This article is for any online business owners to understand and study the sales funnels behind a 7-figure blogging business.

Everything in this case study is based on our own research through Michelle’s website. We have never worked for or with Michelle, so all opinions are based solely on our own experience and research.

Who Is Michelle & Why We Decided To Study Her Growth

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner started blogging back in August 2011 as a a hobby to keep track of her life and financial situation.

By the time she left her job as a financial analyst in October 2013, she was already making 5 figures a month.

By July 2016, she has crossed 6-figure a month.

She made a whopping $1,536,734.89 from the entire year of 2017.

Sounds easy enough?

The truth is…it’s not blogging that made Michelle 6 figures a month.

What makes her 6 figures a month is the way she treats blogging, not only as a hobby but as a real business.

And real business involves more than just writing contents.

It involves strategic planning, marketing, and execution.

This growth study provides an overview of how Michelle manages her blog as a business.

That’s right. Blogs don’t make money. Businesses make money.

Step-By-Step Walkthrough of Michelle’s Business Funnel

Back when Michelle started Making Sense of Cents, there wasn’t any funnel in place. All she did was write.

Along the way when her blog slowly gained traction, she went deeper into the affiliate marketing business.

It wasn’t even until April 2016 that she decided to start treating her email list more seriously.

Fast forward to 2018, her business funnel is taking shape.

A funnel is a series of stage designed to qualify and convert a visitor into a buyer.

The reason we use funnel is because there are audience of different awareness level.

While those who know you want to whip out their credit card the moment they saw your new product, those who don’t know you take a bit longer to trust you.

Here’s the 7-figure funnel of Making Sense of Cents

That’s where the “value ladder” concept comes in; a term made popular by none other than Russell Brunson.

A successful business is made of a properly designed sales funnel and value ladder working together. One can’t exist without the other.

A value ladder looks like this:

Value Ladder

It usually involves a free offer, often known as Lead Magnet, to get people into your sales funnel or email list. Once they are in the funnel, they become your prospect. This is where you continue to lead them up the value ladder as they convert by offering more and more value.

Naturally, the more value you offer, the more they have to pay.

How does Making Sense of Cent’s value ladder look like?

  1. Lead Magnet: Blog, cheat sheet, and several free email courses
  2. Frontend Funnel: How to Start A Blog
  3. Core Funnel: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
  4. Backend Funnel: none at the moment
  5. Continuity Funnel: How to Start A Blog

Lead Magnet: The Beginning of All Micro-Commitment

As mentioned earlier, a lead magnet is the virtual magnet that is used to attract your ideal customer. By offering something of value for free in exchange for their email address (or Facebook messenger list), you will be able to capture the data of the leads that are interested in it.

This is the first micro-commitment — give me your email in exchange for the goodies.

Once they are in the list, you will be able to nurture them through the Relationship Building Series in the effort to convert them into a buyer and subsequently move them up the value ladder through Onboarding or Upsell Series.

How do you get people on to your list?

First, you need traffic.

For Making Sense of Cents, traffic doesn’t seem to be a problem for Michelle.

On September 2018, she has almost 450k visitors from various traffic sources (we will cover this in the next section).

On September 2018, Making Sense of Cents has almost 450k visitors.

Michelle has been writing on her blog since August 2011, and while she only publishes 2 articles per week now, she used to publish almost every day. That means she has tons of contents out there that can easily lead you back to her blog post.

For example, by the time this growth study is written, her site is ranked number 1 on Google for the keyword “making money on pinterest”, and that is NOT the only keyword she is ranking number 1 with.

It’s worth mentioning that while a blog post isn’t exactly a lead magnet, it acts as a great pre-frame prior to asking for someone’s email.

We’ve decided to call it read magnet instead.

With a blog post, you are giving out values before they sign up to your list, thus establishing credibility, filtering the wrong people, and pulling the right people closer to you.

If what you are writing is in tune with what they seek, chances are they will be more willing to give you their email addresses when you ask for it.

This is one of the reasons why we always advise our clients to also start a blog because the return is crazy if done right.

But back to Making Sense of Cents.

The site has a very, very powerful read magnet, which is the monthly income report.

As mentioned in the introduction above, Michelle publishes her income report every month to serve as a progress tracking for her own as well as for her readers.

Seriously, how would you not want to read it?

With the quality of the contents and some powerful read magnets in place, the site is never short on traffic and loyal fans, which makes collecting email leads as simple as a question.

