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Pictured: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Related: I Made My First Million, and I’m Still Broke

We’re all busy people. Maybe you’re one of those people who came here to make money, not read words. Here are the three quick links:

By age 27, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner was running a self-made million dollar online business. Is this the story of overnight success you’ve all been waiting for? Nope.

In the real world, overnight successes rarely happen overnight. Before you ever see them glowing up in the spotlight, most quietly reached financial independence spending most of their days and nights going overtime on the overtime, word to Big Sean. You don’t have to take our word for it. Listen to our podcast interview with self-made millionaire Michelle Schroeder Gardner here. Below is a summary of her journey to one million and how with a lot of work, passion, and focus, you can do it too.

Making Sense of Cents

Back in the day when I was young I’m not a kid anymore, but some days I sit and wish I was a kid, again…

Michelle started SenseofCents.com in 2011 to help herself. Little did she know that one day her humble aspiration to better herself would reach over 300,000 email subscribers and make her seven figures in one year by simply following her purpose. As she chronicled her journey to pay off $38,000 in student loan debt in just seven months her audience grew and the money followed.

To this day she continues to find joy in helping readers improve their personal finances, but there are a few major difference in her life since escaping the burdens of crushing debt and reaching financial independence. She sold her house, lived in an RV full-time, traveled and toured most of North America, and generally gets to do whatever makes her happy from day-to-day. In other words, she is living the American Dream. The real American Dream, not the make-believe one reality TV sell us for the low but the real word charge us unconscionable rates to pursue.

Related: PB77: Millennials Face the Scariest Financial Future Since the Great Depression ft. Michael Hobbes

When you put in the work, what does “overnight” success look like? Michelle recalls during her interview with Forbes: How This 27-year-old Made $1 Million Last Year that before she was balling out-of-control she worked up to 100 hours a week, performed any and all odd side jobs she could find like taking surveys, mystery shopping, staff writing, and research work for companies. Basically, if it paid hard earned money, Michelle was willing to do the work.

Related: See SenseOfCents.com Features in the Media

You can follow her journey to success through the monthly income reports she publically shared since the beginning of blog time right on her website. Here’s the highlight reel:

  • May 2012: $672 in Extra Income
  • January 2013: $6,523
  • October 2013: $11,927 – I Finally Left My Job
  • January 2014: $12,640
  • February 2015: $23,758
  • 2015: How I Made $300,000
  • 2016: How I Made $979,321
  • 2017: How I Made $1,536,732
  • 2018: How I Made Over $1,500,000

How to Start and Make Money Blogging

Like with any journey that ends in success, you have to start in the right direction with Step 1. Before you can get rich blog writing, you need to learn how to start a blog.

Having started nearly half-a-dozen blogs ourselves, we know blogging is actually not one of those “if you build it they will come” monopolies. That is actually the exception. Michelle recommends writing about something you’re already passionate about versus trying to get rich quick in a niche you’re indifferent about. There may be days or months (or years) before your blog takes off. During those dark days and blog-nights when you pour your heart into a blog post only for it to disappear into the click-less void of the internet, you’ll need the self-motivation to forge forward.

We recommend this simple 5-step recipe:

  • consistently publish
  • write uniquely interesting content–no one can tell your story in your voice
  • make it easy to access and even easier to share to social media
  • MARKET IT SO PEOPLE KNOW IT EVEN EXISTS
  • make it easy to find with high-quality SEO

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

You’ve gotten through the boring step of launching a blog. You write consistently. You’ve made it easy to share. Thanks Marcus, now I’m ready to get rich. That’s probably really why you came here today. If you followed Step 1, we’re just as ready to show you the money.

Michelle, a proven seven-figure blog writer, has established her credibility and graciously packaged her winning game plan in her course: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing or as she puts it:

How to build a six figure blog without millions of visitors or selling your soul.

More than 50-percent of her How I Made Over $1.5 Million In 2018 revenue comes directly from a successful Affiliate Marketing plan. The bigger your audience, the more you can charge interested affiliate partners.

You can also go after niche affiliates and recommend products you personally use and recommend for your audience, fans, readers, and listeners. There is nothing worse than someone you trust making a disingenuous recommendation to a product that sucks. Don’t lose sight of the people that made you great when you start making green. However, if you’re ready to take your blog income to the next level, this is the course for you.

Making Sense of Sponsored Posts

Another quarter of Michelle’s million dollar revenue comes from Sponsored Posts. Maybe you’re not quite ready for the wonderful world wide web of affiliate marketing or you don’t want to accidentally recommend a janky product to your loyal audience. That’s perfectly fine.

In addition to developing your own uniquely branded course, sponsored posts are a great workaround to making extra revenue as a blogger or podcaster while still recommending high-quality products.

Making Sense of Sponsored Posts is a step-by-step guide to creating and making money from your own successful sponsored partnership strategy. This course explains all the ins and outs of sponsored posts and working with brands.


Learn how I made my first blogging income, and how I’m now making $10,000 – $20,000 a month with sponsored partnerships!

Making Sense of Sponsored Posts is another straightforward course that teaches you how to find, vet, and deliver posts to your audience from reliable partners. Click here to learn more.

Networking and Partnerships

Last but not least, is the final ingredient: network and partner with like-minded communities. For example, we shared our favorite top 10 newsletters in the personal finance community because we believe a rising tide lifts all boats.

As Michelle said on the Paychecks and Balances Podcast, she originally became interested in sharing her own personal finance journey after reading the blog comments of a Cosmo article! You never know where inspiration might strike, but the e-streets and comment sections (and DMs) are where it goes down.

If you have great content, courses, or just some helpful information you want to share with the P&B Family, drop them in the comments below so that everyone benefits. Until next time, be safe, we out, peace.

Rich Jones & Marcus Garrett

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