Frequently Asked Questions
This is a question and answer session with Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.
Question: I’m new to your website. Where should I start?
Ryan: Start at the beginning.
Joshua: That doesn’t make any sense, Ryan. Actually, we have a great start here page for all of our new readers.
Question: What is minimalism?
Ryan: Who wants to know?
Joshua: Would you just be quiet and let me answer the questions please? Anyway, Minimalism is a tool we use to get rid of the excess stuff in our lives in favor of the essential. Minimalism allows us to focus on what’s important in life so we can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom. It can help you find your mission in life, discover your passions, improve your relationships, and even live a healthier lifestyle. See our What Is Minimalism? page for a full explanation and some good links that will help you discover minimalism for yourself.
Question: Where do you guys live?
Ryan: I live at my house. Duh!
Joshua: I think they mean, ‘In what city do you live?’ We both live in beautiful Montana by way of Dayton, Ohio.
Question: What inspired you guys to start theminimalists.com website?
Ryan: The Spanish romantic painter Francisco Goya came to me in a dream and told me to start this site.
Joshua: You don’t even know who that is. Basically, we were tired of not being happy. We stumbled across this thing called minimalism and discovered it as a tool to bring meaning back into our lives. We started this site to chronicle our journey into minimalism and to ultimately help others discover minimalism by taking action. Read our bios here.
Question: How do I become a minimalist?
Ryan: Just call the toll free number on your screen. But act now, supplies are limited.
Joshua: There is no toll free number on the screen. Besides, minimalism isn’t something you can buy. You can follow our website and follow other minimalists (see our links page) to get a more thorough understanding of minimalism.
Question: Did anyone in particular inspire you to start this site?
Joshua: Yes, we were inspired by dozens of minimalist websites, especially Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist, Colin Wright’s Exile Lifestyle, Courtney Carver’s Be More with Less, and Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits and mnmlist.com.
Question: What was the hardest part of your journey? Easiest part?
Ryan: Making the decision to do it was the hardest part for me. And not just do it half-assed, but really do it. Really become a minimalist. Making that decision was difficult and made me very nervous and anxious at first. Also, I thought getting rid of my cable TV subscription was going to be hard but it wasn’t, it was actually pretty damn easy (to be clear though, you don’t have to get rid of your TV to be a minimalist, but I wanted to so I could focus on what’s important in my life; watching reruns of MASH just wasn’t important for me).
Joshua: Taking action—especially your first few steps—is usually the hardest part. Culturally, we are taught that “information is power” or “knowledge is power,” but true power is in action. Take action and don’t get stuck in the paralysis of analysis. The easiest part was trashing stuff I didn’t use. Once the decision was made and I started taking action, throwing out and donating the stuff that I didn’t need was easy.
Question: Are there any spiritual or religious aspects in minimalism.
Ryan: Yes, you have to practice witchcraft and pray to the forrest every fortnight.
Joshua: No. Well, not necessarily. Minimalism isn’t about spirituality or religion, but there are a lot of minimalists who follow God or live by a set of spiritual principles. Whatever you believe (or don’t believe) minimalism can fit that lifestyle.
Question: How did you guys design such a cool website?
Ryan: I like spaghetti.
Joshua: Yes, yes you do. Honestly, we could hardly spell HTML when we started this thing, let alone build a website. We knew we wanted to document our journey and we wanted to help other people, but we had no clue how to build a website. But, as my mother used to say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Ryan: Who’s Will?
Joshua: Umm, so this is what we did, plain and simple:
The first thing we did was go to InMotion and register our domain (note: we didn’t set up a WordPress page first; InMotion does all that for you). We also paid InMotion $6 a month to host our website (note: we’re an InMotion affiliate now, so our link gets our readers a free domain and a 20% discount off the monthly price). So it basically costs us $6 per month to operate this site. Then we did an advanced install of WordPress through InMotion (and if we had any questions we could chat with the “live chat” folks at InMotion for free; they pointed us in the right direction and made it super easy).
