Ask Me Anything

Last year, I published my first Ask Me Anything here on Making Sense of Cents. That went super well, so I decided to make it more of a regular thing! Ask Me Anything is literally that – you can ask me anything. If you’re struggling to figure out what to ask, here are a few of…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 24, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Last year, I published my first Ask Me Anything here on Making Sense of Cents. That went super well, so I decided to make it more of a regular thing!

Ask Me Anything is literally that – you can ask me anything. If you’re struggling to figure out what to ask, here are a few of the topics you may want to know more about:

  • Personal finance
  • Blogging
  • My life
  • Travel
  • RVing
  • Sailing
  • Being location independent
  • Business
  • Making extra money
  • Questions about my dogs

And so on, and so on.

Seriously, ask me anything in the comments below, and I will take the time to answer every single one. Of course, please nothing inappropriate or creepy. I’ll let you be the judge of what is creepy, I guess, haha!

All right, go for it, ask away!

 

P.S. If you’re looking to see all of the comments and questions, make sure to hit “Older Comments” or “Newer Comments” below. The comments break apart in pages once there are over 50 comments.


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Hi Michelle! Thanks so much for opening this up! I was wondering when you were starting out did you approach other media sources about your blog eg newspapers, tv. Or was it just word of mouth once you grew and they contacted you?
    Many thanks,
    Madonna

    1. Usually, they approach me. HARO is a great website to check out πŸ™‚

      1. Thank you ☺️

  2. Damon

    Hi Michelle, thanks for doing this and thanks for taking my question. If you were just starting today would you still do a personal finance blog or would you choose something different? Do you think the personal finance blog arena is overcrowded?

    1. My blog would still be the same πŸ™‚

      I don’t think it’s overcrowded.

  3. Brandon

    I am looking to create a blog, however, I have somewhat of a dilemna. I have a book that I’ve written that I had planned to sell through my blog as an ebook. However, I was wondering if instead of selling the book, that maybe I should use the information from the book in order to build content for my blog. I figure I could use the articles to build up the blog and then use the blog to offer affiliate programs to my audience. I’m kind of concerned about having enough content to continuously feed to my blog,so I think using the book would be a good ideal, but at the same time I hate to just give the book away for free. Any ideas,insight, or suggestions you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

    1. You can go either way – it’s just a personal decision.

      I wouldn’t worry about having enough content, though. A book wouldn’t be enough for a whole blog anyways – so hopefully you have lots of other stuff planned πŸ™‚

  4. John Howard

    Hi Michelle –

    I enjoy your writing and your blog course! It seems sensible to initially build a product page where I collect an email address with a free giveaway then create an email cycle for my credit products as opposed to writing content multiple times per week and just “hoping” to generate money.

    I am curious if you feel its a better strategy to just start writing content vs building a product where we collect email, provide a free giveaway then establish an email cycle. It takes more time, thought, effort and money than I realized to create all of this, but, once its done I believe I could easily create content multiple times per week and then have the email cycle already in place.

    Can you offer your opinion on the best way to start getting traction on users and financial momentum ?

    1. Are you starting a blog or a store?

      1. John Howard

        I have a blog area on quickapply.com, I have never had a blog before. So yes I need to add to this blog as much as I can.

        1. Giveaways aren’t always the best way to collect emails – as most giveaway entries are people who are only interested in giveaways (so you may get a lot of people marking your emails as spam). It sounds like you need to decide what your business will be. For me, I’m a blogger so I like content.

  5. Emeline

    Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for letting us have a quick chat with you. You are one of the fewer bloggers that has inspired me to jump in this crazy blogging thing.

    I am new in blogging, I love writting and learning. (I have purchased your affiliate marketing course). This is my ‘draft’ blog, still have a lot of work to do πŸ™‚

    My first income goal is to reach 1 or 2% of what you earn per month within 6 months. I would have so many questions but here are three of them :

    1. When you started to earn money with your blog, did you plan to grow your income that big in a certain amount of time, was that your goal ?

    2. What increased your income and what have you done to keep it growing ?

    3. Do you use stock photos or do you actually take your own pictures ?

    Thanks again,
    Emeline

    1. Hello!

      1) I don’t think I really had any goals with my blog in the beginning. I was just happy with what was going on πŸ™‚

      2) Diversifying my income really helped, as well as firing all of my freelance clients and focusing 100% on Making Sense of Cents.

      3) I do both.

  6. Laura Munoz

    Hello Michelle,

    Great that you let us pick your brain πŸ˜€

    I have so many questions regarding blogging but I’m currently under medical leave, which has made my personal finance a little worse for wear.

