Becoming Minimalist: A Life-Changing Year of Evolution

If you don’t mind, I’m going to take some time and personally reminisce about the past year at Becoming Minimalist. It’s been a crazy, life-changing ride that I never expected. For a variety of reasons, I have kept no official record of statistical growth. But here is what I know…

  • On January 1, Becoming Minimalist had less than 500 subscribed readers. Today, it has 7,500.
  • On January 1, Becoming Minimalist had 0 Facebook fans. Today, it has well over 1,000.
  • On January 1, Becoming Minimalist had 0 Twitter followers. Today, it has almost 2,000.
  • On January 1, Becoming Minimalist averaged less than 25,000 views/month. Today, it receives 400,000 views/month.

In addition to the statistical growth, Becoming Minimalist has had opportunity to inspire others through various interviews, media reports, and speaking engagements. It has helped introduce its readers to new writers in the minimalist movement. And has begun to define my life in ways I never dreamt including new relationships, influence, and opportunities. It has been a crazy, life-changing ride, indeed.

With that as an introduction, looking back, the following posts best retell this blog’s evolution…

January 06belts! why didn’t I think of that? – To get a quick sense of how much this blog has evolved in the past year, check out what I was writing about at the beginning of the year. It was generally a me-focused blog documenting my journey towards minimalism with short 2-3 sentence posts.

January 03 becoming minimalist on facebook– I wish I could tell you why we started a Facebook Fan page on January 3rd, but to be honest, I don’t remember. I know it wasn’t because we were strategic about social media (we didn’t join Twitter until late-February). More than likely, it just sounded like a fun thing to do and we didn’t have anything else to post that day.

January 13top 15– I can remember where I was sitting when I logged-in to the blog on Wednesday, January 13 and noticed a surprising jump in blog views. One more click revealed that Charley Forness had named Becoming Minimalist as one of the Top 15 Simplicity/Minimalist Bloggers to Watch in 2010.  If you’d like to get an idea of how I live my life… my next movement was to run upstairs to my wife and say, “You’ll never guess what just happened.” And promptly show her the post that was driving the traffic. At some point, I certainly said, “Kim, can you believe it? Who is this guy? And how did he find my blog?” It was that post that introduced to me the idea that Becoming Minimalist was becoming something far bigger than I ever dreamed.

February 02the art of being minimalist by everett bogue– I don’t exactly recall how I stumbled on the release of Everett’s e-book… as I rarely read any other minimalist bloggers those days. But when I did, things changed forever. When I found The Art of Being Minimalist, I noticed that Everett was offering an affiliate commission to anyone who referred a sale to his site. Without even reading it (as I mention in the post), I immediately thought the book would be perfect for my small number of readers and I was intrigued to see what would happen if I directed people towards it. I was shocked to sell 18 books that weekend and earn $90. It was the first real income to be generated from this site. And in response, my immediate thought was, “Oh, I get it now. If you offer affiliate income opportunities, other bloggers will support your work because your success means their success. And who is this Everett-guy anyway? I’ve got enough material over the years to write a helpful e-book.” And the process began immediately to outline my existing blog content into a readable structure for an e-book.

February 22Our E-book: Simplify. Now Available. – Our e-book, Simplify was released on Monday, February 22nd to great reviews and fanfare (of the 60 advance copies sent out, only 1 review came back negative). It was called, “a simple, straight-forward guide to simplifying your life… encouraging and practical… inspirational… a must-read” and that it “demystifies going minimal and makes it accessible to a whole new audience… redefines minimalism.” I was blown away by its reviews and continue to be surprised at its success. To date, it has sold over 1,000 copies and continues to sell every single day.

February 27on twitter – I had learned the power and influence of Twitter over the previous three weeks as I had seen traffic arrive at Becoming Minimalist from various tweets promoting the book and Everett’s. On February 27, I decided to join under the name, joshua_becker.

March 01 – When You’re a Minimalist, But Your Partner Isn’t – What may seem as just another blog post to most of you, holds special meaning in my heart. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this is the post that changed Becoming Minimalist from a blog about our journey to a blog about your journey. It broke our previous mold of “today we are cleaning out belts” and ushered in a new mold of inspiration through “here are some lessons we have learned that you may find valuable.” It was actually the comments on this post (thank you for this timely message…this is very helpful…this post really hits home) that changed the way I viewed blogging. I think the exact thought was, “Wait a minute. You mean this blog has the opportunity to actually help people around the world find a better life than hopelessly pursuing possessions? I’m in!” And over the next 2-3 weeks, our new writing voice was developed (and continues to be developed even today).

March 08The Unmistakable Freedom of Contentment and How to Achieve It – Again, a post that means far more to me than it means to you. When we decided to tackle the heart issue of contentment, it was the first time we moved from the physical (live with less belts) to the internal, soul issues of minimalism. Living a minimalist life became an inward journey for me… one that was going to require me to wrestle with topics such as contentment, generosity, forgiveness, and the love of money. This journey would begin to define this blog and separate it from the other minimalist blogs in the niche.

