Michelle is the monetizing maven behind the super successful blog Making Sense of Cents. She left her full-time career in finance to pursue her passion of blogging full-time and has never looked back. Michelle was actually the first person to leave a comment on my virtually unknown site several years back. My very first guest post was also featured on her site.
With monthly income reports in the 5-figure range, she kills it every time. I wanted to pick her brain a bit in regards to making money online through the blog. Her blog is chock full of resources when it comes to starting a blog and making additional income.
Prior to becoming a full-time blogger/entrepreneur, you worked in the financial services industry as a financial analyst. Growing up, were you always into finance? What made you decide to get two degrees in business and then an MBA in finance?
I’ve always been good with numbers, so going into finance made sense for me. I was originally a psychology major in college but changed that after around the first semester to finance. I never thought I would be doing what I am today with my degrees, but I’m thankful I took the path I did because I do believe it has helped me run and manage a business better.
How did you manage juggling a full-time job and running a blog?
It was tough at times, especially since during some of that period I was also working on my MBA full-time as well. I didn’t get much sleep for a few years, but it all paid off!
One thing that really helped me was making sure that my schedule flowed together perfectly. I made sure that there were no excessive breaks during any classes, my day job, or running my blog, as that time would then be wasted. My typical day would consist of me waking up around 6 a.m. to blog for a little before work, then I would work from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., classes would start at 5:30 p.m. (that would give me only a 15 minute break to drive there, but it was good timing) and then I would come home around 10 p.m. and work on the blog for a little bit again as well. Weekends were typically devoted towards homework, blogging, and spending time with friends and family.
How long did it take for you to generate income from the blog?
It took me around 6 months to generate my first $100 from my blog. I didn’t start my blog as a way to make money, so I think I could have made money earlier than that if I would have tried.
What made you decide to leave your day job and pursue blogging full-time?
I really dreaded my day job. It was extremely boring, but also hectic and stressful at the same time. It was a great income and extremely stable – I was being groomed to be the Vice President of the company actually. But, my heart was not in it and I could not imagine working there for decades to come.
My blogging income started to take off, and I was earning around $10,000 a month from my blog on the side. Plus, I absolutely LOVE blogging, so it seemed like a no brainer. I was nervous, but I made an action plan which included paying off my student loan debt (read more about how I paid off $40,000 in student loan debt in 7 months here), and I made the leap to self-employment.
Did you encounter any obstacles while transitioning out of your full-time job to becoming an entrepreneur? How did you get through them?
I cannot think of any obstacles. I took my time, made an action plan, and since I was already working on my business on the side, everything went fairly smoothly.
You make a significant amount of money online on a monthly basis through various methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsorships, staff writing, blog coaching and display advertising. Could you provide a brief explanation of each?
Affiliate marketing is when you promote a product on your blog. Then, if someone purchases the product, clicks on the link, signs up, or takes some other action, you then get paid by the company that you are promoting according to what their rules and stipulations are. An example of affiliate marketing would be my How To Start A Blog post, which gives readers step by step directions on how to start their own blog.
Sponsorships are when a company advertises on your blog or you promote them in some way.
Staff writing is when you write for another website.
Blog coaching is when you help someone with their blog.
Display advertising is when you have an advertisement on your sidebar or within a post.
I recently released a guide that goes into each one of these further, which you can find in The Ultimate Guide To Making Money Blogging – How I Earn Over $50,000 A Month Online.
Out of the various methods previously mentioned, which would say is your most favourite and why?
Affiliate income is definitely my favorite. I promote only items that I have personally used and recommend on my website, and income can come in well into the future. This makes it somewhat passive so that I can enjoy my life outside of my business.
What do you think is the main reason or one of the biggest reasons why some people make money off their blog, whereas some people don’t make money or are barely making money at all?
This is a tough question to answer as it’s usually a mix of many reasons. One would have to be that someone hasn’t done enough research on blogging, how to increase their pageviews, how to improve their income and more. There are so many great courses, ebooks, and more out there on blogging, and I recommend that new bloggers take those seriously. So many new bloggers instead see other bloggers as competition and don’t like to support them, and that ends up hindering their success.
What would you consider the best social media site to be the most active on and why?
Pinterest! Pinterest has helped my blog in so many ways. I wish I would have started sooner.
Pinterest is great because you can reach a huge audience who are interested in reading blog posts and learning more about how to improve their life.
What do you like best about working for yourself? What advice would you give to people who are thinking of taking the next step, but having doubts?
I love so many things about working for myself:
- I determine how I want to make a living.
- I can choose my clients, work, etc.
- I create my own work schedule.
- I am my own boss.