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Saturday, 28 February 2009

Short Talk:

Blog Plug of the Day: desmondkiu.blogspot.com

Heard of a place called Bekenu in Sarawak? No? Me neither. It is so ulu kampung that even a Sarawakian like me never even heard of it. Believe it or not, Starbucks is opening up an outlet there, though it isn’t quite what I expected.

Nuffnang

In life, nobody ever goes through success alone.

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Everyone of us achieved success did it with the help and support from the people around us.

Throughout my four years, I have met countless incredible people who are never selfish in lending me a helping hand. Two people among the top of my list, are Timothy and Ming of Nuffnang.

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For those who don’t already know, Nuffnang is the largest blog advertising agency in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Australia.

A blog advertising agency functions much like a modelling agency. Except we do not model. That’s a good thing because we could probably make Nuffnang go bankrupt with our looks.

But Nuffnang functions similar to a modelling agency in that they get approached by corporate clients seeking to advertise in blogs, and Nuffnang then assign these jobs to the most suitable bloggers under their network.

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Today is Nuffnang’s second anniversary, and I thought I should write something here to pay tribute to this wonderful team of people whom I am very proud to be associated with since their inception.

I want to tell the story about how Nuffnang and I got started, because people do not know realise how much effort and drama went behind my signing with Nuffnang. Before I do, be warned that the story is a little long, and there is no punch line at the end of it. But even if you have no interests in blog advertising at all, I think this story have lessons in entrepreneurship, people and business skills that I am sure we can all benefit from.

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Blog advertising, as I knew it, is not exactly a new industry.

It may be relatively new compared to traditional forms of advertising like newspapers, TV or billboard ads. But in actual fact, advertising on blogs has been practised long before Nuffnang was founded. In Malaysia, I was one of the few ones fortunate enough to consistently receive 1 or 2 jobs a month from various advertisers without the help of an agency, and those gave me a small but decent supplement income.

The problem back then was that blog advertising was only limited to few selected high-traffic bloggers. The industry was extremely inconsistent, unregulated and unrefined.

So although there were no shortages of companies out there wanting to invest in blog advertising, they did not know how to do it or who to go to.

Compounding the problem is that every blogger has different rules and policies when it comes to blog advertising. How one blogger does things is very different from how the others do.

For example, you will never see Kenny Sia doing an ad for a laptop posing like this.

I just wouldn’t give the same effect as Cindy doing it.

It’s kinda like how in modelling, some models will pose nude and some won’t. Some bloggers will not do certain things asked for by the advertiser no matter how much money was put on the table. Advertisers were also confused as they wondered how come bloggers do not function like in the print media where they can just plonk a full-page ad in for RM 12,000 a day.

It was precisely due to these confusion that a lot of investment were lost, investment that could have been injected into the blog advertising industry but abandoned because advertisers were confused. But in February 2007, this bleak scenario was set to change when Timothy and Ming decided to start Nuffnang – an agency that focuses exclusively on blogs.

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Truth to be told, I was very sceptical when Timothy contacted me way back in January 2007, inviting me to join his “blog advertising network”. I was sceptical because plenty of other people had contacted me before to join in on their projects, and I always  turned them down either because I had no confidence in what they’re proposing or what they’re asking for seems to benefit them more than it benefits me or my readers. Why should I help them profit anyway?

Besides, I was comfortable with what I was already earning and I figured I could get by with the contacts I have in the industry. Apart from the convenience of having somebody representing me in Kuala Lumpur while I remain in Kuching, I simply could not see how I could benefit from joining Nuffnang at all.

I thought, why should I let an agency take a slice of my earnings as commission when I could do it all myself right?

Regardless, I stayed on and hear what Timothy had to say. My initial impression was that he was polite and humble, yet persistent in our correspondence. A couple of phone calls and e-mails later, I finally agreed to try out their service.

But that was only just the beginning of the drama.

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Around the same time, I was actually approached another similar to Nuffnang. They too, invited me to join their network. They too, appeared to offer similar, if not bigger and better payouts compared to Nuffnang. Many bloggers, including those with less than 1% of my traffic were getting paid very high rates, and on the surface it seemed almost too good to be true.

So when Nuffnang’s competitor spoke to me, I told him that he’s welcome to use me to pitch for jobs as well. After all, I don’t have to be exclusive to one agency. Foolishly, I thought that there was no harm signing up to two different agencies if both could offer me advertorial jobs.

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But what I never had expected, was that Nuffnang and the other agency were so fiercely competing with each other. In more than one occasion, both agencies were pitching the same job to the same advertisers, and both claimed to represent kennysia.com. Advertisers were confused. It was very bad for me and worse for the industry in general.

On my part, it was like having two lovers going after you at the same time. Sounds good in theory, but very bad idea in practice.

