3 Timeless and Simple Strategies to Connect with Anyone

September 2nd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

And Why You Can’t Connect with Everyone

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

You can’t reach everyone in the world.

Why? Because a lot of people are so incredibly different from you.

Some people really like fancy sports cars (I wish my superpower was the ability to stop all car traffic for a 1-mile radius around my current location,) other people really want to destroy the environment (I really wish we could save it.) still other people like going to garage sales and buying tons of junk they’ll never use to fill up their house (well, duh, I don’t do advocate this.)

The specifics of what I’m trying to say don’t really matter, the reality is that if you say anything at all that has any consequence, someone will have the opposite view of what you’re trying to say.

How to be uncontroversial.

So 80% of the people who are creators (especially on blogs) solve this problem by never saying anything specific. They don’t want to offend anyone, so they try to be safe and not say anything that matters.

They dumb down their writing until you could buy it off of a grocery store magazine rack.

The problem is that if you stop saying anything important, you end up saying nothing much at all.

Then no one cares.

The real reason why I turned off blog comments.

Recently I made the controversial decision to turn commenting off on this blog.

I listed seven reasons why you should invest your time instead of commenting on my blog, and the first reason was “write about what I said on your blog.”

So a whole bunch of people wrote on their blogs about how I was stomping on their freedom of speech by turning off comments on my blog.

The funny thing is, these people followed my advice that I listed in that original article. They proved that there was something better they could be doing than commenting on my blog.

Also, when they wrote about what I said on their blog, I actually had time to read what these people said.

Why? Because instead of reading dozens of comments a day, I only have to read the blog posts that pop-up on my google alert for my name.

(To be fair, around an equal number of people wrote about how awesome it was that I turned off my blog comments, and are considering doing it themselves once they have an overwhelmingly large following.)

Turning comments off isn’t a new blogging strategy.

What I’m saying here isn’t anything new, people have been turning off comments on their blog and upsetting a small fraction of their readers since the beginning of time.

I’m sure when Seth turned off his comments there was an earthquake somewhere simultaneously.

The truth is that any conclusion that you come to has the potential to make any person unhappy. If you stop saying anything important because you’re afraid someone will be mad, then you’ll never connect with the people who truly support you.

How to find your true fans.

My number one mission since my blog rocketed into the global spotlight has been to slowly close down the ways that people interact me until I have time to really contribute value to a small group of my true fans.

I’m under no illusion that all 70,000+ readers of this blog actually like what I’m saying. In truth, 70% of these people bounce after the first minute of reading.

Others send me emails telling me to stop writing what I’m writing because I’m contesting their ideas about consumption.

“I just want to go to Walmart, spend my money and not have anyone question that what I’m doing is wrong.”

This is the way it is for most blogs. Most people are just wandering around hoping they’ll find something to read that will make them feel good.

“Why isn’t your blog about Lady Gaga or Lindsay Lohan?”

Do you think Coca Cola likes what I’m saying on this blog? If you drink a coke once a day and drive to work, chances are you don’t like what I’m saying either.

But somewhere in the soup of readers that the Internet brings there are people who resonate with what I’m saying here.

  • The people who actually live with less than 100 things
  • The ones who are striving for a location independent lifestyle
  • The people who want to stop consuming and find freedom.

Maybe these people aren’t you, but they could be you. I’m just laying a foundation for what is possible.

Three strategies that I use to find and identify my 1000 true fans.

1. Interview people who you admire.

The #1 reason that my blog has grown so fast is because I’ve systematically interviewed everyone who I admire. Interviews are the #1 way to make powerful people aware of your existence. Most people have time to do an interview, because it contributes value to both the interviewee and the interviewer.

If you want to interview me, just drop interview questions into my email box, or connect with me on Twitter. I’d love to talk to you.

Also, if you’re someone who used to really like commenting, an interview is a much better way to focus your energy. You’re welcome to ask tough questions. You could even ask me one tough question.

2. Write about work that changes the way you think about reality.

When I see something that really changes my thinking, I write about it here. This is why I’ve been able to recently connect so well with Gwen Bell recently. I wrote about the fact that she checks email once per day, and about her digital sabbatical — thus sending her blog noticeable amounts of traffic. The next thing you know we’re tweeting free business consulting advice at each other. Awesome!

When you spread the work of others, they will do the same for your work.

3. Write un-apologetically about what you actually believe.

I have opinions about things that matter. They may not really gel with your ideas about reality, but that’s okay. This blog isn’t for everyone — as we saw above, it isn’t for most people. I understand that only a select few are on their way to creating fully automated minimalist businesses.

I understand that only a few remarkable individuals are actually living with less than 100 things.

If you want to write a blog that people pay attention to, you need to say some things that will offend a certain group of people. You can’t make everyone happy, that’s okay. Say what you believe.

You’re still totally welcome to read if you aren’t doing these things, I’m just saying what is true. Not everyone is up for this challenge, mostly because they have more important things in their lives to worry about.

However, a select few people are changing the world. I’m so proud to among a group of people who laying the foundation for the shape of things to come.

Will you join me?

Write about the people that matter. Interview the people that matter. Say things that matter.

This is how you make a difference.


Speaking of Interviews, I have one coming up with Vagabonding author Rolf Potts next week. Want to find out how to travel around the world without any luggage? Don’t miss out! Sign up for free updates via RSS, email or follow me on Twitter.

How to Create Your Own Smalltopia: An Interview with Tammy Strobel

August 31st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

I don’t really need to say much about Tammy Strobel, because I’m sure you all already know her.

Tammy runs the super-popular small living blog Rowdy Kittens. She was recently featured in not just The New York Times, but also MSNBC.com, Yahoo Finance, and a bunch of other places. Why? Because she’s one of the pioneers of the minimalist movement that is changing the foundations of our society.

Tammy just released an amazing digital work: Smalltopia: A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself.

I was lucky enough to still be able to interview her after all of her recent media coverage.

I’ve read the e-book from start to finish, and it is one of the more remarkable guides to self-employment that I’ve read this year. I’m not going to say anymore, and let the interview with Tammy do the talking. I even contributed a small bit on my own experience creating a minimalist business.

On to the interview! We spoke about developing multiple streams of income, quitting your day job, and how simplicity is the ultimate freedom:

Everett: For our readers who haven’t been following your exploits religiously on your blog, Rowdykittens, can you briefly describe what a Smalltopia is?

