Category Archives: Myself

My Blogging Journey and Malaysia Social Media Week

Malaysia Social Media Week

Year 2015 is my 10th anniversary on blogging. When I reminisce the past, I’m amused by how much the world of blogging has changed over the last decade. After I quit my job in 2005, I was so excited to read from a magazine that said blog would be a world-changing platform, and bloggers could make a lot of money out of it.

raining money
Therefore, I started this travel blog (i.e. MySabah.com). Did you know that 80% of Malaysian bloggers write about either travel or food? At that time, there were a lot of bloggers jumped on the bandwagon too. To avoid stiff competition, I focused my niche topic on travelling in Sabah. We blogged almost every day about everything and placing ad banners all over our websites, wishing for thousands of clicks and tons of cash flowing in.

What others think bloggers do
However, after many months, most of us received a cheque of only two digit earning. One by one, people stop blogging. I’ve seen many bloggers come and go, and some of them produced great content, which is sad.

blogging poster
Pic: The moment of truth. Is Blogging just a waste of time?

Every now and then I would hear marketer or consultant started their presentation with cliche opening such as, “There are over 2 billions Internet users, so you must sell on the Net.” It’s just a marketing gimmick, which is almost as silly as saying, “We have 7 billion people on earth so everyone must open a shop.” Well, you know I know, that is impossible to reach everyone online or offline. Anyway, cyberspace makes it easier provided that we know how to reach our target audiences.

pissed off with computer
Pic: If I was only after for money, I would have quit many years ago, after seeing no result from many months of hard-work. I believe most bloggers go through the same struggle in the beginning and share the same sentiment. Albeit the setbacks, I’m glad I didn’t give up.

There is a joke which says, “To become a millionaire travel writer, start with 2 millions.” Don’t get me wrong. Blogging does make money. However, majority of successful bloggers make money indirectly from their blog, for example, by writing sponsored posts, publishing book, providing training, consultancy and digital marketing services, selling products related to their blog, after they build their reputation and traffic online.

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” – Jason Calacanis

presentation slide: Sharing is Caring
Pic: Sharing is Caring. Photo by Vanessa from The Island Drum, one of my favorite speakers.

Luckily my passion on blogging is not solely driven by financial incentive, I always have the genuine interest to promote Sabah, my beautiful homeland a.k.a. the Land below the Wind. Now I have built a steady income stream from blogging and it’s still growing. Now my blog has over 800 articles (with millions of page views), 30,000 photos and 200 videos (over 4 million views), covering most destinations in Sabah. Some of my articles got over 10K shares on social media and my works are published on many books and magazines. I’ve been focusing my blog on introducing least-known attractions. If I blog more about popular destinations, I can triple or even quadruple my traffic (income), something I’m looking forward to do more this year.

“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” – Brian Clark

falling asleep
Pic: I always blog in late night. This is how I feel after clicking the “Publish” button. LOL

Nowadays it’s no easy task to be a travel blogger. Besides good knowledge in your niche, you also need to be good at HTML, writing, photography, SEO, social media, digital marketing, video making, etc. But the hardest of all is the time and level of self-discipline it takes. I have to turn blogging into a habit or even a lifestyle. But thinking of the positive side, even if your blog doesn’t do well, you still learn a lot of new things.

You cannot be serious
Pic: Asking for sponsorship? In early days, bloggers were not being highly appreciated. People thought we were amateur and air-headed attention seekers who blogged about something controversial or to complain about others.

Dude, yes
Pic: The attitude of business owners have gradually changed today. More companies say Yes to bloggers. Blog is now making a comeback in business world and becomes a crucial component of Content Marketing. No matter how fast technologies evolves, people are always hungry for quality and useful content. Many businesses want to offer great content and blogging service is very desirable. I’m very sheepish in asking for sponsorship, so I’m very grateful to those who see my value and support me.

“The term ‘Professional Blogger’ is no longer an oxymoron.” – Luke Langford

Malaysia Social Media Week

Blogging has stood the test of time and is widely and formally accepted as a media in Malaysia. In Sabah, we have Best Online Media Award by Sabah Tourism Awards to acknowledge the best blogger. In national level, Malaysia also presents Bloggers and Social Media Awards to outstanding bloggers in Malaysia Social Media Week (MSMW) in various categories annually.

venue of Malaysia International Tourism Blogger Conference and Awards
The coming Malaysia Social Media Week 2015 will be held on 21-25 Apr 2015 in Berjaya Times Square Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. I’ve joined it once and strongly recommend this grand event to aspiring bloggers and social media marketers. Companies are advised to participate too, as there are lot of ideas on digital marketing being shared. To users, your business does not exist if they can’t find your website, photos, videos and stories online. They google you before they buy from you.

