I kind of thought that minimalist living was about living a simple and perhaps more frugal lifestyle.

I thought that is was about getting rid of excess stuff and getting rid of clutter.

I thought it was about enjoying the moment realizing what is important in one’s life.

And because of these things I also kind of think that anyone else who has a super popular minimalist living blog or minimalist lifestyle website should be showing people how to do these things pretty much for free.

Now that being said, I have no problem with people writing an ebook and selling it and making a few dollars or promoting other products that have value.

But for one of the most popular and almost famous minimalist bloggers to be selling monthly subscription course to help people learn how to not procrastinate…hmmm, I don’t know.

PLUS it is 24.95 per month for a few months.

That is quite a bit to me.

I am sure there is value in the course but that is a lot, that’s all.

Especially coming from someone who is in such a position of influence and tells his readers to stop spending and to keep their lives simple.

I love this person’s blog and have referenced it here on more than one occasion but I just think it goes against what we as minimalist living bloggers are all about.

Sure charge a few dollars for what you create and decide to sell but let’s be honest,open and realistic about things here.

We want people to better their lives through minimalist living.

I am not sure that asking them to spend 24.95$ for a few months is the way to do it.

This is certainly just my opinion.

Maybe I am way off base with this view.

Please tell me what you think about this.

Live simply

51 thoughts on “Minimalist Living and Subscriptions

  1. In this day and age, and I’m not saying that it’s right, everyone who is famous or has a significant following, starts charging sooner or later…. And that’s just my opinion. Recently, I’ve been bitten in this feeding frenzy when dealing with a magazine website that charges separately for access to it, even though we already subscribe to the physical publication. They site cost, but I’m familiar with other magazine sites that give you free access if you subscribe and some give additional access to info not in the magazine. It’s a peeve.

    I agree with you about this subscription thing. I am new to your blog, so I don’t know who you’re talking about. When something is your passion, when you don’t start off with charging people for what’s in your head, I personally would frown mightily if money suddenly came into the picture and leave a bad taste in my mouth. I also have a hard time charging for my creations and have managed to change a bit of that by not charging my friends, but asking for their word of mouth reccommendations.

    I think some bloggers start asking for donations after they become famous because they don’t have day jobs and/or they seek to make their blogs a full time money maker. Who among us would not love this scenario playing out in their own lives? Personally, I can’t afford to support myself, let alone someone else, though I do strive to buy local for my own needs.

  2. It certainly can make you lose faith in someone when they become commercial. Especially when it seems to conflict with the very values they are promoting.

    But at the same time, an opportunity to make money to support ourselves (even in our simplicity), and feeling that what we have to offer has value and pricing it in a way that feels fair to us, well, that is OK too.

    I’m not sure how to feel this. Looking forward to hearing what others are thinking…

  3. Excellent post. I guess their message is “avoid spending money on unnecessary stuff – unless it’s mine.” Or perhaps they think it’s ok, if they perceive minimalism as a reduction of physical clutter, since they are selling you virtual (electronic) stuff.

    I thought part of minimalism is thinking outside the usual consumerist box, but the subscription model is certainly the goal of mainstream marketing. Why sell you something once if they can get you to keep paying month after month? If it isn’t a subscription (paying for television? huh? Stick a small metal sculpture up in the air and you can watch TV for free!) it is something that requires an ongoing supply of consumables or disposables (razors/blades, printer/ink) or it’s disposable substitutes for traditionally reusable items (paper plates and towels, “Swiffer” mops wioth disposable heads).

    WHile you didn’t name names, you did mention that it was someone whose work you have always respected. I think that’s when it is the most irritationg. If someone we don’t respect does something like that, we figure it’s par for the course. When someone we respect does it, it gives us pause. Did you write a comment on that bloger’s post to indicate your irritation with his/her choice to start pusing paid subscriptions? Maybe a little feedback would help show him/her the light.

    1. This particular blogger does not accept any comments on their blog.

      In all honesty with the 250000 (yes that is the number) “attractive ” subscribers, there would be too many comments to even deal with.

  4. Well, like it or not, we all need some money to survive. If someone can sell a service such as this and get off the work treadmill, I think they should charge.