Tammy: Smalltopia is a practical guide to working for yourself. The guide reviews tips, tools, and strategies that will help folks leave a traditional 9-5 job and create personal freedom through a very small business. The guide is broken up into three sections: Smalltopia Philosophy, Smalltopia Essentials, and Smalltopia Case Studies.

The part I’m most excited about is the case study section. It features stories from more than a dozen folks that run the gamut of experience. From those who are just getting ready to break up with their day job, to crazy successful small business owners. The list of rockstar contributors include: Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, Jessica Reeder, Chris O’Byrne, Russ Roca, Laura Crawford, Karol Gajda, Chloe Adeline, Victoria Vargas, Karen Yaeger, Jules Clancy, Heather Levin, Matt Cheuvront, Tyler Tervooren, and the one and only Everett Bogue!

Everett: Imagine I’m the average reader of Far Beyond The Stars, why would I want to create a Smalltopia?

Tammy: You said in a recent blog post that Far Beyond the Stars is about one very specific thing, freedom. Creating your own Smalltopia will give you the structure to live life on your own terms and the freedom to pursue your dreams.

Everett: You recently quit your job in order to build your own very small business. Why did you decide that working for other people wasn’t what you were into?

Tammy: During the past ten years, I spent time working in the investment management industry and then transitioned into the social service sector. I learned a lot in both of these fields, but working for someone else wasn’t fulfilling.

I love working with others, but I disliked the rigid routines and unequal ranking of people in traditional office environments. And spending over 40 hours a week trapped indoors was starting to make me feel crazy. I wanted the freedom to be able to work on projects that made me happy, and more importantly, I wanted the freedom to choose when, where, and with whom I wanted to work with.

Everett: In Smalltopia you talk about the importance of diversifying your “moolah”. Most people have all of their income coming from one source, which obviously means if you lose that job you’re sunk. How important is it to have multiple streams of income?

Tammy: I believe having multiple streams of income is essential to financial security. For example, my income streams currently come from freelance writing projects, books sales, consulting, and some web design work. For instance, if my book sales decrease one month, I can easily take on more freelance writing projects and adapt accordingly.

Like you said, if you’re laid off from a “traditional job” you’re stuck with no income stream. So in reality, I don’t think traditional jobs are very safe. It’s a myth that many of us (including myself) buy into. The generation of folks working for one company and building a pension is fading away. The collapse of Enron and recent bankruptcy of many financial management corporations demonstrate the illusion of “stable” income. Everything changes with time so it’s better to build a diverse and dynamic income model.

Everett: How has living a small lifestyle allowed you to focus on creating multiple income sources?

Tammy: Living a small lifestyle has reduced my expenses tremendously. I can afford to gamble on “risky” opportunities to develop more markets for my work. Now that I’m not shopping so much or constantly worrying about maintaining my stuff, I have the time and energy to focus on a variety of projects.

Everett: How has living a minimalist life contributed towards building your successful Smalltopia?

Tammy: Minimalism allows me the freedom and focus to pursue projects I’m passionate about which makes a huge difference in the quality of work I’m producing. Being happy and motivated comes through in my work and has contributed to a greater success in my business :)

In addition, I have the time to build relationships with people. And that is critically important to creating a resilient business.

Everett: What is one action that our readers can take towards moving towards building a Smalltopia of their own?

Tammy: Well you only asked for one action, but I’m going to give our readers two tips.

First, get your finances together and pay of any outstanding debts. This is essential because it will give you a lot of freedom and flexibility in the long run. Make sure you prioritize paying off your debt by setting aside part of each paycheck. Little by little your debt will decrease and you’ll have more freedom to do what you love.

Second, start a blog. Blogging is an incredible way to connect with like minded individuals, the perfect place to test business ideas, and build a fan base. For instance, all of my freelance writing contracts and books sales have occurred because RowdyKittens. Without a home base on the Internet, building a small small business can be difficult.


You can check out Tammy Strobel’s new e-book Smalltopia: A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself here.

7 Ways to Invest Your Time (besides commenting on blogs)

August 23rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why I ‘simplified’ commenting, and what to do about it.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

We all know that time is your most important asset.

How you spend your time decides whether you actually eliminate your attachment to your many physical possessions, build your minimalist business, or sit in front of the TV.

We also know that the Internet is interactive.

We’ve been told that we need to discuss or contribute to ‘the conversation’. Many blogs thrive on people coming back again and again to be spoon-fed new content.

A good way for bloggers to ‘be interactive’ is to promote commenting, because it asks their reader to invest physical time into a site. This in turn builds a mental connection between the reader and the site, which leads them to come back more often.

When I used to work at New York Magazine we had a number of commenters that, as far as we could tell, spent up to ten hours a day commenting on every single story that the bloggers there put up –and I photo edited an average of 64 blog stories a day at New York, so imagine how many blog comments this was!– I’d obviously never want you to spend your time this way, but yet some people do.

Here’s the thing:

I don’t want to spoon feed you, I want you to create your own work.

You might have noticed that I’ve had commenting turned off for the last 4 weeks. This is partially because I was taking a digital sabbatical, and I needed peace of mind while I was gone.

Well, I’m back now, but comments aren’t.

I realized while I was gone that perhaps the most important thing I could ever do to help you, is to turn comments off on my blog.

Why? Because the comments you leave on my blog are wasting your time — you have better things to do that to comment on my blog.

I might bring comments back, who knows, it all depends on how I feel. I might bring them back once in awhile for a post or two that needs discussion. I just know that for now, they’re going to be off for the majority of blog posts.

Further reasons for eliminating comments on your blog.

