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Hongkiat Lim Interview – Quitting Your Day Job To Become a Problogger

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Could you describe what you do and how you earn your living Hongkiat?

I’m a web designer come developer and a blogger. I do design project, consultation on daily basis. Part of my earning also come from blogging.

Nearly 2 years ago you decided to hand in your notice and resigned from your day job to become a Problogger, how has this transition gone for you?

It has been good and I’ve not regret that decision. I realized I’ve got a more and better time flexibility. I get to do what I really like, it’s like enjoying with your hobby on daily basis and get paid at the same time.

I understand that your friends and colleagues tried to put you off the idea of quitting your day job, do you think it was worth the risk?

A lot of my friends were skeptical with the decision I make. It’s totally understandable, I mean it’s really something risky 2-3 years ago as there’s not too many successful example. I let my heart take control, and it’s worth the risk and totally paying back.

You are now currently living the Internet Lifestyle, what does the Internet Lifestyle mean to you?

To me, you are probably living the Internet Lifestyle when you don’t buy papers any more, and instead you depend a lot of Yahoo, CNN news. You check emails very often, check out prices of stuff online before buying stuff, being very active in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. You communicate more in Instant Messenger that you do verbally.

What advice would you give to a new blogger trying to drive traffic to their website? Could you share an example of the effects?

I think driving traffic to a site is not too hard, but keeping them is. So I’ll suggest bloggers to start with writing a good number of quality post (say 30-40) without worrying about traffics. Then continue the pace, be active in social networks and slowly promote the new post. Good entries will hit and when it does, people will crawl deeper into the site looking for more articles to read. And when they do found, you’ve just got yourself a returning visitors.

You are known as one of the authority websites in the Web Design and Development Niche. What advice would you give a new blogger to dominating their niche?

To dominate your niche, you got be part of it, and be really interested in it. I’m a designer and web developer myself, but if I’m not passionate about designs and web developing, I’ll never have good idea for my next entries.

When you first started blogging did you model yourself on anyone? How did you learn how to be a “Problogger” and do so well with your first blog?

I modeled myself on a lot of people, particularly bloggers from my country that had blogged for quite some time – LiewCF, FriedBeef & PaulTan for instance. The good thing I found learning from your locals is – you can meet them up personally and that makes sharing of ideas easier.

“Problogger” is a very subjective term to me. Some defines it as “professional blogger with high traffics”, some say “full time blogger” is also Problogger. I’d say it’s a bit of both, together with some good years of blogging experience. To be honest, I did not learned to be one, but I turned problogging the day I quit my day job and my daily expenses depend on it.

I have been a reader of your blog for quite sometime and notice the large amount of Top Lists you do, what are the benefits of doing top lists over normal blog posts?

As a designer I surfed a lot, looking for free stuff, resources and tips I can adapt. Then I notice I’ll do the same thing again few weeks later on a different project. So I thought, it’d be a great idea if I research once, compile the great ones. That’s the main reason why you see so many “top lists” in It’s my personal bookmark of great stuff, and it’ll certainly be useful for others too.

Working less and making more money sounds like a good deal to me, have you got any tips for getting more done in less time?

2 things I noticed that had help me greatly in reducing the amount of working time, and increase in efficiency.

Instruments and setups – I use a Macbook pro and I carefully choose the exactly application that meet my needs. On top of that, I also organize the bookmarks, folders and arrangement of files so they are always easily accessible.

Environment – To be able to focus, I work in room under dim light that blocks out noise.

What advice would you give to people just starting out with an online business?

Study the market and your niche first before jumping into it.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what advice would you give yourself regarding making money online?

The thing about making money online to me is – 1 dollar save in expenses is a dollar earned. I’m spending a lot of money on bandwidths and servers. So if I can go back in time, I will want to carefully plan the foundation of the site (images, codes, structures), which I believe will lead to a big saving of money if they are properly optimized.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

It would be – don’t put all your eggs in the same basket. The “egg” here can mean “traffic”, “earnings’, and even “blog”.

Thanks very much for the interview, Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?

They are couple of plans in “planning”, mainly I’ll still stick with sharing great resources but something more niche.

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  1. Sumit Shah says:

    I just loved the whole conversation. Its so inspiring and the best part is everyone can imagine one self in Hongkiat shoes. Seriously I liked it.
    Great work.

