Q&A with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits
By Maria Schneider
In less than one year, writer Leo Babauta propelled his blog Zen Habits into one of the most popular lifestyle blogs on the Web. He blogs on simplifying your lifestyle for a richer life, and his writing philosophy has much to offer writers who are trying to figure out a way to sustain a healthy living by writing primarily online.
Leo makes his traditional book publishing debut with his recent release Power of Less, The: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life
Here, he discusses why he thinks writers should consider giving their work away and how to keep your creative well full.
You encourage open source blogging, in fact, you write on Zen Habits “Feel Free to Steal my Content.” Why such an open policy about reusing your content?
I really believe information should be free—it bothers me when people are denied access to information because they can’t afford it or because it’s a “secret”. So I decided to live this philosophy by allowing the information I create to be free, as in freely distributed without restrictions. I also believe that when you’re generous with what you have, good things will come back to you. Not magically or cosmically or anything like that, but just because people tend to do nice things for people who are nice to them.
As a writer, allowing people to use my content is actually the smartest business and marketing strategy. If someone reuses my writing on their website or in a book, they are helping to spread my name and reputation for me! You can’t pay for marketing like that. I’ve seen my eBook and posts spread out across the Internet (and even on Amazon, as someone is selling my eBook without paying me—which is cool) …and as a result, more and more people know about me and my writing, more than ever before.
You have established one of the most highly trafficked lifestyle blogs on the web with Zen Habits. What advice would you offer other writers who want to attract a wider blog readership?
Think about the best posts you read on other sites and in magazines—the most useful, interesting, engaging, awesome posts and articles. These are the posts you need to create on your blog, at least weekly if not 3-5 times a week. That’s what I am for on Zen Habits and in the guest posts that I do on other blogs, as often as I can. Try to minimize the non-useful stuff as much as possible. For more tips, read my blog for writers and bloggers, WriteToDone.com.
You’ve recently released a traditionally published book: The Power of Less. What persuaded you to traditionally publish as opposed to selling the book in eBook form?
I’d like to reach new readers, people who haven’t read Zen Habits, who don’t read blogs or eBooks regularly. I think there are millions of them out there that I can reach with my message of simplicity and effectiveness, and a book is a great way to do it. By the way, if I could give my book away for free, I would!
What is your advice to writers who are struggling for more productivity and greater work/life balance?
Most people, like me, want to become more productive and yet spend less time working so they can have time for family, friends or other passions. The secret to that is to focus on the essentials—the most important tasks and projects in your work, and the most important things in your life in general. Learn to limit yourself to these things and eliminate the non-essentials. If you limit yourself to 3 tasks a day (for example), you’d choose just the most important 3 tasks—the things that would make the most impact on your business, writing and career. That’s the Power of Less—creating a bigger impact with the things you choose to do, being effective instead of being busy, and making room in your life for the important things.
Do you ever run of out blog ideas? How do you keep your creative well full?
I blog about the things I’m learning about and living, in my life, and I never stop learning and experimenting with life. It’s a passion. So no, I never run out of topics, because I simply reflect about what I’ve been thinking about, reading about, and doing in the last week or so. I’m always excited about something, and that’s what I write about. If I’m excited about something, writing about it is a joy and a breeze. Get excited about things! Your well will never run dry.