist lifestyle.

The first element to eliminating debt by applying minimalism is to figure out your actual cost of living and attempt to reduce the cost to under a certain threshold.

The best way that I’ve found to do this is to only give yourself a certain amount of money to spend every month on your life. Some people call this a budget, I call it dealing with reality. If your life only costs $1,500 a month, and you’re making $5,000 a month, then you can put $3,500 a month towards paying down your debt.

A few practical strategies for reducing your overhead I’ve talked about many times: create a 30-day wait-list for purchases larger than $20 (other than groceries). Live with less than 100 things. Sell your crap to make extra money. Live in a smaller apartment.

If you continue to spend $5,000 a month when you make $5,000 a month, you’ll never pay down your debt. Yes, that’s very simple, and yet so many people don’t get it.

You need much less than you think. Eliminate overhead to dig yourself out of debt.

2. Pay off the most emotional balances first.

I subscribe to Adam Baker’s Debt Tsunami approach, as outlined in his e-book Unautomate Your Finances, to paying down debts. This is why my temporary credit card debt had to be the first to go, because it was keeping me awake at night.

Baker’s Debt Tsunami approach recognizes that some unpaid balances are more emotional than others. For instance, if you owe money to your family chances are that the unpaid balance is creating a lot more of a strain than how much you owe Citibank on your student loan. Pay your family back first, then move on to less emotional outstanding balances.

It doesn’t matter if the $1,000 your buddy owed you is interest-free. Pay it back first, because your buddy deserves the money back. The banks can wait, save your relationships first.

3. Don’t buy a car (sell yours if you did.)

One of the funniest (funny because people are silly) mistakes that I see people make is simple: they rack up a huge debt in college, then they graduated and immediately rush to the car dealership to put zero-down on a car they can’t afford.

Cars are destructive, dirty, expensive, time-consuming, and they’re also one of the easiest ways to save $8,000+ a year. Simply don’t buy one, or sell the one you have, and you’ll free up a huge portion of your finances that you didn’t even realize that you could have.

People don’t take the entire cost of a car into account when they buy one. They simply look at how much the car payment will be a month, without taking into account the cost of insurance, gas, repairs, parking fines, etc. These all quickly stack up to an unsustainable life.

Living without a car is so simple that I’ve been doing it for the last 8 years: move to a place where you don’t need one. Believe it or not, there are cities and towns in America where you can walk to get your groceries. Brooklyn, Portland, San Francisco, etc. I’ve lived in all of these places, and they’re all wonderful places to live car-free.

Someday we’ll live in a car-free world, and believe me, it will be a better place.

If you do need a car in these places, you can rent one for $6-$11 an hour with gas included by joining Zipcar.

4. Establish a repayment plan.

Debt isn’t going to repay itself, you need to establish a plan to pay back the debt you have.

I normally hate planning, but with money you have to establish a threshold that you’re going to put towards your outstanding debts or you’ll never pay back the balance.

Paying the minimum due each month isn’t a plan, it’s a way to keep yourself perpetually in debt.

Once you’ve established how much your life costs, and reduced your overhead through minimalism, you can move to the next step of dedicating large amounts of money to paying off your debts.

I suggest dedicating anywhere from $500-$2000 a month towards paying down debts until they’re completely eliminated — this is the strategy I’m using at the moment and it’s going a long way towards getting me to the point of living debt free by the end of the year.

As we discussed above, pay the minimum on every account except for the one that’s causing you the most emotional strife. Throw the large sums of money at one outstanding debt until you’ve completely paid it off, and then start on the next. This way you’ll see real change that you wouldn’t if you evenly distributed money across all debts at once.

5. Stop using credit cards.

Credit cards can be necessary in tough situations (like when your Macbook explodes), but in most others you shouldn’t need one.

Credit cards turn money into an abstract idea. It’s not real money, it’s just the credit card. The reality of the situation is that using credit cards is spending real money that you don’t have already.

One of the best ways that I’ve found to opt-out of monetary abstraction is to stop using credit cards entirely. Cut them up and never use them again. Take physical cash out of the bank and use it to make purchases until you’re out of debt.

It’s much more difficult to drop $500 on something you don’t need when you’re paying with a big wad of cash.

6. Establish additional revenue streams.

One of the best ways to pay down debt, believe it or not, is to make more money. The best way to do this, in my experience, is to establish new (and ideally passive) revenue streams.

Create remarkable products around work that you’re passionate about, take on more clients, build resources that help people, etc.

Many people work one job, and have one mostly steady income source. The problem with this is that you don’t have the opportunity in most cases to work harder in order to make more money. You can’t leverage your skills in a day job to create passive income either — all of the extra money you make goes to your company and not your own paycheck.

