Everett Bogue decided he wanted change in his life. He quit his job as a professional blogger at the successful New York magazine and moved to Portland with $3,000 and no clue what he would do next. Paring down his possessions, he began to blog about his journey to Minimalism and eventually wrote the book, “The Art of Being Minimalist” which propelled him into financial security and the freedom to live his life as he pleases.
Today finds Everett working two hours a day on his website, Far Beyond The Stars, taking trips and living a life that most of us only dream about.
Interview with Everett Bogue
First off, I would like to thank you for agreeing to an interview. You have made it well-known that your time is very valuable, and it is a privilege to be granted this small window of your time.
I sincerely look forward to your responses to these questions.
In your ebook, “The Art of Being Minimalist” you state that when you moved to Portland in July of 2009 you didn’t have a clue or a plan. Had you done any research at all prior to the move, and if so, what form did that research take?
Thanks for having me Annie. I’d been thinking about moving to Portland for a long time. The city has emerged in the last few years as a well known hub for artists and creatives. 150 coffee shops, free public transportation within the city, and more bikers than any other city. I’d been in New York for seven years, so Portland seemed in comparison to be almost a safe-haven for the displaced creatives of the world.
Since moving to Portland, I’ve traveled all over the US. I visited Seattle, lived briefly in Chicago, and headed back to New York. Now I’m living in SF Bay.
I did a little research, but honestly there’s only so much you can study before you land in a new place. Once you’re on the ground, everything changes. You can have an idea of what a place will be like, but the reality of the situation is almost always very different from what you intended.
Zen Buddhists talk about a concept called ‘Beginner’s Mind’, I found that my trip to Portland really helped me get to this place of absolute zero. I’d come out of a difficult time, quit my job, got rid of all of my stuff, and jumped on a plane. No amount of research can help plan for something like that. Just doing worked quite well though.
Did you have a blog when you quit your job? How long before or after you quit your job did you begin to blog?
I quit my job in New York on July 2009, I relocated to Portland in August of 2009, but I didn’t start the blog until October 2009. That being said, I’ve been involved in blogging since waxing teenage poetics on Livejournal in 1998, I interned at Gawker Media (a blogging company in New York) and worked on the blogging team at New York Magazine.
All of this contributed to me knowing the form very well, but I hadn’t actually had my own personal blog for a number of years. I worked all day on blogs, I had absolutely no interest in coming home at night and blogging when I had a day job.
I couldn’t find a job locally in Portland that I could imagine myself doing, so I started a blog to pass the time. Surprisingly, after only a short while a large number of people started visiting it. First 100, then 1000, now 60,000+ people are reading. Around November I realized that if I focused on the blog, it could bring in income. Now it does.
For comparison sake, I now make twice as much from my blog as I made at New York Magazine.
How did Minimalism enable you to lose weight? Did you choose to eat less, or was it because your food choices changed?
I wouldn’t say eating less, but eating better. I haven’t written much about food lately on my blog, but when I started adopting a minimalist lifestyle I suddenly had a huge amount of free time. This enabled me to learn more about what a proper diet is for a human being. I was able to deliberately choose what I was eating, because I had time. I wasn’t rushing around grabbing junk food at Bodegas anymore.
The single best decision anyone can make is to just eat or cook all of their own meals at home, it’s very hard to eat badly if you do that. That and Michael Pollan’s mantra definitely applied though: Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.
What made you decide to choose Portland as your base of operations when you first dropped out of the rat race?
I mentioned this above, but Portland is one of the most supportive cities of creatives in the US right now. It’s bikable, friendly, beautiful and also incredibly inexpensive. My rent there was $425 a month, plus a little for electric. It’s a great place to reset and discover the basis of existence.
In addition to Leo Babauta’s “Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life,” what other texts do you recommend to those wishing to pursue a path similar to yours? Why do you recommend these particular texts?
Leo’s book is amazing, it really set the stage for my minimalist transition. Another great text is Joshua Becker’s Inside-Out Simplicity. Joshua’s been living a minimalist life with a family for a number of years, and is an expert on reducing your life, especially when more than one person is involved. Rolf Pott’s book Vagabonding is also a great source for ideas on how to live differently and travel the world with everything in a backpack.