  • My average blog post receives 35 comments. That’s around 7% of my blog audience. Most people don’t care that much.
  • Most people don’t read blog comments. How often do you see actual conversations take place? Most skip to the bottom and voice their opinion without regard to what was said above.
  • Most of these commenters fall into three categories: people who have an opinion about everything (but never do anything), bloggers who want to get my attention, or confused first time visitors who want to know why I’m ‘crazy’.
  • There are also spam comments that take time and effort to deal with.
  • The more time you spend answering comments, the more you get. This, like email, is an endless cycle that will eat your time. This is why I don’t answer most blog comments, because if I do, I get twice as many blog comments.
  • Many A-list bloggers choose to eliminate comments on their sites after a certain growth period. Seth Godin has had comments off for years, Leo Babauta opted to remove comments Zen Habits half a year ago (and was still named the top blog of the year by Time Magazine for 2010.) There are others, but those are two of my heroes, so I mention them here.
  • My blog traffic has exploded to 64,000 readers per month while I was not even here to oversee the operation. Obviously being away from my blog encourages growth more than sitting around all day reading comments does.
  • I’m going Vagabonding. I’ll be spending extended periods away from the Internet and computers in the coming months. The last two weeks I was isolated away from the Internet in Wisconsin with my family, and in October I’ll be headed overseas to Peru for an extended period of time. I won’t be able to answer my blog comments from these places, and if I did, I wouldn’t be able to immerse myself in the experience as much as I could if I wasn’t constantly checking blog comments. One of the keys to vagabonding, as Rolf Potts would say, is disconnection.

The most important reason of all:

I believe that every moment you spend commenting on blogs, you’re wasting precious time that you could invest in finding your own freedom. It’s hypocritical for me to continue to teach you how to have a 2-hour workday and continue to have comments on this blog. I want to prove that a blog-based business can work without commenting. I think it will actually work better.

You should spend your time making work instead of getting caught up in the endless cycle of blog commenting.

What are you going to do with your time, now that you can’t comment on my blog?

There are many more important ways to spend your time, other than commenting on my blog. Here are 7 ways that you can interact on the Internet that don’t involve commenting.

1. Write about the blog post that you enjoyed (or hated) on your blog.

Did you hate what I said about not having cars? Write about how much of an obnoxious bastard I am for trying to save the planet and reclaim the streets. Or, better yet, If you really love my post, write about how much it changed your perspective. If you don’t have a blog, the best decision you can make is to start one right now. Go to WordPress.com and sign up for a free hosted blog to get you started.

2. Interview influentials about what they said in their blog post.

Only the most overwhelmed bloggers will say no to an Interview. I never will say no to an interview request — but it might take me some time to get back to you. Text interviews are best, as Skype is difficult to schedule. Interviews are one of the best ways to grow your own blog, get free consulting, and expose your readers to new ideas. A good interview can result in your blog receiving thousands of extra hits per day, depending on who you interview.

For a few good examples of how to do a good Interview see:
C.J. Anyasor interviewed 16+ bloggers about how to create the life you want.
Tyler Tervooren interviewed me about how to start a minimalist business.
I also have conducted interviews with dozens of people who I admire, including Joshua Becker, Chris Guillebeau, Leo Babauta, and many more.

Interviews really are the number one way to grow your blog (if you heard it was commenting, you were lied to.) Get out there and send people good questions to answer! Stop commenting on blogs.

3. Create your own work.

Nothing is a better use of time than working on your own stuff. Every moment you spend commenting is time you’re not making your own work.

How do you create your own work? Well, that’s up to you. Some people paint, some people photograph, some people write on blogs and create e-books, some people negotiate peace treaties between angry nations.

Creating work involves taking an action to create something in this world.

4. Learn.

Another great use of time is to learn new things about the world. Read a book, participate in an e-course, enroll in a college course, read a good blog from start to finish (I did this recently with Sivers’ blog, and I’m currently doing it with Ramit’s blog. I’m learning so much.)

How you learn is up to you, and depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to learn how to start a simple business, the best way to spend your time might be to actually start a business.

5. Promote work that you believe in.

Instead of blog commenting, why not invest your time in promoting the blog post that you really enjoyed? Sending a blog post into your social media network is a great way to contribute value to the people who follow you on these services.

I commonly retweet 2-3 blog posts that I really enjoyed from my all-star inner circle on an average day. This builds a connection between myself and the author in a much better way than leaving a comment does, because I’m exposing their work to new people. If I’d just commented, I’d simply be taking up their time.

6. Earn money.

Another great way to spend your time instead of commenting is to earn some money. A simple affiliate link to a product that you support can go a long way towards bringing in extra money. Most of the bloggers that you read have digital products that you can earn anywhere from 50%-65% commission selling.

For more information, see: How to Pay Your Fans to Support You or $2,300 in a Day, How to Support Quality Work.

7. Enjoy the sun.

You have finite time on this Earth. Someday you’re going be old and frail and wish you’d spend more time at the beach getting a nice tan, making hot love, or traveling the world.

All of these things are much more possible if you don’t spend all day commenting on blogs, and instead invest your time in the decisive elements that I listed above.

Surprise section! Should you turn off blog comments?

This section for A to B-list bloggers. If you’re not aiming to have a blog that supports your location independent life, you probably don’t need to read this.

No doubt this blog posts is going to shock a lot of people. Bloggers have a love/hate relationship with commenting.

Some bloggers have invested thousands of hours commenting on other blogs in order to try and get people to pay attention to them, others have comprehensive blog post answering schedules that take up hours of time.

One blogger I know sets an alarm in the middle of the night in order to wake up and make sure no one trolled his blog during the night! Yes, this is true.

When to turn off blog comments?

In the beginning of a blog, comments are essential. If you only have twelve readers, chances are you want them to stick around, and blog comments are a great way to do that. You can make every reader feel incredibly special and maybe they’ll write about you on their blog or something, and you’ll get more readers. I met some very cool people in the first month of my blog through comments.

So, I wouldn’t recommend turning off your blog comments until you reach what Chris Brogan calls ‘Escape Velocity.’ This is the moment when you’re able to support yourself exclusively from your blog. If you’re not living a full-time income from your blog, keep comments on until you do. Just don’t spend all day answering comments. Making work matters so much more.

Will my blog DIE if I turn off comments?!?!

As I said above, commenters are only a small percentage of your audience. That being said, it might be a good idea to give people an alternative call to action. Make it clear to people that instead of commenting, they can help you by spreading the word or doing an interview with you.

Paradoxically enough, having 35 people interview you about your blog post every time you post might take a lot of time, but your blog growth will explode. 35 comments won’t make your blog explode, it’ll just take up more time.

Turning off blog comments isn’t for everyone.

If your blog is built around the idea of a conversation, I’m not kidding, if you turn off comments everyone will probably leave.

However, if your blog is built around your ideas, if you’re a leader, if you’re a change-maker in your space. Chances are you’ll instead be able to dedicate 25% more time to creating great work.

I imagine because I won’t be spending time moderating comments, I’ll be able to double my blogging income over the next few months. I can probably write another whole e-book that helps a lot of people in the time that I used to spending making sure that people weren’t trolling my comments.

