How The Minimalists Built an Audience of 100,000 in Just 9 Months

  • November 1, 2011 by Caleb Wojcik

And you thought the minimalist niche was fully saturated.

We sat down with Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists to discuss how they built their audience from scratch since the beginning of 2011 to over 100,000 visitors a month.

They were able to carve out a (profitable) piece of the minimalism audience and quit their six-figure day jobs to dedicate themselves full-time to their online passions.

In this video you will learn whether or not you have to be a good writer to launch a successful blog, how you can replace a full-time job with just a few focused income streams, and how to increase engagement with your readers and customers.

(If you are reading this in an email, click here to view the video.)

If you want to find out more about Josh and Ryan head over to The Minimalists. You can also check out their books on Amazon (non-affiliate links): Falling While Sitting Down: Stories and Minimalism: Essential Essays.

Now we want to hear from you, how can you focus more on building your audience this week?

Also, if you have any questions for Ryan or Josh, please leave them in the comments below.

Written by . Caleb Wojcik is one of the 3 C's at Think Traffic and He writes at and hosts the Cubicle Renegade Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @CalebWojcik.

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Christiaan November 1, 2011 at 6:12 am

These guys are an inspiration! Indeed, I thought the minimalist niche was fully saturated by now. (And I’ve been in it for almost three years already…)


I almost had the idea that blogging was somehow slowly dying. That it was no longer possible to build a new blog and have such a success. Well, that idea just went to the bin. :)

Gregory Ciotti November 1, 2011 at 6:41 am

Not dying, just way more competition, it’s a lot harder to make your breakthrough than in the old days.

Scott Dudley November 1, 2011 at 6:50 am

Man these guys are so down to earth – what an awesome story. It’s easy to see how they have become so popular.

Adding value and solving people’s problems is so underrated but so effective to build a large loyal following of people that know, like and trust you.

Having said that though I am not sure If I want to live that sort of lifestyle myself.

Benjamin Spall November 1, 2011 at 6:56 am

Inspiring interview, what bloody charming gentlemen (yourself included of course, Corbett).

Corbett Barr November 1, 2011 at 11:16 am

Thanks Benjamin, I try only to have charming guests on ;)

Dan November 1, 2011 at 7:14 am

Great video! Re-emphasising the golden rule – “Content is King!”

I notice that their books are very cheap ($0.99 – $2.99) compared to a lot of ebooks, which may be more commonly priced around $20 – $50.

I wonder what the optimum price point is for this kind of ebook. Any thoughts?

Corbett Barr November 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

Great question Dan. There’s a big difference between publishing for the Amazon Kindle market vs. publishing on your blog only. You can sell a lot more copies on Kindle, but the price has to be a lot lower to hit the sweet spot for a wider audience. On your on site, you’re publishing for a narrower audience who already knows and values you specifically.

Joshua Fields Millburn November 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm


I’m still wondering that myself. I think it varies for fiction and non-fiction. I priced my short story collection for $0.99 for the first few weeks because it was more important that people read it than I make money from it.

I think the answer will likely be somewhere between $3 to $20 depending on the type content and its demand (among other factors).

Take care,

Christiaan November 1, 2011 at 7:54 am

The optimum price on an eBook.

On the one hand I’d think “whatever you are willing to pay” on the other hand as cheap as possible. Some people give away eBooks containing dozens of pages, others let you pay A LOT for just a dozen pages.

In general I think that $9.99 and below is about right. Anything under $5 can easily be an impulse buy and I’m sure a lot of people will do that. Your regular customers/buyers/readers will buy, no matter the price (well, almost) but to get the impulse buyers as well, you don’t want to overprice.

After all, it’s just a few bits that you’re selling, nothing physical that will take you more time to generate more copies of.

Corbett Barr November 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

A friend has done some research on Kindle publishing, and $2.99 was a revenue maximizing point for his type of book.

Tim Soulo November 1, 2011 at 8:04 am

well… this interview is not that detailed as the one with James Clear but still it’s quite inspiring too :)

The main takeaway for me is that being an awesome writer is enough to skyrocket your blog growth! :)

Josh Sarz November 1, 2011 at 8:40 am

Great video, great conversation.

I find this piece really informative especially since my niche is somewhat related to theirs, just not as extreme as going full minimalism with life.

Stay simple, stay awesome.

Colin Wright November 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

These guys have earned all the fans they’ve got, and I have no doubt that they’ll continue to earn more.

