Call it invasion of the Asian influencers – from China to The Philippines to Singapore, more and more bloggers from Asia are making themselves heard among the online community, and there is no denying of their influence. While thousands join the blogsphere every day, only a handful has shone among the pack.
Recently, we caught up with Willy Wah, one of Malaysia’s top bloggers and owner of the blog “Willy’s Food and Travel Blog” (formerly known as “The Lonely Classroom”). Penang-based Willy, 33, has been making waves with his blog since 2007. We had a quick chat with the affable tutor/blogger who shared with us his secret for success.
Asia 361: What made you go into blogging and what got you started on writing about food?
Willy: I didn’t start out writing blogs initially. It was after I learnt to produce a Hokkien podcast and with some encouragement from friends that I started blogging.
Speaking of that, I need to express my thanks to a couple, Jason and Gill. It was in 2007 when they brought me along for food reviews, and from there onwards, I began to learn how to write food reviews and subsequently arrange for food review sessions etc.
Asia 361: Why do you name your blog “Lonely Classroom”?
Willy: I had named my podcast “Lonely Classroom” because I was the only person hosting and producing. I was trying to go along the lines of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and thus, named my blog “Lonely Classroom”. Actually, I have since changed the name of my blog to “Willy’s Food and Travel Blog”.
Asia 361: We’re curious. Do you follow any blogs, and if so, which ones?
Willy: Yes, I do. I follow:
Kelly Choo of “Dreams Come True” – I love the way she writes; the words she uses are beautiful.
Ken of “FlashNgo” – The content of his blog is rich, and his photos are particularly great.
Valyn Lim of “It’s All About Valyn” – In actual fact, we are friends on a personal level, although we seldom have the chance to meet up these days. Through reading her blogs, I get updated on what’s happening in her life. I love how she adds a human touch to her blog, which is full of emotions.
Asia 361: What’s your secret for success?
Willy: I don’t dare to say I am very successful yet. Should I one day be as popular as Chua Lam, the famous food writer from Hong Kong, I would then consider myself to be a successful blogger. It is not easy to gain a following for your own blog. I once asked my readers, what attracted them to my blog? They told me my blog is not long-winded and goes straight to the point. So, I guess this is my unique selling point?
I constantly experiment with different things, such as making podcasts, writing ghost stories etc. I try to innovate and make an effort to elevate my skills, whilst consistently learning from others. I believe in not making self-praises – this has always been my philosophy.
Asia 361: Is it true that blogging can help you earn tons of money.
Willy: In Penang, there is no market for blogging as yet — which means there is nothing to be earned from blogging. Most partners I work with generally offer food tastings.
Asia 361: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Willy: There are no hard and fast rules in the blogging world. As a blogger, I believe in being responsible for the things you say and blog about. One rule I abide by is never to use blogging to make personal attacks on others, or to malign others. Have an open heart and be a civilised blogger.
In addition, I believe a good blog should be focussed. For instance, if you are writing about food, try not to heap praises on yourself or remark on how great your own palate is. The best approach is to simply introduce good food — that in my opinion makes a great piece.
Asia 361: Have you ever blogged about something and regretted having done so?
Willy: No, perhaps it’s because I have undergone training as a school reporter while I was still in high school. Thus, I understand how to exercise professionalism as media and will not cross boundaries while blogging.
Asia 361: Why do you blog?
Willy: It’s hard to say. Actually, I blog simply because I want to blog. However, more opportunities will come along as you get to know more people. People may change their mindset with the changes. I feel even if one wishes to use blogging as a reason to get out of the corporate race, he must fundamentally have a love for writing, and would then be able to travel further with that.
Asia 361: Ever had a travel experience which is unforgettable?
Willy: It was in Xi’an, China when I saw the terracotta army for the first time. I was so overwhelmed I nearly teared! It was really quite an emotional experience to see such historical artefacts right before my eyes. Perhaps it’s because I was Chinese-educated and used to be a Chinese teacher, that I have a particularly deep respect for Chinese culture.
Asia 361: What is the nastiest thing you have ever eaten?
Willy: I haven’t had any to date. If something looks nasty, I wouldn’t eat it in the first place. I know, that’s very unadventurous of me, right?
Asia 361: What is your list of top 3 questions never to ask a blogger?
Willy: You can ask me anything, but I can choose not to answer. *laughs*