My Secret To Making $5 Million Online & Working Just 10 Hours A Week

For years, I was working anywhere from 60 to 100 hours per week. I hardly got any sleep, barely saw my friends and family, and had very little time to do things for myself. It was exhausting, and I knew that I couldn’t do that long term. When I would think about what I wanted…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: August 10, 2023

Picture of my family

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.

For years, I was working anywhere from 60 to 100 hours per week.

I hardly got any sleep, barely saw my friends and family, and had very little time to do things for myself. It was exhausting, and I knew that I couldn’t do that long term. When I would think about what I wanted for the rest of my life, I realized I needed to make a change.  

See, when I first started this blog, I was working a full-time job, getting my master’s degree, and blogging in my spare time. Even though I didn’t start my blog to make money (I started it to keep track of how I was doing with my finances), I used any amount of my spare time to work on it.

Reaching new readers, making a good additional income stream, and meeting blogging friends was all very motivating. 

It felt good to work, but I knew I was working way too much. There’s no way I could continue like that forever.

After I quit my job to blog full-time, I was still working a ton, definitely more than 50 hours a week.

Eventually, I realized that I needed to focus on how I do things so that I could save time. I wanted to enjoy my life, travel more, spend time with friends and family, and more.

I had to rethink how I work and use my time so that I can get the most out of my days and weeks. At first, it was difficult to change how I did things, but now when I look back, I realize how different my life is now.

I now earn a great income, while working less than ever. My business is mostly on autopilot, and I just work around 10 hours a week.

As a new mom, this has been a lifesaver!

I can’t imagine if I had my daughter in the early days of starting this blog. It’s been about a decade since I started this blog, Making Sense of Cents, and I had no idea what I was doing. I spent a lot of time trying to figure things out, and even though it took a ton of time and energy, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of those long weeks.

Now, I have my business running quite smoothly, and I’ve been able to make over $5 million online. There are some tasks that I definitely still do myself, such as writing blog posts and answering emails from readers. Other tasks, though, are automated and simply make my life easier.

I get to spend as much time as possible with my daughter, travel when I want, visit friends and family, and more.

I have learned so much in the decade since I started Making Sense of Cents. I’ve reached financial independence and live my ideal lifestyle. I work around 10 hours each week and spend the rest of my time with my family, traveling, and enjoying life.

Because I know people are shocked to learn how little I work, I wrote today’s post to help you realize how you may be able to save time so you can live the life you want.

Also, if you are interested in how I make money online, I recommend reading this article of mine – How To Monetize A Blog: How I Grew A $5 Million Blog.

Related content:

Here’s how I save time and work 10 hours a week

 

I have a to do list

I have an on-going to-do list, and this is one of my top time management tips.

Any and everything that I need to do goes on my list, from small tasks to major ones. Without my to-do list, I would feel lost, unorganized, and probably even confused about what to do!

I’m actually not a very organized person, and my to-do list guarantees that I never forget what I need to do.

Yes, I rely heavily on my to-do list, but putting a to-do list together doesn’t have to be hard. I keep my to-do list on my phone, and it’s just a simple list of things I need to do. Other people find that planners work well for them.

Your to-do list will keep you on track so you don’t forget what needs to be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

 

I live by my calendar

If there is something coming up that I know I will not remember, I create a simple reminder on my calendar. This makes managing my life easier because I don’t have to worry about forgetting things.

I create reminders for things such as:

  • When it’s time to pay estimated quarterly tax payments
  • Interviews that I am taking part in
  • When I need to send invoices to companies
  • Checking affiliate links on a regular basis to make sure they work
  • Business tasks that need to be completed by a certain date

And more.

This prevents me from wasting my time trying to remember things I may have forgotten. Instead, I know exactly what I need to do each day and month.

I even have items on my calendar for things that are more than a year away. This ensures I never forget or wonder what I have to do.

 

I set working hours for myself

One of the best things about blogging is that I can work from home. There is a lot of flexibility when you work remotely, but it can be difficult to “turn off” for the day. That’s why I recommend having clear working hours. This will help you manage your time, complete your work, and “leave” work for the day.

You will want to schedule your day so you have:

  • A start time
  • Lunch break
  • End time
  • Anything else that you would normally do to break apart your work day

Even if you can have the most flexible schedule in the world, it’s usually wise to still keep somewhat of a work schedule. This way you can mentally get into the “work zone” each day and have fewer distractions.

While my typical work day varies a lot, having a loose schedule helped me as a new mom.

