blogger in malaysia

Revealed: My Business Expenses as a Blogger in Malaysia

How much do you think professional bloggers in Malaysia spend to maintain their website and work? Go on, take a guess.

I don’t know about the rest, but for me, the amout is RM1.1k per month on average.

How did I get that figure? Well, I know that I’ve spent RM56,438.67 in Business expenses from June 2015 until the time of writing (September 2019).

expenses blogger in malaysia

To be fair, not *all* of the amount was used directly for blogging. After I quit my job around June 2015, I just tried a bunch of things, then concentrated all my energy into the one that is making the most progress, which happened to be blogging.

I thought it would be fun to go down memory lane and show you what kind of things I paid for since the beginning.

June 2015 – December 2015

After I quit my full-time job around June 2015, I was just blogging passively, as a hobby. I’ve always blogged about personal finance, across different platforms. I just never monetised it. I didn’t even see it as an option.

I was trying different ways to make money at the time. Somehow, I thought of this idea – to offer people a variety pack of instant coffees that they can have fun trying out. I called it KotakKoffee, and can still find records of it in my social media archieves (the link is dead so no need click ok).

So I executed on it. But in a few months I realised it was doomed to fail so I killed it off.

In total, I invested around RM800+ for KotakKoffee, broken into the following expenses:

  • Instant coffee stock
  • Packaging and stickers
  • An e-commerce website via Easystore
  • Namecards and company stamp
  • Decorations and supplies for a booth setup

I used to think KotakKoffee was a waste of money (and also a bit embarassing), but little that I know that the experience taught me a lot of skills which eventually helped me to make a living as a blogger in Malaysia. So I didn’t regret it, not one bit.

January 2016 – now

After KotakKoffee died, I doubled down on offering my freelance writing services just so I could earn something, anything. Talked a bit more about this in the The Exact Steps I Use to Earn Online in Malaysia and The Exact Steps I Use to Earn Money from Blogging articles.

The key moment was buying the website domain. Up until then, I was using (and before that, That was the foundation that enabled all my other revenue streams, and made me serious about generating income as a blogger in Malaysia!

Now, I earn money from:

  • Offering my content creation and management services directly instead of relying on freelancing platforms (see: Hire me!)
  • Affiliate and referral links
  • Product creation (see: Money Stories from Malaysians)
  • Sponsored posts (see: all my sponsored posts)
  • Money from website traffic
  • And whatever money experiments I feel like doing

Telling you the above is essential because it would explain the types of Business expenses I make. Some expenses are investments in education, some are products and services to improve this website, some are for marketing, etcetera.

I’m going to share with you these expenses in the order I paid for it. Note: I’m not saying these are the best way to do it (most definitely not), but at least you can see how it looked like over the years.

All of these expenses were meticulously recorded in my expense-tracking app, so I can write them off as business expenses during tax season!

Related: How Expense Tracking Looks Like (As Someone Who Doesn’t Budget)

In 2016, I paid for the following expenses:

  • Website domain and hosting
  • A WordPress theme
  • The RoR logo from Fiverr
  • Business cards
  • Membership to Malaysian Writers Society
  • A virtual assistant for RM800 per month
  • Website speed improvements from Fiverr
  • Books

In 2017, I paid for the following expenses:

  • A new phone for work
  • A virtual assistant for RM800 per month
  • Project management – working with Malaysian writers and designers
  • Some courses on Udemy (a bitcoin course which helped me to pass the certified bitcoin professional exam)
  • A new laptop for work
  • Membership renewal to Malaysian Writers Society
  • Entry tickets to industry events, such as Wordcamp KL
  • Facebook ads for Bajet 2018 Lepak Session with Julian Ng and Aaron Tang
  • Moved RinggitohRinggit’s hosting/domain to SiteGround for improved speed (note: ref link)
  • Books
  • Grammarly premium

In 2018, I paid for the following expenses:

  • Udemy courses (adwords, digital marketing etc)
  • Project management – working with Malaysian writers and designers
  • Books
  • A virtual assistant for RM800 per month (up until May 2018 only. Decided to let her go)
  • Entry tickets to industry events, such as Peatix Backstage Pass KL
  • Writers retreat organised by Malaysian Writers Society
  • Membership renewal to Malaysian Writers Society
  • Facebook ads to promote writing competition for Money Stories from Malaysians
  • Coaching and editing services for the book
  • Book cover design and illustrations for the book
  • Digital marketing bootcamp
  • Troubleshooting website errors
  • Domain renewal
  • Started monthly subscription to Ezoic Premium to increase income from traffic
  • Bought Whitesmoke, the proofreading service (but it’s crap. Much prefer Grammarly)

Also, in 2018 I experimented with another business, Suna Productions. We held a theatre show. This venture has since been abandoned since I parted ways with the biz partner.

In 2019, I paid for the following expenses (so far):

  • Contract-related legal services
  • Printing costs for Money Stories from Malaysians
  • And packaging and postage costs to deliver the books to you!
  • Bought a tripod and microphone to start experimenting with video content
  • Renewed Grammarly Premium subscription
  • Project management – working with Malaysian writers and designers
  • Reprinting Money Stories from Malaysians because I don’t have enough stock on hand to give to bookstores!
  • Writing retreat
  • Socialbee, a marketing technology (‘martech‘) tool that helps me automate postings
  • Bought a cake and hired a photographer for the book launch
  • Entry ticket to industry events, such as D/M Summit and Wordcamp Asia
  • Bought a video course, ‘Confidence on Camera’
  • Accountant fees to look over my taxes and templates

Personal reflections as a blogger in Malaysia

If I could do it all over again, I would delay hiring the virtual assistant. It’s not that she wasn’t useful. It’s just I didn’t know how to make the best use of her. I was that boss who didn’t know what they want, just that it should be ‘better’.

And let’s be honest. It was more for my ego’s sake, than anything else. Letting her go and freeing that RM800 in monthly expenses was a good decision. Should’ve done it sooner than letting it go on for 1.5 years

What I *am* happy about though, is all the investments I’ve put into knowledge, skills-building and experimenting. There are also some skills which I realised I’m not good at, and I need a professional (like WordPress troubleshooting. One time, rerouted to this cow farm website in China???).

Since I’m self-funding this project (ie no loans) and rolling over profits back into the business, the progress may be slower than others (who start at a bigger capital). I mean, I’m at year 4, and on *just* paid for accountancy services, something that I’ve arguably had to do since year 1.

Related: [PERSONAL] What It’s Like to be a Personal Finance Blogger in Malaysia

As a final note, let me just debunk once and for all that making a living as a blogger in Malaysia is easy and cheap. It’s not. I mean, you can do it for cheap, but not professionally for cheap. I pay RM1.1k per month on average but others may pay more.

And that’s not even including the time cost. Oh my God, I really don’t know how people with bigger audiences do it!

Are you a blogger or a content creator? What expenses do YOU pay for? Share with us in the comments section!

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