Make Money While Traveling: How to Make $25,000 a Month Blogging
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Make Money While Traveling: How to Make $25,000 a Month Blogging

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This year a big focus of mine is trying to figure out more ways to make money while traveling full-time. As part of that process I started interviewing other full-time travels to better understand how they finance their nomadic lifestyle.

My new friend Michelle is currently RVing across the country as she runs a personal finance and lifestyle blog at MakingSenseofCents.com.  I found her blog after Michelle left a thoughtful comment she left on a guest post I did a year ago on gonewiththewynns.com.

Michelle mentioned in the comment that she was looking for an RV and that our guest post had been really helpful for her. After clicking over to her blog I remember being mesmerized for quite some time as I read through post after post on her blog. Her website was amazing! She had paid off $38,000 of student loans in 7 months and was making a LOT of money from blogging. More than anything, I just felt like she was a really good person– someone I could trust and who I would happily take advice from.

It was really encouraging and insightful to read through Michelle’s blog, learning about how she was making money online from blogging and other things. Ever sine, I’ve followed makingsenseofcents.com and recently noticed she bought an RV, sold her house and began traveling around the country. It was an awesome coincidence that I recently started interviewing fellow travelers to learn more about how to make money while traveling.

I immediately reached out to Michelle to see if she would be cool with me interviewing her. She told me she wasn’t technically full-time traveling, but only a little over 90% of the time. I of course said that was okay and today I’m so excited to share this interview I did with her about how she’s able to make $25,000/month from running her personal finance blog.

Before getting into the questions, I feel like I should tell you that I spent hours researching and curating Michelle’s content so I didn’t re-ask questions she’s received before. She has hundreds of comments on each of her blog posts (yes, she gets 100’s of comments… way cooler than me). 

Brief snapshot of what Michelle has done in her online business

  • In July she made over $25,000 from her blog
  • She made over $150k blogging in 2014
  • She receives around 300k page views per month (don’t worry, I’m going to ask how)
  • Just 10 months after starting her blog she was already generating over $600/month from her website
  • She’s been featured in Forbes, Lifehacker, Business Insider, US News, and a whole list of other places you can view here.

**Advance warning before reading this post: Michelle has been super candid about all of the hard work it took to help her blog reach $25,000/month in revenue. When getting started she was working 100-hour weeks (with a full-time job + blogging) and barely generated much revenue in the first two years. Just like launching a business or any other major venture, growing a massive audience is not easy. This interview will NOT provide any get-rich-quick type secrets to helping you launch a successful blog. However, if you’re committed to the long term growth of your online business, then Michelle’s wisdom will surely help the learning curve that it takes to achieve the kind of success she’s had.

Interview with Michelle

Heath: Michelle, what was the inciting incident for you and your newlywed husband to hit the road in an RV? Did you ever think you’d be living and traveling the country by RV?

Michelle: We thought about buying an RV for awhile. It crossed our mind nearly every day. My husband was more on board than I was, so he had to convince me for awhile, sadly enough.  For us, we were on the road around 90% of the time going on trips, visiting friends and family, and more, so it just made sense for us to have an RV.

I never thought I would be living and traveling the country by RV. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it a lot!

Heath: How has travel impacted your marriage, business, and lifestyle?

Michelle: Since we were already on the road a lot, not much has changed. If anything, being in an RV has made things easier because we have our “home” with us and can bring it everywhere.

It is interesting being in such a small space with my husband and our two dogs. We try to be as active as we can so that we can all get out of the RV occasionally. This way we don’t get on each other’s nerves as well. 🙂

Heath: If someone wants to launch a successful blog & travel, would you recommend they do this before they start traveling? Or is it okay to start after you begin traveling?

Michelle: I think that if you want to make a living from your blog, then starting it beforehand can help you greatly. This is because you can get the hang of it before you leave, iron out all the kinks, and decide if you even like blogging. Many people go into blogging thinking they will love it, but you really don’t know until you try it!

Heath: How many hours a week do you work on your business while traveling? How does this compare to when you first started your blog?

Michelle: I probably spend somewhere around 40 hours a week on my blog currently. When I first left my day job for blogging, though, I was spending around 100 hours a week on it. I had poor time management skills then but I have since learned how to use my time better.

Questions less about travel and more about how to start a successful blog:

Heath: Michelle, one of the first things I feel when looking at your blog is extreme intimidation. Your website is crisp, you have a strong brand, hundreds of comments on your blog, and you make it look like it’s the most natural thing in the world. You are where so many bloggers aspire to be (as in, you’re making money from your blog), but I know you also started at stage one just like the rest of us. How did you get over that initial fear of starting your blog?