To collect email leads, Michelle has opt-in boxes all over her sites.

There are a few opt-in forms that you will be able to sign up to, depending on which page you are on:

  1. Newsletter
  2. Master Your Money free email course
  3. How to Start A Blog free email course
  4. 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income
  5. 9 Actions You Must Take After A Blog Post Goes Viral

1) Newsletter

You can find the opt-in form to Making Sense of Cents newsletter on almost every page. There are at least 2 newsletter opt-in forms on each page, one at the footer, the other on the sidebar.

While having too many opt-in forms isn’t generally a good practice in online business, Making Sense of Cents is still after all a blog as opposed to a sales page, so this has been working well for her.

Optin form to Newsletter: Between the Homepage Category and “As Seen On” Section
Optin form to Newsletter: Footer & Post sidebar

2) Master Your Money free email course

As you browse along many of her posts, you will see this opt-in form after the blog post. This is how she segment readers that are interested in managing their personal finance.

Making Sense of Cents is originally catered to readers who are interested in how to manage and improve their personal finance. Having this email course is perfectly aligned with her interest and at the same time, allow her to gauge the number of subscribers that are her loyal fans.

We believe she is planning for a finance-related course, so it’s already clear that the subscribers of this particular list will be highly interested in such a course as well.

Optin form to “Master Your Money free email course”

3) How to Start A Blog free email course

While Michelle didn’t start the blog for money, it has now become her primary source of income.

When readers saw how she is able to grow her income from 4 figures to now 6 figures every month, all hell breaks lose.

One of the most asked questions is “how to start a blog”, and so this email list caters to that group of people.

Optin form to “How To Start A Blog free email course”

4) 10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income

This is another lead magnet but it is more directed to those looking to make affiliate income from their blog instead of just starting a blog.

In fact, this lead magnet is designed to qualify the subscribers to the core funnel which we will talk about soon.

This opt-in form can be found within the post of the monthly income report.

The reason is simple: if anyone is reading her income report, it is certain that they would be highly interested to know how to increase their affiliate income to Michelle’s level as well.

Optin Form to “10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income”

5) 9 Actions You Must Take After A Blog Post Goes Viral

This particular lead magnet isn’t exactly on Michelle’s blog, Making Sense of Cents. Instead, it is located right before the end of her core product, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, .

Bridge image to the Squeeze / landing page

Upon clicking on the link or image above, readers will be led to the squeeze page below for a double opt-in before they can get the free PDF.

Squeeze / landing page to “9 Actions You Must Take After A Blog Post Goes Viral”

This actually works great because if the prospects are still on the fence of buying and notice this free PDF, they will most probably grab it.

Once they got into the email list, the Relationship Building Series can be sent out to remove further objections and get them back to the page to buy.

Key Takeaway

  • Any and every online business can benefit from having a blog, especially in the long run.
  • Always have a lead magnet in place to get people to enter your sales funnel.

Frontend Funnel: The Program That Makes Her 5-Figure A Month

A frontend offer is usually not the main product or core product. It is the entry level product that is designed to further qualify subscribers before they are moved to the core funnel.


By getting yet another micro-commitment from the subscribers, but instead of email, this time it requires a small sum of money, oftentime a no-brainer purchase.

What is the frontend offer for Making Sense of Cents?

At a glance, the frontend offer is not easily noticeable, but a closer look reveals that one particular blog post is responsible for at least 30% of her current monthly income.

That blog post is “How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost”.

Screenshot of a portion of the blog post

While this is not exactly her own product but an affiliate program of Bluehost, Michelle has managed to package it into a how-to article that teaches you how to start a WordPress blog on Bluehost.

She shows that by signing up through her link, readers are able to get the hosting for only $2.75 per month which is an extremely low commitment offer.

And for anyone who signs up under Michelle’s affiliate link, she earns a flat 65 dollars (or maybe more, depending on the deal between Bluehost which is not disclosed).

It’s truly a triple-win situation for the readers, Michelle, and Bluehost!

How cool is that? 

Before the how-to article was published, Michelle was already making a stable 5-figure monthly income and a lot of people wanted to follow her footsteps.

She understood the needs of her readers and by providing the right tutorial at the right time, she has successfully turned it into one of her main money making machine (30%).

How does she promote this?


Whenever she mentions about creating a blog, she will link it back to the post, and she mentions it a lot!

