The #HighlySoughtAfter Talk Show

How to create engaging financial content on social media – SGBudgetBabe

January 01, 2021 Season 1 Episode 2
The #HighlySoughtAfter Talk Show
How to create engaging financial content on social media – SGBudgetBabe
Chapters
The #HighlySoughtAfter Talk Show
How to create engaging financial content on social media – SGBudgetBabe
Jan 01, 2021 Season 1 Episode 2

In this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter, I sat down with Dawn Cher (fondly know as SG Budget Babe), one of Singapore’s most popular financial bloggers. Her blog boasts of 12 million views and she gets over 60K unique views per post! 

 

Pay special attention to 28:06 when Dawn revealed her content writing secret that make even the most boring content interesting and credible. 
 
 Also listen out for her answers to the following questions. 

  •  What led you to start your blog SG Budget Babe? 1:37
  • What were your initial struggles? (And how did you overcome them?) 3:35
  • What was your epiphany (aha moment) that led you to have the kind of influence that you have today? (over 60K unique views per post!) 10:20
  • What was your favourite post and why? 11:43
  • What would you advise entrepreneurs who are trying to find their unique voice? 23:53
  • How do you prevent yourself from getting into legal trouble? 25:39
  • What are some of your content writing secrets? 28:06
  • How do you find trending topics? 30:39
  • How did you leverage on social media to help your blog gain more awareness? 34:15
  • What is your creative process? 38:35
  • What are your thoughts on other agents’ attempts to blog? 39:12
  • What if your passion isn’t in the area of your profession? What should they write about? 41:43

 
If you want to keep in touch with Dawn, you can reach her on Instagram @sgbudgetbabe

Thank you for listening to this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter! 

If you enjoyed this episode, please help me hit the ‘subscribe’ button if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts or hit the ‘follow’ button if you are listening on Spotify. 
 
I would also love to hear your biggest takeaway from this episode! Here’s how: take a screenshot of you listening to #HighlySoughtAfter and tag me on Instagram. My handle is @ericgoesglobal. This way, I can personally thank you! 

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter, I sat down with Dawn Cher (fondly know as SG Budget Babe), one of Singapore’s most popular financial bloggers. Her blog boasts of 12 million views and she gets over 60K unique views per post! 

 

Pay special attention to 28:06 when Dawn revealed her content writing secret that make even the most boring content interesting and credible. 
 
 Also listen out for her answers to the following questions. 

  •  What led you to start your blog SG Budget Babe? 1:37
  • What were your initial struggles? (And how did you overcome them?) 3:35
  • What was your epiphany (aha moment) that led you to have the kind of influence that you have today? (over 60K unique views per post!) 10:20
  • What was your favourite post and why? 11:43
  • What would you advise entrepreneurs who are trying to find their unique voice? 23:53
  • How do you prevent yourself from getting into legal trouble? 25:39
  • What are some of your content writing secrets? 28:06
  • How do you find trending topics? 30:39
  • How did you leverage on social media to help your blog gain more awareness? 34:15
  • What is your creative process? 38:35
  • What are your thoughts on other agents’ attempts to blog? 39:12
  • What if your passion isn’t in the area of your profession? What should they write about? 41:43

 
If you want to keep in touch with Dawn, you can reach her on Instagram @sgbudgetbabe

Thank you for listening to this episode of #HighlySoughtAfter! 

If you enjoyed this episode, please help me hit the ‘subscribe’ button if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts or hit the ‘follow’ button if you are listening on Spotify. 
 
I would also love to hear your biggest takeaway from this episode! Here’s how: take a screenshot of you listening to #HighlySoughtAfter and tag me on Instagram. My handle is @ericgoesglobal. This way, I can personally thank you! 

Dawn:

Write on topic that you're genuinely interested in, and really focus on just being you. Because the truth is, everyone else is already taken. When you try too hard to be like someone else online, people can tell. Especially when you write online, where there are so many audiences, surely one person would know if you're plagiarized or if you're trying to be a wannabe of someone else? So, you don't need any of that. And it's harder work. It's easier to just be yourself.

Eric Feng:

Hi, this is Eric here, and you're listening to #HighlySoughtAfter. Welcome to #HighlySoughtAfter, and today we have with us a very special guest. She's known as SG Budget Babe, but she's not just known in SG, Singapore, she's also very well known in Malaysia. Her blog has 7.2 million reads and 25,000 eyeballs on a monthly basis. She blogs about finance, and most recently, parenting. So, please join me to welcome Dawn. Hello.

Dawn:

Hello. Hi, guys. Thanks for having me on your show. 

Eric Feng:

No, thank you for making time. I heard that you just became a mom.

Dawn:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eric Feng:

[Nate's 00:01:08] just one year old.

Dawn:

No, four months. 

Eric Feng:

Only four months old?

Dawn:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Eric Feng:

So that was a one-month birthday, the one that we spoke about? 

Dawn:

The full month birthday. 

Eric Feng:

The full month birthday.

Dawn:

Yeah, you can do the first month or the 100 days. So, we had a full month for relatives only, and then we had 100 days for friends and family. 

Eric Feng:

Has Nate changed your life?