    So now, I wonder:

    1. I have a credit card debt and a car loan. Which method would you recommend to tackle the debts to get rid of them as soon as humanly possible?
    2. Aside from Affiliate Marketing, which I’m fairly new in your course, which other methods would you recommend?
    3. Being location independent and traveling with your dogs, is it difficult to find pet-friendly places? Have you thought about taking a trip to Europe with your dogs?
    4. Did you train your dogs or someone trained them with/for you?

    Thank you for the information πŸ™‚

    1. Hello!

      1) I’d probably go with the one with the highest interest rate.

      2) Sponsored partnerships πŸ™‚

      3) It’s not hard to find pet-friendly places. Our dogs are old so I would not fly with them. Personally, I think it’s quite evil to put your dogs in the baggage area of a plane.

      4) It depends on what you considered “trained” haha

  7. Hi Michelle!

    Is there anything that you would have done differently throughout your business journey? If so, please share examples.

    Thank you for all that you do! You rock!!!

    1. My main thing is that I would have bought my domain right away and started on self-hosted WP πŸ™‚

  8. Lynora

    Have you found that certain titles work best on Pinterest? I am a food blogger and I wonder if my titles should be shorter rather than longer?

    1. I have never really tested it, to be honest.

  9. Hi Michelle.
    My question is, what safeguards did you have in place financially (if any) before you, and then your husband, had your blog business as your sole source of income?
    Thanks!

    1. Hmm can you share what you mean? Do you mean like having an emergency fund?

      1. Kind of- did you want to have a certain number of months where you hit a certain income threshhold and / or savings?

        1. Honestly, it was just to fully fund my EF and to pay off my student loans. I was already making good money from my blogging business, so it was mainly just myself holding myself back.

  10. Ivone

    Hi Michelle

    I’m so excited you have given us this opportunity to ask you questions.

    I probably have a few but the one I am most interested in is what software did you use to set up your Affiliate Marketing platform?

    Thank you.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards
    Ivone

  11. Hi, Michelle:

    Thanks for taking our questions!

    I started a blog in July: https://katiegoesplatinum.com

    People seem to love it, which is great! And I am now on page 1 of Google for my main keyword (gray hair transition blog). So I guess that means I’m kind of doing SEO correctly? πŸ™‚ I am so new to all of this!

    Question:

    I get a lot of clicks on my Amazon affiliate links and some purchases but my income since July is only $69. I reached out to Amazon for advice, and they basically told me that my income would increase once my traffic increased.

    Any tips or advice on how to get more purchases through my links? Or should I just work more on getting traffic to the blog? Last month I had 5000 visitors and 11,800 page views.

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Katie!

      There’s so much that goes into this question. My top tip would be to take my affiliate marketing course – http://makingsenseofaffiliatemarketing.com

      Getting more traffic would definitely help.

  12. Hi Michelle,

    Any advice on how a newbie blogger can land guest post opportunities?

    Is there a format for requesting to guest post or any particular sites you could recommend that give newbies a chance?

    I don’t have a following yet and I’m trying to increase my exposure.

      1. Thanks so much, Michelle. This is very useful information!

        I really appreciate this Ask Me Anything segment, it’s always good to learn from experienced bloggers like yourself.

        Still trying to be like you when I grow up! πŸ™‚

  13. What is your major source of traffic Google or Pinterest?

    1. Pinterest used to always be bigger up until just a few months ago.

  14. Shannon

    Hello Michelle,

    I have been doing far TOO MUCH thinking and way little action on starting a blog. I have a ton of excuses and I obviously recognize that. Ha! I wanted to do something special for my birthday this month and I feel that starting my blog on that special day is PRETTY SPECIAL! What do you think about that? Is it a good idea? Or could it be a disaster waiting to happen?

      1. Shannon

        I know that I can do this, but I have heard both success stories, as well as some failures and I, DO NOT want my birthday to be a constant reminder of a failure. That may sound ridiculous, but it is a thought on replay in my head. And failure is failure no matter what day it is. All that matters is how you recover after not having the success that you want, but I feel that I will remember it more if it’s on my birthday rather than some random day of the year! I hope you don’t think that I’m nuts after this. LOL. What do you think? Should I go for it?

  15. Did you do SEO of your blog on your own like outreaching to other webmasters for links or did you just focused on creating good content and links followed up?

  16. Chris

    Following up on my previous question:

    I saw your interview on Jeff Rose Youtube channel where you said that you used to spend almost 100 hrs/week on your blog when you started it back in 2010-11.