And not to forget those who signed up for “How to Start A Blog free email course”, they will receive 7 days worth of training email. Below each email is a mention and a link back to this article.

Snippet of the email

After the 7-day emails, she sends a followup email to check with you. Again, she re-mentions about the Bluehost offer. For any loyal fan who is just starting out, this is a bargain.

Snippet from the followup email

Do you see how powerful it is to get your subscribers into your email list?

You can keep sending them wherever you want them to go!

Again, having too many different links in an email isn’t the best practice for an online business, but since this is a blog-based business and these emails are newsletter or info-mail in nature, the same rule doesn’t apply here.

Michelle has created her own ecosystem of contents that she can choose to repurpose them whenever she wants.

Key Takeaway

  • When you have a solid offer, there is more than one way to promote it.
  • The money is in the list. ALWAYS try to collect emails from it.
  • Keep writing until you have a winning post — thereon promote the same post every time, everywhere.

Core Funnel: How She Scale From 5-Figure to 6-Figure A Month

Michelle didn’t have a core product offer until July 2016, but once she launched her own course, she made an extra $50,000 that month without any special launch!

The core product offer is called “Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing”, where she teaches you how to make affiliate income from her very own experience.

The product is priced at $197 which is actually not bad, coming from someone who is constantly making over $100,000 monthly now.

Who is it for?

Michelle has always been very clear about who she is helping, and for this course, it is for bloggers and online influencers who are looking to make more money with their blog using affiliate marketing.

This is one of the most important aspects in a business funnel — customer persona.

You can only sell best when you know who you are selling to.

By knowing who you are selling to and what kind of awareness level they are at, you will be able to craft your sales copy and emails accurately to trigger all the right emotions that leads to conversion.

How does Michelle sell her product?

When she first launched the course, she only promoted it to her existing subscribers and those who signed up for the waitlist.

That alone has made her $50,000 on that month alone. The money is IN the list!

Apart from that, it’s her own course, so naturally you will see some mentions and links about it here and there throughout the blog. In her own ecosystem of Making Sense of Cents, she has the read magnet and a lot of valuable blog contents in place that appeal to almost 450,000 monthly visitors.

Since it is a blog and not a typical sales funnel, the links are flying all over the place so we are unable to analyse how they perform and contribute in terms of conversion, but judging from the income that she is raking in monthly, we can only say “well done”.

One more thing, as an affiliate marketer herself, Michelle provides an opportunity for other affiliates to make a lucrative 40% commission by promoting her course. That brings in a lot of other affiliate marketers who want a piece of the good pie (product).

She is averaging close to $40,000 per month (after commission payout) from this core product alone, which is insane.

Imagine if she has more products like this (which is something she said she’s working on).

It’s worth mentioning that the sales of this course alone has crossed $1 million since August 2018.

This is absolutely passive-impressive.

Anyway, all joys aside, she has a much more complete system in place now that she has her own product and has started to make full use of the power of email marketing. Through her various lead magnets above, she is able to promote her own course to them.

The lead magnet “10 Easy Tips To Increase Your Affiliate Income” and “9 Actions You Must Take After A Blog Post Goes Viral” are created for that purpose — to qualify leads before they are pitched with Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Key Takeaways

  • Know your audience and who you are selling to.
  • List segmentation is important. You want to send the right email to the right audience with the right awareness.
  • When you first start your business, focus on lead magnet and a core product offer.

Backend Funnel:

A backend funnel is where upsell happens. Selling to an existing customer is much easier than selling to someone new. Existing customers already know you and trust you, so the chances of them buying from you again is higher.

The backend funnel is where the more expensive offer is located; the high-ticket offers. You generally do not sell this upfront because of the price resistance, which is the point of why every business needs a sales funnel and value ladder.

You’ll only want to pitch this to existing customers that you’ve already established trust and relationship with. This group of people has bought your products before and are happy with them. Chances are, some of them want more. Faster results. Less cost.

It can be a coaching service, a done-for-you service, or even a mastermind program.

Having a solid backend offer allows you to increase your customer’s lifetime value which is ultimately the only few end goal metrics that matter.

Most beginner marketers focus on cost-per-lead and acquisition cost. However, what matters most is the retention and customer referral rate.

Josh Fechter, Badass Marketers & Founders

At the moment, Making Sense of Cents doesn’t have a backend funnel yet, but it seems like she has plans on starting a group coaching.