The most important part of this whole post is that I believe wholeheartedly that you can probably double your income if you stop spending so much time on comments. Stop commenting on blogs, start focusing on the important.

There are better ways to use your time, and now is the time to change the way that you invest.


If you haven’t already, or didn’t even know, you can sign up to receive Far Beyond The Stars in your email box for free. Or you can sign up via RSS.

Corbett Barr on How to Pay Your Fans to Support You

August 10th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way that we distribute media.

Imagine for a moment that you really liked a band or an author, say Radiohead or Seth Godin, in 1998. The only way you could support the band would be to to buy the album and tell your friends that the band is awesome.

Fast-forward to the present day, August 10th 2010. –> Distribution of media is free, you can automate the sales and distribution of a product to almost anyone in the world, and you can do it all from anywhere in the world.

This is the fundamental reason that living and working from anywhere is possible.

Now, you can pay your fans to support you. There’s no reason not to.

What’s the key ingredient of paying your fans?

Well, you can be paid to support the work you love.

One of the happiest days of my life is the 1st of every month, because I get to send affiliate commission money to all of the amazing people who market my work. This wouldn’t have worked in 1998, because printing my book would have devoured all of the costs, but now it does.

A good number of the people who read The Art of Being Minimalist or Minimalist Business make back the purchase price my recommending it on their blogs. High-performers make anywhere from $100-$500 a month spreading the word about how much they enjoyed it (you can even make money from spreading how much you hate it, but I honestly don’t recommend that.)

Larger bloggers, of course, end up giving much more. As you might remember, one day I made $2,300 selling one person’s amazing work.

Now, you might not be able to get paid much to support the work of Radiohead or Seth Godin, because they’re not giving 50% commissions. However, a small group of amazing people are starting to adapting to the changing nature of digital media, and well, it’s changing everything.

Anyway, enough fawning over digital media, this is an interview with Corbett Barr.

Do you know Corbett? You should. He lives in San Francisco and runs two blogs: Think Traffic (which is literally blowing up right now) about building blog traffic and Free Pursuits about living a freedom lifestyle.

Since I moved to SF Bay, Corbett has become one of my trusted advisors on making my digital media distribution happen on a broader scale. We’ve met up on multiple occasions, and full discloser: he took Alix and I sailing on the bay once.

Just last week Corbett was teaching me, over a beer in The Mission, exactly how to set up a powerful e-mail list that will hopefully bring my business to a higher level –with minimal effort.

Today Corbett is releasing an epic product to teach beginners about how to start affiliate marketing successfully. I’ve looked over the work, and it’s excellent. He even interviewed me for a special add-on pack. We discussed at length the strategies that I use to pay my fans to support me.

Anyway, you can check out Affiliate Marketing for Beginners over here –but read the interview first for some free introductory tips.

Before you buy Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: This product isn’t for everyone. If you’re already making $100-500 a month supporting my work, you might learn a trick or two, but the product honestly isn’t aimed at you. This is for absolute beginners, and Corbett promises me that by the time you finish the course you should be able to break into the affiliate marketing space and begin to bolster your income (or your money back.)

Onward to the Interview!

We spoke about why affiliate marketing isn’t sketchy, part-time location independence, and the #1 best opportunity out there right now:

Everett Bogue: As our readers know, both you and I make a significant portion of our incomes from affiliate marketing — I like to refer to it as “paying your fans to support you.” How can it help make more of our readers income?

Corbett Barr: Yes, I love the way you call it “paying your fans to support you.” That’s a great way to look at it.

The way our readers can make income from affiliate marketing depends on if they already have a site/audience or not. If they do, they can start telling their existing audience about great products and services. The key is to talk about products you have really used and love. It’s not really different from how you might recommend a great restaurant or reliable accountant to your friends. In this case, you get compensated for that recommendation.

When done correctly, everyone wins. Your friends or readers get an awesome product or service recommendation, the business gets a new customer, and you earn a commission (and reputation points).

For people who don’t already have a site or audience, you’ll have to build one in some way to profit from affiliate marketing. You can build and reach an audience with a website, blog, in social media, through videos or in email. The course I’m releasing on affiliate marketing teaches you how to build a new site from the ground-up.

Everett: Affiliate marketing sometimes gets a bad rap — we start to think about mid-level-marketing pyramid schemes and scammy websites trying to get us to buy stuff that we don’t need. How do you get involved in legitimate affiliate marketing offers, and avoid the garbage that’s out there?

Corbett: The affiliate model is just a model. It’s a referral system, and there are no pyramids or scammy websites required. But, like anything on the internet, lots of get-rich-quick, I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-my-customers types have influenced how we think about affiliate marketing.

And that’s too bad because there are lots of really awesome products and services that have affiliate offers. Things that you have already purchased or used probably have affiliate programs. Word-of-mouth recommendations are a big source of sales for businesses, so smart companies encourage that with affiliate programs.

It’s really pretty easy to avoid the garbage that’s out there. Start by looking for affiliate programs for the things you already use. They don’t have to be digital products either, although those tend to pay higher commissions.

Everett: What steps can we take to un-sketchify the reputation of affiliate marketing?

Corbett: Funny you ask, because I just wrote a post about this recently. James Chartrand of Men with Pens suggested that we rename “marketing” to “beer.” If we called it beer, everyone would love it, right? But then people might start not liking beer, and I care too much about beer to do that to it.

Instead, I think the best thing is for legitimate affiliate marketers to start being more vocal. We need to spread the word about how fantastic affiliate marketing can be for your business when it’s done right. We need to share what we’ve learned about doing affiliate marketing while also caring about our customers and the products we recommend.

If enough of us talk openly about it maybe we can change the reputation of affiliate marketing, at least within our little corner of the world.

Everett: You live a part-time location independent life. Can you share a little bit about how that works?

Corbett: Yeah, sure. My wife and I have lived in Mexico for 9 months over the past two years. We also spent about two months up in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.).

We’re not completely location independent though. We maintain a “home base” in San Francisco. When we’re gone for extended periods of time, we sublet our apartment. We really like having the fixed residence to return to, and consider it the best of both worlds for us.

We’re able to live the “location flexible” lifestyle because we’ve built businesses that let us take extended time off or work from anywhere.

