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.

12 Lessons Learned from Year One of Jobless Freedom

July 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How I didn’t end up living in a ditch down by the river

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

This week (July 15th 2010) it will have been exactly one year since I quit my day job photo editing New York Magazine’s blogs, and started on an unexpected adventure in self-employment via minimalism.

Here’s a short recap of what happened in that year:

1. I hopped on a plane Portland Oregon on August 22nd 2009, reducing my possessions to what would fit into one carry on, one computer bag, and a camera bag — 97-things in all.

2. In October I started Far Beyond The Stars, a blog where I wrote about my minimalist journey escaping my day job and living a simpler life. I threw a party for myself when I hit 23 subscribers. Now I have 4000+ subscribers and 50,000+ monthly readers. Wow, thanks for being here everyone!

3. I drank a lot of coffee in a lot of different cities. Stumptown (Portland), Blue Bottle (Oakland), and Ritual Roasters (San Francisco) rank high on my roast choices. Intelligensia in Chicago doesn’t even compare, sorry guys.

4. At the end of November I left Portland and took the Empire Builder Express (named after Chris Guillebeau’s epic guide to self-employment) to Chicago where I spent the holiday with my family, went skiing in the upper peninsula of Wisconsin and started writing The Art of Being Minimalist.

5. In January 2010 I flew back to New York with every intention of leaving asap. My girlfriend missed me, so I convinced her that we had to move somewhere other than Brooklyn eventually.

6. During January I finished The Art of Being Minimalist, which teaches people how to apply minimalism in order to survive without a job for long periods of time, among other things. In February I released the e-book, and surprisingly the profit from the e-book started paying for my minimalist lifestyle.

7. People started emailing me about how I was able to make a living from a little e-book on simplicity. I tried to help as many people as I could individually, but the emails became too much, so I decided instead to write another e-book.

8. In May I pre-relased Minimalist Business before it was done. Perfect is the enemy of done in my mind (more on that later). A lot of people went out of their way to purchase Minimalist Business before it was done. Thank you everyone! From what I hear, many people liked it.

9. On May 15th my girlfriend Alix, myself, and Lola the cat relocated to Oakland, CA. I reduced my possessions to 50 things for the move, but afterward realized that I needed a few more shirts so I wouldn’t have to do laundry so much.

10. In June I released Minimalist Business. My income surpassed what I made at my day job around this point (ie, a little more than I need to be making to support my minimalist lifestyle.) Now a legion of extraordinary individuals are applying the theories in the e-book to build their own minimalist businesses. Yay!

Not bad for one year since I quit my day job!

That being said, I’ve learned a few things since making the transition.

This is why I’ve compiled this list of 12 things I’ve learned since quitting my day job.

1. Moving anywhere isn’t as scary as you think.

I was absolutely terrified of moving to Portland. Everyone told me that I’d end up in the gutter at the edge of the river under the bridge with the bums.

In all honesty, here’s what people are scared about: the choices they have to decide on in order to make a long distance relocation a reality. Mostly this involves giving up your wall-sized entertainment system, and all of the knickknacks that you’ve been keeping in boxes since high school. They’re too freakin’ big to fit into a carry on bag. This junk is also not important, because you don’t use it.

I had to give up some things to be able to live anywhere. The 20lb light kit that I’d purchased in order to pursue the dream of becoming a photographer (which was never happening anyway, because I wasn’t really interested in it.) was one of the causalities. I also had to donate some jackets I never wore.

Of course there was more, but I forget now what that stuff was.

The reality is that freedom is much more important than your stuff, and anything you lose can be regained if you truly miss it.

2. You know what really scares me now?

Being forgotten, saying nothing important, living a life that I didn’t believe in. If I ever find myself in a place where I’m afraid that I’m not doing what I think is important, I will do everything in my power to change that.

I hope you will too.

3. It’s easier to live and work from anywhere if you make it easier.

Many people make it incredibly hard to work for themselves, and that’s why they fail.

The #1 culprit for self-employment failure, in my observations, is over-extended life overhead.

The reason I’m still standing here, one year after leaving my day job, and now making MORE money than I did at New York Magazine (and working 1/4th as much as I used to,) is because I was able to survive for the first three months without any income at all. It takes a long time to build the momentum to make a business happen, and if you’re feeling the pain of high-overhead, you’ll fail before you see results.

If your monthly overhead is $7,000, it’s much harder to succeed than if your monthly overhead is $1,000.

