5 Things About Being a Blogger I Wish I Learned Earlier

10:30 AM



This year marks the 8th year my blog has existed. Time flies so fast and I've learned so much. Being a blogger opened so many opportunities for me, but it also closed some freedom in my life. I've been loved, hated, attacked and stalked over the past few years that it has become a part of my life. I've only been actively participating in the blogging scene for five years but I'm patting myself on the back for persevering (despite the number of times I insisted on quitting) and still going on strong.

Being a blogger is never easy, especially when you're not a highly paid blogger and you need to keep a day job. I learned to save from the jobs I get, did some freelance work and be a little bit more frugal than I used to be. I have to admit that luck has been on my side (and of course hard work too) but I do struggle sometimes producing content now that I'm not as outgoing as I used to be. However, if someone told me that this is the life I would be leading I don't think I would change anything I went through (maybe I should have kickstarted a few projects I planned last time). I just wish I had someone to tell me these things so I'd save a lot more time throughout those years.


1. Never say yes to everything.

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for saying yes when people ask for favours. I've had friends trying to take advantage on the existence of my social media and also big corporations who told me that I literally should kiss their feet and work with them to gain exposure (well not exactly but I think you get my point). If you don't believe in it or it doesn't benefit you in any way, you are not obligated to say yes just cause you're trying to be nice.

2. You cannot pay bills with products.

Being a well-known blogger definitely does have its perks. You'd get products for reviews, and also sponsorships from various brands. Sometimes, these perks are a bonus on top of what you're paid for but most of the time, you don't get anything but products or services in exchange for write-ups and shoutout on your social media platforms. As much as I try to be nice, but you can't take everything in product form. Free items won't pay for your bills. Some does help bring down your expenses, in my case household items, makeup, body care products and electronics but most products can't even be exchanged with cold, hard cash. At the end of the day, you can't keep accumulating junk from goodie bags and have no money to eat with. This is why most blogger cannot be a full-time blogger. In the end, they phase out as it could not be balanced with the demand of their paying full-time job. There are times when you can exchange your service with products, but it shouldn't be a must in every case.

3. Competition should be healthy, not catty.

If there's one thing I'm not a fan of in the blogging world, it would be the dramas between bloggers. Surely there's always someone better, prettier, smarter than you but that should not be a reason why you should feel threatened in a bad way. Take it as a motivation to create a niche for yourself. Don't bring your competition down with rumour mongering and if there are any dramas within your radius, steer clear. If you don't like another blogger, just keep it to yourself or the people closest to you. 

4. Stick to what you know best.

As a blogger that started with no niche, I was literally writing about everything that was happening around me. Then it skewed more towards clothing and now I've decided to make this one a life and style based while I separated my travel content to another website. I did not want to talk about things I'm not familiar with hence why I don't do food reviews for F&B establishments. It's best to stick to what you know better than others so you have a niche and its easier for clients (cause I've worked on the client's side) to categorise you as they know your target audience better. 

5. Value is not always in numbers.

I have to admit, I'm no longer raking in as much readers as I used to the moment I changed my URL. Google is still showing links to my old url so I'm losing out on the search engine part. I have been very honest with clients and agencies and try to work with them on other platforms which has higher engagements such as instagram. However, some clients are still insisting to work with me on the blog as they do not look at the numbers, they look at the value of the target market they can tap on. It doesn't matter if you don't have followers in six-digit count, as I've met successful bloggers from around the world who honestly has lower number of followers than our average popular Asian bloggers but brands still want to work with them and tap onto their readers. There is no point to have so much followers but you have no substance. Work on one, and the other will follow. 


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36 comments

  1. Hi Hanie!

    I was wondering if I could ask you to do me a favour? I am currently conducting an academic research on "The Adoption of E-Commerce by Zalora and Its Implication Towards Consumer Purchasing Behaviour in Southeast Asia."

    It’d be really great if you could help to complete this simple survey (see link below) and share it with your family and friends. This survey questionnaire would not take more than five minutes of your time.

    Your help is very much appreciated. Thank you!


    https://qtrial2014.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_bjzCfBfpUPqwQDP

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    1. Hey Anastasha, will do! Good luck! =)

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  2. Very well written Hanie! :)

    Spoken like a veteran blogger, those 8 years sure must have been enlightening. I agree with all your points, had to learn the hard way too but that's the best way, eh? Cheers!

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    1. Thanks Huai Bin, still a lot to learn as the industry changes all the time but I'm sure you've experienced tons more than I have ;)

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  3. setuju with every point. somehow I realize yang diri kita sendiri as blogger yang kena firm dan bijak membawa diri. kalau tak firm dengan prinsip diri sendiri, semakin mudah untuk orang ambil kesempatan. thanks for all the tips! :)

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    1. You're right! I'm lucky to have some great friends and family that tells me to not lower my worth.

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  4. Great post and well said Hanie!

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  5. Totally agree with what you said :) If only barter trade still exist maybe the company can give us products instead right?

