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What does it take to turn a hobby blog into a $300,000 plus a year business?

Michelle Schroeder is a successful personal finance and lifestyle blogger. Michelle started her blog as a hobby that eventually turned into a business. She started her blog on the side while working full-time. Today she is a professional blogger. Michelle has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, US News, and many more.

I recommend that you check out my “How to Start a Blog” post, to find out exactly what you need to get started with your own blog.

In the following interview we cover a variety of topics:

  • How Michelle got started blogging?
  • How she drives traffic to her blog?
  • Blog monetization.
  • How Michelle selects her blog topics?
  • What are her most effective traffic tactics?
  • How Michelle managed to get featured in A-list publications?

I hope you are inspired by our blogger interview with Michelle.

Success Harbor: What were your goals when you have started Making Sense of Cents?

Michelle Schroeder: I didn’t really have any big goals when I first started my blog. I started it purely as a hobby, with no intention of ever making any money. I just wanted to talk about my financial and family situation just so that I could get everything out – sort of like a diary and therapy, haha!

Success Harbor: What were the most effective ways to drive traffic to Making Sense of Cents during the first year of blogging?

Michelle Schroeder: I have always been very active when it comes to networking with other bloggers, and I think that has always helped me. Direct traffic from other blogs has always been one of my top traffic sources due to my networking.

My top tips for networking are to always be genuine, and to always give more than you take. You don’t want to always be asking for favors and bugging everyone – that will not work. Instead, make friends with those around you, help others as much as you can, and be nice!

Success Harbor: At what point were you thinking about monetizing your blog?

Michelle Schroeder: After around 6 months of blogging, I received my first $100 from blogging through a blog friend of mine (another example of how networking can be helpful), and that’s what got me interested in monetizing my blog.

I was also in a not-so-great financial situation back then as well, so I was actively seeking for new ways to earn money on the side. Yes, I had a full-time job, but I had many bills, student loans, a mortgage payment, and more to pay for that were all holding me back from my dreams.

I then decided to work harder on my blog so that I could earn side income from it. I never thought it would become my full-time income, but thankfully it has!

Success Harbor: How many different ways have you and are monetizing your blog today?

Michelle Schroeder: I mainly monetize my blog right now through affiliate marketing and sponsored partnerships with brands. I am hoping to increase affiliate income through my blog as it is much more passive and I feel much more in control.

A new form of income that I plan on adding soon is that I am going to be launching my first online course, so that I can help others increase their affiliate income as well.

Success Harbor: How do you determine the topics that you blog about?

Michelle Schroeder: I have a long list of topics on my computer and my cell phone that contain hundreds of different topic ideas. I come up with them as I go and they are usually topics that I come across in my daily life.

Success Harbor: What is your process for creating blog posts that are better than competing blog posts?

Michelle Schroeder: I always try to be as personable and helpful as I can. I’ve always been told by readers that they love how my blog posts always sound like I am talking directly to them. I believe this can help make personal finance much more enjoyable to read.

Success Harbor: What are your most effective traffic building tactics?

Michelle Schroeder: My most effective traffic building tactic right now is Pinterest. Pinterest brings around 175,000 clicks over to my blog each month, which is a huge amount!

Success Harbor: Can you give us an idea of what you are spending your time on to keep your blog going and growing?

Michelle Schroeder: I spend my time on many different areas. I always try to put my readers first, which includes turning their questions into informative blog posts, replying to every single reader email I receive, replying to every comment I receive, and more.

Success Harbor: What recommendations do you have for people to get published in some of the A-list publications you have been featured in such as Forbes and The Huffington Post?

Michelle Schroeder: My top tip is to network with others. That’s how I have been included in many articles, as people already know who I am.

My other tip is to sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out). It’s a free list that will let you know when a reporter needs help with a story. Check out our interview with HARO founder Peter Shankman.

Success Harbor: What tactics can you recommend to those bloggers who have a hard time getting traction with their blogs? What process should they take?

Michelle Schroeder: My very first tip is to always make sure that you provide high-quality content. Readers won’t stay long if you’re just pumping out posts that don’t actually help them.

My other tips include making sure that you are promoting your blog posts enough, networking with other bloggers, helping your readers, and more.

Success Harbor: How can people find out more about you or get in contact with you?

Michelle Schroeder: You can find me over at Making Sense of Cents, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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