  2. Stuart Wooster says:

    Informative site he has there, bookmarked 🙂

    “So if I can go back in time, I will want to carefully plan the foundation of the site (images, codes, structures), which I believe will lead to a big saving of money if they are properly optimized.”

    Something I really haven’t paid much attention to and I’d think you need to do that correctly from the start so you don’t develop bad habits that affect your future.

    • Thats a top tip for sure! I would of saved over $5,000 if I did it right from the begining!

  3. Scott :: says:

    Yet another great interview, good luck to him! And thanks Michael!

  4. Sumit Shah says:

    Well i loved it for 3 reasons

    1. I could see myself very much there
    2. Its quite inspiring
    3. Some questions were more interesting than the answers

  5. Marketing Blog says:

    Great interview. are your interviews done by email or phone – or are they done with a combination?

    • All so far through email but this one was done over MSN. I expect to bring in some video and audio interviews soon 🙂

  6. Shane Hudson says:

    Amazing interview! It is impressive how many people are now blogging full time.

  7. Sophie Marston says:

    Brilliant interview!

  8. Scott weaver says:

    Thanks for the interview mike!

  9. girliegeek3152 says:

    He’s Living My Dream! I want my interview in two years!

  10. Albert Ng says:

    Good interview. Any earnings info?

  11. Great interview. I really like hes advice on driving traffic to ones website.

  12. What a great guy. He do what he need (resources) and earn from that. Congrats!

  13. “don’t put all your eggs in the same basket” – I always think of that quote when it comes to investments, but I never applied that to making money with a blog. That has changed my views on making money with a blog.

  14. Hongkiat, I have 2 questions for you.

    Does anybody help you to find some of the articles(or pictures) you blog about?

    How many hours do you put into blogging?

  15. Amulekone says:

    Hongkiat great interview.
    But how long did it take you
    to really start earning big bucks online?

  16. EMMANUEL says:

    I am really curious about the absence of Africans on your least.Could you please tell me why.And secondly I’d really want to know what an African blogger or online entreprenure is missing as there seem to be non actually making money commenting from your list.

  17. Jackysltan says:

    need your advice on how to ensure i can be like you , because i already tender my resignation and want to be a problogger like you. What is the first step i need to do and how to do it ! I need more time so i must sacrify my existing jobs >80K annual income…What do you say ?

  18. Nikolai says:

    Inspiring interview, thanks Michael 🙂

  19. Petites annonces says:

    Niiice post thanks so much for this useful info

  20. hongkiat says:

    Sorry for the late reply.

    @Damilik Yeah, I do have a co-author who post articles once in a while. Most of the stuff listing are researched done either by me, or group effort of me and my co-authors. User suggestions (in email, comments) also play a big part.

    1 article usually take around few days to a week. We do few articles simultaneously. Hope this helps! 🙂

    @Jackysltan Looking from a financial standpoint – If you are earning >80k/annual and you really hate your job, and you think your current blog earning can give you at least 60%-75% of that revenue, then I can say you are safe to tender. Else it’ll look risky.

  21. Wow.. another great interview.. I’m also a reader..

  22. Thanks Michael for the great interview.
    Hong Kiat is my blogging idol in my country. Hoping one day I also can become an authority blogger like him.

  23. you ask all the right questions–from all the right ppl—and more importantly the ppl you r interviewing must trust you because they give excellent responses—you def have a gift—-i will b following you and have already told several friends to do the same—keep up the fantastic work—i look forward to thanking you personally for my inevitable success as a direct result from your advise!!! much success to you and yours—sue

  24. wow, cant believe i havnt read this one before! awsome interview.

  25. Kelly Salcedo says:

    Inspiring indeed. As a new blogger, I’ve really appreciated the advice for first-timers. Thank you!

  26. Interview Tips says:

    What a great interview… Blogging is a great way to make a income!

  27. I must disagree about not putting all the eggs in one basket. Yes, something may happen and you run into losses, BUT… what I learn from experience is that 1 big basket brings more money than 10 small ones. For example, having 10 blog, each of which receives 50k pageviews a month won’t be as effectively monetized as 1 website that gets 500k page views, right?