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

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This whole blogging thing. It wasn’t intentional. I mean, it was, the whole writing part was. But the recognition that comes with it, the knowledge that what I write and say has some form of influence… that part wasn’t intentional at all. Truthfully I’m still shocked by this blog’s success. The total number of visits crossed the one million mark recently. One million!

personal finaance blogger
As of August 2018

Here are some personal thoughts, observations and reflections on being a personal finance blogger in Malaysia.

There is an obvious demand for personal finance bloggers in Malaysia

The personal finance blogging niche is far from being oversaturated in Malaysia. If you like personal finance, and you want to try blogging too, I can recommend exploring this niche. If you are already blogging, even better – here’s How to Create a Blog that Doesn’t Suck & Generates Income

A big misconception about personal finance blogging is you have to know a lot about finance before you start. That’s not true. Here’s the thing – there are lots of financial content out there. But there are not a lot of personal accounts about managing finances, which is what people want to read!

My biggest tip for personal finance bloggers is this: stay away from giving advice.

(Ironically, this is an advice. But anyway.)

If people want to get financial advice, they can go to banks. To AKPK. To the bookstore. To financial platforms which explain GST vs SST and whatnot. You don’t have to write about these things.

Instead, you can write about:

  • What you’re doing to pay off your debt, plus regular progress updates
  • What you cook at home, and how much they cost
  • Properties you viewed and whether you liked/disliked it
  • How you do your hobbies on a budget

Seriously, I’d personally read the shit out of ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m doing but watch me figure this money thing out’-type blogs. Do you agree?

Go on and start. Share with me your website link. I’ll add it into the Recommended personal finance websites in Malaysia list.

LOTS of sponsored post opportunities

This links back to the above point (demand for personal finance bloggers in Malaysia). Guys. I get my share of inquiries. You know I do sponsored posts on this blog, but what you may not know is I turn down some opportunities on a regular basis, especially the ones that deal with gambling and forex activities.

Here are some types of companies that reach out to me to promote their products and services (some may overlap):

  • fintech
  • property
  • investment consultation companies
  • gold investment
  • crypto platforms
  • companies doing ICOs
  • credit card/loan/insurance comparison platforms

… basically most companies within the financial services sector who want to reach and get you as their potential customer or investor.

Some of them are clear-cut nos for me. They want native ads, or positive reviews about them that does not include the ‘sponsored’ tag.

When this happens, I refuse the hell out of them, and get a lot more sceptical of their existing online reviews. I mean, I don’t know if user ‘mike9876’ really liked the product or service or s/he was paid to say that, behind the scenes.

(I’ve actually read that up to 30% of all online reviews could be fake and undisclosed paid reviews. Kind of mind-blowing, when you think about it)

Blogging made me shift my views on sponsored posts in other ways too. Last time, I used to glaze through sponsored content by bloggers and influencers. Now, I’m more likely to read them because at least they’re upfront about the collaborative nature of the content.

I might even go so far as to say I’d trust these companies and bloggers/influencers more because of their transparency.

I get called a ‘financial expert’ sometimes

By companies interested in engaging my services (writing, marketing, communications consulting, etc) mostly, and sometimes by event organisers who want me for speaking/interview opportunities too.

Each time I would correct them, saying, hey, I’m not an expert, just a personal finance enthusiast. There’s a difference. I’m not even trying to downplay myself. That’s literally what I am.

I might have annoyed some companies by saying this – they want to hire people who can influence their audience into making specific actions (ie buy their products and services). But I can’t do that. Not with a clear conscience. Plus it’s so easy to call out on my bullshit if I do that – my audience are crazy smart.

A bit more on RoR audience

According to my Google Analytics data, Ringgit Oh Ringgit has developed a loyal following. That’s another reason to not sell my services to just any company. If I ever tell you to do something without explanation or reason, I’m very sure you’ll lose trust in me, which means a drop in readership and loss of income.

Can I just say how proud I am to have you people as my audience? You gave me the best comments, the best advice, the best feedback. You challenge me and make this website’s content better. Not everyone is like that, so pat yourself in the back for a sec.

By ‘not everyone is like that’, I mean some people do actually look for people to blindly follow. They want ‘experts’ who tell them exactly what to do with their money.

I can understand why. I mean, we are so used to top-down information-sharing culture here in Malaysia. Our whole education system is based on complete acceptance – and regurgitation – of facts. We have been encouraged to follow what our leaders say all this while, to accept authority figures as absolute.

One time, I shared my thoughts on a type of investment on Twitter (my handle) and ended it with something like ‘don’t trust everything I say, do your own due diligence’, and some bloke actually DM-ed me and said he would have preferred it if I didn’t add that bit??