presentation slide by Murni Amalia Ridha / Mumun from Indonesia
Pic: presentation slide by Murni Amalia Ridha / Mumun from Indonesia (www.Indohoy.com)

During the conference, you will see many international bloggers like you and me. It’s encouraging to know that they do the same thing like you and achieve great results. You could be the next one in spotlight. If you are a music lover, you should join a live concert at least once in a lifetime. Same to blogger, you should attend a conference if blogging is your passion.

presentation slide by David Hogan
Pic: David Hogan shared his blogging tips during MSMW conference. His Malaysia Asia website is one of the most successful blogs in Malaysia.

photo with Murni Amalia Ridha / Mumun (middle) and David Hogan (right)
Pic: photo with Murni Amalia Ridha / Mumun (middle) and David Hogan (right)

You can even connect with your favorite speakers / bloggers and learn from them. Sometimes a small change in mindset and approach can improve our results significantly. Please don’t blog alone in your room. Meet other bloggers to get inspired.

presentation slide by Pham Hoang Mien from Vietnam
Pic: Pham Hoang Mien (www.hanoigrapevine.com) from Vietnam

presentation slide in MSMW
The conference and workshop of MSMW cover various topics in blogging and social media. Photography is also a hot topic. You would discover new tools, connection and opportunities for your platforms. Being diligent is not enough if we don’t have the right strategies.

speakers of MSMW 2015
MSMW is not only about blogging. Key players of online media, advertisers, technology corporations, etc. will come to speak at the summit. You may follow the Facebook of MSMW for update.

photo with Blogie Robillo from the Philippines
Pic: Blogie Robillo (Philippines) from www.dabawenyo.com. I really like his name. He has a travel blog about Mindanao.

pounding keyboard
Who knows you might find new meaning that reignites your passion and take your blog to next level.

do not give up
Many give up right before the tipping point. Just keep blogging if you enjoy it, good things will definitely come along, money hopefully.

Photos taken in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Uncle in B2.0: Borneo Bloggers + New Media Dialogue

B2.0 group photo

B2.0, an annual conference for blogging and micro-blogging communities of Borneo, is what I have been looking forward to. In fact, this is the 3rd time Borneo Colours and M.E Malaysia organizes this event. I remember I joined the 1st KK Bloggers Gathering in year 2007. After 5 years, blogging is not dead, instead, blog becomes even more powerful with the rise of Social Media and Mobile Devices. Now blogging is part of everyone’s life and no longer a hobby reserved to tech-savvy youngsters, and everyone is a blogger in some way.

B2.0 poster

Daniel Doughty from BorneoColours.com
Pic: Daniel Doughty, the founder of Borneo Colours, the largest community portal of Borneo

Uncle on Social Media

I’m a Generation-X approaching middle-age (LOL). I went through the era of fax and Internet. I wrote letters to keep a long-distance relationship. I read newspaper in breakfast. I valued human touch and didn’t understand why someone have more Facebook friends than real friends. I didn’t get it.

Social Media Explained
Source: Geek.com

However, I became an advocate when my organization (Sabah Tourism Board) decided to reach more audiences by “Words of Mouth” marketing via Social Media. Then I started to witness the power of Social Media platform to complement traditional media, after Sabah Tourism entered Facebook, Twitter and Weibo (as China blocks Facebook). It’s astonishing to see how a post can go viral, getting hundreds, thousands of shares and likes within hour. Even my personal blog gained 30% more traffic after I made it more social media friendly.

The Rise of Social Media

Though I was invited as one of the special guests in B2.0, I came with a heart to learn, to share and to network. After the fun ice-breaking activity by Johan Amilin, we had our panel discussion on The Rise of Social Media.

Rise of Social Media
Pic: Badass Guest panel of Rise of Social Media, MC by Jack. It’s me at the far left, trying to act cool, actually my palm sweated XD

I was sitting next to the very influential food blogger, Thanis Lim from Brunei, his honest review can cause lousy restaurants to close down, and the most active Sabah Twitter, Pajel @ KKCity, whom I personally call the spy of KK (Thanks for tweeting about road blocks bro :-p).

guest panel of Rise of Social Media
Pic: I looked so serious, next time I should smile more. Thanis was probably thinking of what’s for lunch.

We shared our experience on various topics such as self-moderation, making money and getting more exposure on blog and social media. I’m full of gratitude for the support from the following organisations, who give Borneo bloggers a stage:

Daily Express news about B2.0 2012
What we said were quoted quite extensively (including my broken English) in Daily Express on 3 Dec 2012. Oh My Manglish! *embarrassed* Thanks Neil for polishing up a bit on my part.

What was Not Being Said…

The panel discussion was short, so I couldn’t talk too long or I would hijack the whole session. :-p I hope the audiences got my points presented in summary form.