    Where would the money go if not to this subscription course? Would it buy a few gallons of gas, a dinner out, or a new shirt? If people need to spend twenty five dollars to figure out that they don’t need to spend any more money on stuff like this, I say the mission’s been accomplished. If the course is a huge waste, that sort of thing has a way of sorting itself out.

      1. I call BS on this one. The premise is based on the idea that the money would be wasted on something less valuable, which isn’t necessarily the case.

        Let’s process this for a minute. $25 per month? I’ll assume that by “a few months” you mean three. That’s $75 total that it’s costing somebody to “figure out that they don’t need to spend any more money on stuff like this”.

        That premise is also flawed, because that’s not what happens – and the content publishers know that.

        People don’t spend the $75 and then realize they don’t need to spend more money. They spend the $75 and either don’t do the course (this happens a lot – I’m betting more so, when it’s a course targeted at procrastinators!), or don’t have success with the course and (because of the frequently sight-unseen fawning reviews by the blogger’s friends) blame themselves.

        It’s like the online version of buying infomercial exercise equipment.

        I have nothing against a blogger making money. Bloggers, podcasters, and any sort of online content publishers frequently have fees to maintain their sites/pay for bandwidth, and their time is definitely worth something.

        But all too often, what you wind up getting for your $75 (and that price seems low – I’ve seen these courses go to $400 or more) is a canned, pre-recorded slapdash video (or worse, screencast) version of a $10 self-help book.

        To me, that’s not worth $75. It’ll sell, because there’s a “big name” attached to it – but that doesn’t make it worth it. As a blogger, if I’m going to ask somebody for 7.5 times as much as a cheap self-help book, I want to deliver 7.5 times the value as a cheap self-help book.

        Just my $0.02, of course.

      2. so are you pro charging this fee or against charging the fee?

        And it seems that the fee is ongoing. I don’t see anywhere that it says how long it is for.

        And it is for a course on how to NOT procrastinate.

        Thanks for the comment.

      3. Ah….I’m sorry – I partially misunderstood your initial post. I was of the impression that when you said “24.95 per month for a few months”, you were talking about a course with a finite duration. My mistake.

        That makes the subscription model worse in my mind, not better. As I mentioned below, the course is targeted *at* procrastinators (i.e. procrastinators are the target market). The odds of somebody who signs up for this course failing to cancel their credit card autobill, therefore, is pretty high – and the merchant processors are pretty vicious about not giving refunds for previous months.

        For $25 a month, I can get a couple of really good ebooks on Amazon Kindle. For $23 a month, I can get a couple really good audiobooks from Audible.com. Or I could choose to support a blogger who’s offering a reasonably-priced product – as opposed to paying again and again for access to what probably amounts to the same information, month after month.

        I’m definitely anti-subscription in this case.

  5. I know which blog you’re talking about. And I agree that the subscription rate you mentioned is excessive for a minimalst living blog. I wish this blogger would just write another ebook on the subject of procrastination, instead of asking for a recurring fee every month. This is how people’s incomes are wasted buying needless products and services.

  6. I think living simply dosn’t have to be simple, but not everyone knows how to do it. Also another thought on this subscription was that my grandfather was selling a automobile engine when I was younger, he put it in the paper for $80 one week and didn’t get any calls then put in in the next for $300 and he sold it in early sunday morning. If he really is trying to help people the money could be another advertising ploy. The world’s a twisted place.

  7. Whether a minimalist blog, craft blog, food blog, etc, my general feeling about this sort of thing is that I don’t mind if it’s an ebook (as you mentioned) or for a little more money an online class or something where you might get some personal feedback/instruction/ideas. Where it starts bothering me is in a case like this with a recurring subscription fee, or when their blog is plastered with ads and posts selling the product. Then it starts feeling a bit more “sales-y” than I’m comfortable with, especially in a minimalist setting where they come off as saying “save money and live simply…. and pay me a recurring monthly payment to help teach you how!”

    1. This particular blog is not plastered with any ads or anything and again it is an excellent blog. I have no problem with someone earning an income from their expertise and from what they create.