Dawn:

A lot. I think becoming a mom teaches you to see things from a lot of new perspectives. And you become less selfish, in a sense. You really start to think of more people. 

Eric Feng:

Then I think everybody should have a baby. Maybe tell us a little bit about your blog. How did you got started?

Dawn:

Basically, I've always loved writing. When I was young, I really wanted to be a child book author. I used to tell my parents, "I want to have my books on the library-"

Eric Feng:

Shelves.

Dawn:

"Shelf for people to borrow. And then I'll go out and sign autographs on those books." But then my parents, being Asian parents, were just like, "You know, you can't earn money being a writer. Look at Singapore writers. Do you know of any famous and rich ones?"

Eric Feng:

The True Singapore Ghost Stories. During my time, there's this guy. He's always in a mask. And I read all his books as a kid. Book ten, I think.

Dawn:

Yeah. He was not bad. But generally, they're not rich. So, he was talking about how writers don't get paid a lot, so they kind of swayed me to do other stuff. But I really always have just loved writing. And then back in 2014, I was just thinking, and I was telling my then-boyfriend, now-husband, I was saying, "Oh, usually after work, I'm quite bored. What should I do?" And he was like, what do you like to do? And I'm like, "Well, I love dancing and I love writing." He's like, then go dance more. "But, expensive. Every time, I got to pay for so many dance classes." And there's a limit, right? So then he was like, then you write. Like, oh, okay. Write on a blog, free.

            Then I was stumped. I was like, I don't know what to write about. Because I can write about a lot of things, but I don't feel like writing about myself, and my life is not really interesting. He was like, well, you have this good friend, [Joyce 00:02:54]. And when you go out, you always disappear for two, three hours, and you all talk non-stop.

Eric Feng:

That's a long time.

Dawn:

Yeah. With Joyce, we are watching this. It's really thanks to you. But anyway, you're saying you're always talking with her for so long. Why don't you just write something that you always talk to her about? And I was like, "Oh, that's a good idea." That actually started it and was the basis for my very first post, which was titled, How I Saved 20,000 A Year. And then from there, everything else is history.

Eric Feng:

So, that was your first post?

Dawn:

Yeah. My very first post.

Eric Feng:

When I was searching on Dawn, I was looking at all the posts that she had written. And my favorite article was actually How I Saved $20,000 In A Year. And that ironically, turned out to be ... Coincidentally, your first post. 

Dawn:

Yeah. My very first post.

Eric Feng:

In 2014.

Dawn:

Yeah.

Eric Feng:

Initially when you started your blog, did you have any struggles, challenge?

Dawn:

Not too much. For me, writing has always come quite naturally. I think it's more of, back then it was a struggle between wanting to stay private. That was what made me put up my picture as a cartoon person.

Eric Feng:

Yeah. You'll see it. It says SG Budget Babe, right? And we need update it to SG Budget Mom now.

Dawn:

But it doesn't look like me, except brown hair.

Eric Feng:

Brown hair.

Dawn:

New headband. We need to relearn, right?

Eric Feng:

I think we all have avatars. In fact, I thought that the avatar was a very wise choice, because it makes us very curious about, who's this brains behind this article that you wrote?

Dawn:

Yeah. And the funny thing was back then, on that 20,000 article, there was this reader who commented. And she had a Facebook or a Google profile, I think. And then everyone thought that that was me. 

Eric Feng:

Oh my God. Did you clear it up?

Dawn:

Oh, she came and told me. She was like, "Hey, everyone's thinking this is me." I was like, "Oh, okay. Guys, this is not me, by the way. That is just someone who commented on the post."

Eric Feng:

Eventually, did people actually know how you look like?

Dawn:

Yeah. Eventually, I think in 2015 or '16, when I was [inaudible 00:04:46], she told me to be a bit more public. So I started stepping out bit by bit.

Eric Feng:

Oh my God. So, two years of anonymous writing. Tell us a little bit about your spikes. Were there significant spikes in that four years? Because I mean it's no mean feat, to have 7.2 million people who read. 7.2, reads. How do you do that? What was your formula?

Dawn:

Honestly, I think it's combination of passion and luck, and really just being blessed by how much my readers enjoy the content that I'm writing so that they will want to learn. I think the spikes that you're talking about, of course the first one would have been the very first article.

Eric Feng:

That was lucky break for you, right?

Dawn:

Yeah.

Eric Feng:

Most of us have to write for, what? One year, before our article gets a spike.

Dawn:

Yeah. People always think I plan it. The truth is, I didn't.

Eric Feng:

Okay. I need to know. How did your brain come up with this title, How To Save 20,000 A Year? Is that something that you talked to Joyce about, during that season of life?

Dawn:

I talk a lot about saving money. Joyce and I were friends, and we talk a lot about finances, how to grow our incomes, what kind of expenses, what to spend on and what not to. But when I was putting together a title, I wanted something simple. It just came to me quite naturally out of the blue one day, how I saved 20,000 in a year. And then I was like, hey, that sounds pretty okay. Let me just use that title.

Eric Feng:

Let's pause there. Let's get the blog out of the way, first. I want to know you as a person. How do you nurture the passion for finance?

