minimalist sell out

Is Selling Stuff Selling Out? How Minimalists Make Money

I was recently offered a nice lump-sum of money to put an ad on my site. It was an ad for something I do believe in (insurance), it’s just not what I thought my readers would care to see. I said no because I find ads to be intrusive, especially when I already have ads schlepping my books.  According to WordPress, I’ve had this article in “Draft” mode since that time (fall of 2016). When I recently saw this great post by our friend Dan at Hip Diggs, I thought it might be time to polish mine up and contribute to the “how minimalists make money” discussion.

As mentioned by Dan, blogging isn’t a big money-maker. Quite the opposite. It tends to cost more than it brings in, and that’s not even factoring in time spent writing and farting around with WordPress themes, plugins, and the necessary evil of sharing our well-crafted thoughts on social media. Trust me, we all get the irony when we tell people to spend less time online via a Facebook share.

And I’m going to totally blow the lid off of something for you. The overwhelming majority of travel blogs make nothing. Zip. Zero. In all likelihood they lose money. If anything, they might get some free nights, or a few free tours in exchange for sponsored posts, but unless you’ve been around a while (a few years), or hit the right niche, you’re likely not making enough each week to buy beer in Panama…which is a buck, BTW.

You’ll also see the smoke and mirror blogs with catchy headlines like; “How I Made $10,000 in just 3 months by Doing This One Simple Thing…”. And when you get to the site you’re pitched a course on how you too can make $10,000 in just 3 months for the low, low price of $500.

Why do it then?

My quirky writing style limits my exposure. I’m not a serious guy, I don’t enjoy writing with a serious tone…seriously. So that restricts my guest posts on other sites, I’m sure. Of course, a good writer can alter their voice to suit the intended audience, which I’ve done for magazine, corporate communications, site content, and when writing technical documentation. But to loop this paragraph back to my point, I don’t make much money on this blog, save for some affiliate links and eBook sales.

Why do it if we don’t make much money? Well that’s easy, it’s a creative outlet for me, both writing and creating the stick man drawings each week.

Do we make ANY money?

A little, yes. Like a few other minimalist-related bloggers, we too have had a few speaking engagements to boast about. Although my eBooks aren’t exactly NY Times best-sellers, they do have some good weeks when it comes to sales. We also make a few bucks off of affiliate links. Yes, we send people to places like Amazon to buy my eBooks, and if you don’t buy mine but opt to buy another book, or the latest New York Firefighters Calendar, or maybe an Iron Man Action Figure, because you arrived on Amazon via this site’s “cookie”, I get “credit” for that “sale”. Trust me, it’s ain’t much. In the year+ I’ve had affiliate links I’ve made just over $100. That’s a one with two zeroes, just so you’re not wondering if that was a typo.

I’ve been asked a few times; “how do you make your money”, and when I bluntly reply; “I don’t”, it’s almost like a dagger is plunged deep into the inquirer’s chest, possibly piercing their superior vena cava, but assuredly crushing what hopes and dreams they had of becoming the Kevin Bacon equivalent of blogging, and being within 6 degrees…err…clicks of everything. I hate to say it to them, but it’s the truth. It’s tough—especially in the first few years.

How minimalists make money

As Dan points out in his article, other minimalist-related sites sell courses and books (soft and hard copies), they offer their voice and advice for speaking engagements, and some even created a documentary about minimalism. Others recommend or endorse products as well, as we have in our storage totes post. Here are just a few examples of how minimalists make money from other popular minimalist sites—fair warning, affiliate links below, so I’ll know if you end up buying those handy Shake Weights

  • No Sidebar recommends some nice stuff under $50, and also offers a course.
  • The Minimalists sell their movie, a course, and minimalist-related books.
  • Joshua Becker (becomingminimalist) sells his books, a course, and offers speaking engagements.
  • Courtney Carver of Be More With Less also offers courses, books, and speaking engagements.

It’s a fine line though, isn’t it? As promoters of a minimalist lifestyle we say; Don’t be a consumer, don’t spend money on material things, or fast food & beverages, live with less, spend less, re-purpose stuff…but buy my book, course, movie, or this gadget that we can relate back to minimalism.

Many of our readers have said our minimalist stick man would look great on a t-shirt, and we think so too, but isn’t that hypocritical to say “sell all your stuff…but buy this t-shirt”? Granted, there’s an environmentally friendly angle we would spin—organic cotton, or hemp, or recycled material, made in America, sweat-shop free!

So, coming soon, will be selling out and encouraging you to sell all your stuff…but buy all our stuff!

Now go sell all your stuff and buy my t-shirt. 


2 thoughts on “Is Selling Stuff Selling Out? How Minimalists Make Money”

  1. Sh**, I got the same problem on my blog. Vanholio! is all about livin’ simple and cheap down by the river. And yet I shill affiliate crud. AND YET I hardly make a dime, like $10.25 gross last month. Fact is, while blogging is a hard biz to break into, when what your promotin’ is anti-consumerist, it’s pretty much impossible. At least I’m havin’ fun!

    1. Vanholio, we LOVE your site and sense of humour (<-spelled the Canadian way, because we know humour). Agreed about havin' fun too...Great, since I went to your site this morn I have the song "Boy inside the man" stuck in my head, only it's now "boy inside the van".

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