    How were those 100hrs divided into work? Was it just writing content on the blog or there’s more to it?

    1. There’s a lot that goes into blogging: writing, research, editing, making graphics, brainstorming, social media scheduling/creation/brainstorming, connecting with brands, networking, behind the scenes business stuff (such as accounting, legal, etc.), and more.

  17. Hi Michelle,

    I have questions.

    * From the time you started blogging until you saw your 1st $10k monthly affiliate income check, how many years did it take for you to achieve that?

    * How many times a day were you blogging until you started getting enough traffic to quit your day job and take power back from your former employer?

    * Were you blogging “evergreen content style” in the early stages of your side hustle millionaire blogging career? Or were you blogging just a few paragraphs and a post or posts daily just to get your blogs indexed?

    Anything else you’d like to add will be greatly appreciated. πŸ™‚

    1. Hello!

      1) I actually do not remember. I wish I would have kept track of that!

      2) Not sure if I understand this question. Do you mean how many times a day was I publishing blog posts?

      3) You can see all of my blog posts here – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/blog :). I’ve never done anything “just to get your blogs indexed” LOL

  18. Rajan Arora

    Hey!

    I’ve started my blog last month and I’m loving the journey. But one thing makes me feel dumb and that is… Plugins!

    So…

    What is your top three plugins which have changed your blogging journey completely?

    Thanks!

    1. I don’t know if any have completely changed my life, haha. I sort of just add them as I need them, and let them do their thing. Due to that, I don’t even know which ones are actively working/on. I looked at my plugins just now for you, though, and I like the plugins for Convertkit, Akismet Anti-Spam, and PrettyLinks.

  19. Hi Michelle

    Have there been months when your affiliates income decrease drastically and what could have caused that, Or has it been increasing always?

    And do you use coupon codes to genarate more sales with your affiliates networks?

    1. You can see all of my affiliate income every single month here – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/category/business-income. It’s never decreased drastically.

  20. Stacy Caprio

    Hi Michelle,

    Hope I’m not too late – thanks for doing this!

    First, you have an amazing blog & I look forward to your emails, especially the income reports.

    You also make an amazing income online, which is inspiring!

    My question is, it seems after you hit the $100K/month mark, you seem to hover around there year round, for years. Why do you think this is? Is there only X new amount of relevant traffic each month, have you decided to focus on maintenance rather than growth, etc?

    Thank you- Stacy

    1. I’m working much less, and I haven’t created a new product in over 2 years πŸ™‚ I’m focusing on maintenance, and having a better work/life balance.

  21. Dawn

    Hi Michelle! Love your site! You’re a true inspiration! I see you use App Sumo. Can you please tell us more about how you use it and how effective it has been for you? Thank you!

    1. I simply use it to capture email sign ups πŸ™‚

  22. Dawn

    Hi Again! One more question….I see that surveys are a good portion of your income. What percentage of that income is taking surveys versus affiliate income? Thanks for your input and for helping us! Love what you do! πŸ˜€

    1. It’s all listed under affiliate income if you look at my income reports again πŸ™‚

  23. Mary Ellen

    I am brand new to blogging and am just about to sign up with bluehost. I noticed that you have a lot of articles written by other people on your blog. Can you just share those and give them credit or do you need to get their permission first?

    How much content should I write initially before going live?

    Then would I just beef up my blog with other people’s writing?

    Thank you

    1. The articles are written for my blog – I have not taken them from others or copied and pasted them from other websites.

  24. Philippa

    Can I monetise a blog for a non profit organisation using affiliate marketing? Or are the β€œrules” different for non profits?

    1. I don’t know anything about non profits so I don’t know what makes a non profit or what the rules are for it.

  25. Thanks for this opportunity, Michelle.

    My question borders on blogging, business and making extra money.

    What would you suggest I do to grow my insurance blog. It’s almost 2 years now but we are not making a reasonable income from it. Are there alternate ways you know for this insurance blog to make more money, at least $2,000 per month.

    1. You’ll have to find new ways to grow your blog, if you think you’re already doing everything.

    2. Hi Emmanuel. I clicked over to your website to see how I could help you with your question on how to make up to $2000 from your website.

      Here is the one question you must answer:

      Who is your target audience – insurance companies, insurance agents, advertisers, or the general public?

      Once you decide, write irresistible posts that would make your target audience come back for more.

      Everything else will flow from there. Hope this helps.

  26. Timea

    I am curious Michelle what you did when you first started blogging to increase traffic to your site.