 

I work ahead

This one is probably my favorite. Working ahead has changed my life and allows me to focus better.

When I first started Making Sense of Cents, I was writing content and publishing it either the same day or the next day.

It was a very stressful way to run a blog because it felt very forced and rushed.

Eventually, I remembered reading about a blogger who said that they liked to be around six months or more ahead in blog posts. I thought it was nuts at the time, but it has truly changed my life.

Now, I try to be at least a few months ahead in content. Currently, I am around 5-6 months ahead, which feels so great.

Between getting ahead on content and reducing the number of posts I publish each week, I now have a realistic schedule that lets me work ahead on other projects and reduces my overall stress.

There are many benefits to writing content in advance, such as:

  • I don’t feel like I’m running out of article ideas.
  • I don’t rush the day or week before to try and figure out something good to write about.
  • Having a huge amount of content written and done.
  • I only write when I’m in the mood to write.

When I’m in the writing mood, I write much faster and enjoy the writing process. This helps me to work fewer hours because I’m not forcing myself to write, which takes way more time.

I can spit articles out quite quickly when I am in the mood to write.

I also like to batch write content, which means I may write a lot of content in one week, and then I can go several weeks or sometimes a month or two without writing a single blog post.

This way, I can focus on other areas of my blogging business and have a better work-life balance.

 

I outsource tasks

Certain things I do myself, such as writing blog posts, brainstorming new marketing and revenue ideas, and responding to emails from readers.

But there are many tasks that don’t have to be done by me.

And for those, I outsource!

Outsourcing tasks for your business can help you focus on more important tasks, find professionals who can do certain tasks better than you (such as accounting or legal work), as well as save time.

I know it can be hard to feel okay spending money on outside help, but outsourcing often makes you more productive so you can earn more money.

For my business, I outsource many different things such as I have an editor, virtual assistant, Pinterest virtual assistant, graphic designer, technical management, and more.

 

I cut out distractions

It can be so easy to get distracted when you’re working, especially if you are working from home.

But this can cause you to waste a lot of time and not get nearly as much work done as you would have liked.

While social media and TV may be great at times, you have to be careful so they’re not impacting your work in negative ways.

This may even mean downloading cell phone apps that minimize your screen time so that you are forced to cut out distractions. I even know of some people who put their phone in another room so that they are less likely to be on it while they are working.

For me, I have deleted numerous apps from my cell phone so that I am less likely to be distracted by it. I do not have Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter on my phone, for example.

 

I use tools to automate my business

There are so many great tools out there to help you run your business.

To save time running Making Sense of Cents, I use a wide range of tools, plugins, and platforms, and they are all great! I try to automate as much as I can because with today’s technology, it is a no brainer.

Yes, some technology may take some time to learn and set up in the beginning. But once you have it set up, you can automate many different areas of your business.

Here are a few tools and websites I use:

  • Convertkit – This helps me automate my newsletter and funnels.
  • Teachable – My online courses are hosted on this website, and Teachable handles payments, affiliates, and more.
  • Adthrive – Yes, you can manage all of your different display ads by yourself, but honestly, no one does that these days. Using a company like Adthrive or Mediavine can save you an infinite amount of time.

There are many other tools you can use to your advantage too, such as automatic backups for your blog, creating filters for spam comments (so that you don’t have to go in all the time and delete spam comments on your blog), and more.

 

I use affiliate marketing on my blog

Finding a more passive income stream for your business can reduce the amount of time you spend actually working!

The passive income stream I’ve built is affiliate marketing.

I earn most of my monthly income with affiliate marketing, and it’s also my favorite way to monetize a blog.

Affiliate marketing allows me to save a lot of time, while still helping my readers find the best products and services to improve their lives.

It can be a somewhat passive income source because you can create a blog post and possibly earn money from that same blog post for years. In fact, I have many blog posts that I continue to earn income from even though they are five years old. See, even though a blog post may be old, I am still constantly driving traffic to it (and updating the content occasionally as well!), and readers are still purchasing through the affiliate links in that article.

What is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is a blog monetization method where you share a link to a product or service with your readers and earn income when followers make a purchase through your special link.

You might earn a percentage of the sale or a flat rate for each person who signs up or makes a purchase through your affiliate link.

