Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a seven figure, full time blogger?
I’m interviewing Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents today to talk about it! I met Michelle a few years back at FinCon (a finance conference), and we’ve been friends ever since.
I don’t want to spoil anything else for you, so let’s get right into my questions!
1. It feels like I’ve been following you forever! But for my readers who don’t know you, please introduce yourself. Who are you? What do you do? What’s your story?
Hello! My name is Michelle, and I run the personal finance blog Making Sense of Cents.
My husband and I sold our house in 2015 and we now travel full time in an RV with our two dogs. I now earn over $100,000 a month from my blog, and I absolutely love life!
On my blog Making Sense of Cents, I talk a lot about different ways to make extra money, the best ways to save money, achieving your dream life, RVing (my husband and I live in an RV full time), and more. I love running Making Sense of Cents, and I am very happy that this is now my career, my business, and pretty much my life.
2. When did you start your blog and why did you start it?
It all started in the summer of 2011. I started my blog with the aim of teaching people how to save money as well as journaling my personal finance journey after reading a magazine that featured a personal finance website in one of its articles. I became extremely interested in that website and my interest in blogging just grew from there. This is interesting and hilarious because before that same summer, I had no idea about what blogs were, that they could even make money, or anything along those lines.
I did not create my blog with the intention of making money blogging. It was all just a hobby and an outlet. I then realized how much I loved blogging and realized that it was for me, so now I am a full-time blogger! I went full time in October of 2013, and I haven’t looked back once. Blogging has completely changed my life for the better, and it’s something that I recommend everyone try if they are interested.
Editor’s note – Here are my resources you can use to start a blog right now:
3. What did you do before you blogged full time and when did you quit that job?
I have three finance-related college degrees, and I used to be a financial analyst before I left my day job to become a full time blogger. I left that job in the fall of 2013. It’s really crazy to think that it’s been that long since I worked in an office!
4. Did you have student loans when you graduated college? If so, how did you pay them off?
I had around $40,000 in student loan debt after I graduated with my Finance MBA, from all three of my degrees. To some that may be a lot of student loan debt, and to others it may be a laughably small amount. However, for me, it was too much and it led me to completely change my life.
You can read more about how I paid off my student loans at My Student Loans Are Fully Paid Off! Basically, I worked my butt off and did everything I could to make extra money. I was often working 100 hour weeks between my day job and all of my side hustles. I was able to pay them off around 7 months after I decided to create my student loan payoff plan, which is great and something I am still extremely glad that I did.
5. What helped you grow your blog the most over the years?
Being authentic. I like to think that my blog posts are very personable, and that readers can relate to what I’m writing. This also makes reading about money more enjoyable, which is just a great thing for everyone.
Also, I network a lot (like with you!) and this helps me to learn a lot about blogging from everyone since everyone has different blogging methods.
6. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about blogging?
I’ve received so much great advice but one thing that I’m really putting to use right now is outsourcing. I do a lot of things myself on my blog but I am slowly outsourcing tasks so that I can keep my sanity 🙂
7. What’s the hardest part about blogging for you?
I really love pretty much everything about blogging. The hardest part though would be trying to disconnect from my blog. Since I love what I do so much, it can be hard to take a “real” vacation with no work.
8. What is the one blog metric you focus on the most to measure your blog’s success?
I’m not one to really analyze my blog very much, and it seems like there’s not much of a correlation between traffic and income, so looking at blog metrics isn’t something that I tend to do. However, I do like receiving emails from readers where they tell me that I’ve helped them. This shows me that my blog is meaningful!
9. Tell us a little bit about your famous income reports. What’s the point of them and what all do you share?
Ha, thank you! I share monthly income reports on my blog because if it weren’t for others publishing their monthly income reports, I don’t know if I would have ever tried side hustling. I want to help show others the positives in side hustling and how it can change a person’s life. It’s also a great way for me to look back and see what I can improve on.
You can find all of my income reports here.
In each of my monthly income reports, I share how the previous month went, what I worked on, what actually worked and what were fails, how much money I earned, an answer to a featured question from a reader, and more.
10. How much money did you make in your first years of blogging compared to now?
In the first year of blogging, I think it was somewhere around $1,000 or less that I earned from my blog. It all grew rapidly from there, though!
Around 3 years after I started my blog I earned around $100,000 from my blog total.
In 2015, I earned around $320,000.
In 2016, I earned almost one million – $979,321.
Editor’s note – Michelle makes money on her blog, in part, through affiliate marketing, which she teaches other people how to do in her course, Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing.
11. What is an average work day like for you now?
My average work day varies widely. For the most part, though, I’ll start off by spending a little bit of time answering emails in the morning. I then usually like to use the daylight hours to exploring wherever we are, and then working again in the late afternoon and at night.
- Related: How To Create Your Ideal Work Day
12. What’s it like RVing full time? Did you always want to live in an RV and travel? What was it like selling your home to do this?
We absolutely LOVE RVing. I never thought about living in an RV until 2 years ago, and we’ve been doing it ever since! 🙂
We owned our home for around 5-6 years when we sold it. We were always traveling and hardly ever at home, so it made sense to make the leap to RVing full time. I’m so glad we made the choice too because there hasn’t been a single day where I’ve regretted it. Being able to travel comfortably in my home to amazingly beautiful locations, plus bring my dogs everywhere too, is just great!
13. What’s something unique about living in an RV and traveling full time that people may not realize?
Everything about it is unique. I really like going on new hikes all the time, seeing all of the different beautiful landscapes, meeting new people, trying new things, and more.
14. Do you plan to settle down in one spot in the future or have kids?
We’ve settled down in the past (before we sold our house in 2015), and we’ll probably do that again in the future, but not anytime soon. We really like full time traveling. If we have kids, we plan on continuing to travel. You never know what may happen!
15. What advice do you have for someone thinking about starting a blog, and also for someone who is an intermediate blogger?
For someone who is thinking about starting a blog, I recommend taking my free blogging course that can be found here – www.makingsenseofcents.com/freecourse.
You won’t know if blogging is for you or not unless you just jump in and try it out.
For someone who is an intermediate blogger, my top tip is to network as much as you can, and to also give more than you take. 🙂 Relationships with other bloggers should be genuine – not forced. Instead of thinking about what’s in it for you, think about how you can provide value to them and build a genuine relationship.
16. What’s next for you and for Making Sense of Cents?
I have lots of things planned, but they are still in the very beginning stages and not finalized. I’d like to continue to grow my new Facebook community group (linked below), create some more products to market to my audience, and grow further.
17. Where can my readers find you?
A Final Note!
I want to say thank you to Michelle for allowing me to interview her!
I hope she inspires you as much as she inspires me.
P.s – here are my favorite free blogging resources:
- How I Made $45K Blogging In 1 Year While Working Full Time Free eBook – this is a look into how I made $45k blogging in 1 year while working full time
- 7 Surefire Ways To Boost Your Blog Income Overnight – this download has really applicable tips for taking your blog income up a notch asap
- 120 Awesome Blog Post Ideas – this gives you soooo many blog post ideas
- The New Blogger’s Guide To Guest Posting – this is a download that shows you how to get started guest posting on other blogs
- Blog Structure Blueprint – this is a template that gives you a visual for how to organize your blog (I used this when I started)
- 10 Steps To Take When A Post Goes Viral – this is a download that gives you specific tips for what to do when a blog post goes viral