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, 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.

Imagine a World Without Books

August 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How to Liberate Your Library in 3 Simple Steps

[Note, before you read this: Far Beyond The Stars is written for digital nomads and vagabonding minimalists (see sidebar), not necessarily academics with huge libraries — though they are welcome to read.

Obviously there are great reasons to have a huge book collection, and books as artifacts and souvenirs will never go away. What I’m offering here is an alternative to the status-quo based on what I perceive the future to be.

That being said, I do still read physical books. I just don’t keep them after I’m done with them. I gift, donate, recycle. If I kept them, I wouldn’t be as free as I am now.]

Seth Godin announced last week that Linchpin was the last book that he’d publish in the traditional form.

In addition, Tim Ferriss published a sizable post about how authors really make money. His answer: not by selling books.

Who knows if Seth is pulling a Brett Favre or actually abandoning the publishing industry, but the point he makes is clear:

Physical books are a thing of the past.

They’re expensive to produce, difficult to distribute, and it’s hard to get one published. More importantly, the publishing industry does not compensate writers nearly enough for their time and impact on the world– for example, Chris Guillebeau is spending more money out of pocket on his book tour than he was paid to publish his upcoming book.

The world is changing.

Ebook sales on Amazon have outpaced the sales of hardback books. It’s no secret why, physical books just aren’t practical anymore.

Yes, books are kind of nice to hold and read, but for a digital vagabond the idea of lugging around a library is terrifying.

This is the age of the digital, it’s only natural that authors will start moving towards complete digital distribution.

I already have started pursuing this digital reality, with my own reading habits and the way that I’ve published my books.

I’ve never been involved in the physical publishing industry, and probably never will be. Though I have been courted by lit agents promising me riches (really?) and fame, in exchange for giving up my profitable business. That’s nonsense.

Would you get on the Titanic if you knew it was going to sink?

There are of course many more reasons to abandon the idea of a physical book, many of which benefit the reader more than the author.

1. Less impact on the environment.

Printed books are produced on paper (which comes from trees) and then shipped all over the country. A large amount of fuel is wasted between the creation of the work and the eventual arrival in your hands.

2. Ultra-mobility sans library.

When I made the decision to begin living a minimalist lifestyle, I abandoned the idea of having a physical library of books. Any physical books that I purchase I eventually gift, recycle, or resell to a used bookstore. Why? Because maintaining a large library and being location independent is a costly endeavor. If I kept all of my books, I never would have this life.

Shipping an entire library every time I picked a new city to live in would be financially irresponsible and would impede my freedom.

3. Less barriers to entry for writers.

Writing a book is easy, getting a publisher to publish your book is about as impossible as winning the lottery. You have to prove that your book will sell ahead of time, and for most people this is a difficult task — sometimes you don’t actually know how well a book will do until you put it out into the world.

If you skip the publisher and go straight to the digital market, you’re skipping the gatekeepers and have an easier chance at success.

4. You actually support the author with your purchase.

When you buy a physical book, the author is lucky if they get 10-15% of the sale price. Where does the rest of your money go? Production costs and fat people sitting behind desks deciding what your read — we like to call these people gatekeepers, and they’re obsolete.

If you buy digital the author can get anywhere from 30% to 100% of your money, depending on the platform. Amazon’s Kindle platform pays anywhere from 30% to now 70%! (If you let them control the price.) My own sales from my Minimalist Business Bookstore achieve 50%-100% of sales, and all of the money that I’m not getting goes to readers who are supporting my work.

That is an amazing change and allows me and a growing number of idea makers to have the ability to actually make a living from our work. Why choose to get your book printed if you can actually make a profitable business around a packaged digital idea?

For example, one of my top sellers this month for my books was the amazing Tammy Strobel, who was recently featured in The New York Times.

5. Access to your library anywhere.

Our society is increasingly mobile. Sometimes you’ll want to check a fact in a book, but you’re in Thailand (with Ross Hill, Cody McKibben, and very soon Colin Wright) and your book is sitting in a basement in Idaho. This conundrum is avoided by building a digital library that is accessible from anywhere in the world.