Dawn:

I think it's my background. I'm from a middle-income family, but we've always struggled with money. My mom was retrenched during the Asian financial crisis, and my dad has been in a job where his salary hasn't been fantastic, nor has it been really growing over the years. It's been pretty much constant. When I was about 16 or 17, and I was thinking whether to go to polytechnic or JC after my O levels, I really wanted to go to polytechnic. 

Eric Feng:

Why?

Dawn:

To be specific, I wanted Ngee Ann Poly, because I wanted to learn media and writing. But my parents, you know, being Asian parents, "You can't earn much being a media person. You don't earn much being a writer." So, they wanted me to study science. And because I was the [inaudible 00:06:54] daughter back then, very-

Eric Feng:

Well behaved daughter.

Dawn:

The good, Asian daughter. I was like, okay. Why don't we make a deal? I will listen to you for the next two years. And I will go into JC if you want me to. And I'll even do the science stream. But in return, if I do well enough in my JC to get into any course that you want me to get into for university, then you have to respect my choice. Back then, they were pretty sure I wouldn't stick to it. But I did, because writing really is my passion, even though they couldn't really see or understand it. In my JC, I got straight As in the end.

Eric Feng:

Whoa. Smarty. 

Dawn:

I could get into any course that I wanted. And then I told them, I want to do writing. I want to go in the media, and then I went to NTU.

Eric Feng:

How do you nurture the passion for writing?

Dawn:

It was just an inbuilt thing from young.

Eric Feng:

Inbuilt? Since young?

Dawn:

Yeah. I love reading, and I love writing. When I was young, I even did mini story books. I pretended I was an author and publisher, so I'd illustrate stick figure drawings, and I would write my own stories.

Eric Feng:

Could it be your mom made you read a lot when you were young?

Dawn:

Might have been. Maybe she did something to me when I was a kid. Maybe she spent lots of time reading to me, and that just built-

Eric Feng:

Moms, if you want your children in future to be good writers, start reading to them. What books did you read when you were young?

Dawn:

Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl.

Eric Feng:

I love Roald Dahl.

Dawn:

I love Roald Dahl. He's amazing, right?

Eric Feng:

Yeah, I love him.

Dawn:

And then Harry Potter. I was reading-

Eric Feng:

Oh, so you were from the Harry Potter era?

Dawn:

Yes, of course. I love Harry Potter. I'm a Hufflepuff. I did the quiz.

Eric Feng:

Oh, okay. I would love to be a Gryffindor. Thank you.

Dawn:

I'd love to be a Gryffindor, but I was a Hufflepuff in the end. 

Eric Feng:

How do you know that you're a Hufflepuff in the end?

Dawn:

You take the Pottermore quiz. It's online.

Eric Feng:

Oh, it's definitely a big fan.

Dawn:

Yeah. I went to Harry Potter Studios for my-

Eric Feng:

In London?

Dawn:

Yeah. In London, for the babymoon, last year. I was reading Harry Potter already by Primary 3. 

Eric Feng:

I see. You start reading, so therefore you enjoy writing. But why finance? You were saying about your situation, right?

Dawn:

Yeah. My parents told me they didn't have money to send me to university. Or, I don't know if that's because I wanted my course and not theirs. Maybe if I said I wanted to be a dentist, then they will say otherwise.

Eric Feng:

They will save money. Oh, we have strong money.

Dawn:

Anyway, they told me they had no money to pay for my university. And my parents' situation is such that they can only be the banker for one more person. And that, obviously, was going to be my younger sister and not me.

Eric Feng:

Why?

Dawn:

Baby of the family, right? So, I had to find my own way around. The only way I could think of, I knock on various doors. I went to friends, parents, relatives, and I was like, "Will you loan me money for my university?"

Eric Feng:

You did that?

Dawn:

Yeah. My best friend mom actually was going to lend me. But not very nice, right? In the end, I figured the best way is really to go and get a scholarship. So, I studied really hard. And prior to that, I'm not an intelligent person. I don't think I'm smart. But I did manage to get my straight As, and that got me my scholarship in the end.

Eric Feng:

So, you had strong motivation.

Dawn:

Yeah. And then the other thing was also when I was in university, I really wanted to go on exchange. But if you didn't have money, you want more on exchange. And I didn't have a program on my scholarship for exchange. So, I had to work and save up money, and be conscious about the pocket money my university was giving me every month to save enough to get through my exchange program.

Eric Feng:

I see. A lot of it has got to do with your background.

Dawn:

I think so, yes.

Eric Feng:

There's a saying that your setbacks are usually setup for your future, with truth, your comeback.

Dawn:

Yeah, I think so.

Eric Feng:

I think it happened to you.

Dawn:

Yeah.

Eric Feng:

Okay. Now we know a little bit about you. We know that because of your background, you were interested in finance or savings. And also that you enjoy writing. So, these two kind of came together. You had your big break, December. Do you remember the date?

Dawn:

22nd, I think.

Eric Feng:

I think so, right? December 22nd, 2014, How I Saved 20,000 In A Year. How do you know that that article became a success?