March 10the lost practice of resting one day each week– When Leo Babauta asked me to contribute a post to his site, Zen Habits, I was simultaneously shocked, humbled, and scared to death. I had a post rolling around in the back of my head for quite some time on the topic of finding rest, but could never see how it fit into the narrow niche of this blog. I offered him the post idea and he gladly agreed to use it. I spent weeks refining it and editing it. And was blown away by the positive response when he posted it on March 10.

March 26 10 Things Children Need That Money Can’t Buy – Another defining feature of Becoming Minimalist is the approach that it takes towards family – whether that be marriage or parenthood. On March 26, for the first time, I began to speak freely about my philosophy of parenthood. And yet again, Becoming Minimalist was further defined.

April 12 – I began using capital letters officially in all posts.

April 16 Substance Over Stuff Tumblr – As my understanding of the web began to develop, so did my appreciation for its wealth and variety of information. Substance Over Stuff was born as a place to share valuable articles, quotes, and photos that I ran across during research.

April 23How to be a Successful Blogger and KEEP Your Day Job– Following the success of the first e-book and the unexpected growth of this blog because of it, I was forced to spend some time evaluating my life and determining what I wanted it to become. For my full-time job, I oversee the spiritual development of middle-school and high-school students. It is a job that I love and offers my life far more value than a paycheck. It is something that I feel called to do by a power greater than myself… and have determined that I have no desire to trade it for anything else. This post furthered cemented that truth in my mind.

April 28How to Keep the Minimalist Movement Attractive to the Masses.– I never set out to become a voice in the minimalist movement, but when a small debate broke out online among some minimalist bloggers over the 100-Thing Challenge, I felt inclined to lend my voice. It was the first time I wrote a post aimed towards minimalists specifically. I don’t do it very often. To be honest, my preference is to invite those outside the movement to embrace it rather than further discuss the nuance of the practice itself. This post helped me further define what the goal and purpose of Becoming Minimalist was going to be.

May 12How to Go Car-Lite– On May 12, Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittenswrote the first guest post in the history of Becoming Minimalist. Since then, this blog has become a place where many new and fresh minimalist bloggers have had the opportunity to introduce themselves to a larger audience. It will continue to serve that purpose in the future.

July 23Becoming Minimalist 3.0 – Three days before the launch of our second book, Becoming Minimalist received a new look with logo design by Josh Davis and theme by Thesis. I continue to love its clean, modern look.

July 26 Inside-Out Simplicity – From the Red Rooster Coffee House in Aberdeen, SD, our second e-book was launched. In many ways, it was the book that I always wanted to write. The book goes well beyond the external fixes to our complicated lives and focuses on the heart issues required for a simplified life. It is based on the premise that a truly simplified lifestyle begins in a person’s soul. It helps the reader find an inside-out simplicity by focusing on the key life-changing principles necessary in their most important relationships. It is a weighty book that dares to tackle some very controversial topics including sexuality and spirituality. And if you already agree with everything in it, I have not done my job.

September 13Becoming Minimalist: Where I’m Speaking and What I’m Saying – When I received three speaking invitations during the summer months of 2010, I was again blown away. The blog had truly become a platform for opportunities I never dreamt possible. And each time, the opportunity to inspire and reach those outside the movement continues to grow. Already at this point, there are three engagements set-up for 2011 at various venues across the country.

November 21 – The Archives Page was reorganized into a much friendlier format for readers.

November 2635 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget– The post that has quickly become our most popular post of all-time was written as a response to Black Friday. In fact, the idea for the post only came the night before it was published. As Thanksgiving day was coming to a close and I reflected on my old life of waking up early on Black Friday to get the best deals of the year, I wondered what to do in response. I decided to wake up early as always, but not to shop. Instead, I woke up early hoping to inspire others to find greater value in life than the things on sale at Best Buy. And a post with 200 tweets and 2,500+ Facebook likes was written. It has received links from all over the web (including Get Rich Slowlyand the Simple Dollar). Thanks everybody who contributed to its success.

Whether you were one of the few readers of Becoming Minimalist on January 1, 2010 or are one of the 300,000+ who found us in 2010, welcome and thank you. As this blog goes forward into 2011, it will certainly continue to evolve and be redefined. However, it will always stay true to its core message that there is more joy to be found in owning less than can be found in pursuing more. We are just as excited as you to see what lies ahead.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Hey Joshua-

    I love success stories and this is exactly that. In some ways, I am sad because I was on a similar path with TMP but lost the focus and passion. It is still wonderful to see someone I have watched for so long do so much for themselves, others and myself.

    I wish you and yours a wonderful new year.