6. Less waiting for books to arrive.

When you buy a physical book, chances are you’ll have to either commute to pick the book up or order it from Amazon. Either way you have to wait for the book to arrive. You can avoid this by declaring independence from the physical and downloading books from the Internet.

With bookstores closing as fast as they are, it’s even harder now to find a bookstore that will stock the book you want to read anyway. Most bookstores only stock bestsellers and new books. If you want a rare but brilliant find, good luck!

7. Knowledge over ownership.

The information in the book is in you after you read it. The information, if valuable, becomes a part of your brain’s knowledge-base.

Why keep a physical reminder of the ideas?

Truth be told most or us will never read a book twice, so why are we keeping books around for our entire lifetimes? To me that’s just silly. Read the book and get rid of it. Alternatively, just buy digital on Kindle or from indie authors and read on a device or computer.

8. You need less fans to support the work.

With traditional book publishing, you need hundreds of thousands of people to make a book a success. This is because of the costs of distribution — most of the money you spend on a book goes towards the printing and shipping of the physical object.

When you go digital you only need Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans.

This means a lot more authors have a chance at being successful in a digital world. If I’d gone with traditional publishing, I would have starved long before my message reached the world — but because I embraced the digital world my writing business is insanely profitable. To me that decision is a no-brainer.

9. It’s a simple way to achieve freedom.

All of these reasons lead back to the central theme behind this blog: freedom is our goal. Embracing the digitization of knowledge will lead us father along with that journey.

How to liberate your library from the physical.

Alright, so by this point I imagine I’ve convinced you that maintaining a physical library is a pointless act routed in the idea of what our lives should look like.

The American dream of everyone having their very own private library is a fallacy and is directly imposing on our quest for freedom.

So how do you make a change?

Liberating your library is incredibly simple:

1. Embrace the idea of information abundance.

You can have most books at your fingers instantly using Amazon’s Kindle distribution system, by searching for information, or purchasing independent digital books like mine and others. This means that you don’t have to maintain a library at all, because the library is a shared resource that we all enjoy at any moment. This is a brilliant moment in the evolution of the human race, we should embrace information abundance and free our minds.

2. Downsize and eventually eliminate your library.

Your physical library is keeping you from being free, so you need to eliminate it. This is no easy process, I know from experience. We tend to become very sentimentally attached to the books we’ve read.

We say ‘what if I want to reread page 324 of Harry Potter 4 someday?’ Well, you can always download that book again! However, chances are you’ll never re-read 99% of the books you’ve already read, so saving them is pointless.

Start by getting rid of every book that you’ve read that you didn’t like or are certain you’ll never read again.

Next eliminate every book you’ve already read.

Then move on to books that you wish you’d read but seriously have never had the time. Really, you’re actually going to read the collected works of William Shakespeare from start to finish? I think not. Even if you do wake up in the middle of the night wishing you could decode Hamlet, you can download it online.

Then read and eliminate systematically every book you still own that you actually want and can read.

Then donate, sell in bulk, or recycle all books.

3. Declare yourself free from the idea of the physical book.

Once you’ve embraced the idea of information abundance, you can basically do anything you want. Travel for five weeks in the Australian outback, hike up to Machu Picchu, or perhaps sit on the beach in Nicaragua for seven weeks. The possibilities are, as always, endless.

When you combine the ideas that I present in The Art of Being Minimalist with your freedom from your books, you can become free and live and work anywhere in the world.


Thank you, as always, for your help spreading the word about this story.

I have an interview with Tammy Strobel coming up on Monday about her new book Smalltopia. Don’t miss out! Join 5,700+ subscribers and sign up for free updates via RSS or Email.


Don’t forget, you can still comment, even though I disabled comments. Write about this on your blog, or get in touch on Twitter.

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 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.

Free E-book –> Minimalist Workday: 50 Strategies for Working Less

August 3rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

A Free E-book Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

What is Minimalist Workday?

I’ve been tossing around the idea that our average workday is too long for awhile now.

Over the past year I’ve managed to build a business working an average of 2 hours a week. I’m not saying this to brag, but simply to let you know that it’s possible.

