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!
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):
- 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 have 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.
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 a question. 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.