    David Damron

  2. says

    Thanks Joshua – this kind of chronological breakdown was very helpful to me. As someone who’s tippy-toeing my way into blogging, it’s calming and encouraging to see that there is a long evolutionary process to go through. Also I wanted to say thanks for introducing me to Project333 and Courtney Carver, earlier in the year.

  3. says

    Congratulations on your success! I have been reading for quite some time. I am not sure when I subscribed but it was a while ago. You have been an inspiration to me!

    P.S. I lol’ed at April 12.

  4. Marc says

    Love readin’ minimalist blogs – including yours – but think one should not boast too much about growth (even in popularity). A true minimalist will always be humble and modest.

  5. says

    Joshua, I remember when you started using capital letters! It seems like ages and ages ago. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart for your success this year, and thanks so much for the post in which you linked my blog, which still sends readers my way. Your progress as a blogger sets a good, and natural, example for the rest of us to learn from. You’re a good egg :)

  6. Penny says

    Congratulations on a year of success and growth! My favorite post of the year was “15 Intangible, Surefire Ways to Impress Others”. Actually, they are all pretty great! Thanks again, and I wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2011!

  7. says

    What a year! I actually enjoyed the blog more when it was personal and based on the experiences of your family – there is tons of info out there about the philosophy of simplicity, but few about the personal side and how-to’s.

    Best wishes and thanks!

  8. says

    Hi Joshua, it was your site that first introduced me to minimalism about 2 months ago. I’m now on my own journey to paring down and focusing on what really matters. Thanks for starting me on this path. Congratulations on your success. The best is definitely yet to come!

  9. says

    Congrats on a fabulous year! I don’t remember when I subscribed, but do remember reading all of the posts that you listed, so it must have been in 2009. No matter when it was, I continue to be excited when I see a Becoming Minimalist post show up in my reader, and look forward to see what next year holds in store!

  10. says

    You must have spent some time compiling this post. It’s interesting to see how much blogs evolve — and how relatively quickly it happens.

    It’s also nice to see so many names I recognize commenting on your blog. Many of these people are my friends and commenters now, too, and that wasn’t the case for me when 2010 began. Your blog is responsible for that in some cases.


  11. says

    Thanks so much for this candid review of your past year. Not only does it help others reflect on their past year, but it also shows other bloggers (although that may not have been your intention) that success is achievable.

  12. LD says

    I am revitalized by attempting to find the beauty and value in life that is not tied up in its belongings. Truthfully the impetus to begin that journey started with one of your blogs which a friend shared earlier in the year, and I hope that 2011 continues to be as meaningful for our family.

    It is very difficult in these materialistic, debt-laden times to get young children appreciate not having the latest and greatest toy, or indeed more toys than they could possibly play with. Those seeds have been planted, even though they don’t realize it because thanks to your post on the gifts to give your children we have had a family breakfast together ever morning since (sadly almost never in the 7 years prior). And boy oh boy do they look forward to that single, simple, yet remarkably necessary start to our day.

  13. says

    I found your blog a couple of months ago and for a newer reader it was wonderful to read through this post and all the past posts you linked. I was also thrilled to be directed back to your post on prayer, as I wasn’t following at that point and I really appreciate know what that post illuminates about you. Thankful for your voice in this blog circuit and I hope to connect in 2011 as my new blog begins in just a few days with similar influences but a very specific project ahead. Here is to 2011!

  14. says

    Congrats! You are an inspiration to fellow bloggers, and non-bloggers alike. Well done. Best wishes in 2011, looking forward to a good year.


  15. says

    Recently discovered your Blog and can’t get enough of it. It has helped me further define the path I have been on for some time. When we get rid of the good in our lives we make room for the great. I think that is the real power behind becoming a minimalist. By removing our attraction and addiction to things we create room for the power that experiences and people can bring to our lives. Great work – congrats for your success.

  16. says

    Congratulations on an exceptional year, Joshua! I remember reading each one of those posts. March 8, April 28, and November 26 were my fave posts for 2010. They truly did help to define your journey in minimalism. Looking forward to 2011…

  17. says

    Hey Joshua, 2010 sounded like an incredibly fruitful year for you. I’m similar to a lot of your Jan. 1st numbers, and I would be thrilled to end 2011 the way you ended 2010.

    Here’s to another year of reaching new plateaus!

  18. says

    Hi Joshua,

    Thank you for sharing the progress as it unfolded for you here at Becoming Minimalist in 2010. Really inspiring to trace the significant moments for your site over the past 12 months!

  19. says

    I just found your blog. The problem is I don’t have time to read everything! Is there a Minimalist 101 list somewhere? I thought I saw it, then navigated away and lost it. I am really struggling with getting rid of stuff. I’ve finally decided to move, after living here 16 years, in order to FORCE myself to get rid of everything. Oh, it’s so hard…and so time consuming. I need strength! :)

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