Here are some quick tips so that you can make affiliate income on your blog:

  • Be honest with your reviews. If there is something you don’t like about a product, either don’t be an affiliate for the company or do mention the negatives in your review. Whenever I write a review or talk about a product, I try to research negative reviews to see what others users think.
  • Ask for a raise. If you are doing well with a particular affiliate program, ask for a commission increase.
  • Build a relationship with your affiliate manager. Your affiliate manager can give your readers valuable coupons, increase your commissions, offer bonuses, and more.
  • Be strategic with your links. There is no need to include an affiliate link 100 times in your content. You can simply include links at the beginning, middle, and end of your posts, and readers will notice them. Perhaps bold your links or find another way for it to stand out as well, like a call-to-action box.

You can learn more about affiliate marketing strategies in my free Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers Ebook.

 

Want to find time to get stuff done?

There’s a good chance that after reading this post you realize that you want to use your time more efficiently so you have time to do more with your life, whether that’s more travel, more outings with friends, more time to start a family, and so on.

While working less is great, perhaps you’re having a hard time finding hours in your day to fit work in.

If that’s the case, then I can help you in this area too.

For several years, I worked full-time and found different ways to make extra money, such as starting and building my blog Making Sense of Cents. Before that, I was working full-time while also attending college full-time. Working 100 hour weeks was a regular thing for me for many, many years.

If you are someone who wants to start side hustling but you can’t figure out how to find time to make extra money, I recommend reading 16 Ideas That Will Teach You How To Find Time To Make Extra Money.

Some of the ways include:

  • Strategically use your lunch time
  • Use vacation days at your day job
  • Use short gaps in your day correctly
  • Be more organized
  • Create an efficient schedule

In conclusion

As I said at the beginning of this post, I can’t believe how much time I used to spend working every week. It was necessary to reach my goals, but finding ways to use my time better has allowed me to cut my working time down to around 10 hours a week. 

The most surprising part about only working 10 hours a week is that I’ve made over $5 million online. Not all of that money was made while I was only working 10 hours a week, but I make a great income working a fraction of the time most people do.

While it might sound unbelievable, here’s how I’ve been able to save time working:

  • Keep a to-do list
  • Add things to my calendar so I never forget anything
  • Set work hours
  • Work ahead
  • Outsource tasks
  • Cut out distractions
  • Use technology to automate my business
  • Make somewhat passive income through affiliate marketing

What do you do to save time in your day-to-day life or business?


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. Really interesting and helpful, thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Danila

    Thank you, very interesting. I’ll try to shift this to my reality)

    1. Sonia

      very interesting,
      how do I start mone

      1. Med

        hello
        I am looking for a partner to establish a blog. I have a target audience on my YouTube channel of 24k in two different channels. If you are interested in the offer, answer, you can contact me

  3. Danila

    Thank you, very interesting. I’ll try to shift this to my reality)

  4. Sonia

    very interesting,
    how do I start mone

  5. Hey there! I came across your blog post and found it super inspiring! As a writer, I’m always looking for ways to improve my time management and day-to-day life, and your post has given me some awesome ideas to try out. Your tips seem really practical, and I can’t wait to see how they impact my own work and life balance. Thanks for sharing your experience โ€“ it’s definitely given me a boost of motivation!

  6. Hey there! I came across your blog post and found it super inspiring! As a writer, I’m always looking for ways to improve my time management and day-to-day life, and your post has given me some awesome ideas to try out. Your tips seem really practical, and I can’t wait to see how they impact my own work and life balance. Thanks for sharing your experience โ€“ it’s definitely given me a boost of motivation!

  7. Hey Michelle,

    Love the post. It really is important for people to understand how to manage their time and effort. It’s tough to change, but reading here about how you changed from working smarter and not harder is inspiration for everyone. Great to read this and congrats! Happy to share this post.

    Have a great day and take care.
    Jay Zee

  8. Hey Michelle,

    Love the post. It really is important for people to understand how to manage their time and effort. It’s tough to change, but reading here about how you changed from working smarter and not harder is inspiration for everyone. Great to read this and congrats! Happy to share this post.

    Have a great day and take care.
    Jay Zee

  9. Great to see that you’ve found long-term success with the blog as you were one of the early ones! I keep reading from other bloggers that blog readership is on the decline, as people gravitate toward video content, podcasts, etc. Hopefully blogs, just like books, continue to be a part of FI media.

  10. Great to see that you’ve found long-term success with the blog as you were one of the early ones! I keep reading from other bloggers that blog readership is on the decline, as people gravitate toward video content, podcasts, etc. Hopefully blogs, just like books, continue to be a part of FI media.