I recently started to realize that money was just a symbol for the value that you contribute to the world. When you make change and help people, more money will come, if you make the decision to ask for it.

When you make more money, you can pay down your debts faster.

7. Buying things won’t make you happy.

The final element to this whole equation is realizing that buying more things will never make you happy.

The televisions taught us to rush to the mall every time a new gadget comes out. Millions of people wander around clothing stores hoping that buying one more pair of shoes will cure all of their problems. The reality of the situation is that buying more junk just makes us sadder after a temporary high that comes from spending money.

When you opt-out of the endless cycle of consumerism, you free yourself to pay down your debts and eventually live a minimalist freedom lifestyle.


Maren Kate of Escaping the 9-5 interviewed me about minimalist business strategies for success.


If this article helped you, I’d love if you could take ten seconds and hit the retweet button or Stumble this article. Thank you!

$2,300 in a Day: How to Support Quality Work

June 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The secret is giving the work that helps people accomplish their goals.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

This is the second part in the series leading up to the re-release of Minimalist Business on June 15th at 10am PST. The first part was on paying your fans to support you. Don’t miss out on release day, sign up for free updates via email or RSS.

The most important strategy that a minimalist businessperson can employ is simply helping people achieve their goals.

We all subsist on valuable information, and yet it’s so difficult to find in this world. There’s so much fluff, and McDonald’s-chicken-nugget-type info that’s meant to be consumed but not used to better yourself.

When you make the conscious decision to become a filter for other people’s reality, in order to cut out all of the crap that doesn’t matter, you can support yourself by supporting work that matters.

Here’s the not so shocking truth about how I made an additional $2,300 in one day for my minimalist business last month: I simply dropped an affiliate link to Chris Guillebeau’s Empire Builder Kit in the bottom of my blog post on the day that it relaunched.

Here’s the exact text I used:

“If you’re interested. My friend Chris Guillebeau is re-launching his Empire Builder Kit for a second time today (May 18th 2010 from 10am EST until May 19th at 10am EST) for 24 hours only.

The premise is simple: case studies including actual monetary figures by people running very small businesses who make tons of cash a year. In addition to that, you receive one email a day (that’s 365 tips!) that will help you build a business destined for world domination in at least one year.”

As you can see, it was nothing much. The quality of Chris’s work speaks for itself.

From what I’ve heard from colleagues, a number of other bloggers with relatively small followings (in the 1000-3000 subscriber range) were able to pull commissions in the quad-digits as well.

Why Empire Builder?

The case seems obvious, to me. The guide is jam-packed with information on how to create what Chris calls an Empire — essentially a very small business based around the work that you’re passionate about.

Add on top of this an entire year worth of content that’s pumped to your inbox daily, and you can see that the investment goes way above and beyond the actual price you’re paying for it.

I don’t really need to say anymore about Chris’s work, you get the idea how valuable this is.

Anyone who purchased Empire Builder should also be affiliating for it (you can join Chris’s affiliate program here,) why not put the word out there and pay back your purchase investment with two sales? This is the magic of digital distribution.

Note: The Empire Builder Kit isn’t available right now, but will be relaunched again next week [UPDATE: Empire Builder is now available for the foreseeable future.]

Why supporting quality work can support you.

The reason I was able to pull such a large figure on one product in one day is simple:

1. Build trust. The reason that I’m able to pull big numbers like this is because I’ve build trust with my supporters. They know I’m not going to throw them expensive garbage, and if I did that would burn away my support. Share only the work that creates value for your readers, and they will support you.

2. Show the benefits. Don’t tell, show your readers how the investment paid off for you. What did you learn? What surprised you? What completely blew your mind? Don’t sell crap that doesn’t blow your mind.

3. Make it clear that this isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is going to support you with money. Not everyone is supporting you will have the same interests or needs as everyone else. Some people need one product that helps them, others will need another. Don’t force things down people’s throats, simply suggest they check it out and purchase it if they think it will help them.

The story of Minimalist Business launch day.

On Tuesday, June 15th at 10am PST, I’ll be relaunching Minimalist Business for the second time, and after that it will be available for anyone to purchase for the indefinite future.

I’m not making a big deal promoting this launch, because I think the quality of the work speaks for itself.

You won’t see me frantically tweeting messages urging people to buy it. I won’t be sending promo copies to big name bloggers begging for them to put up a link. I don’t work that way, because I don’t think it’s necessary.

I’m just going to put a blog post up with information on how to purchase it, if you want it. The rest will happen naturally, because the value of the work speaks for itself.

Here’s what’s going to go down on Tuesday June 15th at 10am PST:

1. Minimalist Business will be available for 24 hours at the original discounted price ($27-$37).

Many people missed out on the initial launch. I received a barrage of emails from people who missed the deadline. I don’t want these people to be left out from the discounted price, so I’ve decided to keep the price low for 24 hours for the people who have been anxiously waiting to purchase the work.