When you make slight behavioral modifications like turning off e-mail and focusing on what is important for your business, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.

Minimalist Workday outlines 50 strategies that I use to keep my workday at a comfortable 2 hours a day. This way I can dedicate more time to research, travel, self-improvement, cooking good food, yoga, and helping others.

This started as a blog post, but spiraled out of control. The e-book is around 5,000 words, over the course of 30 pages. I hope that it helps you.

Why is Minimalist Workday free?

To be honest, I probably could have charged for this information, but then it wouldn’t help as many people. I’ve already doubled my income over the last year, and while more money is always better, some ideas need to be free to have the largest impact.

Minimalist Workday isn’t for everyone.

To be honest, I wrote this specifically with self-employed professionals who are running simple one-person businesses in mind. It really is a free addition to Minimalist Business.

That being said, with a little mental tweaking, I imagine you can apply this knowledge to a 9-5 in order to free up more time for launching extra-income earning side-projects or get yourself promoted. If you’re part of a ROWE company, even better.

Click here to download your 100% free copy of Minimalist Workday.

If that looks bad on your Kindle, try this version (thanks @jprichter.)

What can you do to help?

If you enjoy this e-book, I’d really love if you could share it freely with as many people as you can.

  • Retweet this post to your Twitter friends
  • Stumble this post on Stumbleupon
  • Email this post to friends.
  • Bookmark it on Delicious.
  • Etc, etc, any way that you can help would be great. Ideas can’t spread without your help.

Thanks for your time, and for your help sharing this with the world.



13 Hidden Timesucks You Can Eliminate to Focus on the Essential

June 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

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

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Write long responses to everyone who emails me.

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

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

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

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

3. Respond to every comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Post twelve times a day.

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

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

6. Check email constantly.

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

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

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

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

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

7. Work more than two hours a day.

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

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

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

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

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

8. Write something just because it will be popular.

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

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

9. Sit at a desk.

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

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

10. Follow everyone back on Twitter.

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

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

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

11. Respond to angry haters.

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

12. Try every strategy on Problogger.

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

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

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

13. Consume unimportant information.

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

My real goal for writing this post.

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

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

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

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

Everyone needs to decide for themselves what is important.

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

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

June 25th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

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

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

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

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

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

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

And no one knows how to fix it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Stop driving now.

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

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

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

2. Stop buying stuff now.

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

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

3. Eat local now.

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

4. Share this message.

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


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

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

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

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

Minimalism is about saving the planet.

Thank you, have a good night.


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

Minimalism Vs Debt: 7 Simple Strategies to Liberate Your Finances

June 21st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How minimalism can help you get out of debt.

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

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

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

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

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

There are no good kinds of debt.

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

Why? Because debt weighs you down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Reduce overhead by adopting a minimalist lifestyle.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Pay off the most emotional balances first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Establish a repayment plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Stop using credit cards.

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

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

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

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

6. Establish additional revenue streams.

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

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

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

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

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

7. Buying things won’t make you happy.

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

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

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


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


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

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

June 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

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

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the exact text I used:

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

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

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

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

Why Empire Builder?

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

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

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

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

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

Why supporting quality work can support you.

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

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

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

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

The story of Minimalist Business launch day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Minimalist Business: How to Live and Work Anywhere

June 15th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

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

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A brief history of being minimalist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why create a minimalist business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Minimalist Business isn’t for everyone.

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

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

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

The Forever Guarantee on Minimalist Business.

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

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

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

The importance of a Forever Guarantee in a digital world.

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

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

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

How to purchase a copy of Minimalist Business.

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


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

Minimalist Business features:

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

Add to Cart

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


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

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

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

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

Add to Cart


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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your time,

Everett Bogue

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

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

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

June 10th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the most important elements of minimalist business success

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

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

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

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

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

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

How to bypass the gatekeepers entirely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minimalist Business Affiliate Marketing: The Basics

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

1. Create a product around work that matters.

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

2. Digital distribution.

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

3. Teach your fans how they can support you.

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

4. Pay your fans to support you.

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

Why you can successfully pay your fans to support you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paying your fans to support you: strategies for success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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