In Freelancing Tips/ Online Business Case Studies

Digital Nomad Case Study: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you choose to purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

This is part of my Remote Work Case Studies series, where I interview digital nomads and location independent-entrepreneurs about their businesses.

Making Sense of Cents is one of my favorite blogs because it has great information on how to save money, have a budget, travel sustainably, and earn money from blogging and affiliate marketing. So I’m honored to have Making Sense of Cents founder Michelle on my blog today to talk about how she achieved success blogging and grew her business revenue to $70,000 per month!

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and her husband and dogs

How long have you been working remotely?
I quit my job as a financial analyst in 2013, and I have been working remotely since. We were traveling a lot after me and my husband quit, so we decided to sell our house and travel full-time. I’m a full-time blogger and I’m my own boss, so I’m able to work from wherever and whenever I would like.

A digital nomad working from her laptop in the woods

This photo was taken at a campground near Mount Evans in Colorado. It was a great working spot!

Please describe your location-independent business. 
My business is a personal finance blog. I help readers manage their money better, so that they can live the life that they want.

I publish income reports that show exactly how much money I earn every single month. This includes affiliate marketing (promoting products I love), and advertising. I’m not pushy on my website and I’ve even had readers tell me that they can’t find my ads, I just know the correct strategies to use to help my readers. Also, due to my income reports, many of my readers are interested in starting a blog of their own, so I have created a free How To Start a Blog course to help everyone.

I also just released a course for bloggers and online influencers, to help them increase their blogging income. I earn over $70,000 a month blogging, and I forecast that I will be earning six figures a month before the year ends. You can find my course at Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Digital nomad working from a laptop in California

This work location in Palm Springs was absolutely beautiful.

What inspired you to start your business?
I started my blog in 2011, without ever thinking that it would turn into my business or that I would ever make any money from it. It started all as a hobby, but once I made my first $100, I got more and more interested in turning my blog into a business. After all, I was having a ton of fun blogging, and I really dreaded each and every single day of my financial analyst job. I just knew I couldn’t stay in my old career forever because I was so unhappy!

Then, my blog kept doing better and better, I was loving all of the new blogging friends I was making, and I really love helping my audience. It was a no-brainer: This was going to be my business and career path.

Moab kayaking trip

If you’ve never been to Moab, then you must go soon. We went on a float trip and had a great time. Views cannot be beat.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest obstacle would be managing a good work/life balance. When I first started blogging full-time, I had a horrible work/life balance. I would work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, because it was so easy to stay connected. This made it hard because I would wake up and be on my laptop, work all day, work while I was eating, and more.

What lessons did you learn from overcoming this obstacle?
Now, I have a great work/life balance, and I am making more money than ever. It’s funny how that turned out.

Do you take advantage of the fact that you work remotely to be able to travel more? If so, please describe where you’ve been while working!
Yes! We travel full-time. We just left a campground in the high country in Colorado, and now we’re going to Fruita to clear out our storage unit. Then, we will be going back to the Rockies so that we can do some mountain biking and climb some mountains in the nicer weather.

mountain biking in Colorado

Went mountain biking recently near Frisco, Colorado. Great views and fun trails!

In the past year, we’ve spent time in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, Illinois, South Dakota, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Tennessee, and more! The United States is such a great place to travel full-time and there are so many different things and landscapes to see. Plus, we have two dogs, so traveling in an RV just makes sense for us.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park has tons to do and provides beautiful views. Rock climbing is a must here.

Next, we plan on purchasing a sailboat and living on a sailboat full-time, but we love RVing a ton so that may have to wait around a year or two.

How much revenue does your business make? How much does it cost to run your business?
My business earns around $70,000 a month, and I expect to be earning $100,000 a month by the end of 2016. It doesn’t cost much to run my business. I outsource certain things such as technical blog management, editing, and so on, which ends up costing around $1,500 to $2,500 per month. I do all of the writing, marketing, etc. myself, but I have everything running smoothly so it makes for a very low-cost business.

Do you make enough to support your lifestyle?
Yes :) We will be able to retire early, if we choose to in the future. I love my business, so I don’t see that happening, but having the option is nice!

What’s a typical “day in the life” for you?
Every day is different. I usually wake up and answer emails, reply to comments, and check on my Facebook group for my course as the very first thing in the morning. Then, I may work, or I may go on a long hike, bike ride, paddle board session, or something else. That’s the beauty in working for yourself. I can make my own schedule! This makes traveling full-time even better, because I’m not bound by a strict schedule.

A Jeep in Moab

Another Moab picture. If you go, you must bring your Jeep or rent one!

What advice would you give someone considering becoming a digital nomad and/or location-independent entrepreneur?
My top tip would be to just go for it. You will never know how something will turn out if you don’t try.

How can we follow your business and/or support your endeavors?
You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Be sure to check out Michelle’s affiliate marketing course!

Digital Nomad Case Study - Michelle From Making Sense of Cents


Making Sense of Cents headshot



Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the owner of the personal finance blog, Making Sense of Cents. She helps other earn more, save more, and live more, so that they can live the life they truly want. Michelle and her husband sold their house in 2015 and now travel full-time in an RV with their two dogs.




If you liked this, be sure to read the rest of my remote work case studies! Are you a digital nomad who’d like to be featured here? Email me at

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