  11. Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  12. I still prefer blogs and content that I can read over anything else, especially when it comes to financial content.

  13. Nora

    confusing article, you don’t say what you do exactly to earn 5m! the productivity tricks you give are certainly useful, but they are mainstream and that’s not how you make 5m. what is your business exactly, what are your stream incomes ?

  14. Hey Nora!

    Thanks for your comment – I am a blogger and I make money with this finance blog, Making Sense of Cents. Some of my monetization methods include sponsored partnerships with companies, display advertising, affiliate marketing, and selling products that I’ve created.

    Below are two articles I have written about how I make money on Making Sense of Cents (I have written many, many more, but these are a good starting point).

    1) Here are my blog income reports from over the years – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2022/10/blog-income-report.html
    2) Here I talk about some of the different ways to monetize a blog – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2022/05/how-to-monetize-a-blog.html

  15. Israel

    Wooow this is really awesome… Thank u so much really have been blessed reading this article. But l have a question um currently creating my own website and l want to know the best ways of promoting my site or to drive a lot of traffic to my site

  16. Ginalyn Puzon

    Thank you for sharing. I want to learn more from you Ms Michelle. Hope we can keep in touch.

  17. Great tips here. I blog full time too and I spend about 10-15 hours a week on it. I’ve not made 5 million though. I’d love to spend more time on it to increase my income but I have a two year old who does not like to sleep!

  18. Great question!

    My favorite ways include SEO, Pinterest, Facebook, and growing an email list.

    I recommend reading this blog post to learn more – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2022/07/million-dollar-blog.html

  19. Running a blog with a toddler is hard! I’m typing this comment as my little one is yelling and throwing food all over, haha.

  20. It truly can be done by anyone who’s willing to change the history of their human thought process, buckle down, and work away at creating lots and lots of content, by doing the transformation business work, out of inspiration or desperation.

  21. Such a great and inspiring article. Since I’m working full time (and have 4 kids!!), It’s really hard to dedicate time but these tips do help. I would eventually like to quit and do this as my career!! *crossing fingers* Thank you and I always look forward to the next article.

  22. Alexander

    Hi, nice stuff indeed!

    Somehow, I’m not receiving the ebook even when I inserted my email address twice and showing “successful”

  23. Hello! Looks like you received it about a year ago, so it won’t send again automatically. You can email me at michelle@makingsenseofcents.com and I can personally send it to you.

  24. ali

    Michelle When you first started your blog, how many articles did you post per week?

  25. I had no idea what I was doing, so I was posting 2 short articles a day for the most part. I do not recommend that.

  26. Hey Michelle,

    Happy Thursday to you my friend! (smile) ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wanted to say that most people after reading this blog post should feel intrigued by the title promising a $5 million income from working just 10 hours a week. As someone who aspires to financial independence, this seemed like the ultimate dream. However, after carefully reading through the article, I couldn’t help but reflect on the realities of such claims.

    Undoubtedly, the online world offers countless opportunities for entrepreneurship and generating income. Your own journey is commendable, and her success is an inspiration for many. Nevertheless, it’s essential to approach these extraordinary claims with a healthy dose of skepticism.

    First and foremost, it’s crucial to acknowledge that achieving a $5 million income, even over several years, is an exceptionally rare feat. While your story demonstrates that it’s possible, it’s important to remember that success like yours requires a unique combination of talent, dedication, and timing. These factors may not align for everyone, and it’s essential to set realistic expectations.

    Additionally, the notion of working just 10 hours a week to achieve such financial success may be possible. Building a successful online business requires significant effort, particularly in the early stages. It’s crucial not to underestimate the dedication and persistence required to make substantial progress.

    That said, it’s undeniable that the online world offers vast potential for financial growth. With the right skills, mindset, and willingness to adapt, individuals can carve out their own paths to success. Your post here provides valuable insights, tips, and inspiration to those seeking to pursue online entrepreneurship.

    In conclusion, while the promise of a $5 million income from working just 10 hours a week may seem possible, people must know there’s a lot of work that has to be done behind the scenes. Instead, let’s focus on utilizing the knowledge and experiences shared by successful individuals like Michelle to set realistic goals and make steady progress towards our own financial freedom. After all, it’s the journey that truly matters, and by learning from those who have succeeded, we can build a solid foundation for our own online endeavors.

    Keep up the good work in your blogging endeavors, Michelle! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Your friend from Flatbush Brooklyn,

    Drewry ๐Ÿ™‚