personal blog
Blogging

My Personal Blog Costs RM1,646.36 per Month. Breakdown Inside.

One day I thought to myself, hmm let’s make a personal blog about my favourite topic, personal finance. It wasn’t easy, but it took off, and my life changed forever.

One of the things I learned in the process is personal blogs can be free to start, but they are certainly not free to continue professionally – there are a lot more costs than you think. How much do you think professional bloggers in Malaysia spend on maintaining their website(s) and work? Go on, take a guess.

I don’t know about the rest, but for me, the amount is RM1,646.36 per month on average.

How did I get that figure? Well, I know that I’ve spent RM125,123.53 in Business expenses from June 2015 until the time of writing (October 2021). That’s 76 months, more or less. Therefore, RM1,646.36 per month. More or less.

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 on 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.

Starting out expenses: June 2015 – December 2015

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

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

So I executed 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 embarrassing), but little that I know that the experience taught me a lot of skills that eventually helped me to make a living as a blogger in Malaysia. So I didn’t regret it, not one bit.

Taking my personal blog seriously

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 Exact Steps I Use to Earn Money from Blogging article.

The key moment was buying the ringgitohringgit.com website domain. Up until then, I was using ringgitohringgit.wordpress.com (and before that, chickenflossbun.com). That was the foundation that enabled all my other revenue streams, and made me serious about generating income from this personal blog!

Now, I earn money from:

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 what types of expenses a persona finance personal blog 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)

Personal blog expenses: January 2016 – December 2016

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

Personal blog expenses: January 2017 – December 2017

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 improve speed
  • Books
  • Grammarly premium

Personal blog expenses: January 2018 – December 2018

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.

Personal blog expenses: January 2019 – December 2019

In 2019, I paid for the following expenses:

  • 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
  • Speech coaching
  • Support package for wordpress troubleshooting
  • Mic stand for podcast (which end up cancelled)
  • Flight ticket and hotel room in Bangkok (cancelled trip)

Personal blog expenses: January 2020 – December 2020

In 2020, I paid for the following expenses:

  • Goal-setting workshop
  • Adapter to use in my workshop
  • Food & cleaning fees for workshop
  • Book printing
  • Book illustrations
  • A few online courses (Pinterest, Mastering Sales)
  • iPhone for work (and personal hehe)
  • Design thinking workshop
  • Proofreading software (Linguix)
  • 3 years of hosting
  • Email newsletter software (Sendfox)
  • The vending machine business which doubles as content material and side income
  • Invoicing software
  • Certified Financial Planning fees
  • New website theme

Personal blog expenses: January 2021 – October 2021

In 2021 (so far), I paid for the following expenses:

  • Proofreading subscription
  • More CFP fees
  • Website SEO content audit
  • Website SEO technical audit
  • Social proof plugin
  • New microphone
  • Graphic designer
  • Book editing
  • Finance course

How I would do my personal blog all over again

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, ringgitohringgit.com 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, only *just* paid for accountancy services in year 4, 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

Last words

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 RM1,646.36 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!

Do you have a personal blog? 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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4 Comments

  1. Hi Suraya!

    Great post. I’m a new blogger and I’m only paying for the domain and hosting so far 🙂
    Do you think Grammarly Premium is worth it especially for new bloggers like me?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Ristina,

      Nice website you have there!

      Re: Grammarly Premium – I also earn via selling writing/communications services professional, so it’s an essential tool for me. If you want to get it, wait for black friday/cyber momday sale – it goes off as much as 50-70% off or so!

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