Then we did an advanced install of WordPress through InMotion (we had to chat with the “live chat” folks at InMotion, but they pointed us in the right direction and made it super easy).
Next we paid $97 for a theme from Catalyst that made things much easier to manage since we don’t know anything about coding (more on that specific theme in the next question).
Then we spent a lot of time tweaking the theme to get the look and feel we wanted. Then we spent even more time tweaking the theme and arguing about it and tweaking it some more.
Last, we started uploading our content (via our WordPress site). We designed the logo using some free images we found online and text from a regular word processing program.
We also wrote an essay called How to Start a Successful Blog Today. There are a lot of details in that long essay.
Question: What WordPress theme are you using?
Ryan: I have to use the restroom, I’ll be right back.
Joshua: We are using the Catalyst Theme, which made everything way easier since we didn’t know anything about coding or building a website. If you want a theme, we recommend Catalyst because it’s easy and not too expensive (only $97). Plus we are a Catalyst affiliate partner, so we get a small kickback if you go there from our site and pay for the theme. Don’t take our word for it though, click the link above, and go to Catalyst and check out their demo video, you will be blown away.
Ryan: OK, I’m back, sorry about that. What was the question again?
Joshua: Did you wash your hands?
Ryan: I’ll be right back.
Question: I met you guys at an event and you gave me a really cool business card. Where did you get those printed?
Ryan: We have business cards? Wow! That’s so cool!
Joshua: Thanks, we love our Business Cards from Moo too. The paper quality is amazing, the printing is fast and inexpensive. Check out their site by clicking the above link. Don’t know how to design a card? That’s OK, neither did we, their site does it for you.
Question: Do you guys make money from this site? If so, how?
Ryan: Yes, but I’m not really sure how.
Joshua: Let me elaborate a bit.
Yes, we do make some money from this site, but that’s not the reason we started it. This site is 100% reader supported, which means we chose not to use any advertisements on our site. We believe this makes a better, more honest experience for our readers.
So, there are only a few ways this site makes money: our books, our classes, and stuff we recommend. For more info, visit our reader supported page. Your generosity will help keep this site alive. Thank you for your support. We appreciate it.
Question: Why did you guys get rid of comments on your website?
Ryan: If we got rid of comments, then how did you ask that question?
Josh: Actually, we recently wrote and essay about why we killed the comments on this site.
Question: I noticed you guys have two domains for this site: theminimalists.com and themins.com. What’s the difference?
Ryan: Well aren’t you Mr. Observant.
Joshua: Ryan, you can’t be belligerent to our readers.
Ryan: Oh, sorry about that.
Joshua: There actually isn’t much of a difference between the two URLs. This site is officially theminimalists.com, but we also registered themins.com (for a few bucks per year with InMotion) so we could have a shortened URL if we needed it. For example, if we want to tell the world about our Tyler Durden Fight Club Minimalism article via twitter, we can use the shortened address http://themins.com/fc and it just forwards to the longer URL. Plus we kind of just liked the sound of themins.com.
Question: Who did the photography on your website?
Ryan: I did. I used a Polaroid camera and some cool Microsoft Paint effects to really spruce things up. Nice, huh?
Joshua: No you didn’t, you don’t even own a Polaroid camera. Our friends Adam Dressler, Mick Evans, and Hillary Hopkins did our photography. Adam is a preacher at a church in Cincinnati; we went to high school with him in the 90s. Mick is a musician, a photographer, and he works for one of our favorite coffeehouses, Dayton-based Boston Stoker. Hillary is also a photographer in Dayton and she also works at Boston Stoker. They are both great people and I’m sure they would love to take pictures for you if you’d like to pay them a little cash. There are plenty of goofy photos of us here.
Question: How can I contact you guys?
Ryan: Send me a fax or a telegram or, preferably, a note via carrier pigeon.
Joshua: Yeah, but if that doesn’t work, you should contact us via email. If you need to talk to us in person, then we can set up a phone call or a face to face conversation after you contact us.
Question: Why are you guys so freaking cool and funny and handsome?
Joshua: Umm, Ryan, you aren’t supposed to be asking the questions here.