Once the 24 hour period is over the prices will go up to $37-$47. Follow me on Twitter for up-to-date info on the launch.

2. Minimalist Business will be open for all affiliates as of now.

Anyone can join the affiliate program. Many of you already have joined, if you have been supporting yourself with The Art of Being Minimalist.

Click here to join my affiliate program, all you need is a free account through e-junkie, a paypal address to receive money, and a media outlet such as a blog or a newsletter on which to publish a link.

Affiliate links count towards sales of The Art of Being Minimalist and Minimalist Business. You’ll receive 50% commission on every sale.

Copy the URLs of the images to the right if you need art to represent the work (such as in your blog sidebar.)

I definitely suggest actually purchasing the guide, so you can authentically tell people what it’s about. It’s not an absolute must, but actually reading the work will help you tell your fans how to support you better.

Consider writing a review about how the guide has helped you, invite me to do an interview on your blog (it may take a few days for me to get back on an interview request, but this can be a powerful way to communicate value,) or simply drop a link saying that your readers should check it out — you’d be surprised how much power one simple line with a link can have.


Thank you so much for your help, and for reading this. If you have any questions about the launch, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Definitely drop me an email (evbogue at gmail dot com) if you need anything (forgive if it takes up to a day to respond, I’ll inevitably be receiving a lot emails over the next week.)

Sign up for free updates via email, RSS, or follow me on Twitter to be sure that you don’t miss the discounted price on launch day.

Minimalist Business: How to Live and Work Anywhere

June 15th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Create a zero-overhead simple business to support your freedom lifestyle

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A brief history of being minimalist.

In September of last year I quit my job, and hopped on a plane to Portland Oregon in search of freedom. In order to survive, I had to make a choice that many people are having to make in this economy:

I had to embrace minimalism in order to pursue what was important to me.

I started living with less than 100 things, biked and walked everywhere, survived on less than $3,000 for three months, and practiced time management techniques to spend less time doing work and more time making work that matters.

In February of this year I launched The Art of Being Minimalist, a little e-book with a powerful message: what would you be able to accomplish if you lived with less?

What really surprised me, is that a little e-book about being minimalist could completely support my lifestyle. I could move anywhere (and I did, traveling from Portland to Chicago to New York and then relocating to San Francisco last month at limited expense.) I also didn’t need to have a day job, which was the most important element for me.

These reasons form the basis for the work I’ve put into Minimalist Business:

  1. Your business doesn’t need to cost as much as you think.
  2. If you opt-out of physical media and avoid gatekeepers, you can keep 50-100% of your profits.
  3. If choose to automate your business, you can create passive income, which means you don’t have to work so much anymore either.

The number one reason for creating Minimalist Business is to help you create one too.

When I started writing about the success I was having with my minimalist business, I began receiving a flood of emails asking me how I was able to do it. The problem with answering emails is that it only helps one person, and the strategy isn’t scalable.

I hope Minimalist Business answers any questions you have about creating a zero-overhead business to support your minimalist lifestyle anywhere in the world.

Why create a minimalist business?

We live in interesting times. The economy still hasn’t recovered from the greatest recession since the great depression. This means that there aren’t a lot of fulfilling job opportunities out there anymore.

People (like Jeffrey F. Tang) are waking up and realizing that in order to create a fulfilling job, they have to design that life for themselves.

We have to change the way we create businesses, and how we do important work, if we are going to design lives that are worth living.

Job security in the modern economy is a myth that we’ve been taught to accept by corporations who are forced to only care about the bottom line because of endless bureaucracy. People are beginning to realize that the best job security is the work you create to support yourself.

A minimalist business can help you achieve what Chris Brogan likes to call “escape velocity” and enable you to build recurring income outside of your day job in order to free yourself.

Or you can just jump head-first like I did, live with less, and do the work that matters.

Why Minimalist Business isn’t for everyone.

This work isn’t meant for everyone. It takes hard work, dedication, and most important, the will power to opt-out of assumed systems and methods for doing business.

No one is going to force you to reign in your spending, reduce your business overhead to zero, or stop checking your email 35 times a day in order to do work that matters.

Some people are better off with 9-5 day jobs. In a lot of ways they’re much easier (though definitely not safer.) Some people like living in the same city, commuting to the same job every day. You can just sit there and do what you’re told, for most people that’s a perfectly acceptable way to live until they retire. If you’re one of these people, Minimalist Business isn’t really meant for you.

The Forever Guarantee on Minimalist Business.

Because Minimalist Business isn’t for everyone, I’ve decided to offer a Forever Guarantee.