Great work, Josh and Ryan, and really solid interview, Corbett!

Corbett Barr November 1, 2011 at 11:27 am

Thanks Colin!

And, credit where it’s due, I should mention to everyone reading this that Colin is another of the earlier successful bloggers who wrote about minimalism (among other things). Cheers.

Joshua Fields Millburn November 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Corbett — Great talking to you. Enjoyed the discussion.

Everyone else — thanks for the kind comments. We’ll be checking these comments throughout the coming days. Love hearing from you.


Anna November 1, 2011 at 7:23 pm

They gave me tons of inspiration! Great work!

Alex Moscow November 2, 2011 at 8:23 am

This is a great video. When i was young i was told that if you follow your passions you’ll not only have a happy life but also achieve financial success. While deep down I hoped it was true, it conflicted with so much of the guff that we are programmed with at school and in our careers. These two are living the dream and show that thriving through your passions is not a childhood wish but a reality. It also shows that there is no such thing as a crowded niche. If you have something to say and do so authentically you can find an audience. After all there is very little in Hollywood that is truly original in terms of the themes but it is the characters and the way the stories are told that gives them their uniqueness and popularity. Cheers all.

Lorilee @ Loving Simple November 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

Thanks for the interview. Well done. I also feel really new to the whole blogging world, but I am excited about it.

Elisabeth November 3, 2011 at 5:46 am

An excellent book I am reading at the moment is “Content Rules” by Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman. In the first few chapters they discuss, (as Joshua did on the interview) “Who are you writing for?”, “What are you trying to achieve?” along with a few other questions. They state “Insight inspires creativity,” – that if you know the answer to these questions you’ll be able to write more effectively.

I really enjoyed the interview and congratulate them on their success. It’s kind of ironic how they knew almost nothing when they began about running a website and yet they’ve been quite successful and yet on the other hand, there are people who try for years who haven’t reached more than a handful of readers. Maybe we’re focusing too much on the money first instead of what value we can bring to the reader’s life?

Jon Cooper November 3, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Awesome video Corbett, glad to see you going out of your way to get awesome content like this!

I also noticed something that I might write about soon. People think there’s some magic factor that makes blogs successful, when time after time people like Ryan & Joshua talk about Content being the reason for success. Maybe if we stopped worrying about jumping through loops to get social media mentions & links and instead spend that extra 30 minutes to turn good content into great.


Sharon Knight November 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I loved this interview! Admittedly, a lot of why I loved it is that it confirms my own strategy, being authentic. Still, affirmation is good, and useful as you are building.

Todd Pettee November 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Great interview, Corbett, Ryan and Josh!

I loved hearing the “secret” to their success… writing valuable, authentic content.

That alone separates them from what the multitudes are doing, and that’s exactly why they stand out from the crowd.

I really like the simple, practical, advice that I’m seeing here on, Think Traffic.

Keep it up, Corbett! I’ll be back for more!!

Running A Small Business November 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I want to thank you for your advice. This week I am really trying to write Epic! It is a lot of writing and more thinking. Pictures have become more apart of my writing as well.

Also, I am trying to link more. Not only does it help my readers, it also gives my site more validity.

Thanks again.

Sergio Felix November 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Hey Corbett,

Incredible interview, I went to their site and now I want their book on my Kindle so bad!

Will attempt to get it tomorrow though. ;-)


Rebecca November 20, 2011 at 1:36 am

The Minimalists is one of my absolute favourite blogs, and Joshua and Ryan have been a real inspiration to me since I came across their site a couple of months ago. Thanks for this interview.

Sheyi January 25, 2012 at 2:02 am

Great guys…. Lovely interview. I still believe my blog will sky rocket very soon. Putting all what I have learnt into practice

Denise Wy October 11, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I love this guys, as well as Colin Wright. I’m fairly new here in ThinkTraffic and I was surprised to see this interview.

Chris May 8, 2013 at 4:54 am

Really great interview ! Already got a copy of their book :)

Alex P. September 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Got the book on Kindle ! Hurray !!! These people are amazing !

Christopher November 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I’ve found $2.99 to be a sweet spot as well. I’ve actually sold way more at $2.99 than at 99 cents.

Joshua Fields Millburn November 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm


Also, to give credit where credit is due, we discovered minimalism through Colin. He’s a great guy.


Christiaan November 2, 2011 at 1:17 am

*takes notes*

Thanks for that info

I wonder how many eBooks are left unread after purchase. Especially when it comes to “package deals” containing several.

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