Blogging and the business of Nuffnang

Nuffnang is an online blog advertising community launched by Timothy Tiah and his partner Cheo Ming Shen in February 2007. It was initially launched in Malaysia and Singapore.

It allows advertisers to serve graphics and video-based advertisements on blogs. Today, Nuffnang has a whopping 118,817 bloggers spanning Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia and reaches out to more than 100,000 blogs.

Nuffnang.com has grown immensely, with four offices in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Australia. On its second anniversary, Nuffnang hosted the region's first blog awards in Singapore which witnessed the attendance of over 400 bloggers from Asia Pacific. Nuffnang Malaysia launched Project Alpha, Malaysiaís first online TV show about bloggers in September 2009.

Tiah speaks to Diana Roslam about Nuffnang and the business of blogging.

Why did you decide to develop a blog advertising community?

Tiah: When I started blogging back in 2005, I met many bloggers and through them, I learned more about the blogging scene and how big it was. I used to wonder why there were no advertisers on blogs. My partner and I did some research and we felt that the blogging community needed an entity such as Nuffnang.

We wanted to connect the bloggers and collectively sell ad spaces to advertisers. On top of that, we wanted to build a community.

We started with small gatherings; through lunches and movie screenings with Nuffnang bloggers. Today, we have had many, many gatherings that involved hundreds of bloggers.

Nuffnang has done a lot of activities for their bloggers. Whatís the purpose?

Tiah: Mostly, itís all about having fun and getting to know each other. Before Nuffnang was around, there were already gatherings organised by bloggers. I attended a gathering at Wizard World, Sungei Wang Plaza, Kuala Lumpur, which was organised by two bloggers, Yee Hou and Jolene.

It was a success as some 30 or more bloggers went. The organisers were fantastic as they donned the role perfectly; from organising the activities to handling the costs incurred. The best part was that they weren't even getting anything out of it apart from the satisfaction of having everyone around. At the end, some bloggers had left without knowing that they had to pay for the food they ordered as they thought the venue had it covered. Imagine after all the work they put in, and still, they needed to find a way to fork out the money to pay for the food ordered.

It dawned on us (my partner and I) that if we were ever to start Nuffnang, there would be a lot of work, from organising events, handling costs, etc, so that all bloggers could focus on having fun mingling. Itís a vision that we both have worked for till today and it is something that Iím glad we did. Meeting and getting to know other bloggers is something we love to do; itís a personal passion of everyone in the Nuffnang team.

What do you think the future will be like for bloggers and the world of blogging?

Tiah: More and more people now have hopped on to micro-blogging services like Twitter. It's great as it takes the pressure off of having to update blogs every two, three days and lets you share news about yourself or anything within just 30 seconds by just typing on a phone. The media bloggers use will grow and evolve. The need and desire for bloggers to express themselves on the Internet wonít change. Bloggers are, after all, people, like you and me, with a powerful need to express their opinions. Today, they are using Twitter or Facebook. Tomorrow, it could be something else.

I'm excited to see what it's going to evolve to next.

What are the pros and cons of this business?

Tiah: It's really fun if you love social media and the blogosphere. I love meeting the people behind it, discussing how we can use social media to create brand awareness and meeting bloggers from different walks of life.

The challenge is having to constantly evolve to stay relevant and to stay ahead of the curve. Internet companies can grow at any time and speed, but they can also come down just as fast if we don't have our eyes on the ball.

What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

Tiah: Being an entrepreneur is just something I do. I wouldn't really call it a job; it's more a lifestyle that I'm lucky to adopt and it enables me to earn a small living from.

What are the qualities a person needs to become an entrepreneur?

Tiah: Here is a list of things I think you need:

* Integrity - I think itís the rock that helps you sleep at night no matter what kind of struggle you are going through. * Determination - as the journey is always hard and you have to keep on going. * A tad bit of foolishness. * The right group of people and mentors to support and advise you through. * And, of course, I feel the most important of all is luck.

What would be your advice to people who want to be entrepreneurs?

Tiah: The quote that I always use in life, when we face challenges or go through whatever life throws at us, "It's not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters".