Guest Feature: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents

Can you tell us more about your background and how you started blogging?

Hello! I'm Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the writer and owner of the personal finance website, Making Sense of Cents

Around five years ago, I created Making Sense of Cents completely as a hobby. I wanted to help people learn how to save money, but the main reason for starting my blog was so that I could improve my own personal finance journey. This all started after reading a magazine that featured a personal finance website in one of their articles. I became super interested in that blog and my interest in writing online grew crazily from there. This is interesting and hilarious because, before that same summer, I had no idea about what blogs were, that they could even make money or anything along those lines.

I did not create my blog with the intention of making money blogging. It was all just a hobby and an outlet. I then realized how much I loved blogging and realized that it was for me, so now I am a full-time blogger! I went full-time in October of 2013 and I haven't looked back once. Blogging has completely changed my life for the better and it's something that I recommend everyone try if they are interested.

On my blog, I talk a lot about different ways to make extra money, money saving tips, achieving your dream, RVing (me and my husband RV full-time), and more. I love running Making Sense of Cents and I am very happy that this is now my full-time career, my business, and pretty much my life.

How did you get into affiliate marketing?

Funny enough, I only got serious about affiliate marketing around two years ago. I've been interested in affiliate marketing since just a little after I created my blog, but I never thought it was possible before. I always thought that you had to have a huge following and a ton of page views in order to be successful with affiliate marketing.

However, I now know that isn't true at all! One day around two years ago, I decided to give myself a goal of earning affiliate income, and I worked towards achieving that goal. I started by making a little bit each month, and then it just continued to grow month after month. I now know that you don't need a ton of page views or a huge following in order to make a great income through affiliate marketing.

I love affiliate income because it can feel quite passive. You can create just one blog post or social media post and potentially earn money from it years down the line, as long as you maintain whatever you created and keep generating traffic to it. With affiliate marketing, I can enjoy life more and know that I am still able to earn a great living promoting products that I use and enjoy. 

What one piece of advice do you have for someone who has never been an affiliate for anything? 

My top piece of advice is that I want everyone to know that you can make money through affiliate income, and you can do it in a non-salesy way and without selling your soul. So many people are afraid of affiliate marketing for two reasons:

1) They don't think they have a large enough platform, and

2) They are afraid of being too "salesy."

I have never had someone tell me that I'm salesy or pushy, and I've even had people ask me how I make money through affiliate marketing because they never see me try to sell things. So, yes, it is possible to provide high-quality content for your readers without being pushy! Plus, you don't need a huge following and I am a big believer in that because even I don't have a huge following!

Do you have any tech or web tips for keeping track of all your affiliate information? 

My top tip would be to create an Excel spreadsheet of all of your affiliate information. You should keep track of things such as the affiliate program information, your affiliate link, when you get paid, and so on. An Excel spreadsheet is the easiest way to do this as you can keep everything in one easily accessible place.

Can someone with a small following benefit from affiliate marketing? If so, how? 

Yes, someone with a small following can definitely benefit from affiliate marketing. You do not need a crazy high number of page views each month in order to be successful with affiliate marketing. I believe that anyone with an influencer platform can be successful with affiliate marketing, regardless of page views. It's all about approaching your audience and affiliate marketing in the correct way so that you can do it effectively and efficiently. These are all the things that I teach in my Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course.

How do you manage your business while being on the road? 

It's very similar to how I managed my business while living in my house. The only thing I do differently now is that I always try to work ahead so that I can be more flexible with my time. I'm currently around 2 months ahead when it comes to blog posts and it's so nice!

How do you find good affiliate opportunities?

I find my best affiliate opportunities by promoting things that I already use and know about. I feel that by doing this, I can truly know everything about a product and this helps me to inform my readers about products in the best possible way. This is because I know everything about the product or service and I can truly give a valuable review on it.