Carl Barenbrug

Product design, creative direction

Minimalism, Marketing, and Digital Sales

A while ago I published a couple of articles on selling digital products and monetising minimalism. Over the past 12 months I have been working extensively in making and marketing digital products in various forms and on various platforms. In the aforementioned articles, I’ve talked about the comparable simplicity of selling digital products over physical ones from a logistics perspective. It also reduces the physical clutter that people can accumulate. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that my focus on digital creation is the right way forward, but it’s definitely not without its challenges. So let’s look at the types of products I’m talking about and break down my experience with them so far.

Digital Magazines

Minimalissimo has produced three printed magazines to date—all of which were small print runs. It wasn’t my intention initially to sell these as digital versions once they had sold out, but given that I received many emails asking about their availability, I thought it made sense from a business perspective to make them available for a reduced price. Although the sales numbers are still barely into the hundreds, it makes total sense to keep these beautiful and well-written magazines available to be read. Especially given the hard work in making them is already done.

I don’t think I will ever go down the path of going straight to digital for the Minimalissimo magazines, because there’s something still very special about the tactile experience of a high-quality mag. I love having all three printed editions sitting proudly in my home to occasionally browse. With that said, for future editions, I might look at even smaller print runs.

Subscription Services

For over 12 months I have been using Substack—a premium email subscription service. I’ve used this specifically for Minimalism Life where we publish exclusive weekly essays on simple living written by a small team of writers. It’s a massive challenge to convince people to continually support writing on the web because so much material on topics such as minimalism, is already freely available.

The tool for this subscription service works well, although I do think Substack setting the minimum monthly payment of $5 is too high. Regardless, the challenge lies in the marketing side of things—not the digital creations. Marketing is not something I’m particularly good at, but it is something that I appreciate is important if a business is dependent on sales or monetary support. I am learning more about this everyday. I must take a people-first approach to the projects I am involved in. And for Minimalism Life, that is putting our writers at the forefront and engaging much more with our community and readership.

Website Templates

Another avenue of digital sales I’ve ventured down, albeit in a far more passive manner, is website templates. Specifically, templates designed for Kirby—a flexible and lightweight file-based CMS. Manu and I have put together a couple of templates to make available in the Minimalissimo shop, which has seen some success, but as Kirby is far less known than the likes of WordPress, we are targeting a very small but growing market. We will continue making these for a couple of reasons: we love making sites, and we want to encourage people to use Kirby because it’s an incredible product with an awesome community. So expect more or improved templates in the near future.


This is the newest avenue I am going to experiment with and I’m still weighing up the best tool to use. Although I may not market this as “donations” and is certainly not “sales”, I do think it can be used in an effective way. With Minimalissimo in mind for this, I want readers to monetarily support the site without the need to buy a product from the shop. Readers will have the opportunity to make a single donation as a gesture of support, or they can choose to make a recurring donation and become a member of Minimalissimo’s community. Members will receive a small number of rewards as a way of appreciation for their support. Membership is not a subscription service, and can be terminated by the reader at any time. Donations can be made anonymously, individually, or on behalf of a business. To me, this makes so much sense and takes a side-step away from other design-related sites out there, who shamelessly plaster their front-end with ads and questionable tracking cookies.

I hope it works and I hope it’s something you can get behind, because I don’t think anybody wants to see more advertising on the web.

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