Developing Ringgit Oh Ringgit from scratch is truly one of the most fulfulling things I’ve ever done. Since its inception less than 2 years ago, I’ve made thousands in passive income.
Teaser proof to get you excited about the income potential – shared the below on Twitter. This is just from one source of affiliate marketing: referral from Shopback.
— Suraya Zainudin (@surayaror) August 8, 2017
And here’s my screenshot from Google Adsense (taken on 15 August 2017):
Now that I proved that I’m writing this guide from actual experience, in this article I’m going to share the exact steps I personally used to earn money from blogging. Note that the steps are not linear – they overlap with each other, but they should be okay to use as a general guideline.
Step 1: Create a website and choose a blogging theme
I’ve dabbled with Blogspot and Wix, but ended up in WordPress. Highly recommend it – this guide has a huge preference towards the WordPress platform, but use whatever you like.
Should you pay for a website name?
If you don’t have the funds for it, or if you’re just ‘trying this blogging thing out’, it’s okay to just make do with blogname.wordpress.com. It will work, albeit with fewer functions and personalisation options. Start free, you can always upgrade it later – that’s what I did. I only bought blogname.com at Step 4.
Of course I wanted blogname.com from the beginning, but I wanted to start with minimal cost. You can buy one year’s worth of hosting and domain name, sure. It’s more cost-effective to buy a few years’ worth at once though. Mine now costs about RM300 per year to maintain, on average. If you want professionalism from the beginning, then go ahead.
I think you can get free .com domain names, however from my own research the free options come with so many T&C that it’s incredibly mafan to go that route at all. If you know of good free options, please share in comments.
WPBeginner has this great step-by-step on creating a WordPress blog. I highly recommend this portal, helped me a lot.
Should you pay for a website theme?
Website themes are website design, or it’s layout. Ringgit Oh Ringgit uses a blog-style layout. As you can imagine, there are many website themes available – for personal pages, businesses, photography, news, and so much more. Pick one that fits your blogging style. Check out the Top 50 Malaysian bloggers article from ASEAN Up, and see the types of layout they use for their content.
When I started blogging, I used one of WordPress’ free themes. They have a lot of good free ones – see some options on HongKiat.com. Later on (Step 4), I bought a premium theme.
Step 2: Start filling in the website with content
What type of content, up to you. Websites that have a niche tend to perform better. Pleasantly, my topic of interest is personal finance, which people kinda like, so that’s swell.
Many people who have blogs make the mistake of not having a niche. They write about a jumble of content, including their travels, what they ate, their lifestyle, their fashion, etc. Some of them are fun to read… but’s here’s the deal. No one (aside from friends and family) truly care about their lives, unless they are a ‘somebody’. This is real talk, I’m not going to sugar coat anything. It’s hard to gain traffic this way.
You need traffic to earn money from blogging, and to do that you have to create content that people want to consume even if they don’t know you.
Content that people like to read are, overwhelmingly, things that help people in some way and/or entertaining content. Is the restaurant worth visiting? How much is X? Where to get Y? Reviews. Recommendations. Personal opinions and experiences on its own are pretty boring to read if not accompanied by facts, information and humour.
My simplified formula whenever I brainstorm content idea is: think of what the audience wants to read + structure my content in that way. So far, it works. Well I’m also a communications major so it’s good to know what they drilled into me during college and uni stuck lol.
Step 3: Optimise the heck out of my WordPress and work on content marketing
If content is the outfit, then optimisation in Step 3 and Step 4 is the stitching and detailing. There are a few components here, including:
- Installing plugins (some recommendations below)
- Learning the basics of SEO and implementing it (SEO is important; here’s a recommended guide)
- Commit to writing those content on a regular basis (at least once a week)
- Having a consistent, clear format in blogposts
- Writing, re-writing, editing and proofreading posts
- Having a directory
- Setting up Ringgit Oh Ringgit Facebook page, Twitter handle and Instagram
- Engaging with the audience
- And more.
Each of the above was hard work and research. It definitely wasn’t implemented overnight. It took months to incorporate them in Ringgit Oh Ringgit.
Plugin recommendations from WordPress:
- Akismet Anti-Spam – self-explanatory
- Custom Share Buttons with Floating Sidebar – to make sharing easy
- Google Analytics – to understand your audience
- Pixabay Images – to add images
- W3 Total Cache – performance plugin
- WP Smush – also to improve performance
- Yoast SEO – to help with SEO
Step 4: Once I see consistent traffic, I paid for a bunch of stuff to improve my website
If I’m not mistaken, I bought the ringgitohringgit.com domain at around 2k monthly traffic.
Basically how it went down was, ‘huh, people are reading this. I should probably make it look nicer, so they have a good experience and visit more often’.
