We’ve all seen the scam emails, tweets, and comments. “I make $7000 dollars a week working from home! Find out how!!!” Or some variation thereof. If you believe that, I always think, then I have a Nigerian prince I’d love to introduce you to.
Which is why, when I heard Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s story, I had a hard time believing it. The former financial analyst (who started a financial blog called “Making Sense of Cents” for kicks in 2011) now makes over a million dollars a year blogging from home. But Michelle is the real deal. The hard working writer gets over 100,000 dollars a month through a combination of affiliate links, advertising, and offering classes on how to monetize your own blogs.
And she’s insistent that anyone can do the same. In fact, she’s devoted her career to helping people become financially savvy and independent. And it’s hard to argue with her when she’s living proof of what hard work and ingenuity can accomplish.
I talked to Schroeder-Gardner about her financial success and she gave me some tips on how we can all can become millionaires.
1. Pay off your debt as soon as possible.
Schroeder-Gardner’s extensive student debt inspired her to begin blogging. She could either be in debt for most of her life or she could double down, work crazy hours, and become debt free. She opted for the latter. And she recommends doing whatever you have to do to get to a place of financial solvency. Pick up extra jobs and work extra hours. It might be rough for awhile, but that small amount of discomfort will lead to so much happiness and security once you’re debt-free. Schroeder-Gardner picked up all sorts of odd jobs and paid off her debt in less than a year. “I started spending more time on finding ways to make more money, so I devoted more time to my blog to supplement my incomes. I also mystery shopped for other companies, took surveys online, and took part in research studies on the phone. Pretty much … anything I could do to make extra money, and then I threw all that extra money towards my student loan debt. And that helped to pay it off super quickly.”
2. Analyze what you’re spending
“If someone wants to change their lifestyle and start saving more money,” Schroeder-Gardner says, “my number one tip would be to analyze your expenses from the previous month or two and see where you’re wasting money. The average person knows that they’re spending money each month, but if you really asked them to break apart what they spent in each category, the average person wouldn’t really know. And if you don’t really know what you’re spending money on, you can probably cut out a lot of those expenses, because it’s probably just a waste of money.”
3. Put in the hours
One of the fantasies we often have of working from home is that we’ll just be able to lay back, eat bon bons, and watch the fabulous money roll in, but the reality is that it takes a lot of effort and time to get to where Michelle is today. And while she does get to set her own hours, and take time off for hikes and activities at her discretion, she often works 12 hour days writing content, creating classes, and communicating with advertisers. Just like any start up business, her blog is her baby and she puts in the hours to care for it and help it grow.
It took her six months to make first $100 dollars and she’s carefully cultivated every relationship to increase that exponentially since.
4. Do your research.
There are tons of ways to make extra money or to make money with a blog, but most people never do the research needed to find out how. Schroeder-Gardner meticulously researched ways to bring in the dough. One great way to monetize your blog is through affiliate marketing. Michelle explains, “Affiliate marketing is when you share a link with your readers, such as on a blog or social media platform, like Instagram or Pinterest or Facebook. And if someone finds them or purchases something through your link, then you receive a percentage of income. It ranges … it could be if someone purchases something through your link, or that they sign up for someone’s email list, and you can make income through that.” And tips like that can really add up. In January of 2017 alone, Schroeder-Gardner made almost 68,000 dollars on affiliate marketing by itself.
Imagine bringing in more than most people make in a year in a single month!
5. Live frugally.
Schroeder-Gardner is making an absurd amount of cash, and many of us (on her income) would tempted to buy super expensive houses and cars (and in the process- wipe out our savings entirely!) but Michelle likes to live simply. She lives with her husband and dogs in an RV, the lifestyle they prefer. The limited space keeps them from extraneous purchases, and the movable home allows them to constantly feel like they’re on vacation with a new view whenever they feel like it. And even though it’s a small space, Schroeder-Gardner never feels boxed up working from home in her RV.
“I think (I never feel cooped up)” she says, “Because there’s always something new outside, and since we’re always traveling, there are always new things to do.”
6. Cut down on the TV time.
Michelle and her husband don’t have cable or even a streaming service anymore and it’s freed up a ton of time to be more productive. She highly recommends doing the same in order to get on the financial path to success. “Most people don’t think they have enough time to make more money,” Schroeder-Gardner says. “But one statistic I always like to throw out there is that the average person watches around 30 to 35 hours of TV a week. So I mean, even if you just cut out half of that TV time, you can have like 15 to 20 hours a week to put towards making extra money, and that can help you pay off your debt, retire earlier, save more money, go on that vacation you’ve been wanting to go on, and so on and so on.” So maybe instead of binge watching 30 Rock for the 7th, 8th, or 100th time, you can actually put that brain power towards the things that will make you mad income.
7. Take an online class.
Taking a class with an expert like Michelle can increase your revenue by leaps and bounds. For example, Schroeder-Gardner runs an online class that helps people become successful bloggers themselves. Her class is self-paced so it can take anywhere from a weekend to several months (depending on the pace that works best for you). And while you do pay for it, it can pay you back with drastic increases in income. She says her students start seeing real success quickly. “I actually just received an email from somebody who said they made $700 one month, and that was before they started the course, and just two months after taking the course, they’re at $7,500 a month with their blog,” she tells me with excitement. “Another person said they went from 0 to $1,500 a month on their blog, and they’re a brand new blogger. And another said that they received their first affiliated income just two days after starting their blog.”She’s proud of that success, and the way she’s able to help others who (like she did once) are just starting out their blogging careers. Schroeder-Gardner believes that it’s possible for anyone to achieve success with their blogs financially.
Which may be true, but it certainly helps that Michelle is so incredibly driven and smart about the way she spends and saves her money. A trait all of us could benefit from.
Schroeder-Gardner’s drive is a force of nature, and she’s not stopping anytime soon. While she could probably retire within a few years, Schroeder-Gardner doesn’t see herself wanting to stop blogging in the near future. She gets to actually make money doing what she loves. And for her, that’s priceless.