      But this blogger has told people to get rid of monthly cable bills and magazine subscriptions etc., and then wants a monthly payment paid to them. Good gig if you can swing it.

  8. This conversation leads to a larger subject of so many minimalist bloggers being full-time writers or, well, bloggers. The message then becomes, “do as I do and live (simply) off your writing/blogging”. But what of those of us who don’t want or don’t have qualifications to write or blog full-time? I would like to see more minimalist blogs written by people who do other things for a living, e.g. baking, photographing, working for a company. In the world where all bloggers aspire to quit their day jobs, it is inevitable they will start monetizing (hate this word) their ideas.

    1. Teaching is easy….just lead through example….learning is hard! I teach Taiji, meditation, qigong, gong fu and Taoist arts…. it is my passion…it is easy…. minimalism is just part of the Way of Taoists All my writings on my three blogs are free as a service to students that see me to learn the arts. It is philosophy…. did Socrates charge a monthly fee? I doubt it …… people learn skills the philosophy supports that they van pay for Tai Chi lessons,,,,the philosophy of how to change the world should be free…They could donate to support but I say to writers “pay it forward” and don’t charge for philosophy. .. why not teach a class in Zen or something… how much did Buddha charge per month?.

  9. I know which blog you are referring to, and I used to follow that blog religiously. The author put me off some time ago when he began pushing the e-books endlessly, and wanting to sell me programs on how to be a great blogger. It strikes me as contradictory to have a blog about minimalizing, decluttering, living better with less, and not having money be the key to happiness, then asking the readers to buy his stuff in order to obtain those concepts.

    This is not an isolated incidence. I’ve seen other blogs on the same subject do similar things. It seems when bloggers get popular, the desire to monetize is irresistible. Like yourself, I have no problem with someone trying to make some money with an e-book or something like that, but to use my subscription address to send me a seemingly endless number of emails suggesting I buy their stuff to make my life better seems to border on harassment.

    I enjoy your blog!

  10. Many of us have come to expect most information to be free over the internet, so it is jarring when all of a sudden, we have to pay subscriptions. I agree that it might seem counter to the ethos of minimalist living to charge for information, but at the same time, if this writer’s livelihood is blogging/writing…even mimimalists need some income!
    I wouldn’t ever subscribe to a blog for this cost, since there is so much wonderful free information out there.

    1. Agreed Bluegrasspb. At the same time, though, with the number of subscribers this blogger has, he could charge $5 a month and he’d still make oodles of money if even half or a quarter of his subscribers signed up.

  11. I guess its all down to choices. I know the blog you mean, fantastic stuff there, but if you have 250,000 subscribers maybe just a few of them see this as worthwhile and have the $25 a month to spare. In which case I guess those who don’t want to don’t, and those who want to, get value.
    I take your point about the cable vs subscriptions choices though.

    I’m not sure there’s an easy answer here and those of us with blogs attracting a few subscribers would love to monetize them by giving our readers good value, and I guess we all need to experiment and occasionally fail in doing so, before we get the balance right.

    1. I’m thinking like $12.00 a year MAX! I mean come on! it’s like a magazine….but there is no printing, no paper no mailing….I say charge sure OK we’ll all give you that .. but it is PURE PROFIT

      1. The reality is that he/she can charge whatever the market will bear. The market will prove the “product’s” value. He’s operating on the concept of what’s known as a “Freemium.” You give away free content until you’ve built a sizable following, then for those who want more, you provide that at a price, If the price is right, those interested will invest in it. If it’s wrong, he won’t get many takers. Typically, up to 5% of that market following will buy into the premium service.

        There is a very good book out titled “Free: How Today’s Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing” by Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired Magazine. He’s also the author of the bestseller, “The Long Tail.” The concept has been used in marketing for close to 200 years.and there are too many successful examples to go into, but a couple of them are Jello and Remington razors.

        But, here’s the other thing. While the minimalist lifestyle may seem simple, logical and, perhaps, at some level to those of us living the lifestyle, a no-brainer, the vast majority of the population of developed countries don’t have a clue on how to go about it. Minimalist living has been conditioned out of us from the time we were children. All of a sudden changes take place in the economy and the world and these people want to embark on a minimalist, simple lifestyle of living free and getting out from under the debt, stuff, McMansions, gas guzzling SUV’s, country clubs, etc. – and they don’t know where to begin. It’s like trying to eat an elephant.