Things I paid for:
- Bluehost hosting (note: referral link) for the ringgitohringgit.com domain. If not mistaken, it was roughly $100 for 2 or 3 years worth of hosting, can’t remember. Mostly did this so I can start earning from Google Adsense. EDIT: I’ve since moved hosting to SiteGround (note: referral link) – the servers in Singapore makes the loading time much faster! Protip: If you’re just starting out, use whichever is cheaper or on sale.
- Premium theme from MojoMarketplace. My theme costs $49
- A graphic designer to make a pretty-looking blog header (got a good price from Fiverr.com. Note: referral link)
- Facebook ads, but that didn’t go that well
- A WordPress expert to help speed up my website loading time (also via Fiverr.com)
- Customisation reports
- And other few bits and pieces
Each of these contributes to overall user experience to my readers. I’m still actively searching for more things to implement, so if you have recommendations on how I can improve Ringgit Oh Ringgit further, I’m all ears. Please share in the comments section.
Step 5: Experimenting with various revenue channels that work for my type of content
At about 10k per month monthly traffic mark, you can start selling your influence. There are many ways to do this – WPBeginner listed 25 ways to make money from blogs. As of time of writing, after much trial and error, I concentrate on these channels:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Google Adsense (how to setup Adsense in WordPress without coding skills)
- Sell Banner Ads
- Sponsored Post
- Selling my writing and consultancy services (My Hire Me page)
I choose to not directly sell products/services to my readers and focus on charging companies to reach you instead (although some of you guys did indicate interest in my future erotic book rofl). While you can’t pick companies advertised via Google Ads, you can pick everything else. For example, in Ringgit Oh Ringgit, I promote bitcoin service providers in my bitcoin articles, Shopback in my travel articles (like this Japan trip for RM2500 one) and HelloGold for my banner ad (at the top of the website).
Personally I have several rules when it comes to company promotions:
- It must be a product or service that I like / use anyway
- It must come with a disclosure policy (for example, some companies legit offered me money to write about them without the [sponsored] tag) (unfortunately, I know some bloggers who do it)
- It must fit into the theme of my website (finance-related) and the content I’m writing anyway
- It must be, to the best of my knowledge, a legit platform
Where to get influencer jobs
It can work both ways: clients approach you, or you approach clients. For the former, sometimes you’ll get emails from companies or agencies representing companies. For the latter, the easy way is to join influencer job platforms like Catjira and Nuffnang. Some Facebook groups also post these types of jobs like the Social Media + Blogger Community Group and the Malaysia Bloggers and Social Media Group. The
harder gutsier way is to cold-call or cold-email companies and tell them your influencer services are available.
As for payment, usually clients offer cash, but sometimes they might offer products or services instead. You can choose or reject offers.
The general flow if clients approach you is:
- Companies email you asking how much you charge for a specific type of content or engagement
- You email back with your rates (see my email template below)
- Some negotiation or request for website/social media statistics might happen
- Accept or decline the work at the rate they offer or counter-offer, up to you
The general flow if you approach clients is:
- Indicate that you’re interested to work with them, what you can offer and give them your website/social media statistic
- If they’re also interested, negotiate rates and what you can deliver
- Accept or decline the work at the rate they offer or counter-offer, up to you
This is my email template when companies ask about sponsored blog rates:
Thank you for your email and interest in my services.
Here are my rates for your consideration:
1 x Sponsored Post on Ringgit Oh Ringgit (500-1000 words)
- Inclusive of backlink
- Inclusive of keyword research and SEO
- Inclusive of sharing across my social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
- Auto-tweeted indefinitely
- [Sponsored] tag and disclosure must be included; no native advertisement
- Cost: [insert amount] per article, 50% advance deposit required
Like I mentioned in my 11 things I learned about self-employment in Malaysia article, what I do is roughly calculate how much time I’ll spend on the job x how much I want to earn per hour. Nowadays I’m quite choosy with who I decide to accept to promote on Ringgit Oh Ringgit, but I don’t judge other bloggers who hustle hard and earn whatever they can, however they can.
Usually you will have to have some sort of paperwork in order. From experience, most clients will at least request invoices. I suggest you read my Must-Have Financial Tools to Make Freelancing in Malaysia Easier article.
To earn money from blogging is hard work, but can be extremely emotionally and financially fulfilling.
My personal agenda from writing this post is simple: I just want to read more good-quality shit from other Malaysians. I see your posts on social media. You guys have such amazing information to share, such amazing personalities kept hidden. How many times have you read ‘news’ that is nothing more than someone else’s Facebook posting? I want you to monetise your own content, dammit, before other semi-news outlets take that profit from you. It makes me angry.
Well anyway. Reach out if you ever need help. I can review websites and blogs and stuff and give you feedback from the user experience side. Now go forth and prosper. If blogging is not for you, but you still want to earn online, check out my The Exact Steps I Use to Earn Online in Malaysia article.
Please share if you like this guide – I would appreciate that a lot.