I was invited to give a talk on blogging to students from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Quest International University Perak (QIUP). Although I initially declined the invitation, I finally accepted, and the morning of 23rd January, 2019, saw me setting foot in the university’s auditorium, sharing my blogging journey with the 40+ students from Foundation class, as well as 1st, 2nd and 3rd year journalism students.
Not only did I share about blogging, I was also open to questions regarding social media and mainstream media. I hope they found my experiences useful, and learnt something new, as I did in taking up this personal challenge of public speaking. Thank you very much to Puan Zuleika for extending the invitation and to Deputy Dean Dr. Chan Nee Nee and En. Amirul for the introductions.
So, here’s sharing my transcript, so that the students can easily refer to it, should they need to.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. How are you all today?
My name is Emily Lowe and I am here today to share with you my blogging journey.
The funny thing is, despite living my life on social media, I am a rather private person. When Puan Zuleika emailed me with the proposal to speak to her class, I declined her invitation. Strangely, my email reply was bounced. That got me thinking. Perhaps, there is something that I can share? Maybe there is knowledge that I can impart? My blogging journey is not a huge achievement. After all, anyone can be a blogger. Well, after sleeping on this for one week, I reconsidered, so here I am this morning. I hope there is something new that you can pick up from my presence today. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me afterwards before I return to my cave.
So, you must be wondering, what blog do I write. Well, it’s emily2u.com. How many of you have heard of this blog? Any readers here? I established this blog in September 2007 but this isn’t my first blog. I started to blog in December 2005.
What got me into blogging in the first place? I led a most boring life back in 2005. The blogging trend was starting to pick up then, and I contemplated for a while about writing one, but I wondered, what am I going to share? I won’t have any content.
One day, a friend told me about his blog. His blog was Hee Boon’s Amazing New Adventures http://fhbadventure.blogspot.com/
At the time, he was newly diagnosed with cancer and he documented his treatments, thoughts and challenges in his blog. He got me hooked on reading it. At the same time, he inspired me to set up my own blog. I realised that we can blog about anything, any topic. It doesn’t matter.
Just for your information, Hee Boon has passed on in 2006 (may his soul rest in eternal peace), but his blog is still online, though no longer updated.
So, back to my own blogging journey, in Dec 2005, I wrote about my job. What was I doing at the time? I was selling lingerie on the internet through Lelong. We didn’t have eBay Malaysia yet. But I can’t be writing about bras and panties every post, right? I expanded my scope and wrote about eCommerce. So, that was my niche. From that one niche blog, I started different niches, and ended up writing ten blogs.
Is that one too many? Can one possibly write ten blogs? Haha you’d faint if I told you that a friend of mine maintained 50 blogs concurrently.
But that’s all in the past. I found that with so many blogs, I had actually lost my real voice, there was no personality in those blog posts anymore, which was the reason for the birth of emily2u.com, a blog that uses my real name.
In the early days, as I was still handling 10 blogs, emily2u.com was kind of neglected. Well, time is limited, as we know, and there was only so much that a person can write, but as time went by, I started to let go of the older blogs and concentrated on emily2u.com and I have managed to post at least once everyday since Sept 2011. Whether it’s a long or short post, an announcement, advertisement or cornerstone content, it does not matter. My goal is to keep my streak going for as long as possible.
Just to give you some figures, emily2u.com has published more than 3,000 posts to date, with over two million unique views in total. It has been recognised by the Perak State Government with the Perak Tourism Awards for Social Media category in 2017, for efforts in promoting Perak as a premier tourist destination.
So, what does it take to be a blogger?
Does one need to be a PhD holder? Does one need to be a professional? Can one study to be a blogger? A few years ago, I met a plastic surgeon and he was rather intrigued when I told him that I write a blog. He asked me these same questions. My reply? Nothing except dedication to run the blog. This is not a specialised field, you see, so there is no need to study or be trained for it. The doctor then said that he would like to be a blogger too, but I said, “It’s better for you to just concentrate on being a surgeon, which is more productive.”
Now, you might be wondering how one can write when one did not study. I myself studied up till Form 5 and attended a few days of Lower 6, and then dropped out of school. I love reading, though and for that, I give credit to my parents for cultivating the love for reading from a young age.
But then again, being a blogger, one does not need to know English. A blog can be written in any language. You don’t even have to master the language. Write in Manglish, if you wish. Express yourself in any way you like. Don’t like the written word, then draw. Or perhaps a niche blog is more of your style, such as cooking and recipe, entertainment, politics, etc.