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    1. If I can trade for rice can la HAHAHHA

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  6. A really great write up. Thumbs up

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  7. Some great learning here. Good job. I'm a newbie in this field and so much more to learn.
    choypengism.blogspot.com

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    1. It was nice chatting with you earlier =)

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  8. You nailed it Hanie! I have a post about this somewhere (last year) but I never got around publishing it because there was some content that would make many common bloggers hate me for saying what I wrote. Maybe this has inspired me to look into it. You go GIRL!

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    1. I was afraid to post it at first but I figured I'm not the only one who feels this way. Looking forward to read yours, David! =)

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    2. Perfect post, Hanie. I also have something in draft itching to get published since long. Recently I posted a somewhat different topic on my Facebook & it attracted many flaks. There were people who said it wasn't wrong to oblige every person/company who approaches you and there were others who agreed but did not have courage to openly write on comment section but messaged & mailed me separately ! :)

      I don't know if you remember me but I remember meeting you in KL and might have some pics as well. :)

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    3. David,
      I am also looking forward to read yours. :)

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  9. Been lucky to know both you and Point8Cam through blogging. You are right especially the very first point. I used to say yes to almost every event invitation and yeah the exposure that they "offer". Looking forward for more awesome content by you and Nasri at Whatevertherewas too! Cheers~

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    1. Hey, we're all lucky to have met and learned from each other! Thanks Tian Chad =)

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  10. Just wanted to say that this is great. I'm very new and am learning to bring my blog to greater heights (hopefully) in time (: Thanks also for being such an inspiration!

    www.JillianUndercover.com

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    1. Thanks Jillian! Good luck xx

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  11. great information. People do think blogger love goodies and didn't need to get paid.

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    1. It's all fun and games until you realise you have a real life to support haha

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  12. Blogging used to be a happening place for me, I write because I want to - not because of the money or fame, but they came along. Not much anyway. ;)

    But I still keep to my full-time job - a job that funds my living. Blogging can't do much of that as the companies only have their focus on a few top bloggers.

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    1. Hey Ken, I agree with you. At some point I had to juggle blogging, studying and a full-time job. It was definitely not easy. Blogging did open up more opportunities for me in terms of career choice but sometimes you have to have a reality check and see which path will benefit long-term as competition is fierce.

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  13. Hi Hanie, thanks for the great advice, especially for new bloggers like me. :) Another question though.

    What if you tried a sponsor's service but you didn't like it? Being a new blogger, I don't want to burn bridges by providing a negative review... I have two more sessions with said sponsor, and I'm only supposed to review after that. Should I just email them about my feedback, and simply not continue with the remaining two sessions?

    Would appreciate your input! :)

    http://thewifelife.sg

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    1. Hi Serynn,

      I've definitely been in your situation but in my case I went on with it since I've already entered an agreement. However, if the service is not up to par, demand some improvement or story angle from the sponsors so you will have something to write about. If they refuse to cooperate (and its for their benefit) I'd say terminate the agreement. In the future, choose clients that you don't mind working with if it's more than one engagement. Good luck!

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  14. Thank you so much for this post! Everything that you said just set off multiple bells in me, especially the part about saying yes to everything. As my blog is still in its infancy stages, these tips really inspire me!

    http://talkingevilbean.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Joey, and good luck with your blog! =)

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  15. well said Hanie!!.. fellow blogger..

    www.rainyhills.com

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  16. This post just made every bloggers just nod their heads with consent. Thank you for writing this up, this is what every bloggers need to know! :)

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  17. Wow. 8 years! I've been blogging for 4 years only and it already seems like a long time. I've been blogging full-time even though I started my blog without wanting to make any money from it. I even became perplexed when people contacted me, wanting to be featured on my blog. LOL!

    I believe in Point 1 - bloggers need to learn how to say no. I have come across too many blogger pals who got burnt out from saying yes to all event invites, and eventually having no time for themselves, their friends or their family. I am now very selective about the invites I agree to - even if I have absolutely NOTHING to do that day, I'll turn down the invite if it's too far from home and/or would cause me to get stuck in peak hour traffic and give me a blood pressure spike (I hate crowds).

    #2 is true most of the time. I take part in many blogger competitions because I can actually sell the prizes. I once won an iPad Mini which I quickly sold on eBay for S$530. Not bad for one blogpost! :D

    #3 and #4 are definitely true. Well, it got tougher when I got more "famous" and more media exposure. It definitely got worse after I published my book about blogging. Suddenly, many bloggers became my enemies overnight. But I am aware of the "tall poppy syndrome" - the more famous you get, the more people envy and hate you. Part of the package, I guess.

    It'll be hard to convince advertisers regarding #5. I know of a blogger who just re-posts news about scandals, or juicy pieces of gossip on her blog, and gets into many "Most Popular Blog" lists because her blog draws a lot of traffic. No original content, but getting eyeballs due to sensationalized news. There are definitely some advertisers who pick the right bloggers to work with, but I guess the majority of them have to be "educated".

    No one said blogging as a career would be easy. But I'm determined to make it fun for me. :)

    ~Grace from workingwithgrace.wordpress.com

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  18. Yes, its true! Great write up. We also need to take value in what we write, not to sell ourself short that is.

    Keep on writing! : )

    www.sue-world.blogspot.com

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