If at any time in the future you feel that Minimalist Business isn’t living up to your expectations. If you put in a decent effort and your minimalist business tanks. If for some reason you thought this book was something else and you ordered it anyway. If you for any reason at any point you’re disappointed.

Paypal only allows for refunds up to 60-days, but I don’t care. I’ll send you a check if I have to in order to get your money back to you.

The importance of a Forever Guarantee in a digital world.

Because there are no gatekeepers in the new world of digital media, and distribution is free, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between a product that’s all hype and a product that provides value. Long-time supporters of my writing can vouch for the quality of my work, but it’s a big internet out there — inevitably some people will purchase my work and realize that it isn’t for them. There are many reasons for this, and I choose to not ask questions and simply give refunds.

That being said, refund rate is less than 1% of sales. I hope that speaks to the quality of the work, but it also can help you decide if you aren’t sure whether or not Minimalist Business is right for you.

At any time in the future, if you feel that Minimalist Business isn’t living up to it’s promise (or if you fail horribly with a decent effort) simply drop me an email and I’ll do everything in my power to get your money back to you.

How to purchase a copy of Minimalist Business.

There are only two models (but many copies) of Minimalist Business:


Features: 125-page Minimalist Business e-book on creating your own minimalist business in order to live and work from anywhere + free updates for a year.

Minimalist Business features:

  • Strategies for minimalist business success
  • Time management techniques I’ve developed to focus on the important
  • How to work towards making your entire living while working less than 10 hours a week
  • How being minimalist makes minimalist business success so much easier
  • The tools you need to start a zero-overhead business over the Internet
  • How to separate your income from location so you can live anywhere
  • Short articles by small business owners such as Leo Babauta, Tammy Strobel, Karol Gajda, and Colin Wright on how to effectively create a successful minimalist business.
  • and much more…

Add to Cart

You can preview the first 37 pages of the e-book here.


Features: 125-page Minimalist Business e-book + The 30-Day Quick Start Guide to a Minimalist Business + free updates for a year.

This additional quick start guide features a tip-a-day that will help you build your minimalist business. Is it a sure-fire path to success? No. Do you have to do it over 30 days? certainly not.

Take your time, apply the action steps when you need them.

Readers have asked for me to break down the book into simple action steps that can be taken in order to build a minimalist business, so I created this quick start guide to try and address the actions you need to take to build a minimalist business. It isn’t a silver bullet, but if you’re the kind of person who likes day-by-day instructions, this can help.

Add to Cart


Minimalist Business isn’t a magic cure-all guide with all of the secrets that will let you sit back and make millions without any effort. If anyone tells you this is easy, they’re lying to you.

In my experience magic doesn’t exist, only hard work and practical strategies for doing work that matters.

This guide describes how I was able to make smart choices about business spending (i.e., not spending much at all) in order to build a business that supports my minimalist lifestyle (which doesn’t cost much at all.)

I hope this guide helps you create a minimalist business, or reduce the costs of your existing business until it’s profitable for you.

If you have any questions before making your final decision don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your time,

Everett Bogue

P.S.: Just for fun, here are 10 reasons why you should buy Minimalist Business.

  1. You’re looking to make a change in the world, but you don’t have the money to do it.
  2. You want to quit your day job in order to pursue work that’s important to you.
  3. You really enjoyed The Art of Being Minimalist, and want to know what comes next.
  4. You want to create passive income in order to live anywhere on the planet.
  5. Two weeks of vacation a year is not enough for you.
  6. You want to save trees (Minimalist Business is all digital.)
  7. Someone told you there was more to life than buying things, and you want to know what that is.
  8. Join the affiliate program and you can make your investment back by selling two copies.
  9. You want to be on the cutting edge of creating a freedom business.
  10. Why not? If you don’t like it you can always get a refund.

Minimalist Business 101: How to Pay Your Fans to Support You

June 10th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the most important elements of minimalist business success

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

This is the first article in the series leading up to the re-release of Minimalist Business on June 15th. The second part will be on how I was able to make $2,300 in one day last month by supporting work that matters.

Don’t miss out, sign up for free updates via RSS or Email.

We all know that the gatekeepers are no longer in power.

The modern creator doesn’t need to suck up to a publisher, distributor, or other person who claims to have power in order to bring their message to the world. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, in an article that’s become quite popular on Far Beyond The Stars: the obsolescence of gatekeepers.

In that article, I didn’t answer the most important question…

How to bypass the gatekeepers entirely.

The answer is simple and yet I believe completely revolutionary to people who haven’t put it into play already: you need to pay your fans to support you.

Kevin Kelly said this first, you only need 1000 fans to make a living as an artist. This much is true due to The Long Tail, but the reality of how those people can support you hasn’t quite slipped in to the mainstream consciousness.