Key Takeaway

  • High ticket offers should be pitched to those who have already warmed up to you.
  • When your frontend funnels are working (leads converting at a desired ROI), create a backend offer to increase customers’ lifetime value.

Continuity Funnel: 

Continuity funnel is something that generates recurring revenue. For a software business, it is in the form of monthly fees. For other online businesses in general, it is mostly in the form of a membership program.

Every business should have a continuity funnel because it is one of the few predictable income sources that you can rely on compared to one-time sale.

Think about this: Is it easier to sell something to many different persons again and again or is it easier to sell to one person who pays multiple times?

Similar to the backend offer, a continuity funnel can effectively increase a customer’s lifetime value because you are collecting payment from them every month.

What is the continuity funnel for Making Sense of Cents?

At the moment, Making Sense of Cents only has one core product offer, which is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. She doesn’t have additional backend or continuity program offers.

However, over the years of publishing contents, there are many affiliate offers that she has participated in that is lying somewhere around the blog. Her blog ecosystem is so strong that there is bound to be something of interest to visitors of different categories.

Even without the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, Michelle is making an average of $50,000 per month. That is the perk of a blog business which is a bit more passive than other online businesses. It is like a compound interest where the more you market, the more you are going to get in return over and over again.

That’s right. Even for a blog, if you don’t manage it like a business and try to market it, it won’t just grow, not with the amount of people hopping on board day by day.

Key Takeaway

  • Continuity income is the best income source. You will be able to forecast how much you will be getting monthly, and plan ahead on what you need to do to scale your continuity income.

Michelle’s Marketing Channel & Why She Is Killing It

Now that we have broken down the value ladder and sales funnel of Michelle’s Making Sense of Cents and Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, let’s dive deeper into the website traffic.

For any online business (or any business really), we want traffic and conversion. While some will argue that having huge amount of traffic doesn’t equal to high conversion, there will be no conversion when there’s no traffic. That’s the hard truth.

For a blog business, measuring specific conversion events isn’t as straightforward as a typical sales page funnel. Contents have links that are either leading to internal posts or external sites, and therefore, it is not easy to predict how a customer will move around the website and subsequently moving them up the value ladder as well.

Therefore, getting more traffic proves more important for a blogging affiliate business than optimizing for conversion.

How does Making Sense of Cents traffic look like?

Here are some traffic stats we pulled from SemRush.

Overview of traffic sources since April 2016

The chart only shows data up to April 2016. You can see that the site was highly dependent on social traffic back then, up to 34% of the total traffic.

2016 vs 2018: Comparison of traffic sources

Fast forward to August 2018, traffic from search engine has increased from 16% to 56%. Whoever said SEO is useless?

But let’s talk about social traffic first.

Social Traffic: The Traffic Source That Brings Her Endless Streams of Targeted Visitors

Early in the day, Michelle markets her blog via Pinterest and Twitter.

And among the social traffic, more than 50% of it comes from Pinterest.

Here’s a screenshot of the data we pulled from SimilarWeb for September 2018.

Social traffic breakdown for September 2018

And below is the screenshot of the average engagements by different content types.

Screenshot of the average engagements by content type

This is not surprising. Michelle has mentioned a lot in her interviews that she’s a big fan of Pinterest.

Most of her site images are designed and optimized for Pinterest because she knows that’s where most of her audience are hanging out. We personally don’t use Pinterest a lot, but her result has proved that it works very well for her.

Michelle’s Pinterest strategy

Pinterest isn’t just about pinning beautiful images. Michelle has shown that with a proper marketing strategy, it can increase awareness to her blog posts and once they are at her site, the rest of the wonders start happening one by one.

Here’s what the readers’ journey looks like:

  • Saw an interesting image with her blog post title
  • Led to Making Sense of Cents
  • The read magnets and lead magnets do their work
  • Got interested in starting a blog and make money just like Michelle does
  • Subscribe to Bluehost via Michelle’s link
  • Want to increase affiliate income further
  • Purchase Michelle’s course — Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
  • And of course… Other affiliate products that Michelle introduces as well!

Michelle’s Facebook strategy

She has a Facebook page for her blog, Making Sense of Cents which has over 95,000 page likes and followers at the time of this study.

She posts a lot!

Some days she posts 3 times, some more than 6 times. They are usually a mix of previous posts from Making Sense of Cents and FITnancials (by her sister Alexis) unless she has some new posts or announcements to make.

Apart from the page, she also started a Facebook group since March last year and the group now has over 13,000 members.

