[SPONSORED] How to Create a Blog that Doesn’t Suck & Generates Income

According to a website report, Ringgit Oh Ringgit blog is A- grade, or ‘very good’. I have As for SEO, Usability, Social and Security aspects. Only Performance aspect is not great, but that’s because my page size is big (due to the ads).

At the time of writing, Ringgit Oh Ringgit has been around for 2.5 years, more or less. Figuring out how to create a blog in the beginning was hard; I just wanted to write shit, and I didn’t know there are many other aspects I have to know and consider.

As I was adamant to generate income from this hobby, I had no choice but to learn as I go along. Here are some things I wish I knew earlier. This article is for you fellow bloggers and companies doing content marketing as a lead generation strategy.

WHERE to publish your stuff

There are many, many, MANY options available for someone who just wants to get their thoughts and opinions out there. Have I said many?

Here are just SOME that I know: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Steem, Livejournal, Medium and Nocturnal (Malaysia-based so give free backlink!)

Then you can also publish on social media, like Facebook, Twitter (micro-content), Instagram, YouTube (vloging), stuff like that.

I’ve personally tried a few options, but stuck to WordPress. About 30% of ALL websites in the world use WordPress. The community is amazing, and I was surprised to find out specialised guides, experts and services that have been available for it all this while.  

If you use WordPress (or exploring it), come join us at WordPress Meetup Kuala Lumpur FB page!

If you want to use other options, that’s cool too 🙂 Just know that some options will limit your blog monetisation options.

The hosting matters a LOT

The hosting = the company that provides the server that keeps all of your blog data. You don’t need to worry about hosting if you publish on free platforms.

To create a blog that is fully customisable and allows the implementation of many types of monetisation strategies, you MUST pay for your hosting.

For one, [blogname].wordpress.com or [blogname].blogspot.com is long and may show you’re ‘not serious enough’. Two, you can’t do certain things like add Adsense to your blog.

I started with the free WordPress option before I decided to make my blog more ‘professional’. When ringgitohringgit.wordpress.com became ringgitohringgit.com, I researched for the best hosting package for me. Many online guides suggested BlueHost, so I believed them and bought the plan.

Lesson learned. BlueHost was good, but not the best for Malaysia-based blogs and websites. Last I checked, they don’t keep servers in the region, making the website speed extremely slow.

Slow websites will make people leave your page. When was the last time you waited for more than 10 seconds for a page to load before losing patience and abandoning it entirely?

Just trust me on this – if you’re targeting the Malaysian audience, make sure your website loads fast in Malaysia. It will make a difference!

how to create a blog
I personally use the hosting company SiteGround (review | link to hosting plans). Here are some other hosting companies that work great for websites targeting Malaysia (and Singapore).

Sticking to a niche

Imagine you’re on Instagram. You follow this one profile for their, say, fitness-related content. Then one day they just start posting about random things that have nothing to do with fitness, like gardening or whatever. Would you still follow them?

Right? Confusing as hell. If they don’t go back to fitness, or at least make it crazy entertaining, I’ll just unfollow. You’ve probably done this too.

Knowing this, WHY would you lump every and any topic in your blog? Unless you are a celebrity, no one really wants to know about your life. Hurts but there you go. Real talk.

Of course, your primary motivation to become a blogger in the first place is because you want to write about what YOU want to write about. But there must be a fine line between balancing what you want to write vs what people want to read. It must provide value to the audience. It must be educational and/or entertaining. That’s how you make them come back and hopefully follow you. You’re known as that subject matter expert.

Now, I’m not saying you must be an expert to write about it. Not at all. Obviously, it’ll help by giving you authority, but it’s not a requirement. For example, my niche is personal finance and I’ve seen some ‘here’s what I’m doing to get out of debt’-type blogs doing really well.

Don’t lump Lifestyle + Food + Travel + Fashion + Others together. Pick one overarching theme then do whatever you want as long as it fits that theme. For example:

  • Exploring Malaysian street food under a Food blog
  • Nature photography in Country Z under a Travel blog
  • Your workout routines under a Fitness blog
  • Toys reviews under a Parenting blog
  • Beauty reviews with ingredients breakdown under a Beauty blog (Ieyra H does this!)

My blog’s overarching theme is personal finance, so whatever topic I write – travel, food, tech, life, etc – has a personal finance angle. Travel posts become budget travel posts. Food posts become grocery shopping hacks. Things like that.

Learning how to market your blog

Publishing your content in a blog does not automatically bring in traffic. That requires separate skill sets that I really didn’t know about when I first started blogging!

There are many ways to increase traffic to your blog. Some strategies I actively use are:

  • SEO
  • Paid ads
  • Guest blogging (publishing your content to another source with a wider audience)
  • Creating a community
  • Long-form content
  • Organising giveaways
  • Organising contests
  • And more! I’m still experimenting!

This is an awesome post compiling 27 ways you can do to increase traffic to your blog.

Paying for a bunch of stuff to improve and maintain it

Aside from the hosting costs mentioned above, I also paid for:

  • Logo design
  • Software and tools
  • Transportation costs to events and stuff
  • Reports and audits
  • Premium theme (website design)
  • Solving technical issues
  • And more

But I don’t mind. With each investment I make, I get more traffic, which translates to more $ opportunities. I wrote about the exact steps I use to earn money from blogging in this article.

Posting regularly and consistently

People will stop visiting if you don’t publish regularly :/ This one is kind of common sense, but yeah just have to put it out there.

I know how to create a blog. I’ve been doing it for years. Why should I listen to you?

In a symbol, $

I love personal finance – money strategies are legit FUN for me. I have personally generated a good amount of side income from Ringgit Oh Ringgit, which is technically a hobby.

It’s nice to get paid for what you love doing. I feel so lucky and incredibly fulfilled in this line. Everybody wins – you, the audience, the companies wanting to reach your audience – everybody. I don’t have to defeat competitors to stay ahead, because there’s enough room for all to cari makan.

Unless you truly don’t care about the money, and just want to write for fun, and don’t care about people reading it or not, then sure. Making content for the sheer joy of making content is a beautiful thing too.

But for most of us, we want to turn blogging into a viable side income stream. We want that ad money, or attract (high-paying) clients or customers, or AT LEAST gain another type of currency – reputation and respect among our peers.

Bloggers reading this, can you share what other things you wished you knew earlier? Leave a link to your blogs – would love to check it out. What content do you make? What hosting platform do you use (do they have good reviews?)? How do you monetise it?

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4 comments

  1. The art of writing requires lots of inspiration, discipline and effort. I too enjoy writing but lack discipline to research contents that are interesting, enriching and yes, provide value to your audiences.

    Your write on travel on Maldives perks my desire and it is now my bucket list.

    Thanks

    1. Writing is something that can be learned, and oh so practical as a skill. Do it anyway and challenge yourself. Thanks for swinging by, Fred!

  2. Hey Suraya,

    You know my blog. Started to revive it in early June. I was with Hostgator for a very long time but had to switch when their support became so bad it felt they’re taking the customers for a ride.

    I am temporarily with Hostwind but feel like switching in the future. Service and support is good but my previous IP address was blacklisted by Spamhaus due to previous website activity. Changed the IP already so it’s better now.

    Getting 80K views monthly for a 2.5 year old blog is a great achievement. Obviously you know a thing or two about this blogging thing to take your blog to such level. Good job!

    Thanks for sharing.

    ps: I didn’t know trynocturnal is Malaysian.

    1. To be completely honest the monthly traffic count reduced after Facebook implemented algorithm changes starting January 🙁 Working to get it back up!

      On blacklisted IP address – what happened? What do you mean by ‘previous website activity’?

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