A number of remarkable individuals are using this pay-your-supporters to make quite a living. Creators such as Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, and a small legion of others (and well, me) are making a killing paying their supporters for their support.

Yet, so many people in the world ignore the possibilities.

I hope this article will bring their successes to great light, and hopefully inspire you to distribute your work using the pay-your-supporters model.

If you’re already making a living as an affiliate marketing rockstar, you’re welcome to skip this article, as you already know this stuff. If you’re not making cash selling products that you believe in, bookmark this article, so you can come back to it as you build your minimalist business.

Minimalist Business Affiliate Marketing: The Basics

What you need as a creator to succeed at paying your fans.

1. Create a product around work that matters.

The first step is the hardest part. You need to create work that will inspire people. This can be a digital indie rock album that you made in your basement with a drum machine, or an amazing e-book that teaches people how to take control of their financial situation. The important part is that it has to fulfill a specific need that people on the internet are searching for. I did this with The Art of Being Minimalist, and you can as well with your own work.

2. Digital distribution.

Make the right choice, and don’t go with physical media. Paper, plastic and shipping cost money, and any business that is built around these things is eating up much of their profit –the profit you need to pay your supporters. The right choice is using digital distribution to send copies of your work to people at no cost to you or your buyer. How do you do this? I recommend E-Junkie.

3. Teach your fans how they can support you.

Your fans won’t automatically know how to sell a product using affiliate marketing techniques –believe it or not affiliate marketing is still pretty unknown to most people,– so you have to teach them how to support you. The best way I’ve found to do this is make some money supporting someone else’s work, and use that as case-study to inspire them to support you. For instance, last month I made $2,300+ affiliate marketing for one specific work that matters, which as I mentioned earlier in the article, I’ll deal with in the next post. Demonstrate to your fans it can be done (and make some money in the process), and they will support your work.

4. Pay your fans to support you.

Offer your fans no less than a 50% commission to support your work (some argue that you should offer even more, like 65%-76%.) The easiest way to do this is through E-junkie, a simple no-nonsense affiliate marketing system which costs only $5 a month to sign up for. If you don’t already have a large base of fans that will come out and support, you’ll need to email a few loyal followers and tell them about the opportunity. Be courteous while emailing. Explain how you’ve made money doing the same thing that you’d like them to do for you if they aren’t already familiar with affiliate marketing of digital media.

Why you can successfully pay your fans to support you.

Why isn’t everyone doing this? What’s the catch?

People are used to ‘the catch’, because we’re coming out of a television-based system dominated by gatekeepers — you know, the 25 minute infomercials that you see on TV with only three installments of 79.99 for the blender? That’s a catch.

As I explained above, gatekeepers are now obsolete, so they don’t have the power to manipulate people anymore.

There’s simply no downside to paying your fans to support you. All they have to do is drop a link from their blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other outlet to your work, and once a month they get a Paypal payment for any sales that they did that month.

Obviously it isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t force people to sell your product. Obviously people will related and/or much bigger networks will make money money than people who don’t have any authority with a group of people.

The important thing is, there’s no harm done if some of your fans don’t sell anything. It’s just a link, if you’re honest about why you’re supporting the work, selling is a positive experience for all.

In the digital world, it’s so important to compensate your fans who believe in your work. This creates a lasting community connection, and also helps people pay the bills.

Paying your fans to support you: strategies for success.

Not all strategies are created equal. It’s important to explain to your fans just how to sell your work. Here’s some strategies that I’ve used to sell other people’s work that matters, and I hope they’ll help you.

1. Don’t sell work you don’t believe in.

No one likes skeezy internet marketers. We’ve all received emails from people we don’t know asking us to buy things we don’t need. Tell your fans that you’re not into that kind of marketing. Don’t spam people, don’t annoy people, don’t make people feel obligated to purchase from you. 80% of everyone who comes in contact with your message won’t purchase from you, and that’s okay. Not every product is for every person, it’s the differences that make the world beautiful.

2. Present the work in a way that helps people.

Have you noticed that whenever I affiliate for a product, I explain exactly how it helps people? The best way I’ve found to do this is to either write a review of how you benefitted from the work, or interview the author of the work on your media outlet (such as a blog or other internet venue.) If you ask the right questions, you can really help your audience receive value from the product that you’d like to sell them, without even asking them for money. If people see how the product will help them, they’ll be able to rationalize the purchase price.

3. Let people know that they can support you (as well as the artist you’re representing) by purchasing the work.

The final element of this whole equation is letting people know that they can help you by purchasing the work. People who know your fans are much more likely to purchase from them, if they know that half of the money is going to help their friend. It’s so much easier to buy from someone if you know it’ll help your friend pay the bills or escape from their day job.