What is the easiest way to lower you overhead? Adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Ditch your car. Move somewhere cheap and live in a studio apartment or with roommates. If you truly want to live and work from anywhere, you have to sacrifice your consumerist tendencies and focus on the important until you see results.

4. You need to tell a simple story.

Look to the right of this blog post, in the sidebar of my blog (if you’re reading this in a feedreader or in email, visit my site.) What does it say?

“Hi I’m Everett Bogue. I’m the author of The Art of Being Minimalist and Minimalist Business. I live with less and work from anywhere in the world (currently Oakland, CA).”

People need to know exactly what you’re about immediately — because most people are only going to see your work for a 1.52 seconds. 80% of the people I come across on the Internet haven’t made it clear what they’re about, and that’s why they don’t get traction.

In reality my story is much more complicated than the one above, but you need to dig deeper to find that out.

You need to define yourself as a leader in order to make a living from anywhere in the world. The most effective people I know have tell people what they’re about in a very simple and direct way. Ashley Ambirge rejects the status quo and rebels against mediocrity. Glen Allsopp teaches people about how to use viral marketing to get their message to the world. Karol Gajda teaches people how to live free anywhere in the world.

In order to break through the noise you need a simple message that can spread. Make it fit into a tweet. Make it memorable, so if you meet someone on the street they’ll be able to remember you later.

Some call this an elevator pitch, but I don’t really use elevators anymore. I’d prefer to refer to it as a simple message that defines your work.

“Hi. I’m Everett Bogue. I teach you to apply minimalism in order to live and work from anywhere.”

5. Ignore Everybody.

This is the title of Hugh McLeod‘s book (he’s one of my heroes.) It’s a mantra that’s stayed with me through all the entire year — especially for some of the harder months in the beginning when things were first getting started.

Whenever you try to do something against the status-quo, such as starting your own business or pursuing your art, the naysayers will do everything in their power to let you know that you’re going to fail.

Over the last year my family thought I’d fail, my girlfriend thought I’d fail, everyone who I’d worked with previously thought I’d fail, some of my readers thought I’d fail. The only person who knew I wasn’t going to fail was me.

They all said ‘why don’t you just get a job like everyone else?’

Would I been successful if I’d given up because everyone thought I’d fail? Nope.

We only define success after a person has been successful. This means that you will never be successful when you first get started. No matter who you are, or where you’re coming from, you can never have a successful beginning.

This means you need to tune out everyone who tells you to take the safer road, and trust your gut.

6. The safest thing is often what everyone isn’t doing.

Believe it or not, the safest thing you could probably ever do is to do something that everyone thinks is impossible — most people don’t try to do impossible things, they try to do easy things. When you’re competing with 50,000 people trying to do the easiest thing, you’ll inevitably have a really hard time making a living doing that easy thing.

For example: getting a job in a coffee shop is basically impossible in Portland, because there are thousands of indie kids all competing to pour your coffee. Only the really talented coffee pourers win in this situation.

The tinier the niche you’re trying to fill, the easier it is to find success. I’m one of the very few people that teaches people how easy it is to live and work from anywhere by applying minimalism, this is why I haven’t encountered many brick walls on this path.

If I tried to write about celebrity gossip, I wouldn’t have been so lucky, because everyone does that.

7. Authenticity is in living the change you believe in.

Write what you believe, from the place where you’ve actually been. There are a lot of minimalist blogs out there, if you’ve noticed. I believe the number one reason that mine has been so successful is because I’m actually a minimalist, and I actually live and work from anywhere in the world.

If you write from a place of ‘look at this hypothetical idea that I’m not actually going to try.’ people aren’t actually going to believe you, because you’re not doing it.

I actually threw out my stuff and lived with 50 things for awhile. I actually moved across the country a few times. If you’re writing a guinea pig blog, you’d best actually have guinea pigs. If you’re writing a ‘save the planet’ blog, you’d best not be driving a car anymore. If you want to end world poverty, writing about it isn’t enough, you should actually be feeding people. If you write about raw food, you’d best actually be eating it.

If you don’t, no one will believe you.

How do I know that creating a minimalist business is a lot more fun than having a day job? Because I run one.

8. There is no original.

If you set out to be the most unique person on the planet, to only have original ideas, to only say something that no one has ever said in the history of the planet, you will never be able to say anything.

Everything has happened before, and everything will happen again. You can’t avoid that.