Direct Traffic: The Most Important Factor to Rank Higher on Google

What’s a direct traffic?

The simplest way to explain direct traffic is the amount of visitors that arrive at your website without clicking a link.

It’s either they entered the URL directly or they come to your site through bookmarks.

(That’s not all there is to direct traffic, but we won’t go into the details. Moz explains it quite well here.)

In SemRush’s 2017 report, direct traffic is ranked the #1 most important factor to rank on Google.

What does it mean?

Well, for search engines like Google, it’s an indicator that the site is very engaging. So engaging that it is bookmarked and site address memorized.

Michelle has been publishing on Making Sense of Cents since 2011. Both the blog and blog owner have been featured numerous times on many different sites. Therefore, it is understandable that the brand awareness is high and loyal fans will keep coming back for her new contents.

Referral Traffic: The Secret Sauce to Building Incredible Trust

Although referral traffic seems a bit small (only 10%) when compared to other traffic sources, it contributes way more than one can imagine in the long run.

The success of Michelle’s blogging business has garnered a lot of attention from many different medias. She has been featured numerous times on Forbes, INC, and other websites.

Heck, she’s our first choice for this growth study because of her amazing success story. There are so many marketers out there claiming they are making 6 to 8-figure income, but none of them are as transparent as Michelle.

Look at the amount of backlinks and referring domains she got!

The point is, referral traffic plays a huge role in her growth as well, not just in terms of traffic and search engine recognition, but also in terms of her credibility.

When you are referred to her site from a well-recognized website or influencer, the resistance to buy something from her is much lesser. Directly and indirectly, referral traffic has given her affiliate income a huge jump and made her launch of the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course a very successful one as well.

Search Engine Traffic: How Google Rewards Great Articles

SEO is not dead, nor will it ever be.

However, with the rise of various ad platforms, its importance is often overlooked.

Clients are getting dragged into the belief of “just one funnel away” made popular by Russell Brunson. Well, it’s a good hook, but a good business should never rely on paid traffic alone.

Although direct response ads provide instant feedback of any particular campaign, it is SEO that will provide a compounding effect in the long run.

Michelle never once did paid advertisement for her blog, but through various organic marketing effort, she is now making an average of $40,000 per month from just Bluehost affiliate program alone.

She has many posts that are ranking #1 on Google for certain keywords.

She has 96 keywords that are ranked at top 1. Look at the traffic from the first few!

When SEO done right, some post might even get featured by Google’s snippet.

This particular post is featured by Google , which is a HUGE eyeball bonus for her!

3 Main Suggestions To Improve If She Works With Us

Throughout our growth study, we have come to realize a couple of things that seem a bit off to our eyes. Nothing devastating, but can surely improve her already-6-figure monthly income to a higher level.

Let’s get started!

Suggestion 1: Capitalize on the power of Email Marketing

Unlike blog traffic where you are not in direct control of where they are coming from and where they will be going, subscribers in your email list is a traffic you own.

What does it mean?

It means you have full control of what they see, where you want them to go, and what you want them to do.

And that can only be done by reducing the links in each email and CTA.

Let us explain why.

Step 1: Introduce only one call-to-action (CTA) in each email

When we subscribed to the newsletter on Making Sense of Cents, we were greeted with a nice welcome email containing 18 links that lead to different pages.


While this (multiple links) is an acceptable practice on a blog post, it is not ideal for email marketing. Additionally, almost 50% of Michelle’s traffic come from mobile devices, and it is not user-experience-friendly to check many different links using a small screen.

In her welcome email, Michelle included a small survey. This allows her to segment the interest of the subscribers and send them related news.

This is a great move! However, with so many links before and after the survey, there is no clear intention for what she wants the subscribers to do.

There’s well over 18 links in the newsletter welcome email!

We would suggest to keep the survey but reduce the links before and after it. Give each email one and only one purpose, which in this case is to click on their main interest.

Subsequently, we would implement a Relationship Building Series after the welcome email based on their answer from the welcome survey.

Here’s what we will send:

Email 2: Introduce Michelle with a CTA to the about page.

Email 3: Introduce a solution pertaining to the answer from the welcome survey. If what they selected earlier was Money, lead them to the most relatable blog post about making money online. It can be to Michelle’s monthly income report or the core product, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.