Dawn:

Well, I was just sharing on my personal Facebook page back then. I didn't even set up my actual Budget Babe Facebook page or anything. And all of a sudden, one day I woke up, and when I click on the page ... I love to read my own writings as well. I'm my own biggest fan. I click on it one day, and at the top of my mobile screen, I saw 200 were shared. And I'm like, oh, whoa. And then it became 2,000. Then it became 20,000. And then all of a sudden, my friends were texting me, saying, "Oh, I'm in office right now and my colleague just showed me your blog." 

Eric Feng:

Let me clarify, your blog wasn't really a blog, right? Because you weren't on a platform. You were blogging on Facebook.

Dawn:

No, on Blogspot.

Eric Feng:

Oh, you were blogging on Blogspot but you shared the post on Facebook.

Dawn:

On my personal Facebook, yeah. I didn't have a proper Facebook page that you will expect from a blogger blogger. I didn't have that at all.

Eric Feng:

How did you feel when you saw 2,000, and then 20,000 shares?

Dawn:

I think part of it was just, it's adding numbers wrong. But I think as a writer, you do want to have people reading, and it helps to motivate you. Because when you know more people are reading your work, you are more motivated to write even more. And that's just how every writer, every singer, basically anyone who does something for the public would react. That really motivated me to write a bit more.

            And then my second post, after the 20,000, if I remember correctly was breaking down how exactly I did it, 20,000. Because lots of people are asking, well, how much did you save? How much did you earn in order to save that much? And what were the other tips? Any other hacks that you didn't share with us, can you elaborate more on that?

Eric Feng:

And that created so much content for you.

Dawn:

Yeah. And then from there was just very natural.

Eric Feng:

I have a post here, right in front of me. I'm very curious to read the comments. First of all, do you manage to analyze How I Saved 20,000 A Year? Why do you think that article was so popular back then for Singaporeans? 

Dawn:

I think now on hindsight, it is not common for people to grow up talking about how much money they have. I didn't know it back then, and I didn't do it because I knew this. But now when I look back in time and I try to analyze what happened to bring me where I am today, I think part of it is really people don't share as much about their finances. And much less, women. It was rare, because I was one of the first few girls who start talking about money. And then I think it's also how I managed to save that amount. Because the thing is, I was only in a job that paid me as a fresh grad, right? I was earning 2.5k a month. Or, more like 2,000 take-home every month of this year. When you calculate how much I had to cut back on in order to save that amount, it was quite a big thing.

Eric Feng:

So it was number one, novelty, freshness. And number two is it's quite extraordinary that you could save that much money. It was these two elements that got people who want to check out your article. 

Dawn:

I think so too. And also because many people of my generation back then, that was the whole café-hopping trend. Everyone loved going to cafés. That's why you see one of my tips is the cafés suck your money. 

Eric Feng:

You know what, guys? I was researching on her, and I was drinking that $5 coffee while reading the post saying you should not be drinking 5 to $7 coffee. It's called vanity. And then I put my coffee aside. I'm drinking free water right now. Well, it was fantastic. And you had 50 comments.

Dawn:

There was actually more on Facebook. But yeah, on the blog itself [crosstalk 00:13:59].

Eric Feng:

More on Facebook. These ones, you transferred it here, right?

Dawn:

No, I didn't. This was on the blog itself. But when you share on Facebook, people comment on the shares as well.

Eric Feng:

On Facebook as well. I have the luxury of looking at it right now. Someone asked, "Hey, may I know which bank do you open your saving accounts with?"

Dawn:

And that created a post on what savings accounts to use to grow your money.

Eric Feng:

And someone said, "Hi, Budget [Bubby 00:14:16]. Great tips. I can't wait to see a post on investment ideas and insights. Wish you the very best."

Dawn:

And that got me started into investing. 

Eric Feng:

I love this one. [Ivan 00:14:27] asked, "$150 for food per month. I would be very interested to know what you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner." And he actually calculated, "Assuming you eat chicken, rice and tea every, single day for lunch for 365 days, you would have spent $59. What about breakfast and dinner?" I guess the comments actually help you generate fresh content for yourself?

Dawn:

Yeah, pretty much.

Eric Feng:

And if you stay with us, we're going to go deep into the technical aspects of writing, and the technical aspects of how you get creative in content creation. So, hold that thought, okay?

            2014 was when you had your big break. How regularly were you blogging during that year?

Dawn:

Actually, I don't recall. Mommy's brain. I think maybe once to three times a week. But on average, I try to blog at least once a week up to now.

Eric Feng:

Got it. Then, '15. What was your big break in 2015?

Dawn:

The years are a bit fuzzy in my mind. But I remember the big spikes. The first one was obviously this post, and then there was another one where I did an expose on durian investments. There was this season where a lot of companies and investment schemes were hiring influencers to do an ad on their profile. I don't know what was their payment terms. Like, was it affiliate, or was it just a one-time payment? But when I saw this ... And I actually didn't see it. It was my readers who drew my attention to it. They would ask me, what do you think of this? Have you seen it? 

            So, I started investigating one of that which was very hot at that moment, that was a whole invest in durian plantations in Malaysia. And I found a lot of questionable parts of it. I actually wrote an entire article on it, including bringing up the contract to show how questionable the terms were, and whether the returns were really that good. And after that, that went viral as well. Lots of people were talking about it. And then later on, even Mothership talk about it. So, it was another big hit, where people saw me breaking down this investment idea.

