Malaysian Travel Blogger Meet-up

Hannah Pearson, on behalf of Sedunia Travel, invited me to join Malaysian Travel Bloggers Meet-up last Saturday. I jumped at the chance and signed up for the meet-up. But being a not-so-travel-blogger, I have this inferior feeling of not fitting in the group and I even made excuses to myself not to go. My husband heard me mumbling to myself and told me to just GO, making angry face like Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran, while rolling his moustache. Terrified like a kitten being chased by a dog, I ran to Bukit Bintang. I mean, I drive to Bukit Bintang to find a place called Palate Palette. I remember being invited by Foldees to Palate Palette for a prize-giving ceremony (of which I was the Grand Prize Winner) but I did not go as I had that inferior feeling of not being able to fit in.

Anyway, I got a little lost looking for Palate Palette. I did find Jalan Mesui but I did not find Palate Palette. I made 3 rounds before I could noticed Palate Palette. It was hidden behind some trees.

When I arrived, I met Dian from Tourism Selangor, Hannah, Steven and Ben from Sedunia Travel. Later came Anis Ibrahim, a petite lady with a big sweet smile on her face. And then there was Thristhan, a big guy wearing an interesting prints of batik shirt with a cute smile on his face. And then, there were everybody; Jard, Fienuts, Mastura, YogaRugged Mom, Adameben, Johor Kaki, Lash, Mohd Keri, Hemy, Jana Kenton (Sedunia Travel), Fazly Razally (Tourism Selangor) and many more. The meet-up kicked off with Steven introducing the panel of speakers: Ilya Houben (Wonderful Malaysia), Dian (Tourism Selangor) and David Hogan Jr (Malaysia Asia).

From left: Steven Wong, Ilya Houben, Dian and David.

Topics discussed were about how to improve travel blogs, the dos and don’ts, how to improve blog SEO and how to make use of the social media. David shared his thoughts about Twitter and Facebook. While twitter is not giving the conversion he expected, he agreed that Facebook helps boost his traffic. Dian thought that Twitter is a good place to share and advised to not over do it. Twitting same post over and over again tends to make people bored.

David brought up the backlink subject; how he receives daily automated emails he receives asking for link reciprocal. This is often regarded as spam and advised that bloggers be aware of such thing. This includes big companies trying to get traffic from bloggers by creating a chained meme. Linkbuilding is just a form of networking and bloggers are better off putting a little bit more energy into it, and actually build offline relationships first which might lead to an online backlink as a result. In the end that new relationship is worth much much more than only that backlink from anonymous bloggers. Ilya Houben added that, linkbuilding is quite an important part of SEO. While SEO isn’t essential (for bloggers, as they are good in publishing great content…compared to a webshop owner that can only write so much about his product online), it sure does make a difference. Besides, after spending hours on writing a new post on a blog; wouldn’t it be much more fun if you knew for certain that many people have found it online immediately? (Thanks to Ilya for giving me this pointers via e-mail).

Lash came up with a good question on how much traffic we need before pursuing advertisers. David said that it is all about numbers, the more the better. If we have traffic less than 10K a month, we need to work more on getting the traffic we need and added that the right number would be around 25k to 50K a month; more is better. He stressed that advertisers need more audience in order to get the reach-out or conversion they want. The number of friends or followers or fans also helps to get advertisers to actually noticed us and reply our e-mail.

Fienuts brought up the subject on when to switch to unique domain name. David told that while the traffic is low, it’s good to switch to our own domain and Dian added that it will be good to come up with domain that makes up from 7 alphabets; easier for people to find our blog and for good branding. But I think more than 7 is good too as long as it is easy to remember; TourismSelangor, MalaysiaAsia, Wonderful Malaysia, SeduniaTravel—all made up of more than 7 letters.

Lash and JohorKaki.

While talking to Jana Kenton, Sedunia Travel’s Business Development Manager (e-Commerce Division) during mingling session, she stressed that it is good for local travel bloggers who blogs about Malaysia to reach out to travel bloggers from all around the world just to let them know what Malaysia has to offer. Although about two thirds of Malaysia is covered in forest, the cities are covered with skyscrapers, gardens, shopping malls, museums, historical buildings, you-name-it, Malaysia has got it. Well, minus the four-season weather. Apart from that, some sites in Malaysia have been declared Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

I raised my concern to David and Dian on how do travel blogs with Malay language reach out to tourists from around the world. We all know that the universal language is English and both D’s agree that it is good if we have multi-lingual blog (Malay and English) if we want to reach out to tourists outside Malaysia (other than Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore). This will help Malaysia’s tourism industry and at the same time helps boost the economy not to mention the money-making opportunity for bloggers. Don’t get me wrong but try to blog in English (or have a version of English) if you have a travel blog. I know many local travel bloggers who write about Malaysia in English; MalaysiaAsia is one very good example. Go read his blog, he is currently #33 in the Top 150 General Travel Blog.

And, this has made me want to blog more about travel and art; a combined niche that I am narrowing down to. I give myself until end of this year to  blog about anything before STRICTLY STICKING to my niche. Am not up to create another blog which is only about travel because having one blog is more than I could handle. Oh I almost forgot that I have Ampang blog to handle too. OK, make that two blogs.

Overall, the meet-up was great. I got to pick up tips from other bloggers and actually build offline relationship. Hope there will be a second meet-up soon and more travel bloggers to meet. Here’s a picture of some of the bloggers who turned up with reps from Sedunia Travel and Tourism Selangor.

Big thank you to Sedunia Travel and Palate Palette for sponsoring the event.

And where did the inferior hide?

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