Email 4–7: Provide benefits, social proof and so on regarding the solution from Email 3. Insert a cliffhanger at the end of each email that sends them to the related blog post. If the course was introduced in Email 3, send them to the sales page instead.

Step 2: Implement a Thank You Page for each opt-in form

When we subscribed to any of Michelle’s lead magnet (newsletter & free courses), there is no thank you page after we submitted our email address. Instead, we were redirected back to where we were previously.

For a couple of times, it left us wondering whether the opt-in form is broken because there wasn’t any instant feedback or notification to let us know that we have subscribed successfully.

Having a thank you page can prevent this situation from happening to other people.

A thank you page is one of the most underutilized pages. This is the one page that subscribers will immediately see after all, way before your emails hit their inboxes!

Here are a few things that can be included in the thank you page:

  • A short welcome video to put a moving face behind the million-dollar website. This increases the trust level in a huge margin!
  • Tell them what to do. Is it to check their inbox? Tell them how.
  • Additional resources or recommendations. Oh yeah. All the links that were removed from the welcome email in Step 1 can be introduced here instead.

Step 3: Implement advanced email automation framework

Here are a few more things that we will implement to create a robust email automation & marketing framework:

  • Lead scoring
  • Behavioral targeting
  • Browse Abandonment Series

Using powerful Email Service Provider (ESP) such as Drip, we can assign different lead score to the subscribers depending on their activity. These activities include, but are not limited to; open or click an email, submit a form, visit a certain page, and so on.

Having lead scoring in place allows us to qualify and rank the most active leads and customers, thus moving them up the value ladder when necessary.

Apart from that, we’ll also like to implement behavioral targeting through a series of if/else logic. This is a bit different from lead scoring but will be more effective and accurate when put together.

The Browse Abandonment Series is something that we will trigger based on the two advanced concepts above; lead scoring and behavioral targeting. When a subscriber hits a certain lead scoring threshold, visits the Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing course BUT did not purchase after a couple of hours or days, we will send out the Browse Abandonment Series to reach out and perhaps offer a discount.

To send an email is easy. To send an email series is also quite simple with so many ESPs around.

To make multiple email series work together WITH personalization in mind, that’s the real challenge.

It takes time and a lot of studies to be able to create a robust email automation that is fun and engaging. However, the effort is definitely worth it because that’s what automation do for us, to make our life easier (and make more money) as the time goes.

Let’s move on.

Suggestion 2: SEO

Step 1: Clean up broken external links.

Broken links negatively affect SEO. There are around 609 broken external links and she has at least 50 external links per article. It’s advisable to clean links every month since you’d want them to always work for visitors.

Broken links found on Making Sense of Cents

Based on Google’s own guidelines, “As always, check for broken links… Broken links can frustrate visitors to your site”.

We’ve also noticed 47 internal pages with 404 error.

Step 2: Fix the missing Alt tags for all images on the site.

Most of the images have no alt tag. Why miss out on SEO for images? These images could have been ranked on Google image search!

That’s right. When alt tags are added, there’s a chance that the images will be ranked for unintended keywords.

Step 3: Proactive Link Building Approach

There are around 208 keywords sitting at position 5–20.

Organic keywords ranked on position 5-20

Why not give it a boost with link prospecting?

Established sites like Making Sense of Cents already have high Domain Authority (Moz DA) and high Domain Rating (Ahrefs DA). In other words, Google favors contents created by this (high dA) site more than the others with low rating.

We can run website audits on other authority sites. Pitch them to swap out their external broken links on the same topic to her article instead.

With just a few more quality backlinks, it can boost the keywords and articles currently sitting at (5–20) to a higher position, and that is a massive difference in terms of search traffic.

Based on Ahrefs estimation, for the keyword “living in a rv”, Making Sense of Cents is sitting in Top 5. But in terms of traffic estimation (click-through-rate by visitors), it’s a lot less compared to the Top 3; that’s 802 vs 4000.

Comparison of top 3 for the keyword “living in a rv”

If she can get 50 keywords ranked on Top 3 with proactive link building approach, that will generate at least 50,000 more monthly visits.

Suggestion 3: Increase Facebook page engagement

At the time of this growth study, the Facebook page Making Sense of Cents has 95,000 likes and followers. On the other hand, the Facebook group has over 13,000 members.

We can’t help but notice that the post engagement is extremely low, often lower than 10 likes per post. The 2018 benchmark for Facebook’s average engagement rate per post is 0.16%. That means, a healthy engagement should lie somewhere around 150 comments/likes/shares per post.

