No Sidebars, No Distractions – An Interview with Brian Gardner

It’s been a while since we’ve had an interview on the site so I thought it was time to fix that. We’re fortunate enough to have Brian Gardner with us today. As you’ll soon see, Brian wears a few creative hats but is committed to living a simple and intentional life. Let’s get to it! – Carl


Brian - Happy Creating
Brian – Happy Creating



Hi Brian, thanks for joining us here at the Frictionless HQ.  Why don’t we start with you telling us a little about who Brian Gardner is, where in the world is home for you and what keeps you occupied?

I’m a lot of things, and of those things — I try to be/do them well. First and foremost, I am a husband to Shelly (13+ years going strong) and dad to Zach (best 11-year old kid around.) We live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and aside from a year in Southern California, I’ve lived here my entire life. I am a partner at Rainmaker Digital ( the founder of StudioPress ( and the creator of No Sidebar ( – all of which keep me extremely busy through the day and all through the week. In my free time. I listen to music, run, and spend time with my great family.



Your blog ( has a great name and indeed great message backing it up.  Can you share a little of the premise and inspiration behind the site and what led to you to taking the step of setting up the No Sidebar project in addition to the writing you do at your personal site (

Originally the No Sidebar name came about because of my frustration with the use of actual sidebars on the web. I felt they were littered with digital clutter – full of ads, badges for social media accounts and all kinds of other things that people “think” they have to have. Ultimately, I believed the experience I could serve those who visited my website would be better without a sidebar, so I removed it from my site. Around the same time this happened, I became really good friends with Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, and he asked me to redesign his website. I was grateful for the opportunity, and we did in fact redesign his site – of course, without a sidebar.

In addition to all of this, I read a book called Packing Light by my friend Allison Vesterfelt, and all of these things converged into what is now the website, No Sidebar.


No Sidebar name came about because of my frustration with the use of actual sidebars on the web. I felt they were littered with digital clutter


Living a simpler and more intentional life are themes through your writing (as indeed they are here at Frictionless Living).  What have been some of the main challenges you have faced since trying to live a simpler, and perhaps slightly less conventional, life?  Have you felt resistance from others around you?

Thankfully there haven’t been a ton of challenges I’ve had to face as a result of this new perspective of mine, but the one challenge I face pretty much every waking hour of the day is my infatuation with being creative and having ideas. The wheels in my head are always turning and sometimes I find it difficult to focus. Pair that with a full-time job, a personal side project and my son’s travel baseball, my time is pretty well occupied.

My wife and I have never been packrats, so our house is relatively clean and clutter-free, which makes everyday around the house pleasant.


Is there anything that you miss from your previous (less simple and more complex) life?

Not really. Like I said, we don’t have a ton of stuff in our home, which means we haven’t had to “purge” like many folks do. With the success and growth of No Sidebar, my nights have gotten busier as that’s typically when I do work on the site and the project as whole. I do find that drawing a pretty clear line in the sand between work and personal projects is a huge reason I’ve been able to do both well. I’ve learned (the hard way) that trying to do too many things at once usually results in inefficiency, so I keep them separate. Work during the day. Play at night.


I do find that drawing a pretty clear line in the sand between work and personal projects is a huge reason I’ve been able to do both well.


What have been some of the major benefits of the changes you have made over the past few years?  How have these manifested themselves?

I’ve met some really great people through the process of No Sidebar and the idea of living more simply. As I mentioned, Joshua and I have become really good friends, and others I’m thankful to have met along the way include Courtney Carver, Marc and Angel Chernoff, Anthony Ongaro to name a few. I’ve also been able to create a community of like-minded folks, which is something I had been wanting to do for many years. As a designer and all around “Internet” guy, I’ve had access to, and the skills to, pull this off — just didn’t have a real focus on what that looked like.


Are there two or three key things you can suggest readers take away and implement today to improve the quality of their own lives in some way?

I’m a runner, and always like to use the analogy of “hitting the wall” often. The idea of not giving up when things get tough is a big one, and something that I try to do in many areas of my life. Whether that’s starting a blog or online business, trying to live a minimalist lifestyle or just anything else – put in the work, endure challenges and reap the rewards as you break through.


Any new projects planned that you would like to share and what can we expect from No Sidebar and Brian in future?

Nothing new, as the stuff on my plate keeps me plenty full. Work stuff should be really exciting this year, as I’ll be able to execute on ideas I have with dedicated resources being given to me. As for No Sidebar, I simply want to take small steps to help grow the community and serve it as best I can. I have a few ideas for this, such as a Daily Notes newsletter, sharable quote graphics and opening up the blog to more contributors. More than anything, I’m happy with pretty much all areas of my life – family, work and personal stuff.





You can find Brian on Twitter and Facebook as well as through the sites mentioned.


Further Reading and Referenced:

No Sidebar (

Rainmaker Digital (

StudioPress (

Minimalist Living – An Interview with Joshua Becker

A Simpler Year and Life – An Interview with Courtney Carver



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