When Michelle Schroeder-Gardner started her lifestyle website in 2011, she didn’t know anything about blogging
— or that she might one day earn a ton of money writing online.
“I had absolutely no idea what I was doing,” she said. “I started my blog just for myself so that I could learn more about personal finance.”
Since then, Schroeder-Gardner has learned so much, not only about how to write engaging content, but also how to monetize. Through affiliate advertising, sponsorships, and her course — Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing — Michelle regularly earns over $100,000 per month on her blog. She also does exactly what she wants. And that includes living in a boat.
Yes, you read that right. For several years, Schroeder-Gardner and her husband Wes actually traveled the United States in an RV with their dogs, but these days they travel the world in a luxury sailboat with living space, a kitchen, and several bedrooms. They crave the freedom that comes with scenery that changes all the time, and of course not being tied down to one place.
How Schroeder-Gardner Balances Work and Play
Earning more than six figures per month blogging while floating in the sea may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s a reality for Schroeder-Gardner, who can work remotely thanks to her mobile wifi connection. But she may work less than you think for this type of income. According to the blogger, she probably works 20 to 30 hours per week on average, although her work can be somewhat sporadic.
She spends her time writing, researching content, brainstorming new ideas (including new products she could launch), learning more about blogging, running her social media accounts, making graphics, and dealing with email.
And yes, she does it all on her sailboat. Schroeder-Gardner says she and Wes just sailed back to Florida after spending several months in the Bahamas. They may also travel to Europe, or to Colorado to hike and explore the outdoors.
While the blogger, who is still in her 20’s, has already accomplished more than most people could dream of in a financial sense, she still has goals for the future. Specifically, she plans to continue growing the reach of her blog. She took too much time off growing her blog in 2018 to focus on the transition from RV life to sailboat life, she says.
But she wants 2020 to be different — she wants to find a better balance between the two. That may mean launching new products meant to help bloggers grow their own businesses and earn more money, but it also means writing more useful content readers can lean on for inspiration when chasing their own dreams.
Her Secret to Success
Anyone who has given blogging a try knows that it takes a stroke of luck to land in your niche at a time people are searching for the content you create. But it also takes hard work and having a knack for blogging and somehow getting people to care about what you say.
Schroeder-Gardner says she thinks the secret to her initial blogging success is that she always tries to make personal finance enjoyable.
“I do this by writing in a personable tone,” she told me. “Readers often tell me that my writing sounds like I am having a casual conversation with a friend and that it's more enjoyable to read this way. For me, this is just naturally how I write so I'm glad that my readers enjoy it!”
Michelle’s Tips for Success
If you’re eager to build a blog that brings in a big income one day, Schroeder-Gardner does offer some tips anyone could use. For starters, every blogger should try to build more somewhat passive income, she says.
Her favorite way to monetize is through affiliate marketing, which is a type of marketing that helps bloggers earn affiliate commissions when someone signs up for a product or service through a link on their website.
“For me, I regularly earn around $50,000 a month from affiliate marketing and it's almost all income from past blog posts,” she says. “These old blog posts still generate me income even years later.”
Also consider creating your own product, whether it’s a course, a printable product, or a physical product such as books or clothing.
“Creating your own product is a great way to earn more money because you can provide your readers with a solution to a problem they may be having, you can diversify your income, and you are in charge of what it is that you are selling or promoting.”