And we know Facebook looks at the engagement rate a lot. Like, A LOT.

Much like Google which factors in page engagement into their page ranking algorithm, the same goes for Facebook. The higher the Facebook engagement, the better your reach. However, it seems that posting too often isn’t exactly healthy though.

…the more frequently an organization or person posts on social media, the lower their engagement rates tend to be.

RivalIQ’s Social Media Industry Benchmark Report

Michelle can implement several Facebook marketing strategies (and we are not just talking about paid ads) to improve the engagement, thus increasing the trust factor in the eyes of Facebook algorithm.

Step 1: Repurpose the blog posts to suit Facebook Page

The truth is, there is rarely a one-size-fit-all content that is suitable across all marketing platforms.

Facebook’s entire newsfeed algorithm focuses on how to increase engagement and keep people on their platform, which means an organic post with an outbound link will not be prioritized. Gone are the days when you could see a lot of engagement from your page fans whenever you post something (anything).

That explains why the post below isn’t getting much engagement.

Lack of engagement for page post

Instead of posting a short description and copy-pasting the blog post link, we’d suggest editing the description so that it reveals more context.

Include a question as a CTA that actually encourages people to leave their comments on the Facebook post. A study by Edgerank Checker revealed that comments lead to 4X more clicks than likes, which is why it makes sense to post questions from time to time to gain more Facebook comments.

This will encourage engagement and expand the organic reach.

Step 2: Increase engagement with giveaway contests

Next, we’d also start to organize Facebook giveaways on a periodic basis.

It’s a little hack that we have been doing for many of our clients, and it’s working great.


Here are our top 3 reasons:

  1. Highly targeted leads.
  2. Ads retargeting.
  3. Reasons to connect and engage.

When you are giving out specific prizes that your target audience are interested in, you attract targeted leads. These leads that arrive to your page or website are being tracked by Google and Facebook, which means you can retarget them via ads later. (Did we mention that retargeting cost is cheaper than brand new leads?)

And finally, you are giving MORE people MORE reasons to connect with you! That means people who don’t know you will learn more about you (via your website or Relationship Building Series).

And… There you go.

Our top 3 suggestions for Michelle and Making Sense of Cents.

Final Takeaway: Marketing for Business Growth

It’s easy to create a product. It’s also easy to start a business.

However, to be able to grow and sustain a business, that’s what many has failed to do because they doesn’t put thoughts into the marketing aspect of a business, how to get traffic and how to turn traffics into conversion.

Not for Michelle. Along her blogging journey, she found her traffic source (where her audience is at) and subsequently convert the traffics into her loyal fans (and also the primary source of income).

And that’s what made this an exciting case study to write about; dissecting her traffic and funnels among other things and seeing how far she has come.

While getting 6 figures monthly is already plenty coming from a passive way of blog-based business, we can’t help but get excited to see how far she will go.

Alright, time to wrap it up.

That’s 6,200 words for you!

How does your business value ladder look like?

What are the traffic sources that you are relying on?

Share with us below!


  1. Danni Mcnamara November 20, 2018 at 5:02 am

    I found my primary success with boosting my traffic through backlinking. I write 4 to 5 blog posts a week and I backlink as much as possible. It helps me build traffic for each post while keeping all my visitors clicking all around my site without the need for them to go look outside.

  2. Caiden Jimenez December 2, 2018 at 5:01 am

    Before you even give up because you’re not getting enough traffic, Michelle’s blog and this case study about her is something worth reading and learning.

  3. Anne Jones April 20, 2019 at 4:40 am

    This blog post is a helpful comprehensive breakdown of Michelle’s grand sales funnel strategies! She’s great, but for a newbie like me, it is especially hard to thoroughly understand how she does it. And of course, I am keen on following her footsteps! Thanks to this, I already have foot up on the first step of my own value ladder.

  4. Scott Wilson April 20, 2019 at 4:52 am

    True enough, there is no shortcut to making money. Even Michelle had to learn how she can increase her stats and income. It is great to see helpful blog posts like this that lets you in on a detailed dissection of how successful people do it.

  5. Tony Holt October 23, 2019 at 4:41 am

    As someone who has a startup blog, it is difficult for me to even land a two-digit views rate on my posts. That basically spoils my plan to turn my blog into a business in the long run. I’m still in the process of analyzing what’s the best way/s I can increase my traffic. Good luck to me!


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