It’s being you that brings the originality. It’s your approach that makes it unique. It’s the fact that you’re actually doing something that inspires people.

Don’t worry that you’re stepping on Thoreau’s toes. He doesn’t mind.

9. Be ruthless with your attention.

You only have so many hours in your day. Don’t waste it on stupid things that don’t matter.

There are millions of channels to tune into in the Internet age, you can’t listen to them all.

In order to succeed you need to cut through the noise by using your attention wisely.

  • Unsubscribe to a blog if it bores you (even if it’s mine.)
  • Unfollow someone on Twitter if you don’t care anymore.
  • Don’t answer that email if you know you’ll just get another one in return.

Your attention is always best spent on your work. Your work is actually creating things.

Track all of your other time. Social networking, email, reading noise, etc. Chances are you’re probably finding some hidden way to procrastinate against the actual process of creation.

Don’t do anything else until you’ve made work that matters.

10. Test all of your assumptions.

Everything you learned in college about how the world works was probably a lie. This isn’t because people are intentionally deceptive, it’s because the way the world works fundamentally changed in the last five years — most college professors still think it works the old TV-industrial way. It doesn’t work that way anymore.

Every time you find yourself assuming that the world works a certain way, make sure you test that theory out first. Because it is just a theory, assumptions aren’t necessarily reality.

I was told every single day in college that the only way to get my work published was to get an internship at a newspaper and work my way up newsroom ladder until I was a senior editor, and then I’d be able to say whatever I wanted. Two years later most newspapers in the country stopped being profitable. Now no one with any sense reads newspapers anymore.

You wouldn’t believe how many of my journalism school colleagues still think this false idea of current reality is true, just because a professor told them it was.

There are obviously a million examples of untested assumptions that people insist on believing. The record label is the only way to bring their music to the world (there is no music industry). The only way to be happy is to buy things (buying things makes you unhappy). McDonald’s hamburgers are made out of meat (mealworms?). Etc. None of these things are true, but you haven’t tested them now, have you?

Make sure you prove theories through execution, and not just because some old guy told you it was true.

11. Everything changed after 2003.

According to The Long Tail, 2003 was the last year that there was growth in the mega-artist industry. Remember the blockbuster albums from when you were a kid? There are no blockbusters anymore. Sure, there’s still somewhat popular stuff like Twilight and Lady Gaga, but this stuff will never be as popular was it was when the TV controlled what we heard and saw.

You are in control now. You are responsible for every single element of getting your message to the world. No one will pick you up and dump you in success-land. This also means that you can be successful with a very small group of people… some say you only need 1,000 true fans, and I concur, because the fans of my work support me.

The world is an equal playing field thanks to the Internet, and you have no excuse but to step up and start playing the game. Yes it’s hard. But do you know what’s harder? Sitting at a desk all day hating your life.

12. Your business shouldn’t cost anything.

The one sure-fire way to never be able to support yourself is to make your business cost as much as the revenue you have coming in.

I don’t care about your revenue, I care about your profits. My business works because every single dollar coming in either goes to an affiliate (because I pay my fans to support me) or it goes to me.

I know it’s obvious, but so many people just don’t get it. I wouldn’t be living and working from anywhere if my business overhead was more than my profits. If you start out thinking that investing tons of money in an idea is how money comes back, you’ll end up going bankrupt, not building a business.

Instead try the opposite approach: only invest what you need to, when you need to do it. Chances are you can build a business for free, or for very cheap. This is how to build a business: not the expensive way.

Thanks for reading this long blog post. I can’t wait for the next year, it’s going to be great!


If this article helped you, take a moment and share it on Stumbleupon or Retweet it to the world. Thank you!

If you haven’t already, consider signing up to receive updates on your email or RSS. It’s totally free!

Oh! and before I forget. My buddy Tyler Tervooren interviewed me about running a minimalist business at Advanced Riskology.

24 Hours in the Life of Everett Bogue

July 5th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Me, on a not-so-average day, sailing

I’ve been receiving a considerable number of emails and Twitter messages asking for me to write about my average day.

So yesterday, I sat down and tried to figure out what I did every day, on average.

I ended up making up an ideal day that didn’t really reflect reality, that had never been lived and would not be lived.

Why I don’t have normal days.

This made me realize that I don’t really have a routine, I simply wake up every morning and do what I feel inspired to do from start to finish.