        I’m hoping to generate a reasonable income stream from my own Living Free . . . blog at some time in the future. It’s taken a lot of time, energy, challenge, frustration and so on to get to the point I’m at and I’m still working at it. I can help other people, and I do, for free through my blog currently. But, if people who don’t have a clue where to start, how to start, when to start or even if they can or should start – want to pay me a small compensation to help them learn what cost me money, resources and, my most precious commodity – my time to learn, then I’m willing to accept it and considering I live comfortably below the poverty level, I think that’s reasonable and fair. I don’t expect to get rich, but some extra revenue avails me of a few things I’d like to consider in the future. Plus, it will help finance my travel since I’ve taken up a nomadic lifestyle.

        I don’t know that I’ve seen or read the blog in question and I’d like to see what this person is doing. I doubt that my plans for a future revenue stream are as grandiose as his sounds to be, but it would be interesting. If someone would email me the URL to ed at edhelvey dot com, I’d really appreciate it.

      2. sure I get it… but business basics are “target your market” and most of the people that are “minimalist” will use very few dollars too! Being frugalists….also using few words to get our point across…..I think most respond to short concise posts that are thought provoking and do not cost. Like you said, then you can sell your book to the people that think they need that kind of thing

  12. Ask for a donation….. sell an e book…. OK. but gezze….if you need money, get a job; trying to make a living as a blogger is ( i know most of you commenting here myself included would love to make money blogging) well its just not write. (right)….the spirit of this whole thing is against it…we all have something important to say, and we all help each other. This topic is not worth getting paid for….
    Look, just find the essential and get rid of the rest, end of story. I would never pay for this type of information, I might donate to someone that inspired me however. The thing here is, now I am no longer inspired by the guy that WANTS TO GET PAID FOR EXPLAINING THE OBVIOUS !

    1. Agreed. I still look at his work sometimes, and his tumblr almost always has interesting stuff on it, but how he walks doesn’t QUITE seem to match up with his talk for me. An early sign that something didn’t quite work was a pair of articles he wrote about reimagining society. I liked most of his ideas, except he advocated everyone working over the internet except those that fabricated goods, and using the internet as a forum for community meetings. We are isolationist and scared of our neighbors enough as it is.

      1. If we are to reimagine society, it needs to include public gathering spots in the real world, and community meetings in a physical space in the REAL WORLD. We need to relearn the beauty and necessity of face to face interaction and that we need not fear our neighbors. Eschewing network news and newspapers, and going out into our physical communities is an excellent and necessary way to start.

    2. I disagree on this point. What you’re effectively saying is that writing is a profession that doesn’t have value.

      Think about what you’re saying here with the “get a job” phrase. Many people have jobs working in manufacturing facilities, churning out cheap consumer goods. What’s more valuable – churning out injection-molded plastic for WalMart, or showing somebody how to live a more fulfilled life?

      Which one is really worth paying somebody for?

      The thing that *you* believe is obvious (and for this purpose, it doesn’t matter what that thing is – martial arts, appliance repair, minimalism, cooking, etc.) is likely mind-blowingly non-obvious to a great number of people.

      There’s nothing wrong with charging somebody a reasonable fee for teaching them something that they’re eager to learn. The keys are “reasonable fee” and “eager to learn”.

  13. I’m with bluegrasspb. I would never pay that much money when I could find the same kind of information for free elsewhere. But I guess we’ll see how many actually do.

  14. I know exactly which blog you are speaking of. I became interested in minimalism because of that blog. Over the years it has gone to the bloggers head. The postings have changed as well.

    1. Agreed. He has psoted stuff that I enjoy and have influenced my path, but his ego has been showing lately and I don’t think he realizes it. Sad.