Eric Feng:

Why do you think that article ... I mean, obviously it was an investigative piece. But why does it work?

Dawn:

I think on hindsight, one of it was because of their whole sentiment was the influencer industry. People are not as open to influencers, because they think that just because they get money, they kind of trade their own ethics and values, and they promote things that are not necessarily good all the time just because they're being paid to do so.

Eric Feng:

Back then, people were not very familiar with the world of influencers. So, that was one.

Dawn:

I think that was one.

Eric Feng:

Unfamiliarity was one. Other reasons?

Dawn:

I think the other reason was also, wow. This girl just dared to go out there against a more famous influencer and just talk about how this is not so good. And I got a lot of flack for that.

Eric Feng:

Courage.

Dawn:

Lots and lots of flack.

Eric Feng:

You got flack? Even though you're trying to do the right thing by-

Dawn:

I guess fans of the people are people who are really invested. I'm not sure. But I did get a lot of heat for-

Eric Feng:

What kind of heat? Give us some specificity. Did you get hate mail? Threat mails? What did you get?

Dawn:

On that piece, I'd say not so much hate or threat. But people are just like, are you sure? What makes you think you're better? Can you do a better investment idea? So on and so forth. Or, are you being hateful for bringing this down? Stuff like that. 

Eric Feng:

Oh, so they question your credibility and your motivation.

Dawn:

Yes, exactly. Correct. And I was just like, well, it's all factual. I have shots of the contract, which no one else has except if you go to them and you sign. Or, you're about to sign. Then, you would get a copy of it.

Eric Feng:

Well, you're very capable. Okay.

Dawn:

My readers gave it to me.

Eric Feng:

Oh, your readers. The power of readers, when you fend for them. Would you say that another reason why you was very successful is because you were standing on the side of your readers? 

Dawn:

Might be.

Eric Feng:

There was no intent of trying to attract attention for yourself. It was because your reader ask for that, and you try and add value to them by finding out the answers. Could it be?

Dawn:

Maybe, maybe. It could be. I mean on hindsight, if were to do hindsight analysis, that could be one of the reasons. But I think generally it's also the passion, and just doing things that I'm genuinely interesting in.

Eric Feng:

Which is?

Dawn:

Because that is just one piece. If we look at other spikes, and I've had many different spikes in my whole blogging career-

Eric Feng:

Career.

Dawn:

Another one was when I wrote on income taxes, and then I was quite lucky by somehow Ho Ching actually shared it.

Eric Feng:

Ho Ching. Could you please our viewers, who is Ho Ching?

Dawn:

Ho Ching is our PM Lee's wife.

Eric Feng:

Our prime minister's wife, yeah.

Dawn:

Prime minister's wife. And I don't know how she came across my piece, but she shared it. And that boosted it further.

Eric Feng:

Added credibility to you.

Dawn:

I guess so, yeah. And it was all on how to cut your income taxes.

Eric Feng:

Oh, and she actually shared that?

Dawn:

You should read it now.

Eric Feng:

Yeah, because right now is the income tax season.

Dawn:

Yeah. Tax filing season right now. 

Eric Feng:

And you actually wrote on how to reduce tax, and the prime minister's wife actually shared your article?

Dawn:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Eric Feng:

Not bad. Okay, okay. That was your first spike.

Dawn:

Yeah. I had other few spikes, which I don't remember all of them any more.

Eric Feng:

These are the memorable ones.

Dawn:

Yeah. But I think another really memorable one recently was a series of three articles that I did on cord blood. Basically as a parent myself, or when I was pregnant, I was looking at whether to do cord blood banking. And I was torn between, is it a scam or is it real? And when I look at it ... I studied bio in JC, so I do know the value of stem cells and the promise that they can bring to industry. But at that kind of fee, where you pay almost $5,000 to just store the cord blood ... It's not a small sum we're talking about. 

Eric Feng:

Okay, yes. Huge sum.

Dawn:

Yeah. I really did a really, really lots of research. I even went down to look at the process. I talked to sales representative from every company who did the private cord banking, and I even talked to the donor registry to understand how it would be if you donated your baby's cord blood instead of throwing it away. And I put all of that, so much information.

Eric Feng:

Information, yeah.

Dawn:

I had to do three articles on it, in the end. And that really has just gone up. It's just been going viral, especially the third one, which is where I compared the three private bank before making my own decision. 

Eric Feng:

Wow. 

Dawn:

And people always think that's a sponsored post. It's not, guys.

Eric Feng:

It's not a sponsored post.

Dawn:

Yeah. I did it for my own benefit, and I just shared it online.

Eric Feng:

What have always been your motivation with every post? What was the common theme for every post?

Dawn:

I think when I first started, it was very basic finance stuff, because I wanted my blog to be like a notebook on my own financial learnings. And I guess that resonated with my readers, because I'm not majoring in finance. So, I need to be able to just do it in a way that only I, myself, understand. That maybe helped to gain attention, because-

Eric Feng:

So, finance tips for non-finance people. 

Dawn:

Yeah, exactly.

Eric Feng:

That was your phase one, where you document down everything you have learnt.

