Eight years ago, a sunny Memorial Day weekend meant one thing for Joshua Becker: he would finally have time to clean out the garage.
As Becker was tackling boxes, bikes, and brooms, his young son appeared with bat and ball in hand: “Will you play with me, Dad?”
“Sorry, buddy, I can’t,” Becker told him. “But we can play as soon as I finish.”
As the hours passed, a father-son game of catch seemed less likely. A neighbor, working in her yard next door, struck up a conversation with Becker. Seeing his mounting frustration with the mountain of stuff, the neighbor quipped sarcastically, “Ah, the joys of homeownership!”
Becker responded, “Well, you know what they say — the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.”
Becker says the neighbor’s next words changed his life: “That’s why my daughter is a minimalist. She keeps telling me I don’t need to own all this stuff.”
The Beginnings of Becoming Minimalist
That idea — I don’t need to own all this stuff — resonated with Becker. He and his wife, Kim, decided to give minimalism a try.
That weekend Becker created a blog, Becoming Minimalist, to update family and friends on their young family’s journey toward minimalism. Within six months, he and Kim sold, gave away, and threw away 50 percent of their belongings.
The blog’s readership quickly grew, and Becker began fielding media inquiries and speaking requests. In 2014 Becker transitioned to being a full-time promoter of minimalism. Today the blog gets one million readers each month, and Becker has published several books, including Simplify, Clutterfree with Kids, and most recently The More of Less, a USA Today and Amazon best-seller.
Becker’s overarching message is this: “Our excessive possessions are not making us happy. Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue the things that do.”
The Life-Changing Magic of Minimalism
Minimalism can give you more than a clean house — it also provides peace of mind. Becker says that’s especially helpful for transitioning to self-employment or starting a business.
“One of the greatest fears of people who want to go to self-employment is whether they can make enough money to live and be happy,” he says. “Because I had embraced minimalist principles in my life, in that I wasn’t buying a lot of stuff and didn’t want to buy a lot of stuff, the baseline amount of money that I needed to live was pretty small. Removing that fear made the jump to self-employment so much easier.”
But Becker isn’t the only person who’s been transformed by the magic of minimalism. In fact, the most rewarding part of Becker’s work comes from readers’ stories about how their lives have changed.
On a recent book tour stop in Victoria, British Columbia, a woman came up to Becker and began sharing her story: She had just moved to Victoria from another city, where she had been working a job she didn’t like. After reading Becoming Minimalist, she saved money by downsizing to a smaller home and moved to Victoria, where she had always wanted to live. As this woman spoke, another woman walked up and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I’m so excited to meet you, and I wanted to tell you I live in Victoria because of your writing.” Just like the other woman, she quit an unsatisfying job and moved to Victoria, where she really wanted to live, and embracing minimalism helped make it possible. Becker introduced the women to each other, and naturally, they became pals.
“Both of their stories were about finding contentment with less, allowing them to live the life they’ve always wanted to,” Becker says.
The Role of Bluehost in an Uncluttered Life
As the blog grew, Becker switched his blog to a self-hosted domain using Bluehost. “Having a self-hosted domain adds an element of professionalism and stability,” Becker says. “Consistency is so important in blogging. I think one thing that’s made me successful is that I’ve been consistently blogging for eight years, and having a self-hosted domain communicates that I’m committed — not just blogging on a whim.”
Bluehost is also part of Becker’s business model. He has steered clear of two things that are the bread and butter of most bloggers: advertising and building email lists. As he wrote in a blog post explaining the thought process behind his business model, “The result is a clean site that focuses reader attention exclusively on the words and the message.” It naturally fits with Becker’s uncluttered philosophy.
Instead, Becker relies on other income sources, including book sales, online courses, and Amazon affiliate income. Another source is the Bluehost web hosting affiliate program, which allows partners to earn $65 for each customer they refer to Bluehost. Becker says it’s a valuable part of his income: “It has allowed me to do what I do and support my family while doing it.”
The affordability of Bluehost also appeals to Becker’s minimalism. “Even when I was getting a ton of traffic, it was very inexpensive,” he says. “I was paying only about seventy dollars a year.”
And he doesn’t mind the help along the way: “They’ve been very helpful in solving some technical problems that have come up,” Becker says, although he says sometimes he hires someone to resolve larger technical issues. “I’ve been very happy with Bluehost’s customer support. Just yesterday, I was having some website redirect problems. Within ten minutes of talking to someone, they were able to fix my problem.”
Becker says minimalism has reshaped the goals of his business, and could be applied to any business. “Minimalism is about focusing on what’s most important, so applying that principle to business means you focus on what you do really well and try to be the best at it — and then, instead of asking, ‘How can I make the most amount of money?’ you ask ‘How can I help the most amount of people?’ It’s a more fulfilling way to work.”
Holly Munson is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist based in Philadelphia. She has been reporting on business trends for seven years and has also worked in marketing, magazines, and museums.