      1. I’ve been reading that blog for a while as well and I don’t think that he’s changed, or that anything has gone to his head. What’s changed, for me, is that he’s no longer someone who struggles to reach a goal. He seems at peace with himself. Living with less, etc, now seems to come easy to him, whereas in his earlier posts the struggle was more apparent, and maybe that’s what makes people suspicious. That’s what’s sad to me though, that apparently we can’t look at successful people without envy, without trying to find a way to diminish their achievements. Of course he may just be a mercenary know-it-all, but honestly, what if he is? As long as some of what he says has value and can make my life easier, why should I care?

  15. I totally agree with you about this! I think the trouble lies in being a professional minimalist, which is a kind of joke really. If you want to make money then make it by being expert at what you are selling eg. Writing, training, mentoring, or consulting. Not by being a minimalist. Minimalism isn’t a product, it’s an idea, let’s keep it that way!

    1. Agreed. I also have a blog that deals with minimalism/simple living and spiritual practice in the modern world, and plan to monetize it by the end of the eyar. However, I have no delusions about it being my main source of income. There’ll be a donation button, associate links when I talk about books, and a $5 a month newsletter, but my main source of income will always come from other places (freelance writing, fiction. Also planning to eventually get yoga teacher certification.)

  16. It made me think of what is really minimalist living. If we are really living minimally would we even have a computer and being writing and reading blogs?

      1. I think you made a good point earlier, that minimalism/simplicity looks different for everyone. The fact that I have a credit card, for example, doesn’t make me minimalist. Nor does the fact that I don’t carry any debt from one month to the next. What makes me minimalist is my overall approach to life. Minimalism doesn’t equate to eschewing technology entirely, nor should it in my mind. It does mean making use of that technology conscious.

  17. Interesting thoughts and feelings. As someone who has in the last few years embraced a minimalist lifestyle and created my own philosophy on “living free,” I have mixed feelings about this commentary. I’m blogging as a new direction for my own life. I’ve been an entrepreneur for about 50 years and building any kind of business had to focus, as one aspect of the business, on making money. I have been in the recording industry and in the book publishing industry (among others). At this stage of my life I have determined – and no matter what your ages may be – you should come to the same conclusion – that my most valuable commodity – actually priceless – is my time. I can’t buy, rent, steal, borrow or create more. When the time I’m taking to share my thoughts to compose this reply is gone – it’s gone forever – period. So, I am freely sharing my most valuable asset.

    So, should this blogger charge for his ideas, knowledge, concepts, counsel? Does it have any real monetary value? That, folks is in the mind of the beholder. It sounds to me like most everyone here feels that his information has no value to you – though for free, you’ll happily exploit the time he (or she) expends in sharing things that have worked for him or her and made his or her life better. It sounds like the “free lunch” idea. Someone said something about if you don’t want to pay for cable or satellite TV service you just stick up an antenna and get it for free. Wrong! You don’t get it for free. You are barraged by 22 to 23 minutes out of every hour of incessant mostly annoying commercials paid for by sponsors to get in front of your eyes so you can watch FREE TV.

    This person has 250,000 readers – that’s fantastic. I can only dream that my Living Free blog would ever approach that number someday. But, if only 1% of that readership is so influenced by this person, that would result in $62,375.00 per month income. So, I don’t much think this person is all that concerned about the 99% of the people who don’t subscribe. And the chances are, this person is still going to continue producing free content because he or she can and knows that there is other financial potential in the free readers, like the ebooks several mentioned.

    Bottom line. There is no free lunch. Time, under any circumstance, has value attached. I have no idea how long this person has worked to build the 250,000 readership – but it’s likely a huge investment in time. Perhaps the person has been living on beans, living around a fire of wood he or she cut and split him or herself, etc. and now feels that perhaps, it’s time to receive a little reward for all the help he or she has provided others – and from the sound of it, that includes y’all. Perhaps, $24.95 is excessive. The market will suss that out. I don’t buy certain store brands because I feel the price is too high. I don’t shop in certain stores because I know they charge more for the same item I can obtain someplace else for less. This is what makes our world work. And it’s always different strokes for different folks.