Obviously there is more to it than this, because you have to create work that helps people, which is not an easy job. The point is that you can create a network which supports your work, and the first step to making it happen is knowing that you can.

I hope this article inspires you to start creating that network in order to begin paying your fans to support you.

I’ve been doing exactly what I described to pay myself a decent wage through my minimalist business for nearly six months now. Every month I have more income. This system works, for the people who learn to put it into play responsibly in order to bring their change to the world.


If this story helped you, I’d love if you could share it with your network. Retweet it or link from your blog to this story. Thank you.

In a few days I’ll be posting a brief story describing how I made $2,300 in one day, using the techniques that I described above, while supporting work that matters. Don’t miss the story. Sign up for free updates via EMAIL, RSS, or follow me on Twitter.

Interview with Karol Gajda: How to Live Anywhere

June 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why you can build a freedom business in order to work from anywhere in the world

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Karol Gajda is a globe-trotting minimalist rockstar –he even brings his hand-made guitar with them anywhere. He lives a simple life, has traveled through India, Thailand, and is currently in Poland. He’s dedicated to helping 100 people establish “ridiculously extraordinary” freedom at his blog by the same name.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Karol on a very special day — the release of his new product How to Live Anywhere. I’ve just read the e-book thoroughly, and I have to say, I’m incredibly impressed by the work he’s done. I won’t say more, I’d rather let the interview do the talking. I’m sure the e-book isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in pursuing a location independent life, How to Live Anywhere can help you.

Anyway, onward to the Interview. We spoke about Karol’s globe-trotting exploits, his changed attitude toward consumerism, and how to live anywhere in the world.

Everett Bogue: Karol, I’m fascinated by your ability to live and work from anywhere — many of your techniques I’ve been able to apply to my own business. As I understand your goals have morphed significantly over the last few years. How has your perspective on making a living shifted?

Karol Gajda: Thanks Everett! My living has always been based online, but I didn’t really start taking advantage of that until a couple years ago. Instead of embracing the opportunity to live and work anywhere I bought a big house, an expensive car, and useless toys. As you know I wrote more about that (and about how I got rid of everything) in the Minimalist Quick Start Guide here on Far Beyond The Stars.

Karol: My perspective has shifted from a blatant buy-buy-buy consumer to a careful consumer. I still buy things, but I live out of a 32 Liter backpack so I’ve given myself limits. For example, instead of buying a bunch of physical books I have an Amazon Kindle, which I can now use in almost any country I’m visiting. I’ve bought books while in India, Thailand, and Poland (which is where I am currently.)

Everett: I first interviewed you last year. I understand you’ve had quite a journey since. Can you give us an update on where you are now in your travels, where you’ve been, where you’re going?

Karol: Yeah, during that time I was in a small break between New Zealand and India, getting some vaccinations and catching up with friends/family for the holidays. Shortly after that interview I left for India to learn how to build guitars by hand. Technically I don’t call myself an ultralight packer anymore because I have a guitar in tow. But hey, I built it and it rules. The sacrifice of this piece of baggage is worth it. After 2 months in India I went to Thailand for 40 days. I was in Bangkok during the early parts of the protests, which unfortunately got violent and deadly about a week after I left Thailand for Poland. And I’m currently in Poland until October. I was born here, but my family left when I was a baby so I’m back to learn the language better and get to know some of my family. After Poland I’m going back to the US for about a month and likely Panama for 3-4 months after that. :)

Everett: How do you support yourself in order to live anywhere?

Karol: The easiest way to put it is Internet Marketing, but that’s such a general term. Over the past few years I’ve focused more on niche Web sites, doing affiliate marketing and niche info products. 80% of my income over the past 10 years has been through affiliate marketing. One of my favorite approaches is to use an infoproduct as a lead generator and then promoting infoproducts/memberships through affiliate marketing on the back end. For example, selling (or giving away) a small eBook about unique date ideas, and then promoting a dating site (or other dating products) on the backend.

And now, as of today, I’m launching my first product from my blog teaching people how to do what I do. The philosophy, logistics, and specific making money aspects of living anywhere.

Everett: What is your number one priority in releasing How to Live Anywhere?

Karol: When I started my blog in 2009 the goal was to help 100 people achieve Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom, which is not defined by me, but by you. To me it’s the ability to live anywhere. To somebody else it might be to have a home base for most of the year, but move to Mexico or Japan or France for 3 months every year. It boils down to being able to do what you want, when you want, where you want, with whoever you want. How To Live Anywhere is essentially my life’s work, and can teach people how to make those kinds of awesome things happen.

Everett: In your mind, what is the single most important people should be doing with their work online if their goal is to live anywhere?