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Secretly though, I knew that because both agencies wanted my exclusivity badly, I was in the position to make ridiculous demands. ;) But of course I never did that because I believe in business, good people should not be taken advantage of. And Timothy and Ming seems like two good-natured people.

The battle between Nuffnang and the competitor raged on for several months.

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In the end, I wrote a long e-mail to the directors of both advertising agencies that I can only be committed to one.

The agency I choose shall be one that not only represents my best interests, but also shows potential in working hard for me and for Malaysian blogging community as a whole. In return, I pledged that once I make a business decision on which agency I award my exclusively to, I will do my very best to help them succeed and I will not let them down.

Timothy and Ming replied resignedly saying that they will accept whatever decision I make. Nuffnang’s competitor replied with this.

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I did not make my decision immediately. In fact, I spent the next three weeks evaluating which agency I wanted to represent me.

Nuffnang’s rival was quick to offer me a huge upfront payment for my exclusivity.

Nuffnang 0 – Competitor 1

 

But monetary compensation was actually the least of my concern.

The most important thing is that they need to show potential in representing my interests to the clients.

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Before either of them ventured into blog advertising, the rival agency has already been in the internet industry for a while and the boss has himself built quite an impressive number of leads and contacts. Nuffnang’s competitor was already better known in the internet industry.

Timothy on the other hand was a fresh graduate whose previous internet business experience was one cute website called Tuition Hamster.

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Nuffnang 0 – Competitor 2

 

Because I didn’t know Timothy nor his competitor all that well back then, but I seeked a lot of second opinion from those who knew them personally. Just like how schoolgirls often talked among themselves over which guy they should date, I did the same with my trusted circle of friends.

I don’t know what Timothy did, but that guy has got some seriously supportive friends. Out of 10 people I asked, 9 have nothing but good things to say about him.

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Nuffnang 1 – Competitor 2

 

Nuffnang also shows a lot of respect, integrity and sincerity in their way of doing business, which I like.

I got the feeling that they meant every word they said, and not just making empty promises. In Nuffnang, a lot effort was put into improving their product and services. The two bosses were very focused and determined to do their best. Very rarely do you see Nuffnang waste time in slagging off competition.

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Nuffnang 2 – Competitor 2

 

The last thing I did was run a search through all my e-mails, comments and their blogs to see if any of them had ever talked shit about me. ;)

I wasn’t expecting fanboy comments of course. I just wanted to check if they are one of those scumbags who would spend day and night belittling you, then suddenly turn around and act nice just because they wanted something from you. Too many of those leeches exist in the business world.

Turns out that Timothy had left comments on my blog every now and then since 2005. The competitor on the hand, had never even participated in my blog at all.

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Nuffnang 3 – Competitor 2

 

Eventually I made my decision.

Although the competitor has a more experience and offered me more money, in the end it was Nuffnang’s sincerity that won me over. On the 15th May 2007, I gave Timothy the phone call to inform him of my decision.

Over the next several months, I passed on virtually all my leads and industry contacts for him to work on. I encouraged other bloggers to give them a chance to tryout their service. I gave them a small advertising space on my blog for free, which they must work hard to fill up. They did not disappoint.

On their side, they held several large-scale social events, discovered interesting bloggers no one heard of and most importantly - promoted to the commercial world that blogs are a legitimate and effective advertising avenue alongside television, newspapers, billboards and radio.

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It would be an understatement to say that Nuffnang made an impact on the blogging community, because they virtually uprooted and completely revolutionized the way the media and advertising industry look at blogs.

For two 20+ year olds with no experience in advertising whatsoever, that is very impressive.

Nuffnang had not only fulfilled all their promises they made to me, but they did so much more. Many other bloggers two years ago who would never have the chance to earn any income and now doing well enough to even have it as their regular income.

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My partnership with Nuffnang has been synergistic and fruitful to say the least. Yet even until today, Timothy and Ming never rested on their laurels and opened up branches in places as farflung as Australia.

As I embark on my journey to start my own business this year, I am sure I’ll find myself constantly drawing lessons I learnt from my experience with Tim and Ming.

Anyway, this might sound a bit gay but I am gonna say it anyhow.

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Congratulations to the both of you on your second anniversary!

83 Comments

Unregistered

DONT DISS TUITION HAMSTER!!!!!!

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wow... they really impressed me.

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if we intend for good, things will turn out good too

Registered

Your story sure are good. ^^

Unregistered

thats seriously an inspirational story. BTW, what happened to the rival company? still in operation?

Registered

I dint know that tuitionhamster is managed by them one .

btw , that rival... hmm.....


advertlets ?

Unregistered

This is a great tribute. A lesson in choosing partners, maybe not just for business.

