Ev Bogue is a location independent online entrepreneur from www.evbogue.com. Ev became known in the blogosphere by running a blog on minimalism Far Beyond The Stars from October 2009 to February 2011.
How did he manage to to build and monetize a successful blog? Why did he decide to eventually take it down? What he’s up to now? You’ll find answers in this interview.
You’ve had a lot of experience in blogging before launching Far Beyond The Stars. Can you tell us more about it?
I’ve been active in publishing on the Internet for more than a decade. I started my first blog in 1999, when everyone else started their first blogs – because the technology was just being invented. It’s hard to remember, but before 1999, it was really hard for anyone to publish anything independently. I would have had to go through a newspaper or a magazine to talk to you in this way.
The blog you mention, Far Beyond The Stars, was a blog I created in 2009 after I quit my job working on the blogging team at New York Magazine and moved from New York to Portland Oregon. I deleted Far Beyond The Stars a little over a year after I created it, in February of 2011.
Three years later, I’m living and working from anywhere in the world. You can see all of the places I’ve lived over at my Google+ profile. I’m very active on Google+ right now.
Why did you start Far Beyond The Stars and what was that blog all about?
Far Beyond The Stars was about creating location independent businesses and living and working from anywhere – basically, what I write about right now. These days, I prefer writing to Inboxes over writing to blogs, as it’s a much more intimate experience for everyone involved. I can write with more candor to your Inbox than I can to the public web.
How did you manage to stand out from many other minimalism-related blogs?
In 2009, there were only 4-5 people writing about minimalism. I was one of that small number.
I’ve been living out of a backpack for a few years now, moving whenever I want to. My Minimalist Business exists in the cloud, it has very little overhead, and it allows me to live the life I choose.
What was your process for writing your blog posts that impressed so many people?
For me, writing is a process of experimenting with my life and reporting back what I find. This means never settling. It means measuring whatever I experiment with, and most importantly, untethering when things don’t work.
Untethering is constantly asking the question ‘why?’ of everything in my life. I can apply this to writing. For example, why am I writing this piece?
Writing is just a strategy to reach people with a message that’s important. If the message isn’t important, it won’t reach people.
What was your strategy for growing traffic in the early days of Far Beyond The Stars and how did it change once your blog became more popular?
The strategies I, or anyone for that matter, used to grow a blog in 2009 won’t work now. The world has changed, and we can choose to change with it.
I’m constantly experimenting to see what’s working, and what isn’t. If it isn’t working, I untether.
I wouldn’t use any of the strategies I used to build a blog three years ago right now. These strategies just don’t work anymore, because the technologies we use have changed dramatically in the last three years.
What’s working for me right now is writing for inboxes and using Google+ to meet new people who are interested in my work.
Can you tell us more about how did you use interviews to get traffic (..how did you get people to do interviews, how did you choose what questions to ask, how did it affect the traffic, etc.)?
In the beginning of learning to be location independent, I had a lot of questions about how people were living and working from anywhere. Since I hadn’t done it myself, I was very curious. I reached out to people I knew who were living and working from anywhere, and asked them questions that were on my mind at the time.
At the time, these interviews really landed for people.
If you have something you’re wondering about, I definitely suggest interviewing as a strategy to meet your need for clarity around the subject.
You’ve mentioned in one of your previous interviews that you were always focused on building a quality following (as opposed to a quantity following). How did you manage to build a quality following from scratch?
I get this question a lot: how can I build a following?
From me, it’s really important to think about what I’m offering to people. A following doesn’t just build, I have to offer something that benefits other people. I wrote a lot about this Minimalist Business, if benefiting others in order to build a following is interesting to you.
Once you have something to offer people, the following will come, because people will be interested.
I discover what I have to offer by experimenting with my life. For example, a little less than a month ago I threw all of my stuff in one bag and jumped on an 18 hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore. I’m learning a lot at the moment, because I’m challenging myself.
Get out into the world and experiment, and tell us what you discover.
You might be surprised about how much your audience builds once you’re experimenting.
You have successfully monetized Far Beyond The Stars. How did you go about it (..deciding what product to create, creating it, launching it, marketing it, etc.)?
In 2010, I wrote a book called The Art of Being Minimalist, which was my first real offering to the world via the web, on my own. Over 1,000 people purchased this book, because it was a hot topic at the time.
My current core offering is Minimalist Business, it’s about how to live and work from anywhere in the world. I decided to rework Minimalist Business from scratch at the beginning of 2012, because it’s my core competency. I’m not sure there are many people who know more about living and working from anywhere in the world as I do. If you’re one of them, I’d love to hear from you.
The truth about creating products is they need to benefit other people. If I’m not creating anything useful, people aren’t going to be interested.
There’s very little friction on the Internet these days. Ideas worth spreading spread.
You seem to know quite a few influential people. How did you build your personal network of an amazing people? What role did networking with other bloggers play in your success?
I think the most important person to get to know is myself. I do this by experimenting in the world to see what I can learn. As I’ve traveled the world, I’ve been privileged to meet up with some really amazing people who are living the way they want to.
In my experience, the most important way to network is when you genuinely feel interested in another person.
One of the ways I do this is by creating a circle of people on Google+ I’m interested in. By interested, I mean I’m enthusiastic about what they’re posting.
When I’m not interested anymore, I untether.
You’ve built a successful blog, yet you decided to take it down and move on, which was a very unusual decision. What were your reasons for that?
The world we live in is project-based. In my experience, if I continue to work on a project after I’m no longer enthusiastic about it, I begin to feel drained. I deleted Far Beyond The Stars because it was time to untether.
In many ways, I’ve discovered what I’ve decided to give up doing has more of an impact on my life than what I decide to do. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I kept working at New York Magazine. I wouldn’t be where I am today, if I kept worked on Far Beyond The Stars.
What are your online entrepreneurship-related future plans?
What I’m doing next is always a surprise. If you’re interested in what I’m doing next, be sure to sign up for my list. I write my most important work to inboxes right now.
Last, but not least, if you could only give a single piece of advice to someone who wants to build a successful blog-based business, what would it be?
Technology is in flux and evolving at an exponential velocity. The only way you’ll figure out what’s working right now is to experiment. It might be you don’t need a blog for your business to work, I certainly don’t need a blog anymore.
Don’t take advice from anyone without experimenting to see if what they’re saying actually works.