Have you ever wondered how much you can make blogging? Sure, there are people who make six-figure a year with blogging. But what about six figures a month?
Well, it can be done! I’m happy to announce that in today’s blog post, I’m going to interview someone who has done exactly that. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense Of Cents has been making millions per year blogging since 2016, while also traveling full time. Talk about living the dream!
If you want to know how you can implement some of Michelle’s strategies to boost your blogging income, keep reading!
1. Hi Michelle! In my opinion, you are one of the most famous and recognisable names in the blogging industry, but for those who don’t know you, please introduce yourself! Who are you? What do you do? What’s your story?
Hello! I am the founder and creator of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance website that helps readers learn how to save more, earn money, and live more. I was able to pay off $40,000 in student loan debt in just 7 months, by side hustling like crazy, which is something I talk about in great detail on my website (You can find out more here – How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans in 7 Months).
I currently travel full-time with my husband and two dogs via sailboat (we are currently sailing the islands in the Bahamas). We used to RV for several years, and still have a camper van that we use for hurricane season away from the boat.
2. How did you get the idea for Making Sense of Cents? How long have you been blogging?
I created Making Sense of Cents pretty randomly one day. I started it in 2011 completely on a whim. I had no idea what blogs were, or that they could even make money. I first learned about blogging when I came across an article featuring a personal finance website on one of their articles. I became interested in the personal finance blogging world from there, and the rest is history, haha!
I became a full-time blogger in 2013, and have been full-time blogging ever since.
3. You’ve mentioned that you first started your blog as a hobby. When did you realise you could turn it into a business?
While I was paying off my student loan debt, I kept writing about how I needed and wanted to find more ways to make extra money.
I started writing about finding a part-time job and ways to make extra money, when a reader mentioned that I should look into making money from my blog, since I had already been spending so much time doing so! Soon after that, a blogging friend of mine connected me with an advertiser that she knew, and I made my first $100 blogging.
Once I made that first $100, I realized that I could make money blogging. I didn’t think I would become a full-time blogger at that point – I just thought it would be a good income.
However, once I paid off my student loans and built an emergency fund, I realized that I could turn it into a full-time business and my full-time career because I felt much more financially stable.
4. Do you think anyone can run a blog and make money from it or are there certain essential skills required?
No, because that would make it a get rich quick scheme. No job is perfect for everyone, and that, of course, applies to blogging as well.
I don’t know if there are certain essential skills, since there are just so many things that go into running a successful blog.
BUT, I do think that you should enjoy some part of blogging. Passion can go a long way in this business.
For example, I know lots of successful bloggers who hate writing, but enjoy everything else that goes into blogging, such as marketing and social media. Then, I know others who prefer just to write, and outsource everything else.
5. It seems like the biggest goals for many new bloggers is to break through the $100/month barrier, and then the $1,000/month barrier. How did you initially start making consistent money with your blog and how long did it take?
I started earning $100 a month after around 6 months of blogging. At this stage, it was mainly through sponsored posts on Making Sense of Cents.
I started making $1,000 a month around a year after I started Making Sense of Cents I believe. At this point, it was still mainly sponsored posts, but just more of them and me charging a more appropriate price for each (I started charging more).
After around 2 years, I was making around $5,000 to $10,000 a month online and through my blog. This was through sponsored posts, advertising, as well as freelancing for others who found me through my blog. This included staff writing and managing social media for others.
For the past several years, I have been earning around $100,000 a month from my blog. To get to this point, I actually stopped freelancing for others so that I could simply only focus on my blogging business. With more time available, I built up Making Sense of Cents better, created courses, dove into affiliate marketing, and more.
Affiliate marketing is what definitely took me to the next level of earning a much higher income each month.
6. What is your favorite way to monetize your site?
My favorite way is affiliate marketing!
7. In your course, Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing, you show how you went from earning $0 a month with affiliate marketing to earning around $50,000 a month from it. Do you think affiliate marketing is the best way for new bloggers to monetize their site, or would you recommend that they start with another income source like sponsored posts or display advertising?