Karol: The quick answer is simple: provide value. But those words can come across as a bit empty sometimes. How exactly do we provide value? All of us have something unique we can teach people. For example, you started this blog and business by teaching people how to pare down their possessions and become minimalist. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. Maybe you’re an amazing singer. You can teach that online. Maybe you rock at gardening. You can teach people your gardening secrets online. What I would say is don’t be like everybody else who is in your niche. Without showcasing your unique voice (we all have a unique voice) you’ll just get lost in the online crowd. If you’re truly giving people good content and giving us your personality, you will be heard through all the noise.

Everett: I imagine you’ve had to make some interesting lifestyle choices in order to live anywhere. Can you think of an unconventional strategy that you’ve had to employ to move anywhere?

Karol: Because of the way I travel I don’t need to be a minimalist. I’m visiting places for more than one month so I can chill out. Checking big baggage wouldn’t be a problem because I wouldn’t be lugging it around much. I’m not constantly on the move. That said, I live out of a 32 Liter backpack because minimalism makes life, whether you’re traveling or not, easier. Those of us in the minimalist community don’t think of it as unconventional at all. But this is a very small community. In general, whenever somebody sees my bag of possessions the first thing they always ask is, “Where is all your other stuff?” My answer: “This is it!” Minimalism is still quite an unconventional strategy even though it is becoming more mainstream.

Everett: Have you had to sacrifice anything?

Karol: Obviously I don’t get to see a lot of my friends back in the US. But then, a lot of my friends are constantly traveling as well. I do try to make it back to Michigan every New Year’s Eve because we throw a big party and reconnect. As far as things like technology, I’ve had to make no sacrifices. We live in an amazing time because so much can be done online, and a laptop is all you need. I haven’t even used a cell phone for 4 months. It has been fantastic!

Everett: Finally, what do you think the single most powerful benefit of living anywhere is?

Karol: Experiencing new people and new places teaches us to respect others and ourselves more. I used to sit at home all day, watching TV, going out with friends drinking, and stuff like that. The only lesson I learned from that is I wasn’t living life, life was living (and killing) me. By getting out into the world and living in new places I connect with new people (I used to be a big introvert and traveling has forced me to change that) and reconnect with myself. What I want out of life is awesome experiences. It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but the money I make is only important in that it allows me to seek out new people and experiences.


Be sure to check out Karol Gajda’s How to Live Anywhere, available today.

How to Live With 50 Things (and Why I Decided to Stop)

June 6th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

When you opt-out of the endless cycle of consumerism, you can discover freedom.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Around two months ago, I made an announcement on Twitter that blew some people’s minds: I decided to live with less than 50 possessions.

I haven’t talked much about it on the blog, because I’ve been focused on producing content that helps people. Promoting the fact that I was living with 50 things just seemed to be bragging, so I haven’t talked too much about it until now.

For those who are joining us recently, the 50 things movement was started by Leo Babauta on his blog Mnmlist. Colin Wright and Henri Juntilla are also living with around the same number of things.

The 50 things movement doesn’t count shared items like cooking supplies, bedding, and furniture. I was only counting personal possessions that only belong to me.

Why I decided to live with 50 things.

I’m a big fan of trying out everything once, so I decided to jump on board and try it for awhile. I’ve been living with 75 things for awhile, and reducing that number to 50 didn’t seem like a huge leap. So, I went for it.

Here are the benefits of living with 50 things, from my experience living with less for two months between March 2010 – and May 2010. I no longer live with 50 things, and I’ll explain why further down.

1. It’s incredibly easy to relocate to anywhere in the world.

I moved to Oakland, CA from Brooklyn, NY on May 15th with my girlfriend Alix and Lola the cat. I tossed one backpack into luggage (I only did this because we had Lola the cat, and I wanted to simplify our trip on the plane even further or I would have carried it on.) And carried on a small bag with my laptop, a hoodie, and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road in it. All of my possessions moved easily from the East coast to the West coast.

In my previous moves with 100 things, I often felt like I was carrying entirely too much with me. When I had my stuffed-full backpacking bag (with sleeping bag and tent), plus my camera bag, plus my stuffed-full laptop bag. The combined weight made it difficult to move around easily. With 50 things I could easily carry all of my possessions without stressing my body.

2. It’s incredibly easy to find things.

When you have 50 things there is no way to lose things. I’m convinced that once we pass 150 things our minds can no longer pinpoint the exact location of all our individual possessions.

My theory about this is that up until recent history humans didn’t have more than 150 possessions, so we haven’t evolved to keep track of more than 150. This is why people with over 150 things are known to lose things (where are my sunglasses?)