Everett: Many affiliate programs offer 50%+ commissions, it almost seems like we’re giving free money away just for a link. Why do you think affiliate commissions are so large in the digital world?

Corbett: And I’ve seen commission rates of up to 95% in some cases. That means you get paid $95 for referring every $100 in sales. It’s pretty amazing considering you don’t have to do any of the product development or support.

I think they’re so high for a few reasons. First, because these are digital products we’re talking about (physical products have much lower commission rates), and digital products have nearly a 100% profit margin when you set them up like you have in Minimalist Business.

Second, the sellers of those products think, “I wouldn’t get this customer otherwise, so earning 50% is better than nothing.” Third, with all the products available for affiliates to represent, you have to compete with a compelling commission rate (and great product).

Everett: How can affiliate marketing allow you to live anywhere and achieve more freedom?

Corbett: As I mentioned, as an affiliate you don’t have to develop the products or support them. It’s an amazingly hands-off business model. And it’s highly scalable.

If you’re trying to live a minimalist lifestyle and support yourself by working online, I can’t imagine a much better opportunity than affiliate marketing.

Everett: What’s the #1 best affiliate opportunity out there right now?

Corbett: The affiliate program that comes to mind that most of your readers (and mine) are probably familiar with is Chris Gullebeau’s Unconventional Guides. Chris writes about how to live unconventionally, do extraordinary things and start a successful small business. The guides are really great and have been a big help to me and a lot of people I talk to.

Chris runs an affiliate program for people who have purchased at least one of his guides. He pays a 51% commission, which is awesome, and the guides sell like hotcakes on a cold Minnesota morning. I’ve sold thousands of dollars of his stuff, and it tends to convert better than most other programs for my readers. I personally know a few other bloggers who have also had really good luck selling the Unconventional Guides.

Another great option for your readers would obviously be your own premium guides to minimalism. The key with affiliate offers is relevance. Offer things to your audience that is relevant to them (and high-quality) and they’ll be happy you recommended the products.

[Editor’s note: If you are interested in joining the affiliate program of my e-books, it is here.]

Everett: Say I want to figure out how to make a small sum like $100 by the end of the day, how would I doing this using affiliate marketing?

Corbett: If you already have an audience to reach, that’s easy. Find a product you already use and love that has an affiliate program. It could be an eBook (like the ones you’ve written, Everett) or a piece of software or a WordPress theme or a financial service or something else. Then, write a blog post or an email or create a video recommending the product to your audience. The key is to pre-sell the product, don’t over sell it. Just tell people why you love it, and share a link where your readers can find out more. If it’s a good fit, some of them will purchase it.

If you don’t have an audience, you’ll have to decide how you’ll reach people. A simple website that attracts visitors from search traffic is an easy approach. My course covers how to do that in detail.


You can check out Affiliate Marketing for Beginners here. Don’t forget: it’s just for beginners. No affiliate marketing rockstars need apply. If you’re new to this and looking for more solid education, this is the place to start.

P.S. I’m taking a digital sabbatical, camping in Wisconsin with my grandparents until August 23rd. This is why comments are off. I’ll do my best to get back to any questions or emails when I return. Thank you for your patience.

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.

Minimalist Business Success at the Basis of Existence

May 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

On moving to SF Bay, and how minimalism makes small goals reach success.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you for everyone who came out to support the launch of Minimalist Business.

The turnout was simply extraordinary. You’ve blown me away with your enthusiasm. I’ve received an incredible amount of email over the last two days, and I apologize if it’s taking me awhile to get back to everyone.

So far the feedback has been 95% positive, constructive, or simply thanking me for doing this work. Thank you.

How successful was the pre-launch of Minimalist Business?

Because Minimalist Business is truly riding on the idea that a location independent digital business can support an individual, I think it’s best if we have complete transparency about how much money came in from the pre-launch for my latest product.

I’m doing this not to gloat over the money (because it really isn’t that much, but it’s plenty compared to how much money I spend maintaining my minimal lifestyle.) But because I want you to see what’s possible if you put in the work to make this kind of business a reality for you.

The launch brought in just over $6000 over 24 hours.

My goal with this release was $2000, which I passed in the first hour. The pre-release of Minimalist Business did far better than I ever could have anticipated.

Depending on your perspective, that figure is either a lot or very little. I have friends who bring home a paycheck this size every week (and they spend it just as quickly.) If you remember from my writing last year, I survived on $3000 in Portland for three months. Needless to say, this is more than enough to support my on-going work for an extended period of time, — my life-overhead is so incredibly low.

Also, this figure is above and beyond the income already coming in from The Art of Being Minimalist and the affiliate work that I do for other work that I believe in. I see it as more of an investment in future work.

Long time readers know that I live with 50-things, so don’t expect to see me go on shopping sprees or anything like that. I’m just not interested in wasting money supporting consumerism, when the work is so much more important.

The myth that you can’t pay the bills working as a writer.

The biggest element of this whole story, the one that’s a real shocker to a lot of people in the world, is the fact that you truly can make a living as a writer by creating great work.

I spoke in Minimalist Business about the idea that we don’t need middlemen anymore. When you stop waiting around for a publishing house, an agent, a record label to come ‘discover’ your work, you free yourself up to start doing the work that supports you.

Far Beyond The Stars is named after a story in which a writer in the 1940s literally has his life destroyed because of middlemen who won’t publish his work. The fact that middlemen no longer rule the world is truly liberating to every artist in the world.

The first step is to recognize this fact, then we all need to actually start acting on it with the resources that we have at our disposal. I hope that Minimalist Business gives people the tools and inspiration to do this.

On location independence in SF Bay.

As most of you know, my girlfriend and I are moving to The San Francisco bay area on Saturday May 15th. We’ll probably be setting up shop in Oakland, because it seems to be the kind of neighborhood that we’d enjoy living in.

We’re staying in a room in an apartment we booked at Airbnb. They’re letting us bring the cat, this is awesome.

As we’re moving in only a couple of days, I may be less in-contact than I normally am. Moving is fairly easy for me, being that all of my stuff fits into a bag, but I’ll be busy locating an apartment that rocks in a neighborhood that rocks.

I haven’t lived in a new place since returning to Brooklyn in January, so I’m incredibly excited about exploring a new place.

On the affiliate relaunch of Minimalist Business.

One of the hardest decisions I had to make was whether to include my affiliate network in the initial launch of Minimalist Business. I made the decision to just distribute the initial release here, on my site only.

