Simplify Live Love

Michelle Marine, Founder

Wilton, Iowa
Simplify Love Life Simplify Love Life
Building a new home in Iowa

In 2006, after leaving active duty Air Force service, Michelle, her husband Dan and their two young children moved to Dan’s hometown, Wilton, a small town in rural Iowa. “After living for ten years in urban settings across the western US and Japan,” Michelle recalls, “it was a huge change in both location and way of life.”

She and Dan started putting down roots by buying a small acreage of land and starting their own homebuilding business. But shortly after they started the business, the housing crisis hit in 2008, and “we had to scramble to figure out how to support our family.” Michelle turned to the internet for money-saving tips. “I started reading blogs and learned how to save money grocery shopping and doing DIY projects at home,” she says. “Finally, at one point a photo printing company offered free Christmas cards to bloggers, so I thought, ‘I guess I'll make a blog!’” And that’s how Michelle’s website, Simplify Live Love, was born.

Simplify Live Love Simplify Love Life
Michelle on her farm with one of her chickens and her dogs.
“Coming from the relative security of Air Force military life to being self-employed in Iowa was a huge change. We had to be creative and work hard during the 2008 housing crisis as we grew both our family, from two kids to four, and our home building business during tough years. Creating this blog and being able to pursue it as a career has been such an incredible journey.”
Growing her farm and an audience

As the site grew, Michelle became more methodical about her content. “I started researching what people were looking for and optimizing the site,” she explains, “but I also brought more of me into it – I began sharing family recipes, tips on growing food, cooking from scratch, and all the ways I learned to save money and get creative. And when our youngest child was born with hip dysplasia, I shared that journey as well, to help other parents in the same situation.” During the pandemic Michelle has been able to help more readers than ever. “During these past two years people have become more interested in learning how to grow food at home or bake bread, so I've really seen my audience grow.”

“Ad revenue is my largest source of income for the site and with that, I’ve been able to work on Simplify Live Love full time, invest in my passion for sustainability, and help people save money and live a greener life.”
Simplify Love Life
Funding the site's growth

Having the right tools in place has helped Michelle capitalize on her growing audience and invest more deeply in her site. “I decided to partner with Mediavine (a Google Certified Publishing Partner) in 2018 to earn ad revenue,” she says, “and I've had a great experience with them ever since.” With Mediavine, Michelle has been able to earn ad revenue to fund her content investments. “I do this full time and my ad revenue is the largest source of income for the site, so to have it increase 150% from 2020-2021 had a huge impact. And seeing the numbers increase – that growth is so motivating.”

Recently, Michelle redesigned her site to bring her passion for sustainability to the forefront. “We've had some very devastating and intense weather in Iowa over the last few years,” she says, “and I want my blog to show people that there are things we can do to help the environment and our communities. If we all make a few small, everyday changes, that can add up to a big impact. Helping people make sustainable changes keeps me going. I like being able to motivate and inspire people to make a difference.”

About the Publisher

Michelle Marine is the founder of Simplify Live Love, a published book author, photographer, and digital content creator. A former college writing teacher turned hobby farmer, Michelle loves sharing her passion for sustainable, eco-friendly living with her online audience. She has lived in Eastern Iowa with her husband and four kids for over 15 years, but her passion for eco-friendly living came from ten years living abroad in Germany and Japan. Michelle has a BA in German Language and Literature, an MA in English Linguistics, and is also the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, part memoir, part how-to, part cookbook.
About the author