When I had 100 things, I could easily pinpoint the location of any of my possessions in my mind before going to find them (the cleaning cloth of my laptop is in the left-front pocket of my laptop bag.) When I had 50 things, this superhuman ability became magnified. Because I had less to worry about, it was even easier to locate things.

3. You save a lot more money.

When you have 50 things, the urge to entertain yourself by spending money is incredibly diminished. I only made a couple of significant clothing purchases during the early months of this year, and that was to replace clothing items that had worn out.

My Frye boots that I’d owned for a number of years finally gave out, and I had to replace them with a new pair. I purchased a few new pairs of underwear and tank shirts for doing yoga in. Other than those purchases to replace completely destroyed clothes, I did not spend money on possessions.

4. You can pursue alternative ways of finding happiness.

Buying things doesn’t make you happy. The televisions have told us to buy things for the last 50 years, so it’s almost completely ingrained in our culture. “If I only had another gizmo, I’d be happier.” This isn’t true, and when you reduce your possessions in order to be conscious of your consumption, you start to find ways to fill the time which don’t involve purchasing junk.

5. More time to focus on the important.

When you have less things, you can focus on doing important work. One of the benefits of living with less, for me, has been that I can create work that matters. Instead of organizing my junk, I’ve been able to write two e-books, The Art of Being Minimalist, and the upcoming Minimalist Business, that now provide all of the income I need to survive.

I’ve known people with massive amounts of stuff in large spaces. What I’ve observed is that these people spend endless amounts of time organizing and cleaning their possessions. They also spend a lot more money on their spaces, because they need extra room for the stuff they don’t need. The junk starts to rule their lives. When you live with less the need for large spaces, and the time you have to spend on organizing, cleaning, and buying more stuff disappears. All of this free time can be dedicated to focusing on the important.

6. Financial freedom.

Ultimately this all leads to financial freedom. When you need less space, because you have less stuff, you can work less to support yourself. Many people can’t escape their debt because of oversized houses, junk-buying habits, and having no time to focus on the important. Living with less can solve that problem.

I suppose all of these apply to living with 75 things as well, but when you live with 50 things they are amplified.

Why I decided to stop living with 50 things.

Living with 50 things was incredibly liberating, but since moving to California I’ve decided to abandon the experiment and move back to living with 75 things. Why? There are two main reasons.

1. I need to simplify my laundry days.

Living with 50 things means you have to clean your clothing more often. I found myself at the laundromat once a week like clockwork. This was fine in Brooklyn because the laundromat was three buildings away, but the laundromat in Oakland is six blocks away, which means I have to dedicate a significant amount of time once a week to laundry-doing.

In order to simplify my laundry schedule in order to focus on the important, I’m gradually purchasing more clothing to save time doing laundry.

On Wednesday I purchased two pairs (I was living with one pair that was starting to show wear) of high-quality denim jeans, which fit well. I’ve also purchased a few more t-shirts and underwear in order to lengthen time between laundromat visits. Eventually I hope to be able to do laundry once every two weeks.

Side-note: I now have a 29 inch waist. This is down from toping out at 33 inches when I had my day job. Apparently living a free and independent minimalist life is very good for your waist size.

Obviously you could argue that I could wash my clothing in my sink. I don’t own quick-dry clothing, though I would purchase some if I were to go abroad. I’ve found that hand-washing is much more of a time-sink than laundromat washing. This time would be better spent working on the important, so I’ve opted not to hand-wash clothing items.

2. I missed my Moleskin and pen.

One of the items I downsized when moving to 50-things was all of my paper, so I tossed my Moleskin notebook that I use for free-writing and brainstorming. This meant that I couldn’t do hand-written brainstorming sessions.

While eliminating my Moleskin simplified my life by directing all of my brainstorming sessions into Evernote, I found that the experience of typing ideas into Evernote on my iPhone was less than satisfactory. Writing by hand is both an inexpensive and also a simple way to capture ideas for later use.

I’ve also found that writing my hand helps center the hemispheres of my brain, and more easily allows me to move to a creative place. There is also no Twitter application to accidentally open in my Moleskin.

In conclusion.

I realize that living with 75 things is still very little for most people, and the 50 things that I had was an incredibly small number. I haven’t updated my possessions list to reflect what I currently have, I’ll be sure to do that soon.

Living with less isn’t for everyone, but I’ve discovered that it can make life a lot simpler when you decide to opt out of the endless cycle of consumerism.

For more on how I was able to reduce my possessions to less than 100 things in order to live anywhere, check out my e-book The Art of Being Minimalist.


The New Escapologist interviewed me yesterday about minimalist freedom and escaping from the dying magazine industry.

On Tuesday I’m interviewing Karol Gajda of Ridiculously Extraordinary about how he lives and works from anywhere. Don’t miss out, sign up for free updates via RSS or EMAIL.

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