Dawn:

Yes, correct.

Eric Feng:

Then after that, how do you evolve?

Dawn:

Then after that, it really got into ... Once the basis and the foundation is strong writing. I mean, we're always learning. But after that, you already have the strong foundational phase, it's really about how you apply them. The second phase, I guess, was how I posted a lot about my thoughts on various stocks and investment schemes, including IPOs. And people, even experienced investors, and even CEOs were reading it. I was like, oh, wow. Okay.

Eric Feng:

Where do you get the information or knowledge from?

Dawn:

It's really just online. It's just how you look at information, and analyzing it and distilling it. But I'm always going to have a facts-based perspective, but then based on all different facts presented, then I'll form my own opinion.

Eric Feng:

[inaudible 00:21:30]. Like what we learned in school, right? Get all your information, and you find your own opinion.

Dawn:

Yeah, exactly. It's also part of, for those of you who study in JC, you might be familiar with this topic called general paper.

Eric Feng:

Yeah, GP. 

Dawn:

GP. I teach GP [inaudible 00:21:46] as well. Maybe that is also one of the reasons which shaped my voice.

Eric Feng:

Okay, we're going to ask her more about the GP structure later. Okay, that kind of makes sense now. So, phase one was a lot of documenting what you have learnt. Phase two was when you get your confidence, really, and you start doing more investigative and analytical content.

Dawn:

Correct.

Eric Feng:

Has it changed for you right now?

Dawn:

I think right now, it's still that.

Eric Feng:

Still in the area. Topic-wise, has-

Dawn:

Topic-wise, it basically evolves with my life. If you notice, there are some financial websites or blogs which basically cover the whole pantheon of finances in your life. I don't really do that. I do stuff that's relevant to me at that point in time. So, I only started writing about weddings when I got married and I finished my own. I only started writing about parenting when I was pregnant and became a parent myself. It's very attuned to the seasons of my life.

Eric Feng:

Very nice. You draw inspiration of content from your life.

Dawn:

And my readers. 

Eric Feng:

And your readers. 

Dawn:

Yeah.

Eric Feng:

Fantastic. Well, that was really good summary of how you actually went from zero to, what? 7.2 million reads. 

            Hey, this is Eric here, just dropping in to check in on you. Are you getting value so far from this interview? Because if you are, I'm very happy for you. And I'm really curious to know what are some of the key takeaways. After the interview, go to social media, screenshot your learnings, and tag me so that we can connect. Okay, okay, I'm going to leave you to listen to the rest of the interview. Enjoy.

            Would you say that social media has also helped you to gain more awareness?

Dawn:

I think so.

Eric Feng:

Because content has been a very big part of your popularity. But would you say other aspects contribute to your popularity as well?

Dawn:

I think generally, it's authenticity. Like, having your own voice and being authentic. Because people can tell when you're fake. Yeah. And I never needed or never wanted to be fake. Because basically everyone else is taken. And I was never interested to become an influencer. The influencer life really just kind of found me, if I could put it that way. When you're just being yourself and being genuine and true, I think everything else will just fall into place.

Eric Feng:

But we hear that a lot. You need to be authentic, and there's only one of you. But it takes a lot of courage, and maybe even clarity to be able to communicate our voice. How do you find your voice?

Dawn:

I think it's through different years. Over the years, I've always been this brash person who would just speak my mind. But of course, after first understanding the facts and the situation. And that voice changes as we grow as well. I think being a parent has changed my voice somewhat, because I learn to be a bit more sensitive. I used to be really brash and really out there, very strong minded. But now, I'm like, okay, is this really necessary? Is there a better or nicer or kinder way that I can put it to? That tone of voice will change as you go along in life, but I think first of all it's really having the confidence to accept who you are. And we all have insecurities. I'm insecure. I don't think I'm very pretty. I don't think I'm slim enough. I keep telling my husband, I hate the mirror now because I look so fat after delivering.

Eric Feng:

And what did he say to you?

Dawn:

And he's like, no. Well, we all know he's laughing. But anyway, every one of us has insecurities. But I think those insecurities help us to grow as well.

Eric Feng:

How have they helped you grow? Because these are very legit insecurities, and the worst thing about insecurity is everyone around you can say that you look pretty, but if you don't believe you are pretty, you are still not pretty. 

Dawn:

Correct.

Eric Feng:

How do you deal with all those insecurities?

Dawn:

I think it's really just accepting. Accepting that we would never be the best. And that's fine. You don't have to be the best. We are good enough the way we are. And of course, we should always strive for improvement. When you accept yourself but you also accept that there are many other things that you need to do to become a better person, or become prettier, slimmer, or whatever it is that you want to be, then you will be confident at that stage in your life, but you continue to grow.

Eric Feng:

Can you give us an advice? The people watching this are in the service industry, and they are all wanting to be influencers on social media, online. Now they're going to write an article like you, perhaps. But they have a lot of fear. They fear that the article has no substance. They fear that they will get criticism. They fear that they might even get into legal trouble, or their things are boring. What do you have to say to them?

