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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26 Comments

  1. Nice piece Emila!

    Especially the part on how foreign travelers perceive Malaysia. This is what made my Dutch website so popular, I was simply one of the first to introduce the full picture among Dutch travelers. My approach with Wonderful Malaysia is similar to what Jana said. I focus on every type of traveler, be it seasoned Malaysia visitors or people that are in Msia for the first time. It’s actually not difficult to widen the current approach for travel blogger, just place yourself in the shoes of someone who hasn’t been in Malaysia (or at a certain destination within Malaysia). That would mean that you need to add all kinds of basic information, which also makes the article much more valuable.

    I talked to Jana too, but she’s is certainly correct when it comes to emerging (traveling) countries like Eastern European countries (she’s from Prague herself). I keep myself quite updated on tourism figures from Malaysia and its surrounding countries; and the country is very well known among Western European countries like NL, Germany, France etc. Last year 100.000 Dutchies visited Malaysia (which is quite the number).

    About the language. Writing in Bahasa is also a nice niche I guess :). I mean, my websites mainly are in Dutch and they are quite popular. I am lucky that NL already has everything in place for even small niche websites to survive. Advertisers often wait in line to get a spot on my sites. Malaysia is not there yet, but I have no reason to believe that things work different over here, compared to all other countries where internet marketing has evolved according to the same phases. If you were to have a very popular Bahasa travel blog, I think you could still become very popular with it (there are many examples already righ?). Malaysians are traveling more and more each year and will continue to do so as long as overall wealth keeps increasing. Advertisers with local products will at some point have to make the switch to a more online approach, which will lead to many nice opportunities for website owners (be it in Bahasa or English). For now English is perhaps indeed the easiest way to attract bigger audiences.

    Can’t wait to read your ‘travel & art’ posts! I find it a very interesting combination (especially if you were to add culture into it).

    Cheers,

    Ilya

    1. Thanks Ilya for the information and the stats. Let me rephrase the ‘not so many’ sentence. Hehe. I made it sound like Malaysia is a jurrasic park.

    2. Yes, I think BM blog have a niche too but it can only reach out to readers from other countries who read and speak BM,in this case, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. If the blogger is not into making so much money, it’s good. Only if the blogger feels like making more money, then reaching out to global travel bloggers is better.

  2. Bila Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran buat muka marah dengan misainya, bukan k.em ja lari macam kucing. Tapi ‘inferior’ pun cabut lari sekali hehe Patutlah ceria ja dalam gambar 🙂 Bahasa Melayu atau Bahasa Inggeris? Rasanya statistik pengunjung blog k.Em memang ramai juga dari luar negara pun. Paling bagus bila k.Em letakkan gambar menarik juga. A picture is worth a thousand words. Dan, K.Em ada senjata yang sangat hebat iaitu melukis (^_^)..itu daya tarikan yang paling unik. Jadi soal bahasa tu tak jadi masalah rasanya utk k.Em terus menulis blog dalam bahasa Inggeris 🙂

  3. Hey Emila! Great insights about what went on during the meet up 🙂 I have to apologise about my 7words for branding. I meant to say 7-syllable domain name.

  4. I know of other bloggers who write in two languages – for example English and one of Spanish/French/Japanese. They sometimes dual-caption photographs as well, but usually they are only in English. One of the benefits for blogging from Malaysia in English is that it helps to answer a question that deters a certain portion of tourists for visiting a destination, namely “Do they speak my language?” This is not as much of an issue for other Commonwealth countries (such as UK, Canada, India, Australia and New Zealand) as they usually know that English is commonly spoken in other Commonwealth countries. However, Malaysia is not as well known in other places (and even in some Commonwealth countries), so blogging in English can only assist in educating prospective visitors.

  5. Thanks Emila for the interesting article on our meetup and the very useful summary of the tips we learnt that day. Thanks for the backlink too ;P Looking forward to the next meetup ;D Wish you and your family Selamat Ramadhan Mubarak.

  6. Hi EmilaYusof.
    Your blog is very inspirational to those people who love travel. Its also look very artistic and make me think deeper. The content is informative and full of interesting details and attract people who intend to visit some place. however, the layout and the color of the blog can be improved to make it more interesting. 🙂

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