Michelle: Oh, I completely get where you’re coming from! I still feel the same way as you do whenever I look at blogs. To get over that feeling, you seriously just need to start a blog and go with the flow. Looking at other blogs as a source of inspiration is a great way to get over the initial fear.

Heath: Of all the careers you could have pursued, you originally decided to start a blog to document your journey to paying off student debt. Why did you see blogging as something you wanted to try out?

Michelle: I decided to try out blogging because I thought it would be a great way to keep me on track with my student loans. Turns out, it was 🙂

I first came across blogging after reading about a personal finance website in a women’s magazine. Then, I noticed tons of comments on that website from other personal finance bloggers. I quickly became hooked in the community and I knew that starting a blog of my own could be a lot of fun.

Heath: You kept your job for two years while you were building up your blog, how did you find the time to do both?

Michelle: It was very hard. I would wake up early in the morning to work on my blog, I used lunch breaks for my blog, and I would spend time after work on my blog. I also cut out or lowered the amount of time I wasted, such as on social media and watching TV. Doing all of those things helped me find a lot of time to work on my blog.

Heath: I noticed when you first started your blog you published blogs once, sometimes twice per day. Can you talk about the importance of consistently publishing content when you first launch a blog?

Michelle: Publishing consistently is important, especially in the beginning. Readers want to know that you are actually there and that they can count on you for content. I published too many times in the beginning though. A new blog is usually good if they just post a few times a week.

Heath: If you could rank the following skills/actions based on the level of importance for building a blog– how would you rank them?

  1. Having a nice looking website
  2. Guest posting on successful sites
  3. Social media
  4. Focusing on growing email list
  5. Consistently posting content
  6. Trust with your readers
  7. Providing value for readers
  8. Knowing your niche
  9. Connecting with other like-minded bloggers

Michelle: With #1 being the most important, I have ranked the below. They are all VERY important, so it was hard to rank them.

  1. Providing value for readers
  2. Trust with your readers
  3. Connecting with other like-minded bloggers
  4. Knowing your niche
  5. Having a nice looking website
  6. Social media
  7. Guest posting on successful sites
  8. Focusing on growing email list
  9. Consistently posting content

Heath: Based on the numbers you show on your website it took you around a year to reach $2,000/month revenue from your blog. Since this is the minimum monthly revenue I would recommend anyone hit the road making, what would be your recommendation for the quickest and best route to start making at least $2k/month blogging? Affiliates? Guest blogging? Social media management?

Michelle: The quickest route would be freelancing for others, such as by becoming a staff writer, a virtual assistant, and so on. This is because affiliate income usually takes awhile to build up due to a person having to build their blog first. By freelancing for others, you can earn a set amount of income almost right away.

Heath: How many blogs did you start before you launched makingsenseofcents.com? What did you learn in the process of launching those other sites that helped you make it successful?

Michelle: Making Sense of Cents was my very first blog that I started. I learned as I went and I think that worked out well for me.

Heath: Your website received 300,000 hits last month. Would you say the majority of that traffic has come from guest posting/being interviewed on larger sites? How many guest posts did you do during your first year of blogging? How many would you recommend to post per month?

Michelle: I’ve hardly ever guest posted. I do take part in many interviews through HARO (which I highly recommend) and that has helped get my name out there.

The majority of my traffic actually comes from repeat readers and from those on Pinterest.

Guest posting is very helpful, though, especially for a new blogger. I would recommend bloggers guest post at least once a month.

Heath: You’ve done a ton of interviews in successful online publications. Did you all of those reach out to you for an interview? Or did you reach out and pitch some of them as well. Any advice for doing this effectively?

Michelle: Around half were done from them contacting me directly. The other half were from me pitching interview requests on HARO. I highly recommend this post on CarefulCents about HARO – http://www.carefulcents.com/free-publicity-get-published-haro/

Heath: It’s taken you four years to hit $25,000/month in revenue. For most people, this can seem like a far off, nearly impossible goal. What are a few things people can start doing right now in order to make baby steps towards achieving monthly blog revenue like this?

Michelle: I know it can seem impossible, but this is exactly how I used to feel about other bloggers. I have had many people tell me through my monthly income reports that they used to think it was impossible too, until they made an attempt at it and found out that it was very possible for others to do the same.

Steps that a person can make include starting a blog ASAP would be creating high quality content, connecting with other bloggers, attending blogging conferences, and more.