I have seen so many talented bloggers and vloggers in Sabah. For their creativity and achievement, they can make a very good living (and fame) in modern countries such as USA. However, in Sabah, it’s sad that most of us are only barely surviving. Doing things we are passionate about and earning good income is the dream of every bloggers. Unfortunately, very few can sustain a full-time blogging career.

Therefore, Bloggers can’t just sit there waiting for sponsorship and traffic to flow in, we have to reach out, and Social Media makes this easier. Sometimes we just need to be proactive and ASK. Below are a few advice to increase our expo$ure:-

  1. Write good content to make people share: Our content should be either (1) Useful, (2) Interesting, (3) Funny, (4) Cool / Funky, or even (5) Controversial. Emotion is the Key. Nobody will share content that doesn’t make them WOW or Angry. e.g. 43 Food You Must Not Miss In KK
  2. Niche & Positioning: focus on topic that we are good at (or interested in).
  3. Install Social Media Sharing plugin in your blog.
  4. Approach potential sponsors and propose a project. Tell sponsors how you can help promoting their business, instead of letting them to figure out what to offer you.
  5. Contribute content to traditional media such as newspapers and magazines. Get an interview.
  6. Besides Blog, extend our territory to different Social Media channels such as YouTube and Instagram.
  7. Search engine is still a very important source of referrers. Google “SEO” for tips.

Unless our blog has thousands of visitors per day, Pay-Per-Click Ad won’t be very promising. Even if the traffic of a good blog can be low, it attracts high-quality visitors who are more likely our target customers. With such advantage, you can sell your OWN product / service in your blog, whether you are a restaurant owner, eBook writer, wedding photographer, estate manager, IT consultant… Don’t be so obsessed with one-hit-wonder viral content or number of fans, they worth $0 if they are not your target market and won’t buy anything from you.

Special Guests of B2.0

I’m so glad to meet Jack, Monica and Angeline, the team behind Everyday Food I Love, a food blog that always makes me drooling. Besides, I also learnt a lot from the following cool speakers and special guests.

Image Sharing Madness by Reeda Malik (AnakBrunei)
Very informative talk on Image Sharing Madness by Reeda Malik (AnakBrunei). I felt like an old man when he mentioned some image sharing apps that I never heard of, and when others kept nodding their heads when asked if they were users.

Reeda also played a video “The Stolen Scream” about a man who found his photograph was displayed everywhere without his knowledge.

My photos in my blog are also being “stolen” countless time. You will be surprised if I tell you who are those copycat… These million-dollar companies never thanked me, and they even removed the copyright stamp of my photos. When being caught, they would blame their poor designers who got no budget for image stock.

Social Media Gamers by Tristan Lee Riven of Team Sprocket
Next was the talk on Social Media Gamers by Tristan Lee Riven of Team Sprocket.

Shiftling poster
Team Sprocket is developing a new game “Shiftling” that will be released in 2014. Can’t wait.. I got a poster of the game with the autograph of the team members (Tristan, John and Minho). Does the dress look familiar? They use a lot of Borneo elements in the game design.

Rise of Mobile Applications & Nuffnang X by Sue Ann Tang
Rise of Mobile Applications & Nuffnang X by Sue Ann Tang

She rise a red flag in my mind when she said only 1% of mobile users read blog on mobile phone. For me, blog is the best platform to publish content, as it can accommodate large quantity of text, photos, video, etc., unlike social media which has short life-span and length limit. I’ll install their new NuffnangX app and see if that can help me to promote my blog on mobile devices.

Digi: In Support of Social Media by Tai KL
A thumb-up to Tai for his talk on In Support of Social Media, I totally agree with him that we should challenge the norm, the standard. Being conventional is just BORING.

Then he showed us a very funny video made for the Gila Internet Sales of DiGi.

It was so hilarious that I watched it again and again later at home.

Social Media via Windows 8 by Kathleen Lim (Microsoft)
Kathleen Lee from Microsoft introduced new Acer laptops with touch-screen capability supported by Windows 8. Oh dear, NOW, should I get an Iconia tablet or DSLR as my Xmas gift? I want BOTH lah.

Youtube Generation & Social Media Unveiled by Grim Film
Moses Wong (Film Production Sabah) and Jared Lee (Grim Film) giving a talk on YouTube Generation & Social Media Unveiled. They are the people behind the viral video Sabah Hakka Style, which got over 800K hit. I’m so proud that Sabah has such talent.

And their short film “The Long Distance Relationship” was so touching that I saw a few guys wiped their tears after watching it.

Lucky Draw
It was a day well-spent and I was really happy to be there. I guess the happiest blogger is Chan Hing Chin, who won an Acer Iconia tab for getting the most Likes for his creative entry. Congratulations!

B2.0 group photo
Pic: One for the album. A group photo of B2.0 to end the convention.

See you Next Year! 🙂 Hope all bloggers will have more success stories and interesting experience to share next time.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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