    I don’t condemn nor condone any of your thoughts or feelings about this. I think you have every right to your opinions. But, we all have to survive and some of us will go through a lot of trials and errors in finding what works for us in surviving, minimalist living, being frugal and living free and simply. And, on a personal note – I would not be attracted to a $24.95 monthly subscription fee either, but $6.00 – maybe. It’s all based on whether the buyer places value on the product, service or content. I hope one day I can find a way for my efforts to help subsidize my minimalist lifestyle, I still like to eat – but, I’m not greedy.


  18. Wendy has a great point…. I have a three year old HP mini.. and a cell phone … i don’t even know who made it without looking…I think is funny when you read what some minimalists own and the WAY the describe them …
    not a lap top but… “mac book pro”
    not a pair of jeans but “Patagonia” jeans
    not a cellphone but a “Apple I phone 4 g”
    not a back pack but an “Arcterex bla bla bla”
    reminds me of the Binford 6100″ hhhhhargh hhhhhargh hhhhhargh
    OK I get it… as minimalists we want (and know the economy) to own the best. yet is we are so brand conscious…. what are you guys getting kick backs from these corporations?… What oil companies are evil but Apple is ok?

    1. Actually, one part of minimalism as I understand it is not necessarily to stop spending money altogether, but rather to spend mindfully, on things that you use often, that are really part of your everyday life. It makes sense to buy high-quality products that are also aesthetically pleasing. I feel attracted towards minimalism and I am in the process of culling my possessions but I am not willing to go to extremes. I am brand conscious only in the sense that I stick to what works for me — if a particular pair of jeans fits well and holds up well over two years or more, I keep buying that brand. I will keep buying Apple products because using them is pleasant for me on many levels. It’s not a question of good and evil for me.

    2. I agree with the idea that many minimalists don’t need to necessarily label what they own. I also think that it’s better to buy a good quality item rather than to buy repeated items when they wear out. Maybe the best option is to say “I have a great pair of shoes that has lasted me through 12 countries for 3 years”, then if enough people ask, then mention the name.

  19. It’s SOP in the blog world. Start a blog. Work on gaining a following by offering everything up of free. Once you have your audience hooked. Start hiding content behind a paywall. The more who pay, the more you hide. It’s a common way to monetize a blog. The trick is to have the talent and the confidence that somebody out there is willing go to pay for your unique opinions and content. And to have the content worthy of the price to subscribe.
    Personally, I’m staying away from any subscription content on my site. Any money I bring in will be through the sale of ebooks, apps, or what little advertising I throw up on the site. At least those sorts of sales are voluntary and I don’t lose visitors who are turned off by a subscription barrier.

  20. Minimalist living is just being wise and practical. After all, we are what we are, and not what the things we own. I know this is the key to real happiness.

    Thanks for coming up with this blog!

  21. I think it’s perfectly all right to charge that much if people are willing to pay. Just because we tend to think intellectual content has no value doesn’t mean it’s true. Being minimalist doesn’t mean you should value your work at zero, in the same way open source doesn’t mean free. An hour with a psychologist costs a lot more. Universities charge a lot of money. And it’s not like the normal blog content on the blog you mentioned has stopped being free. The course is just an additional offer. Considering the hard work and time that goes into something like that it’s understandable to charge a fee. It’s not just the information that is being sold, it’s the way it’s compiled and presented and a lot of other factors. Teaching is HARD.

  22. I have a pretty good idea who you’re talking about, and that blog is also the one that introduced me to the concept of minimalism (although I had been practising aspects of it for a long time). I also have no issue with someone selling ebooks on their site, but I never quite understood the idea of a subscription or an ecourse. I mean, a large majority of ideas are out there for free, and nowadays there really aren’t that many new concepts anyway. All of the major players in current minimalism bloggery are pretty much stating the same things, as are most minimalist bloggers in general. What bothers me is when the websites start getting more and more pop ups, more and more ads, more and more pitches to buy their book, etc.
    As a freelance writer myself, I certainly understand the idea of selling your work. I also understand the concepts of using social media to promote your work. However, what dissapoints me is that so many of the minimalism “big wigs” are writing less about their daily lives, and more about their latest ebook, or their latest book tour, or their latest for-sale project. I want to hear about how you live as a minimalist, how you stay on track, how you are continuously working on it even though you are now down to 3 items of clothing, a fork, and no car.

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