Hope you enjoyed this interview with Michelle. She is a huge source of knowledge and just through reading her blog I have learned SO much.

UPDATE: Michelle just launched a brand-new course on how to get started affiliate marketing. You can check it out here.

Below I’ve curated some really incredibly and helpful posts from Michelle (including a link to the monthly breakdown of her July revenue).

*** But first, if you read this and are feeling inspired to get started on your own blog– look no further. Check out this post Michelle wrote on how to start a blog of our own. She includes everything you need to know, plus some really great discounts for new website owners.

Other helpful posts written by Michelle:

Thanks for reading, you’re awesome.

Heath

Follow Heath:

Cofounder of CampgroundBooking.com and host of The RV Entrepreneur Podcast. From 2014-15 my wife, Alyssa, and I traveled to all 50 states making a documentary about hourly work. I love sharing this RV lifestyle with new people, meeting friends on the road, and the occasional binge of Tex-Mex food.

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  • Justise Bishop

    Awesome intreview. When I was in college I took a class that heavily focused on blogging, but I never really thought about how I could use that knowledge as a way to make money. Thanks for sharing!

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  • Cristina Hernandez

    Great interview! Thanks for this. I want to try blogging but I’m weary of getting started. How do I figure out my brand? What should I name my blog? What should I start blogging about if I haven’t started travelling and I want to have a travel/RV blog? I have so much I can blog about but I’m afraid it’ll seem all over the place.

    • These are great questions Christina and I’m sorry it’s taken me a little while to get back with you. I can only speak to what has worked so far for me. My reason why for getting started blogging was because I wanted to eventually publish books. So I would start with a clear reason why you want to start blogging. I wanted a place where I could work on my craft of writing on a daily/weekly basis so I could improve, build up a following, and then have that so I could eventually publish a book. That being said, those goals helped shape what I would write about. The subject actually became less important than the practice of showing up everyday to write about something. The more I blogged and learned from other bloggers, the more I realized where I could provide value for people (the RV space). I started out broad, more of a journal type blog than being intentional over a subject, and then went into more specific type posts about living in an RV and what that has been like. I still use my blog as a place to show up and practice my craft of writing, but now I also treat this blog as a place where RVers and RV dreamers can gather inspiration. It’s become less journal like and more resource-educational based. That is for a couple of a reasons. 1) I want to begin monetizing my blog and in order to do so, I need to first provide enough value for my audience that I could create products that serve them and 2) In order to truly build up a following, you have to be consistent and narrow (at least when getting started). All in all, that process has taken the past 4 years of first building up the habit of writing, learning from others, and from my own experience. Hope that helps.

  • Hi Heath. We really enjoyed this interview and especially the section where you asked Michelle to rank skills/actions in order of importance. We are trying to make our website and YouTube channel work and it’s always encouraging to read success stories. Hope to meet you and Alyssa on the road.

    • Hey guys, love your story as well :). Just spent some time on your website and loved y’alls blog about your transition into living in an RV. Glad you enjoyed Michelle’s story, she’s a rockstar. Also, I noticed you guys planned for a year on the road without income. It seems like you guys are working towards building up affiliate type income and potentially other things on your website. Would love to hear how that’s going for you. I’m working on doing the same. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

      • Heath – we currently have two income steams: affiliate programs and advertising on the website and our YouTube channel. So far, we’re not making very much. In January (http://weretherussos.com/january-2016-expenses-income-report/) we made a total of $99, the majority of that came from Amazon. We’re projected to double in February, which is encouraging. Although we have a long way to go. Are you considering Amazon? We recently joined REI’s affiliate program but have not seen any income from that.

        • I haven’t really done much on Amazon, but have been wanting to to create a “resources-like” page of everything we use on the road. Is that what you guys have done?

          • We link to products when we write a review and also have a store where we list all the products we use (http://weretherussos.com/our-store/).

          • That’s smart. I need to take a look at all of the products I’m using right now on the road and consider doing some of the same. Thanks for the inspiration!

          • Don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help in anyway (info[at]weretherussos.com). Want to ask if you have any advice on how to get paid for writing guest blogs for companies like Winnebago and Good Sam. Did they reach out to you or did you pitch them?

  • Ivan Cherkasov

    Thanks for article. It was pleasure to me to read such well written post. On second thought, I can give you advice. Isn’t it more effective to use two or three ways of making money? On my part, it would be awesome to combine blogging with vlogging and smth like 777spinslot

    • Multiple streams of income are always better. Michelle generates income through affiliate posts, guest writing, consulting and several other methods as well.

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