He said – and dead serious about it – that he would have rather followed and trusted someone so it’s easier for him to make a decision (on investing).

What the hell, man. When it comes to money, think for yourself, for goodness sake.

Being a blogger in general feels so damn weird

You have to know that I write all of my blogposts in isolation. So when I meet people who tell me in my face that they enjoyed and even shared articles from Ringgit Oh Ringgit to their family and friends, I get genuinely flustered, like I got busted.

It’s like a mix of pride, embarrassment, happiness, sheer horror… all rolled in one. Each time, I try my best to be gracious, but internally I always feel like running away.

This only applies to real-life interactions though. Positive feedback and constructive criticism received online through the safety of computer and mobile screens always, always make my day.

I am damn proud to be a female personal finance blogger

Generally speaking, women aren’t very influential in the finance world.

If I wanted to make this website neutral, I could. I could have used a unisex pen name. I could have toned down all the women-specific beauty, fashion and shopping articles.

But instead I made sure to remind you that I am a woman. I mean, the damn Ringgit Oh Ringgit logo is pink. I use my obviously-female name, Suraya, freely. My femininity is not something I want to hide.

Google Analytics broke down the gender. RoR audience is pretty much split evenly between women and men. I’ve made personal finance something that is natural for everyone to talk and discuss about. And for that, I’m going to give myself a pat on the back.

Last thoughts

Like I said in the first few paragraphs, I started as a personal finance blogger, but didn’t intend to be a financial ‘influencer’ or ‘key opinion leader’ (KOL for short, actual abbreviation used in the industry). It just kind of happened. And it’s opened doors – so many doors – for me.

The challenge now is keeping up the quality of content amidst other growing personal finance websites. Ending this article with some questions.

What do you want to read? What kind of information do you want? What can I do to make your experience on Ringgit Oh Ringgit better? I’ll do my best. You took me here, it’s the least I can do.

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  1. Congrats Suraya,

    For the million. I truly enjoy your post. Of the 1000+ comment, I think I contributed one. Haha….

    Keep them coming.

  2. I love reading your articles because of the language. It is simple and straightforward. The contents are easy to understand. Keep up your good work!

  3. I have been blogging about personal finance off and on – now on a more regular basis. But I can’t embrace a niche to save my life. I have far too many passions to just blog about one thing all the time 😉 but yeah, I feel like I want to spread the gospel of debt free living and how minimalism has impacted my finances because it has changed my life soooo much. You are right. We really need more personal finance blog posts in Malaysia – only because many of the American pf blogs contain advice we can’t really follow. *geo arbitrage grumble grumble* Also Malaysians need to know it’s possible!!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Love your PF articles, and also minimalism and productivity posts too. Rofl yea lack of Malaysia-specific personal finance content was excatly why RoR came about 😛

  4. I read your blog because of good and relevant content. Too many blogs just paste contents from others thinking thats what people wanna read about. Boo. Keep up the good work! More content on stuff that matter to me,. Awesome job so far

  5. Congrats Suraya! I enjoy reading your blog so much. Whenever I want to try something I will always come back to your blog as reference!

    Anyway, I would like to suggest maybe you can arrange the adverts arrangement on your blog? Because sometimes, your post got cut off and out of nowhere 2 lines of sentences are in the middle of the adverts and it cuts off the reading experience? Like potong steam like that 😂 I hope you’d understand. I know the adverts are your source of income, just maybe I hope the arrangement can be improved 😊

    Anyhow please keep on sharing the budget hacks and tips. I love reading those types of article!

    Congrats, again!

    1. Thanks for the love, Nys!

      On the ad part, I can’t change it. It’s automatically displayed by the ad network system. Try adding adblock in your phone to unsee all of them 🙂

  6. Hey Suraya,

    I love your posts and how your honesty shines through on your blog. I’m a relatively new ROR reader and I have to agree that there’s a shortage of bloggers who cover personal finance and investing in Malaysia, particularly female ones, given that we need to be schooled in these areas more than ever. Am rooting for you and looking forward to more great stuff from you 🙂


  7. Congratulations, Suraya!! So proud of you!!
    I think some level of financial advice is acceptable on personal finance blog especially those based on personal experience. But of course bukan sebarang personal finance advice 😀

    Btw, very informative and insightful blog you have here. I can see a lot of serious hardwork too.. keep up the good work😉

      1. Thank you, Suraya for adding me to the list. It means a lot to me. I started blogging PF as a hobby but had recently took it more seriously. There are so many things to learn and to do. Salute you for the hardwork on RoR 😄

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