With this kind of attitude, all challenges should be surmountable.

BTW, you seem to talk only about Timothy, what about the other guy? Is he the background, churning the numbers guy?

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Here here....

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very interesting.I follow your blog articles and they are influential and informative.

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happy birthday to nuffnang~

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You're damn right it's lucky it's not a modelling agency...

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Hahah Nuffnang >>>>> Advertlets!
Congrats to Nuffnang!

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Thanks for lifting up my spirits today with fabulous inspirational tales about them. Coincidently I am feeling sore with their biggest competitor who just sent me a stabbing email.

Unregistered

*sniff sniff*

Cries

Unregistered

Very thorough findings, deep thoughts and finally you make the best choice. You impress me.

Registered

Nice & impressive lesson. I think the humbleness & enthusiasm from both entrepreneurs are the key for you to qualified them at last

Unregistered

Dear Kenny,

Yes I agree that Nuffnang is the best and revolutionary blog advertiser around.
It transcends all the stigmas associated with Malaysian racial, religious, social standing and other known impeding boundaries.
However, please if you could read my recent predicament with Nuffnang's posting in a free web hosting blog such as mine....

http://nasirudinanjud.blogspot.com/2009/02/notice.html

Thank you, I enjoy reading your youthful and exuberance blog.

Yours sincerely.

Unregistered

Absolute splendid work from both of them.. both of them are brilliant entrepreneur in such a young age.

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appreciate that nuffang gave us plenty of quality advertistments
=)

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To many more good memories ahead, cheers! Thank you Kenny.

Unregistered

Damn touching wei :D

I like nuffnang so much than advertlets.

Unregistered

As a fair judgment given out, Nuffnang was true and honored their promises. The rival did closed down once and even failed to pay their bloggers despite the promises of a higher pay. So, what is there good if you can't even pay? I've to say Nuffnang is the fresh face of Malaysian advertising, and Boss Tim as the cute and nice guy mascot of Nuffnang compared to the rival agency who had a boss mascot that looked more like a TV villain. Muahaha...

I'm sure LOOKS MATTERS even if this is not a modelling agency.

Unregistered

great!

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Hi Kenny, it's very nice of you to post something like this. I guess Nuffnang brought a lot of people together too!

Registered

Hope to c more of nuffnang. Thanks Kenny.

Unregistered

Hi kenny.. this is an interesting entry. keep up the good work..
btw, i need to ask you a favour, to be a speaker at our campaign entitled civic mindedness.

it would really be helpful if you could help us out, because we think you are one of the best person to talk on this topic.

please email me if you are interested.
thank you very much.

Unregistered

Inspiring indeed, both for us bloggers and entrepreneurs-to-be, that it doesn't always take money to move someone, it's the passion, sincerity and the meaning that counts.

I'm honored to be part of Nuffnang too! ^v^

Registered

Congrats to Nuffnang and the founders ;)

Unregistered

Wonderful writing man.. you rock!

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Hi Kenny, I just want to let you know that your RSS isn't working for the past few weeks.. do you mind fixing it? :)

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Wow I just recently signed up for Nuffnang ads and now I see this. A well written history of what I enrolled for. Good stuff :)

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Good post mate, its great of you to be so open with your sharing in your thought process.

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That's a really tough one to get your exclusivity... And this post made me change my opinion towards nuffnang completely... I guess I'll have to work hard to upgrade my blog too... i seriously think that you and nuffnang rocks

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Happy 2nd birthday to Nuffnang!

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I SALUTE!!!

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Kenny, you made the right choice!

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Kenny, you made the right choice!

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Superb! Happy Anniversary Nuffnang!

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interesting indeed. =)

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Nice one..I didn't know that they're opening a branch for aus..cool

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I am a frequent reader of your blog too, though this is my only comment here. You have more people participating here than you thought :-)

Beside, i am still grateful to you for what you have done for us. Stay cute.

Registered

I would say Nuffnang have more youngster while the competitor have more babes :)

But both providing us the opportunity to get some side income right?

I wish I will be selected for exclusivity too! That's my target ;p

Anyway, how is ur "Lawn" doing? Growing well? I believe the hair that growing out now would be stronger and thicker in diameter!

Unregistered

beautiful post (:

Unregistered

One good post, something informative and true to it's nature. It was Timothy too that made my decision to joined him as well.

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Yes, I also made the right decision and was also in the same predicament as you except that I was good friends with Nuffnang's competitor. This actually questioned my friendship with Competitor X but I decided to do what was best for me and my blog readers.

With regards to Nuffnang's success, I'd say credits have to be given to the other competitor too because of the fierce competition, that's why it spurred Nuffnang to push further and likewise as this continues as long as Competitor X is still surviving.