How did you choose the 100 things that you should keep? Did these things include items like dishes and cookware, or was this just 100 personal items?
I reduced to my possessions to what would fit into a backpack. Now I’m living with 57 personal items. There are some subtle rules to the 100 things challenge, and cookware doesn’t get counted. I don’t personally have much in the way of cooking stuff at the moment. Just a simple cutting board, a frying pan, a knife, some other necessities. These are the kind of things that I have no trouble leaving behind though.
My 57 things are listed here.
My most important possession is my laptop, which I do all of my work on. The rest of my stuff is mostly just clothes, a moleskin notebook, a pen, a backpack. There’s more, but I’ve found that living without stuff really makes me happy. Hundreds of other people who I’ve met over the last year of blogging have adopted this lifestyle as well. It’s really a great way to achieve freedom.
Were you ever afraid that you wouldn’t succeed? If so, how did you handle that feeling?
Definitely. In the beginning I really didn’t even know what I was trying to succeed at. Gradually, over time, I realized that I needed to step up and become a leader, to inspire people to stop consuming and start living. That’s when things started to take off.
There were definitely moments when I was sitting alone in my sparse room in Portland, watching the rain fall outside, wondering what the hell I was doing.
The most important thing to realize is that failure doesn’t really exist, and the biggest failure would have been to stay where I was embracing the status-quo, living like everyone else, being miserable sitting under fluorescent lights all day long. That would have been not succeeding.
Is there ONE thing in your life that you never want to lose? What is it and why?
Freedom. I honestly don’t own anything anymore that couldn’t be replaced. My best work is hosted on the Internet and backed-up in the cloud. If my apartment burned down, I’d be able to buy some more clothes, get a new laptop, and start over in a few days.
How many hours a day did you work when you started, and have you increased/decreased that daily allotment? Please explain your choices.
The entire time I’ve been doing this, I estimate that I’ve been working around 2 hours a day. Some days I work more, other days I don’t work at all. For example, this month I took a two-week sabbatical, which meant that I didn’t work much at all this month — but my minimalist business is automated now, so everything happened without me.
I think we all need to take a serious look at what we’re actually doing when we work. I spend two hours a day creating work and doing interviews. This pays the bills much more than doing busy work for someone else or messing around on Facebook would.
How long did it take for your business to take off, and for you to consider it a success?
Here’s the thing: it’s always been successful.
Here’s why: I didn’t spend anything on my business until money was coming in. A lot of people ‘fail’ (even though failure doesn’t really exist) because they spend tons of money creating a business, and then ‘launching’ (and maybe no one cares, or you do all of the wrong things.)
I didn’t do this, I simply started a blog and wrote things in it. I interviewed well known bloggers to get more people to pay attention to my work. Anyone can do this for free, and writing can be a great way to grow yourself. Even if no one had started to pay attention, it would have been a growth experience for me.
In the beginning I started developing revenue by affiliate selling Leo Babauta’s books, and grew from there. In February of 2010, I launched my own e-book, The Art of Being Minimalist, and suddenly because of the amazing powers of the Internets, I began making more than enough to support my minimalist lifestyle.
If your life-overhead is low, and your business overhead is zero, it’s not hard to find alternative ways of supporting yourself. If you only need $1000 a month to support your life, you can do anything. If you need $5000 a month to support your life, your options might be limited to working for a corporation.
Where is your absolute favorite place(s) to work?
Coffee shops! Right now I’m hanging out at Nomad Cafe in Oakland, CA.
Thanks for the interview Annie!
Everett, I want to thank you again for consenting to this interview. I admire you for achieving the life that so many of us strive to attain, and I look forward to hearing more from you.
Everett Bogue can be found at his website Far Beyond The Stars, and has written two books, “The Art of Being Minimalist,” which covers his journey to minimalism, and “Minimalist Business” a book that not only details his particular method of success but comes with a forever guarantee: if you try the method he outlines in this book and you are not successful, he will refund your money no matter how long you wait to request it.
Everett is a living example of how we can achieve our dreams by breaking free of the status quo. Perhaps we can learn from him and determine a path to our dreams.