I think they each have their positives, so that is always a difficult question to answer. Affiliate marketing is hands down my favorite way to make money blogging, though, so it is what I recommend that all bloggers try.
Affiliate marketing is great because you may earn money from it years down the line from that same blog post, it can feel like somewhat passive income, you can promote products that you genuinely enjoy and believe in, and more.
As a full-time traveler, affiliate marketing is the best way for me to earn an income while still maintaining a flexible schedule to explore.
8. What’s your number 1 tip to new affiliate marketers?
My top tip is to simply try it. Before I gave it a chance, I didn’t think affiliate marketing was worth my time so I never really gave it a second thought.
But, then I learned that you didn’t need to have millions of monthly page views or to be a celebrity to make money blogging.
You can learn what goes into affiliate marketing and apply the strategies to your blog, and it doesn’t have to be crazy hard!
9. What is the best lesson learned from your experience with affiliate marketing? Do you have a quick tip for bloggers who are currently struggling to get sales with affiliate marketing?
If you are struggling to get sales with affiliate marketing, then I highly recommend taking a course, such as Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing. So many bloggers think that affiliate marketing is simply just slapping an affiliate link on your blog and calling it a day. However, there is more that goes into it than just that.
There are several different strategies that you can apply to your website; there are legalities to know of, and more.
10. What do you think makes affiliate marketing such an effective way to earn money as a blogger?
I am extremely grateful to earn affiliate marketing income. It makes life so much easier, for many ways. It allows me to travel full-time, which is something that I love!
I love affiliate marketing because it is somewhat passive- you may earn money from that post years down the line with minimal work needed to maintain it. So, I can earn income from even just one blog post years later. This is what I like about it over sponsored posts – they are more long-term.
It also allows me to have a more flexible schedule, as I am not bound to any certain time to do anything when it comes to affiliate marketing. I simply publish a blog post and that blog post does a lot of the work for me.
11. If you could go back in time, what would you change that would help you get where you are (now) faster?
Start on self-hosted WordPress with a purchased domain name. Since I started my blog entirely as a hobby in the beginning, I was so unprofessional, haha. I didn’t have my own domain name and I wasn’t self-hosted. I think I did this for around a year before I eventually bought a domain name and became self-hosted.
12. I know that you have previously spoken about creating a better work-life balance. Do you spend less time on your blog and on affiliate marketing now than a few years ago?
I spend a lot less time. I used to work anywhere from around 40 hours to 100 hours a week on Making Sense of Cents. Now, I am anywhere from around 0 to 40, depending on the week. Most of my time now is simply spent writing articles for Making Sense of Cents, as it is what I enjoy the most!
13. What’s your biggest struggle now as a business owner?
It’s not so much a struggle, but learning new things is something that is always on my mind. The business and blogging world is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn!
14. Now that you’re a full-time blogger, what does a “typical” day look like for you?
My typical day does not exist and my life changes a lot since I travel full-time. But, I spend most of my work days writing and answering reader emails, as those are things I enjoy as a full-time blogger. I do outsource some jobs, such as creating Pinterest images, editing, technical management, and more.
15. What’s next for you and for Making Sense of Cents?
Currently, I am just wanting to continue doing what I’m doing – create more great content and reach more readers. I really love what I currently have going on, so I see no need to change that while I am having fun!
Outside of blogging, we are currently sailing the Bahamas, and having fun here for the next few months before sailing to our next destination (wherever that may be!).
16. Finally, what’s your number one piece of advise for aspiring bloggers who haven’t even started their blog yet?
My top tip would be to start a blog! So many people let their fears hold them back.
But, you won’t know if you like blogging or if starting a blogging business is for you until you start one. Luckily, it is pretty easy to start one and to learn – there are a ton of great courses that you can take and informative blogs to read as well.
I want to thank Michelle for taking part in this interview and allowing me to interview her!
I hope she inspires you as much as she inspires me.
If you want to learn more about her course you can click here to learn more Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.