Dawn:

I think just be confident. The thing is, you are definitely going to get some harsh criticism, especially if your articles goes viral. The more people read it, everyone has a different opinion. And that's fine. We can all agree to disagree. But within criticism, there's also feedback. And when you look at the feedback instead of the criticism, that helps you to grow as a person. For example, back then I was getting a lot of feedback on my 20,000 post. And I used a lot of those feedback to generate new content. And it helped to really shape my voice moving on. And then I only started looking at investments because, like you read a comment, a reader prompted me to do that. That was my next stage of growth in finance. It's really looking, just understanding that you'll never be perfect. People are going to hate what you write. That's totally fine. But you look at the feedback behind every criticism, and then you grow from that.

Eric Feng:

All right. Let me add on to what she says. A mentor once shared this to me and gave me a lot of confidence to create content. He says that when you post something, do not seek validation. Seek education. And that is exactly what you just said.

Dawn:

Correct.

Eric Feng:

Got it. 

Dawn:

And we learn not just from sharing, but also what people comment on our post. Let's say if someone, one of your followers, wanted to create content, but they're worried that their English is not good enough, their content's not credible enough.

Eric Feng:

Correct. Or boring.

Dawn:

Exactly. You then work on that feedback. You can first put out your first post, and if someone tells you, "Oh, that's such a boring article," you take that feedback and you decide, okay, what can I do to make this more interesting? More interesting that people would read it more, and even want to share it. And then if someone says, "That is such a superficial post," then you look into, what can I do to add depth to that post?

Eric Feng:

Nice. So, it's improve as you go along.

Dawn:

Yes.

Eric Feng:

And not just sit there and think about all these thoughts, and after that you get paralyzed by all these thoughts.

Dawn:

Yeah, exactly.

Eric Feng:

Most what you could do is don't publish it publicly. Write it, and then share with a smaller group first, of people who will be honest with you and give you real feedback at any problem. This is a very good tip. It's a very good tip. Thank you very much, Dawn. That was awesome. 

Dawn:

No problem.

Eric Feng:

I have a lot of questions I want to ask you right now about writing. Because as we were having conversation with Dawn earlier, it dawned upon me, pun intended, it dawned upon me that her followers follow her because of the merits of her content. It's not because of other social media tactics that she tried to do. It's just that she has very good content. And I strongly believe that if social media is your vehicle to success, content is your fuel. Could you give us some tips on maybe writing structure? When we write a post, your inspiration comes from your life. But tell us more about that. How do you get inspired to write this article?

Dawn:

GP 101, right?

Eric Feng:

Yeah. GP, general paper 101.

Dawn:

The structure of GP articles and argument that I always teach my student is called P-E-E-E-L. 

Eric Feng:

P-E-E-E-L. Okay.

Dawn:

So, the point is basically your thesis statement. What's the point that you're trying to make? What's the argument that you're trying to push across? Then your second E is your elaboration, where you expand on that idea so that the person understands what you're talking about. And then after that, to really drive home the message, you put in an example, or even better, evidence. When my students come to me for tuition and give me an example, I would be cross. I'm like, no. I will not accept it unless it's pure, hard evidence. After you've given evidence that really makes your argument stronger-

Eric Feng:

Stronger, yeah.

Dawn:

Then you evaluate it. And when you evaluate, that's where you go into your depth. You analyze it, and you come up with a very light bulb moment. And you add depth to that whole argument, and the point that you're trying to make. Then you end off with the L, which links back again to the point you're trying to drive home.

Eric Feng:

Got it. At which point do you introduce other arguments or other points of view?

Dawn:

That is one paragraph. And you pay for every paragraph. Yeah. Okay, I don't do that on my blog. Although, sometimes on Dayre I've had people tell me that I write a little bit like a GP essay. But I am generally on online, because it's not a GP essay. You generally will follow that whole structure, but it's interspersed within the article. You can have many piece, and you can have one example that summarizes all the different piece, or that illustrates those different points that you're trying to make, and that's fine.

Eric Feng:

Maybe let's try to contextualize this. What would be an article that you want to write in the next one week?

Dawn:

Okay, one that I'm working on right now is diaper comparison. Parenting.

Eric Feng:

Diapers comparison.

Dawn:

Yeah.

Eric Feng:

Before we go into the content, let's talk about the topic. Why this topic?

Dawn:

It's something that relevant to me right now, because we're spending so much on diapers. 

Eric Feng:

Would you say that when it comes to writing, we should always write things that we care about?

Dawn:

Yes. I think so.

Eric Feng:

Which is ironic, right? Because we tend to want to write things that our followers care about. But could you say that at the beginning, we should write things that we are interested in, that we care about, and then from there, put it out there and see who also care the same thing as you?

Dawn:

Yes, correct.

Eric Feng:

And that's how you build your followers.

Dawn:

Yeah. Because if you only want to write things that you personally don't care about, but which other people care about, their level of care and concern for that topic is going to be more than you. So then, you will lose your credibility. You wouldn't be able convince them, and they would know more like, oh, this is just someone trying to write on the latest trend. But let's say, for example, income tax. Now is income tax filing season. If you're personally not concerned about how to reduce your own income tax, but you want to write the article because you know this kind of stuff is going viral right now, then, it will show through from your content. You can copy and paste from everywhere, and that's called plagiarism, by the way. Do not ever do that. But it will show that you're not genuinely interested. Versus someone who is really, really concerned about it. And when they write it, the tone of voice that comes through will be very different. 