    1. I started it all as a hobby, so I didn’t actively do anything with the goal of trying to increase page views.

  27. Jamie

    If you would suggest any business to start to be location independent what would it be?

    1. The only one I’ve done is blog πŸ™‚ I recommend that, for sure!

  28. This concerns two things about the make money om Pinterest course. The first is a statement about a problem I encountered I was able to fix, and hope if anyone else encounters this it will be helpful. The second concerns what to do if I have an active very healthy Pinterest following.

    1) When I first started the instructions on preparing my Pinterest account to interface with WordPress, the instructions stated I had only to insert the verification code into any blog post and then have it verified. It said this on many sites and video explanations. However that did not work.

    First I have a web page hosted through Godaddy. The instructions for wordpress.com and wordpress.org are different. In the case of .org, (which is what you have if you install wordpress independently under your own url and domain name differ from the instructions supplied on most web sites.

    What was required is that all changes must first be made on the back end through Godaddy. The verification code must then be inserted on another *web page* and not into a blog post. The web page must be in the same directory as the index.html file in the root directory of the web page. The other page must also have meta tags such as description and tag attributes supplied in the *other* page. This does not work if you attempt it in the index.html of your web site.

    2) The instructions state I should change any Pinterest boards which do not relate to my blog. Given that I have an average of 78,000 views per month, 1700 engaged, 2500 followers, and 230 boards, I don’t consider making all but four of my boards “secret” a viable option. Is it reasonable for me to continue while not following that instruction. I just don’t like the idea of booting 2,000 followers out into the cold.

    1. Which Pinterest course are you referring to? I don’t have one.

  29. Scott Larkin

    Mea Culpa. I confused Mom’s Make Sense with Making Sense of Sense.

  30. Kelly

    Do you use a plugin to list your affiliate statement on your blog post? Or how do you list the statement below the blog date.

    1. It is built into my theme. I do talk about different ways to automatically do this in my course.

  31. Michelle White

    Hi, Michelle! When you first started, how did you balance a full-time job with your blogging, and how did you know it was time to leave your company to pursue blogging full-time? I’m thinking I have two years until I will be debt-free and able to leave my job, so I’ll be juggling three income streams (full-time agency work, part-time private practice, and blogging) for two years.

  32. Hi Michelle,

    I have been writing blog posts on my website, twice a week for about one year. I can see that traffic is improving but I’m struggling to monetize the blog.

    The main problem is that I don’t really know/have any product/ service to offer to my audience. It’d be great if you can share your insights or point me in the right direction to bring my blog to the next level. Here’s my site thinkmaverick.com. Thank you for your time
    .

    1. Hi Jenny. I’m interested in knowing how your blog is doing right now. About 14 months have gone by since you posed your question so I believe your site is picking up a sizeable traffic and you’ve been able to monetize your effort.

      By way of advice, you should be crystal clear about who your target audience is and focus entirely on satisfying them. That is the biggest lesson I’ve learn in this long journey.

      Good luck.

  33. Renata

    Hello Michele…how can I make extra income if I’m a fully employed person and my contract for employment is about to end ???

  34. Bryan

    My friend was asking if she could start blogging about stuff in the US even if she’s not based in the US? I don’t know if you already talked about this, What does geographical location matter, can you blog about a what does geographical location matter?

    1. I don’t think your geographic location matters, as long as you aren’t pretending to be something that you aren’t.

  35. Hello Michelle,

    Yes It’s been a while since you did ask me anything.

    I’m a student of both your How to Start a Blog Free Course and Making Sense of Affiliate marketing.

    Hope this question meets your approval.

    As I earlier mentioned, I make 100% of my income offline. To increase the share of the income I make online to at least 10%, last year I started learning blogging, SEO and affiliate marketing and all that. I’ve still not made up to $10 online yet but I’m still learning and investing in new online courses. So here is my question:

    Below are the URL of some prospects I’m courting. Is there anything that I can do to make these sites rank higher in particular keywords? What would be your approach if you were in my shoes?Β 

    I want a basis to approach the companies and say these are the 1, 2, 3 things you need to do to make your website rank higher. Should I get a responsive ear, then you will be our technical consultant to get the projects done. How can we make this work?

    https://www.mouka.com/
    https://vitafoamng.com/
    https://www.bergerpaintsnig.com/
    https://www.aiicoplc.com/
    https://africaprudential.com/
    https://www.unitedcapitalplcgroup.com/

    Best regards,

    Paul

    1. Hey Paul,

      I’m not sure if I understand your question. Are you trying to buy these websites?