In my view, the work just isn’t ready for wider exposure yet. It stands on it’s own, but after the relaunch is will truly rock the world.

Think about it this way: you now have a month or so to become incredibly familiar with the work for the re-release. I’ll be distributing Minimalist Business with 50% commission, so you only need to sell two copies to make back your purchase price, or even more.

My true hope is that after you’ve read the e-book, it will be easier than ever for you to do this. I’ll be sure to give you more info as we get closer to the date about how to join the affiliate relaunch of Minimalist Business.

Thanks so much for sticking with me on this. I promise that it will pay off in the future with a stronger work for you to advocate for, if you’re part of my affiliate network, or are interested in joining.

On Minimalist Business feedback.

As I’ve been saying, a lot of the work that I’ll be doing over the next month will be on making Minimalist Business better. I want to hear from you. What wasn’t clear? What was missing? How can this help you better?

We’re already nailing the grammatical problems, but I honestly think these are less important — I’ve also already received emails from dozens of people offering to help with this, so rest assured the grammar will be spotless in the next release.

The overarching message of the work is most important to me.

We can spend all day discussing whether a sentence needs to be three inches to the left, or whether a comma is necessary or not. Copy editing is important, but it’s also easy to fix. What is important is making better the work that matters, this is the hard part — and hence the focus of 90% of my attention in the next month.

Contact me with your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.

On creating work at the basis of existence.

We’re taught daily by society that money matters above all else. If only we had a little more money, everything would be better. We’d be able to live better, people would like us more, we’d be able to get a nicer handbag.

None of that matters. Money isn’t important.

I fully intend to continue living at the basis of existence, and using the resources that I’ve received by contributing value to continue contributing value to you. This is the most important element, and one that we should all consider when working on our own minimalist business ventures.

The basis of existence is an idea that you only need food and housing to survive, the rest of everything you think you need has been pushed on your by marketing and advertisers. You don’t need any of that, live simply and free yourself to work on what is important.

As Rolf Potts recently observed on Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Workweek blog “…neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own.”

What matters most is the time you have to work on what matters most to you.

By supporting my work, you’ve given me the time to work on making the work even more valuable than it already is.

I fully expect $6000 to support my lifestyle for the next three to four months, due to living at the basis of existence. Will I have more money coming in from The Art of Being Minimalist? Of course. This doesn’t give me the permission to blow it on fruitless endeavors or consumerism. That would defeat the point.

When you stop trading time for money, and spending money to eat up time, you opt out of a perpetual cycle that is keeping you basically imprisoned in a corporate system.

Then you can be free to create work that matters.

Thank you all for your support, it means so much to know that I’m helping you make a difference.

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

Minimalist Business: 9 Ways to Simplify Your Start-up

February 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why your start-up doesn’t need a million dollars of venture funding to succeed

This is the last post in a series on starting minimalist businesses. Previously I wrote about the art of high-impact income and the power of passive income. But it’s not over yet! Tomorrow I have an interview with The Art of Non-Conformity’s brilliant Chris Guillebeau. Don’t miss it! Sign up for free updates via EMAIL or RSS.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A number of people have come to me recently to evaluate their business plans for their online start-ups. I’m not usually a business consultant, but I decided to offer my services for free to these people, because they asked for input.

While I don’t pretend to be an expert at these things, (I was a part of Nymag.com’s blog launch and had my own start-up launch,) so one common element stood out to me in all of these cases:

All of these people thought they had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to start their business, when in reality their business could get off the ground for under $15.

That’s right, you can launch your start-up for fifteen dollars.

When you launch a start-up, everyone assumes that it’s going to be very hard. They’re going to need an investors. They’re going to need a cutting-edge team of marketing experts. They’re going to need to work 16 hours a day for the next 3 years in order to make their business succeed.

That’s all great, if you actually have a business model that is incredibly groundbreaking. But, most business plans aren’t. They’re simply offering a service and making money.

Why over-complicate things?

Make your start-up as simple as possible, and you’re way more likely to succeed.

Here are 9 ways to simplify your start-up launch for success.

1, Don’t invent your own infrastructure.

If the wheel already exists, you don’t need to reinvent it.

Your business plan has a problem if it assumes that the Internet hasn’t already been invented and companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google haven’t been innovating on it for a long time on it before you came along.

Infrastructure on the internet is serves the same purpose as it does in the real world. You wouldn’t build your own roads next to the ones that the city government already built for you, right? A lot of start-ups do this though, they build their own roads instead of using existing ones.

There are thousands of useful tools available on the Internet that you can build your business on top of, you don’t have to start from scratch.

In fact, if you do start from scratch you’re much less likely to succeed because you’ll spend a lot more money, your infrastructure will suck compared to the one that already exists, and you’ll waste a lot of time.

I know this might seem obvious, but it isn’t to a lot of start-ups.

Facebook already exists, you don’t need your own social networking platform to run under your service. The solution here is to integrate with existing social networks, because honestly, no one will join yours (Facebook already takes up enough of their time.)

Video blogging software already exists, you don’t have to code your own before you launch a video blog. Just install WordPress and upload your videos to Vimeo or Youtube. Simple, easy, you’re up and running in less than an hour in both of these cases.

2, Use the existing infrastructure.

If the infrastructure exists, by all means use it! Start-ups that ignore the existing infrastructure are going to exist in isolation. This goes for bloggers too. You are 500 times more likely to have more than 1 reader/customer if you find ways to integrate with existing infrastructure. Simply offer social media buttons for people to share your content with, and you’re way more likely to succeed.

Ignoring existing communication infrastructure is to exist in a vacuum. You’ll have to rely on word of mouth to get out the word about your start-up. That’s the equivalent of hiring a guy to pass out fliers on the street. Yes, you might get a few customers by taking that approach. But do you want 5 customers who stumbled across your site because your mom told them or 5000 because you were willing to install a Retweet button?

Five ways off the top of my head that you can use existing infrastructure for your business plan right now:

  • Start a blog and publish daily.
  • Use a Twitter account and help people with it.
  • Use Facebook to interact with customers.
  • Use Aweber for your communications with clients.
  • Use e-Junkie for your checkout and affiliate marketing.

This might seem obvious, but I’ve observed people coding newsletter systems from scratch and closing transactions via emails. It’s not 1982 anymore folks, these services exist to automate and simplify those areas of your business.