The ability to be able to do whatever you want on any given day can make life look relatively random when you attempt to scale it down to a post on your ideal day.

This makes the title of this post incredibly misleading, but I hope you’ll forgive me.

When I used to have average days.

When I worked at New York Magazine, I had average days. I’d wake up every morning at exactly 8am. I’d roll out of bed, turn on my laptop and immediately sign into email and AIM. Five minutes later I’d start to receive requests to put photos on the stories that other people had written.

This continued all morning, while I made coffee in the kitchen and made myself breakfast. Eventually I’d tell my assistant to cover for me while I jumped on the Subway and headed into Manhattan.

Then I’d sit at my desk making the photos on blog posts look great until 2, when I’d run out and grab lunch to come back and eat at my desk, and then at 5pm on the dot I’d turn it all off and continue on with my life. I did this every day, it was very average.

Now I don’t live like that anymore, because a year ago I quit my job and now I’m in control of my own destiny.

I don’t recommend living the day job average-day lifestyle, so far having random days where I discover what really interests me is much more profitable than sitting at a desk every day was.

That being said, there are things that I might do on most days that I think can help you emulate my day, if that’s the reason why you’re emailing me to tell you what my average day is like. These aren’t very revolutionary things, they’re just normal human things.

Here are some of the key elements of my day:

1. Writing. I write when I have an idea worth writing down. Other times I’ll write just to see if an idea will come — if it doesn’t I’ll stop writing. I don’t do this on any set schedule. For instance, I’m writing this at 6am in the morning, because I couldn’t sleep any longer and the idea just wouldn’t leave my head. Some days I’ll go to a coffee shop and write, other days I’ll sit down somewhere after Yoga and write. It all depends on the day.

2. Wandering. Another good portion of most days is spent wandering. I find that exploring the city is a great way to both generate ideas, and to simply discover new places and experiences. The most important element of wandering is not having an end destination. For instance, many people wander to the mall to buy something — this isn’t wandering, it’s consumerism. Wandering shouldn’t cost too much money. I recently picked up a new bike (I haven’t had a bike since I was in Portland last year) so now I can wander on wheels.

3. Reading. I read a lot, in order expand my knowledge of how people think. Right now I’m trying to decode Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan, Chris Guillebeau and Charlie Gilkey’s new Unconventional Guide to Freelancing, and I’m in the process of reading Derek Sivers’ blog from start to finish, because he has a lot to offer. I used to read the New York Times for two hours every day, but then I realized that it didn’t really help me. I’d know everything about the sad things happening in the world, but I really couldn’t do anything about them, so in the end I decided it was more important to read things that could help me achieve my goals instead of simply reading for the sake of the action. Be conscious of what you’re consuming, information is addictive and often meaningless.

4. Yoga. Yoga centers me and I think might keep me from going crazy. My recent yoga schedule is mostly taking the BART into San Francisco’s Mission District where I practice at Yoga to the People, a donation based studio that originally opened in New York. 95% of the time Scott teaches, but my friend Carly from dance school also teaches there remarkably enough.

5. Eating. The rest of my day is usually spent in pursuit of food. I’ll either cook meals from scratch or sometimes I’ll go out to eat. There are a lot of great meals to be had in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, so I’ve been exploring the food choices. The most important element is to be healthy and make sure the food is enjoyable. Why eat junk food just because you’re hungry, when there’s so much great food out there?

6. Disconnecting. Finally, every day I spend as much time as I can disconnected from the Internet. There are a lot of distractions out there, and I think the most important skill you can have is the ability to turn them off. Many people get caught up in rudimentary communications like checking blog comments and answering emails — this is all surface stuff in life, and doesn’t really matter. You can spend ten hours a day answering emails, and you’ll never really accomplish anything. This is why I do my best to turn it all off. I check email once a day, a few other times a day I’ll check on Twitter to see how everything is going. The rest of the day I turn it all off, and do whatever I want.

I realize this isn’t exactly what you were looking for when you asked what I did in my average day, but I hope it helps. Some people enjoy living this way, but I’ve met other people who go absolutely insane when they realize they can do everything they ever wanted.

Some days I just don’t do anything, because that’s what I feel like doing. And that’s okay, because I realize it’s important to follow my intuition about what is important to me.


If you found this article useful, consider signing up for free updates via RSS or Email. This is a great way to stay up to date with what I’m writing, so you don’t have to check back to the site regularly. Thanks!

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 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!

$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.

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