Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s path to full-time blogging didn’t start in the usual way. She didn’t set out to make money from a blog. She really just wanted to learn how to save money, and as part of that she decided to journal her personal finance journey.
At the time, she’d recently stumbled across a personal finance website, which triggered an interest in blogging. Michelle laughs about the circumstances.
“This is super funny to me because before that same summer, I had no idea what blogs were, that they could even make money, or anything along those lines. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing!”
Her blog, Making Sense of Cents, was about making money. It was just a hobby to start. But Michelle loved the process. She loved blogging, so she took it full time. “Blogging has completely changed my life for the better, and it’s something that I recommend everyone try if they are interested.”
That’s Michelle’s take on whether or not writers should blog.
While Michelle’s topic is personal finance, she lets her audience get to know her. She writes about travel (she and her husband live on a sailboat), lifestyle, managing money, making extra money… and anything else that interests her that she thinks her readers will enjoy.
Michelle didn’t struggle much at the beginning of her blogging adventure. “I didn’t start my blog to make money. It was all just a passion project… a hobby.”
So, Michelle didn’t feel any pressure to succeed. She was just having fun!
But when she did realize that she could make money from her blog and decided she wanted to do that, she encountered a learning curve. She had to learn everything about blogging and all the ways to monetize what she was doing. Michelle notes, “Going from hobby blogging to business blogging requires a lot more work!”
But it wasn’t long before she made her first $100… and from there, she knew it was possible to earn an income doing what she loved.
One of the things that bloggers struggle with early on is driving traffic to their site. In her early days, Michelle’s sole strategy for attracting traffic was to engage with her readers and other bloggers. Having conversations and paying attention to relationships earned her a dedicated following.
Today is different, though. Michelle uses search engine optimization, social media, email, and referral strategies to bring new traffic to her site.
To be successful with her blog, Michelle has learned about social media, networking, SEO, photography, graphic design, business organization and management, and how to work with the backend of her site. These are all the non-writing skills she recommends to aspiring bloggers to give them the best chance at success.
When asked about character traits or mindsets that are useful for a blogger to cultivate, Michelle said, “The most important trait is the desire to learn. Blogging is a never-ending learning process. Things are constantly changing. New social media platforms are created, there are algorithms to learn about, and more, so you never want to stop learning.”
Keeping her audience engaged is one of Michelle’s favorite parts of blogging. She writes in a personable voice. It’s enjoyable for her, and her readers connect well with her style. Michelle also takes the time to personally respond to emails, direct messages, and comments she receives from her readers.
When it comes to monetizing strategies, Michelle has a clear favorite.
“I love affiliate income because it can feel quite passive. You can create just one blog post or social media post and potentially earn money from it years down the line, as long as you maintain it and keep generating traffic to it. With affiliate marketing, I can enjoy life more and know that I am still able to earn a great living promoting products that I use and enjoy.”
Michelle earns $50,000 or more a month from her affiliate marketing efforts… and she has a cheat sheet you can download to help you get started on your own affiliate strategies: 10 Easy Tips to Increase Your Affiliate Income.
Some bloggers do a lot of data tracking and analytics, but Michelle is proof you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. At least, not if you have a dedicated audience. Michelle says, “I’m not a very analytical blogger — I simply do what I want to do. This includes deciding what to write about and determining where and how to share posts.”
When asked about whether or not it’s too late to start a blog and expect to see success, Michelle responded with an adamant No.
Her expanded answer was, “It’s a great time to start a blog. Trust me, people were saying the same thing when I first started Making Sense of Cents — that people who started in 2011 were starting too late and that no one would ever be successful with it.
“However, that’s definitely not the case. The online world is still so new, and there are new ways to monetize and to grow that come up all the time. There is a lot of room for new bloggers, and there is plenty of room for growth well into the future. I believe that companies and advertisers are only recently starting to realize the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, which means that the blogging world will continue to grow well into the future, and that opportunities for making money from a blog will continue to increase.
“Every blogger earns a living online in a slightly different way, and everyone has a different message and story. Plus, there are so many different ways to make money through a blog, and I expect this to keep growing.”
Overall, blogging has turned into an amazing adventure for Michelle. Her blog earns her around 400,000 monthly page views… and all that attention earns her an income in the neighbor of $1.5 million a year.
And remember, this all started from a hobby… just something Michelle decided to do out of sheer enjoyment. So if you love to write and want to share something you’re learning about through your writing, blogging could be a perfect vehicle… one that might just change your life.
Editor’s Note: If you want to write your own blogging success story, AWAI now has a program to help you do that. It walks you through picking a topic, coming up with ideas, writing excellent blog entries, building your audience, and earning money from your efforts. You can find all the details here.
This article is part of the Blogging Stories series.
Series Table of Contents:
- A Serial Entrepreneur Shares His Story of Blogging Success
- A Blog – The Ultimate Writer’s Tool
- Blogging Your Way to a Life of Adventure (This Article)
- Blogging and Business: Harnessing the Power of Attention
- How Jon Morrow Launched His Blog with 13,000 Subscribers – and Other Blogging Stories
- Living a Beautiful Life – Blogging Success with Sal O’Neill
- Follow Your Passion – A Blogging Success Story with Carol Bryant
- Building the Life You Want – Holly Reisem Hanna’s Blogging Success Story
- From $700 a month to $3.5 million a year – Sarah Titus and Blogging Success