3, Reduce business to the most basic element.

Figure out what your business is about before you launch it. A mission statement like “We’re going to revolutionize the way that people think about publishing.” is not a business idea, it’s an abstract idea.

Business ideas need to be simple, they need to focus on what the business actually does to help people. Simplify, simplify, simplify until a real actionable idea is present.

4, Launch immediately.

If you don’t make the mistake of building your own infrastructure, you can start working immediately.

Register the domain, install a blog, and start talking about the services you’re offering. I don’t care of the service isn’t ready yet, talk about it, gather interest. A lot of start-ups exist in lock-down mode until their product is perfect, but this is the opposite of what you should do.

Make every action you take public, and judge the reaction that people have to it. If you create a product in a vacuum, you’ll launch in a vacuum.

This means that three people will know about you when you launch, and you’ll have to spend another twelve months on marketing before anyone buys it.

5, Focus on a niche.

Many start-ups suffer from trying to tackle too much at one time. Instead of launching one product, they launch five. Instead of focusing on one area of interest, they aim for the center and end up interesting no one.

Pick one incredibly slim market to focus on.

One of the biggest offenders in this area is photography businesses –yes, photography is a business. Many photographers launch as generically as possible. “Hi, I’m jack, I’m a photographer.” The problem with this is, no one knows what you do. You use a camera, but so do the other million people with Digital Rebels and iPhones. You have to focus on a niche, or no one will seek you out.

Writers suffer from this too. I’ve been to endless blogs by people who are ‘writers’. That’s great, but what do you write about? You and every other person on this earth has the ability to write. You have to pick a niche to succeed at in any business.

6, Don’t hire people until you need to.

Most start-ups can be launched with one man and a laptop. But many start-ups insist on hiring five designers, three managers, and a secretary before they’ve even decide on what they’re selling.

No amount of new hires will make your product succeed if it sucks. Launch the product first, hire people when it becomes clear that you need them. Adding additional people to a staff just over-complicates things, making it harder to get things done.

7, Don’t rent an office.

Most people hate going to offices and chances are your business doesn’t need one at this phase. Can you do your work from a coffee shop? Can you do your work from your home? That saves you a hunk of money you didn’t need to spend if you just choose to use email and video chats to communicate with people, instead of renting.

Another bonus of not having an office is you can work with talented people who might not be in your area.

8, Offer a free component.

Freemium works for a reason. For instance, this blog provides free information constantly, and yet I’m able to pay myself a nearly livable wage. Your business has to do the same to compete. As Chris Anderson covers extensively in Free: The Future of a Radical Price.

We’re rapidly heading to a point where everything has to offer a free component.

If you don’t offer a free services, you’re missing out on a way that you can help 80% of your audience and retain potential customers for the future.

Maybe this is a version of your product that offers limited features. Maybe you just offer everything free and accept donations. It depends a lot on what you’re offering, but chances are there is a way to give away something to people.

9, Focus on your product’s value.

No amount of anything will help you succeed if your start-up doesn’t make something that people want to buy. And yet so many start-ups launch without thinking about the simple fact that they need to contribute value. Instead they spend $100,000 reinventing existing infrastructure, or hire five people to yell at each other over a table.

Before you launch, think about how your product helps people and contributes value to their lives. That is the most important element of any start-up.


If you found this helpful, please help me spread the word by sharing this article via Twitter, Facebook, or any other way you prefer. Thank you.

Don’t forget about the interview with Chris Guillebeau tomorrow. I’m really excited about its potential, and I hope you are too. Sign up for free updates via EMAIL or RSS.

The Secret to Focusing Your Digital Attention

February 17th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The internet is becoming infinitely denser, it’s your job to filter it

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Every day more people decide to start publishing. More voices enter the web, all frantically crying out for attention.

In the early days of the web, it was a simple matter to keep track of all of the information yourself. Only a few sources of information existed.

It was a simpler time.

But most of the information was boring, so it was destined to change.

Now there is infinite remarkable material, contrasted with infinite trash.

The biggest problem is finding the good stuff. This is where we all enter the equation.

Everyone adds their bit to the web, and the result is a great equalizer. The power is no longer in the hands of the media, it is no longer in the hands of the governments, it is no longer in the hands of the corporations.

The power is in your hands now.

You are the filter of your digital reality.

You decide what to consume every day. You decide what you pass on to the people who you lead every day.

The thing is, you have the choose. Every one of us is a filter of our digital reality.

Each of us makes major decisions every day, such as:

  • Where do I focus my attention?
  • What do I share with the people who focus on me?
  • What do I publish?

I talk to many people who are seeking popularity on the web. They want to know how to get a lot of followers, they want to know how they can be heard. There is no easy answer to these questions, but I can tell you where to start.

You need to cultivate an intelligent filter of digital reality.

If every single bit of information that flows through is valuable, people will come to you to listen to that value.

You are only as valuable as the information you choose to pass on to the people who follow you.

  • If you contribute nothing, your value online is zero.
  • If you contribute garbage, your value online is garbage.
  • If you contribute value, you will be valuable online.

Your growth online is in direct correlation with these metrics. This is why I tell everyone who starts a blog that they must think first about how they can help people, and then think about themselves.

This isn’t about you, it’s about everyone else.

  • If you contribute nothing, your growth will stagnate.
  • If you contribute garbage, you lose authority and followers.
  • If you contribute value, you will see measurable growth.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using Facebook, Twitter, or you’re a blogger. All of these rules apply.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer, a scientist, a painter, or you roast coffee beans. All of these rules apply.

If you publish remarkable, intelligent, and useful information with every interaction with the web, you will grow on online and offline.

The secret to success online should be obvious, but it’s not.

You would think this would be obvious, but very few people understand the full potential of interacting this way. These people fling information into the ether with no regard to whether it’s useful or not, and they do it as much as they possibly can. These people believe they can maintain attention via the sheer volume of material that they send out, but it doesn’t work that way. Volume does not equal quality.

It’s your job to filter out these people. Don’t retweeet their stuff, don’t ‘Like’ their blog posts. Unsubscribe from these people. If you aren’t gaining value from something, don’t pass it on.

I follow less than 100 people on Twitter. I read less than 15 blogs on Google Reader. I’m only following 15 people on Google Buzz at this moment. My attention is finite, because if I spend all day reading nonsense, I get nothing done.

How finite is your attention?

