Michelle Schroeder-Gardener quit her job in 2013 to work on her finance and lifestyle blog, Making Sense of Cents, full-time. Michelle had no idea what she was doing when she first launched the blog in 2011, but today, Making Sense of Cents has grown beyond her wildest imagination. It allows her, her husband, and her daughter to live on a sailboat full-time while sailing across the world. This is how she did it.

How she started

Michelle first started Making Sense of Cents because she wanted to track and share her progress in paying off her student debt. At first, she was simply blogging as a hobby, but about six months into it, a friend of Michelle’s connected her with a company that was interested in her writing a sponsored post for them. The company ended up paying her $100 for a post that would reach her 50,000 monthly site visitors.

Afterward, Michelle started studying what other bloggers were doing. She started becoming more consistent with her posts and opted to display ads on her blog. She also began reaching out to companies that she saw other bloggers working with to offer sponsored posts.

In just two years of doing this, she was earning between $5,000 and $10,000 per month, which was more than she was making at her full-time job as a financial analyst. In 2013, after she had made her final payment on her student loans, she quit her job to focus on her blog full-time.

For the first few years, Michelle mainly kept her focus on the blogging aspect of her business. She was consistently publishing blog posts every day and even shared guest posts on her friends’ blogs as well.

The self-made blogger went to work on her social media presence as well. Today, she frequently posts on Facebook and Pinterest, where the bulk of her followers come from. She also has over 130,000 loyal email subscribers.

Throughout the years, Michelle has been able to use her audience to generate different streams of income. In 2016, she launched her very first blogging course teaching all of the ins and outs of blogging. Today, the new mom writes and publishes blog posts only a few times per week, and she’s earned over $4,000,000 in gross revenue in the last five years.

How she makes $700K in passive income per year

Michelle makes it very clear that earning passive income from a blog isn’t strictly passive. There’s website maintenance, accounting, and creating content that requires a little work from her. Michelle’s passive income streams include affiliate income, course sales, and ad revenue.

Michelle attributes 50% of her revenue to affiliate income, where she receives a commission when she directs traffic to partner brands from her blog.

She attributes 30% of her revenue to course sales. She has two courses that she offers to her audience; Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing for $197 and Making Sense of Sponsored Posts for $159. Michelle has earned well over $1,000,000 over the years from these two courses alone.

The finance and lifestyle blogger also makes passive income by displaying ads on her blog through Adthrive. She gets paid when readers see or click auto-generated ads on her blog.

Her tips for earning passive income

Since Michelle and her family live full-time on a sailboat, they don’t always have a reliable internet connection, so it’s important that she have several passive income streams to support their nomadic lifestyle.

In addition to her blogging income, Michelle and her husband invest in individual stocks as well as investment accounts to add to their retirement fund.

The digital nomad shared several tips with CNBC when it comes to creating passive income with blogging. Michelle says that it’s important to write how you talk, be as helpful as possible, post consistently, and diversify your income streams.

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