That being said, I'm glad to be on the stronger bandwagon. Professional, stable and consistent. That's what I love about Nuffnang. No regrets.

And Kenny, it's also from your blog (I can tell which ones are Advertorials), that I was convinced that Nuffnang's a great blog ad network.

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Nuffnang. Kudos to Tim and Ming (never met Ming before personally). I always seem to accidentally miss their Nuffnang events - always out of town. Grrr..

Unregistered

But Kenny Sia if you wear a beekeenee & pose like me I think more people would wanna see leh! *imagine~ LOL...

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I have been subscribing to kennysia.com feed and it proves to be both educational and entertaining blog ever in Malaysia!

I hope Kenny could share his business philosophy/experience and his perspective/case study in interpersonal relationship.

When read about his confession of personal life (break off with gf etc), I say this guy got guts and nuts!

Well done Kenny!

Unregistered

very well documented, I think you represent what most of us was thinking back then.

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haha this is how i know nuffnang:

kennysia > audrey > sweatlee > nuffnang

u've done a good job all these while!

Unregistered

i salute sincere ppl like timothy, ming n u cz is hard2find sincere ppl in this earth anymor

Unregistered

Just to point out that there is no such word as "seeked". The word should have been "sought". Just a suggestion here : you may like to run your blog entry through a spelling and grammar check before publishing it. You are very creative in your writing but better spelling and grammar will make it even more appealing. It takes only a very short amount of time for great results!

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i like that

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Ah :) this was an interesting read hitting close to home. yea Tim's definitely one of the few people i have great respect for, professionally and personally. I don't need to say much more, we're all familiar with that :)

Cant say i know ming though, but he shares the exact same name with my best friend MingShen, who's a girl ;p haha. which could be a good thing, because of course i love my best friend :p

Unregistered

Lengthy decision. But, "all's is fair in love and war"quoted. Just do what you want to(^^)

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Congrats Nuffnang, Integrity is the most solid foundation to build-on.

Reputation is everything in Business.

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happy bday nuffnang!

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ahh.. sentimental. haha!

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Thanks ya, it is informative for me :)

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Kudos to Nuffnang. Where's the fun if there's no Nuffnang.

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Nuffnang sounds sincere, so as this entry...

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lol kenny. lately ur posts have been so so damn lame. that's y ur traffic is steeply decreasing by the hour. pls post more quality stuff kenny.

kennysia.com

what is that you like to read?

Unregistered

kenny be original.
be yourself.

Registered

this *IS* him. doh

Unregistered

I think your material is getting more mature and educational. Press on. :-)

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hm.. i still remember that old stickman logo of nuffnang. i think i'm register my blog on nuffnang 2 week after their official launching. time fly.. it's 2 years already.. happy 2nd anniversary to nuffnang!

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I was lucky enough to meet Ming when he visited Perth early this year! I really want Nuffnang to succeed here in Australia, but I'm worried coz the blogging community here is scarce. :(

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Happy birthday Nuffnang!!

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you know what's funny? I was on a bus from Singapore to KL and it was raining badly so the bus driver didn't want to stop but everyone wanted to go to the bathroom. At least 8 people made a dash for it. We got drenched! When we all came back in looking like drowned rats, the guy sitting next to me was saying that the bus should've had umbrellas (why didn't they think of that?) We were all freezing, man! I asked him what he was going to KL for, and he said it was for work. Turns out I was sitting next to the founder of nuffnang!! What a small world! And I literally just started my own website (jojostruys.com) so we were having a chat about the blogging industry :)

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hmm... good ideas!

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my birthday on 15/5! so honoured!

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Aw,

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Its a no brainer nuffnang won... adverlets is run by a guy who talks bigger than he can deliver... most in the industry know he is all just full of hot air ... Kenny u made the right choice

Unregistered

tat is so true wat u said abt founder of adverlets. he's always trying to get girls to go out wit him. tat's nornal, tat's alright. the problem with him is tat if the date didnt work out (honestly, who wants to b wit a freak like him), he'd spread rumours abt the girls. it happened to 2 of my gfs already. watch out!

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o ya can i just add tat the guy's name is josh / joshua? watever!

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Loved this post...
I never knew much about Nuffnang before this... Kinda amazed at how determined and focused the people behind it are.

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I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Betty

http://desktopmemory.info

Registered

josh lim so pwnd :P

Unregistered

When can Nuffnang accept other Asian countries and do they have affiliate referral codes?

Unregistered


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Unregistered

Teached me alots when i read this. Much more to learn. Thanks for this article. Keep moving foward kenny...

Unregistered

happy bday nuffnang, though i'm very late. Making Malaysia proud!

Unregistered

thats interesting...i never kew that nuffnang started like that..

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