Are you willing to bounce around all day reading stuff that doesn’t help you?

Are you spending all day reading and reacting?

Or are you creating and publishing value?

Or are you creating remarkable content that helps people?

This is the secret that every successful person online is trying to tell you. Just contribute value. That is all you need to do.

A remarkable idea naturally spreads across time and space.

9 Minimalist Steps Towards Passive Income

February 10th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink


I wrote this post a long time ago, before I knew many things. Please note that some of the information isn’t as accurate as some of my later writing, because I hadn’t really figured out how to generate passive income on a larger scale yet. For more accurate and complete information, please check out my e-book Minimalist Business.

Thank you,
Everett Bogue

The minimalist journey to manifesting money in your sleep.

This is the second part in my series on how I started my minimalist business. The first part was about focusing on high-impact income.

Don’t miss anything! Sign up to receive free updates via RSS or Email.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

An interesting thing happened to me overnight on Monday of last week (after I released The Art of Being Minimalist.) This was a fundamental change in my existence, one that I had worked hard for. I didn’t think it would be so gratifying, but it really was a good feeling to have.

I started to make money in my sleep.

Not a huge amount of money. But enough that it feels liberating. From that Monday night forward I’ve completely changed the structure of my income.

I hope sharing how I did it can help you start living this life too.

A brief history of making money.

In the past I made income by exchanging time for money: I’ll write an article for you, you’ll pay me one time X. Your company makes any money over that. Or, for instance, I’ll create a photo-illustration for your company for X-dollars an hour, and you’ll keep any money over that.

After I’m done with the project I get paid a set amount, and then all of the rest of the profits to a company that sees me as disposable.

I imagine many of you are still working under these conditions. I hope this article can help you liberate yourself through a minimalist approach to work.

By taking the time to create a scalable work of art that I can sell on the internet, I’ve tapped into a completely different way of thinking about income. You can do this too.

I’m no longer sitting on the factory line banging out one widget at a time. Instead, I focused on creating a work of art that can lead to a number of returns above and beyond my one action.

Why would you want to start running your own minimalist business?

  • You’re tired of being paid a set daily amount by a corporation in exchange for the higher value you deliver.
  • You want to free yourself to spend more time doing research and other far more interesting things.
  • You want to take extended periods of time away from hard work regularly; changing the monotonous daily M-F 9-5 trek towards death into something far more beautiful.

Let me absolutely clear: you can’t take this path if you’re lazy. I spent months learning the skills, writing the copy, and making the layout/design for The Art of Being Minimalist. I’ve worked at professional blogging outlets since 2005, I studied writing intensely for three years at Journalism school at NYU.

Doing this work wasn’t easy.

In a lot of ways keeping your head down at your day job and plugging your way towards oblivion is a lot easier than it is to start your own project.

If you choose to embark on this path, the rewards can be greater. And who doesn’t want to make money in their sleep?

9 steps toward manifesting passive income.

1, Help people learn.

People want to better themselves. If you focus all of your energy on filling a need by producing something that helps people, you will have a much better chance of success. What do you know how to do that other people don’t? (I know how to live with 100 things, work from anywhere, and be free.) Focus on creating a product around that subject.

2, Focus your free time in the important.

I know Lost is on, I really do (but I’m not watching it.) You’re not getting anything done if you come home from your 9-5 and flip on the TV. If you want freedom, if you want to start generating passive income, you have to work on it. For me, this meant saving, quitting my job, and isolating myself in Portland’s Powell’s books while I read the business section and planned for world domination. Maybe you can do this too, but if you can’t, the next best strategy is to destroy your TV and dedicate the hours between 6pm-2am to creating something amazing.

3, Disconnect.

Work doesn’t happen on Facebook, Twitter, and Email. No matter what the three billion social media gurus in the world tell you, there is no work to be done on these platforms. I use all of these tools for connection and communication, but not for work. Unplug the internet while you’re creating, it’s the only way to make real art a reality.

4, Automate.

Make everything happen automatically. I wouldn’t be making money in my sleep if I had to confirm each transaction manually via e-mail. Instead, I’ve hired e-junkie to complete each transaction for me. They take the orders, receive the payments, record how much I owe my affiliates, and deposit it all into my Paypal account automatically. These tools exist to automate your business, use them.

5, Support a community.

I wouldn’t be anywhere without the simplicity/minimalist community. I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve had some brilliant conversations. Check out 15 Minimalist/Simplicity bloggers to watch to meet some of these amazing folks. My interview section is another great resource. Also, Leo Babauta’s list of minimalist links. Many of these people joined my affiliate program for The Art of Being Minimalist. We support each other, we grow together.

6, Opt out of physical reality.

Our culture is changing on a fundamental level away from relying on physical goods. While we will always have to sleep and eat, most of the thriving businesses that cross my radar are focused around digital distribution of digital goods. Why? Because making physical objects is costly and they create clutter. A minimalist doesn’t like spending money on a business before it thrives. A minimalist also hates clutter. Physical products also deplete the world’s limited natural resources. Create a digital business and you’ve avoided all of these potential problems.

7, Don’t try to game the system.

There are no easy ways to the top. There is no way to cheat the system. There is no way to fake your way to success. You have to create something brilliant to succeed. You have to spend a lot of time and effort doing it. Did I say this would be easy? No, it’s not easy.

8, Do your research, learn everything you can.

Study people who have found success in your minimalist business. How did they find success? Read a lot of books. Seth Godin is a god, ignore him at your own peril (I just re-read his classic Unleashing The IdeaVirus, you can get it free.) If you’re into blogging, Leo Babauta and Mary Jaksch’s A-List Blogging Bootcamps is starting in a couple of days, they’ll teach you blogging basics and put you on the path to success. Darren Rowse’s Problogger is a huge resource. Chris Guillebeau is the master of the minimalist business, consider reading everything he has to say about success online.

9, Create art.

People are sick of mundane products doing mundane things. The last twenty years were about televisions selling us mediocre products, now we’re past that. A product that is remarkable, that is crafted with the personal hand of an artist who cares, will be successful. Mundane mediocre products will fail in most situations, so don’t create them. Choose to create something beautiful instead.

Here are some other resources that I hope can help you:

Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself

Glen Allsopp’s Cloud Living

Johnny B. Truant’s Zero to Business (in Just 7 Days)


If this helped you, I’d love if you’d hit the retweet button. Thanks!

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