Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the founder of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance website that helps readers learn how to save more, earn more, and live more. She currently earns over $100,000 a month from her blogging business and shows no signs of slowing down. She currently travels full-time with her husband and two dogs in an RV.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Ha, I actually just fell into it!
In the summer of 2011, I started Making Sense of Cents 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 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 from it. 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.
Tell us about your business.
On my website, Making Sense of Cents, I teach a lot about the many different ways to make extra money, the best ways to save money, achieving your dream life, RVing (me and my husband RV full-time), and more.
I love running Making Sense of Cents, and I am very happy that this is now my full-time career, my business, and pretty much my life.
I also teach bloggers how to make money with affiliate marketing in my course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. There are over 4,000 students in this course, and it just continues to sell like crazy, thanks to the great testimonials.
Making Sense of Cents was voted Blog of The Year at FinCon, which is the largest financial media conference. I’ve also won Best Personal Finance Blog for Millennials and tons of other awards for personal finance.
Where is your business based?
I travel full-time so it is not based anywhere. I am location independent!
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
After I realized that I wanted to turn my blog into a business, I started taking it more seriously. Some of the things that I did included:
- Switching my blog to self-hosted WordPress. Since my blog started as just a hobby, I was just on Blogger/Blogspot and had a domain of .blogspot.com, which was super unprofessional.
- Getting a professional design. At that point I had always just created my own designs, and boy did they look bad! I think I paid $150 or maybe even less for my first design. Now it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but back then it was a hard decision to spend that kind of money on my side hustle.
- I changed my content style. I used to just write content whenever, and I had no real method to my madness. I changed how much I was writing, my writing style, I started proofreading what I was writing, and more.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Creating high quality content. Yes, promoting your business and content are great and extremely important. However, your content should be good enough that you want to read it—which is something that I always tell people.
By creating high quality content, my readers are more likely to share it with their friends and family, and my readers are likely to come back for more.
What have been your biggest challenges so far? How did you overcome these challenges?
My biggest challenge has always been just managing a better work/life balance. Due to the nature of my business and being able to be connected 24/7, it is so easy to work and not take a break.
However, I am learning to get better, which includes saying “no” to certain opportunities, using the daylight hours to enjoy life and the outdoors, not being glued to my cell phone and laptop, and more.
I think it will always be a work in progress.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
With my business I always work as far ahead as I can. Currently, I am almost three months ahead in content. Due to this effort, whenever I don’t feel like writing, I don’t have to. Or, if I’m feeling stressed, I can take a break. I highly recommend that everyone work ahead if they can—it is a lifesaver!
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I would say that my personable content distinguishes myself. I have always been told by my readers that they enjoy reading Making Sense of Cents due to how it sounds like I am just having a natural conversation with them. I always try to make my content like that because I understand that finance isn’t the most interesting topic to the average person.
It also helps that I really, really enjoy writing the content for Making Sense of Cents, and I have always written everything myself—no ghostwriters here!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
My top piece of advice would be to never stop learning. There’s always something new to learn. Enroll in the latest course, subscribe to business blogs, attend conferences both in and outside of your niche, and network. I’ve learned the best things about business and life through networking.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Lately, I’ve really been working on self-care. One of favorite blogs that helps me with this is Natalie Bacon. She is like the master of self-care and is the most positive person I know! Plus, she’s a great blogging friend of mine.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am always learning something new for my business. Right now, I am attempting to master Facebook advertising. I’ve got a good grasp on it and am currently taking a course to learn more about it. After this, I’d like to learn about Pinterest advertising as well, as Pinterest is so very important to my business.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My two main goals for the next few months are;
- To continue to work ahead as far as I can so that I can have a nice and relaxing summer.
- Create and launch at least two more products for my readers—one on the blogging side and one on the financial side.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/makingsenseofcents
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