There is no age limit in being a blogger, you can start young or old. I know of primary school children who blog, under supervision, of course. And our Prime Minister Tun M is a blogger as well. He’s possibly the oldest blogger in the country, if not the world. Who can let me know the blog address of Tun M? http://chedet.cc/
By now, you would think that blogging is a no-holds-barred activity. Anything goes, right? Well, not really. For ordinary people like me, there are three sensitive topics that I wouldn’t touch on. I call it the 3Rs. Who knows what these Rs stand for?
For emily2u.com, my main topics are events, food and travel, with a bit of lifestyle. As I have mentioned, I try to publish one post a day. As you can see, these topics require me to go out and about, which take up a lot of time. For entertainment or gossip blogs, one can be an armchair blogger and still keep the site active. For emily2u, I add in my personal experiences, which is an important aspect as the blog carries my name.
Most people don’t realise how much time it takes to run a blog. Just to give you an idea, if I were to attend a beauty pageant, I would have to spend at least four hours at the event, from 7pm until 11pm. As with pageants and fashion shows, I easily take a few hundred shots. Sorting out the photos, editing and uploading easily take up several hours. Finally, there is the writing process, which also requires one or two rounds of editing. Naturally, the longer the text is, more time is required to write and edit. A lot of time is needed to produce quality blog posts.
I have people asking me why don’t I create videos. Well, blogging is not my bread and butter but it definitely takes up my full time. At this point, I cannot spare more time with video production. Even if I do share videos, my videos are unedited, I try to shoot them with as few edits required as possible.
In blogging as in life, it is better to master something than do many things and not do them well. So, pursue that one thing and be the best that you can be in it.
My blog, though still with its vintage template, has opened plenty of doors for me. Through it, people got to know me, and offered opportunities. I was a stringer for Ipoh Echo, then a writer for The Malay Mail and now a contributor for Malindo Air in-flight magazine.
I have also been invited to dine for free, and go on trips in Malaysia and even overseas. I can say I have visited the whole of Perak, almost all states in Malaysia and to countries like Indonesia, Thailand, China, India, Netherlands, Jordan, Taiwan and a few others, as a blogger. I’ve stayed at many different types of accommodation, from bamboo huts to 5-star resorts, all for free.
I’ve also been exposed to different adventures, from caving to rock climbing, ziplining, white water rafting – activities that I wouldn’t willingly seek to indulge in as I am not an adventurous person. I am more of a city traveller.
But do we blog for freebies? No, don’t do that. Blog because you like doing it and the perks will come. A quality blog will definitely not go unnoticed.
And of course, I have been approached by advertisers to promote their product, for a fee. My day job is social media management, so whatever income that I receive through blogging is a bonus. There are a few ways to earn from a blog, of course. Through banner ads, direct ads, article placement, link placement, affiliate programmes, direct sale, just to name a few.
The main requirement for earning money from a blog is ………….. do you know? Content, followed by traffic. The more people who come to your blog, the higher the chance of people clicking on your ads, or making a purchase. Grow your audience first, then monetise your influence.
You’d think that blogging has been all positives for me. Yes, mostly, but I do sometimes receive messages from people, who ask me ridiculous things such as: Why didn’t I write more on Indian culture, for example. And there was once, a company asked me to remove a paragraph from my post, because it was having a negative effect on them. I deleted it, even though it was the truth, as I did not have documentary proof. So, to avoid trouble, I just dropped the point.
Do you want to start a blog? If you asked me if you should start one, honest answer, no. Blogging is a dying trend. For me, I can’t let go of my blog. It’s like my baby but if I were to set up one now, I wouldn’t. The more popular social media platforms these days are Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, if you just want to share, you can use any of these platforms and you will have ready traffic.
A blog, like a clingy girlfriend, needs a lot of time, energy and patience to grow, most of the time, without benefits. If you think you don’t have the passion or stamina for it, then blogging is not for you. Being a blogger is passé, as people nowadays are striving to be social media influencers, and even higher level: Key Opinion Leaders (KOL).
However, if you love writing and you would continue writing even if there is no one reading your blog except your parents and you, then by all means, do set it up. You don’t need to seek permission from anyone. Getting started is indeed easy, to keep it going is where the challenge is. Are you up to it?
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