Eric Feng:

Got it. What I learned from you is to write topics that we care about first. That's done. So, diapers. Now, how are you going to approach that article? What's the structure that you would use to write the diaper article?

Dawn:

When I look at diapers on the whole, what I am concerned myself would be what are the different brands in the market, the mass market brands? What's the differences between all the different brands? How much are the different brands charging? And is it worth the price point? And then also because of marketing, marketing always adds on to the cost, as we all know. Then I'll look at which brands do the most marketing. And is there one reason why their prices are higher? Or is it simply because their quality is really there? That's why their marketing is very solid. These would be the four angles that I would look at, and you'll probably see that post in a few weeks. And then I would go into that post, and I will start writing it.

Eric Feng:

Got it. It's a lot of asking a question first, like which diaper cost the most, or which diaper shall I pick? And then you analyze using different factors. And then based on all the information collected, you make a conclusion.

Dawn:

Yes.

Eric Feng:

Got it. That's one structure you use. Any other structures that would be very helpful for beginner writers?

Dawn:

I think keep it simple. I think over the years as I've gone along, my writing gets longer and longer. It's something I'm trying to cut down on again. But honestly when you're starting out, just keep it as simple as possible, but without compromising on the basic P-E-E-E-L structure. People always say nowadays that a lot of writers, a lot of influencers, are very superficial. I think that's because they don't do the E that is example or evidence. They just do, oh, this is my point. This is what I think of it, this is how I expand on it, and that's my point. And it's like, okay, everyone-

Eric Feng:

So, they make a point without backing it up with reasons. 

Dawn:

It really just becomes a pure opinion. And the truth is, everyone can-

Eric Feng:

Has an opinion.

Dawn:

Yeah, exactly. And you can buy opinions with online influencing and marketing. So then, where is your credibility? But when your opinions are built on strong, hard facts, those are truths. And people can agree with a fact but have a different opinion of you. And that's fine. They will still read your piece because of the facts.

Eric Feng:

Got it. Let's recap. I really love the P-triple E-L. Which is, you make a point, and then you elaborate on the point. And then after that, you bring in examples and evidence. And then after that, what's the last E?

Dawn:

You evaluate it.

Eric Feng:

You evaluate based on all this evidence.

Dawn:

Yes. And it can be your opinion.

Eric Feng:

So, the evaluation is like your opinion.

Dawn:

It could be.

Eric Feng:

And then after that, you link it back to the original point you're trying to make.

Dawn:

Yes.

Eric Feng:

I love it. Generally right now, based on people's attention span, how long should your article be? How many words?

Dawn:

I think it depends, because different platforms offer different value at different time.

Eric Feng:

Oh, that's a very good point. 

Dawn:

If you're on IG Story, try doing it one hour. No one would be interested at all. You probably want to keep it really, really short. Like, maybe one or two points per IG Story.

Eric Feng:

Written as well? Or video format?

Dawn:

It could be. A lot of my IG Stories are sometimes like text.

Eric Feng:

Yeah, yeah. I see that.

Dawn:

Just keep it short and sweet, because their attention span is only a few seconds long. But if you're on Facebook, people generally spend a little bit more time on Facebook. Then you can be maybe one paragraph or two paragraph. A lot of my captions on Facebook are just maximum two paragraphs. And then if you go into YouTube, which I don't because again, insecurity. But on YouTube, people can go for really short ones, or the really long ones as well. And you can do both.

Eric Feng:

Like, 60 minutes, right?

Dawn:

Yeah, exactly.

Eric Feng:

How about blogging? If I was to set up a blog on WordPress, for example, or Typeform ... These are the two more popular platforms. How long should my article be?

Dawn:

It's up to you, honestly. It can be as short as you want, or as long as you want. But at the end of the day, it's what content are you writing and what depth are you offering?

Eric Feng:

I see. So, don't be too worried about the number of words because if you write something solid, long is fine. But if you write something really bad, even one sentence is bad. 

Dawn:

Exactly. And this is not summary class, guys. You can write as long as you want. It doesn't matter.

Eric Feng:

Now, I noticed that you have a very interesting platform. Most of us are on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn. And now LinkedIn would be a very good platform to do blogging as well. But I noticed that you blog on Dayre. Tell us a little bit about Dayre. It's a new platform for me.

Dawn:

I basically have different platforms. My Facebook is the social media portion where I update people who are following me that I have a new post. Then I have the blog itself, where people organically do searches, or they go to the blog itself to see what's the new content. Then I have Instagram, where it's a lot more about my personal life, the stuff that I use, the brand, product, or the activities that I'm in. And Dayre is really just basically my personal life itself. Recently, I just came back from Batam, and it was really cheap. So I documented the whole itinerary and what we did in Batam on Dayre.

Eric Feng:

And it's got nothing to do with finance?

Dawn:

No. Well, sometimes. I mean, you could see the expenses, partly. But I'll give an example. I actually suffered from post-partum depression when I was a mom.

Eric Feng:

I read about that.

Dawn:

It was really hard for me. And on Dayre itself, I was just breaking it down. When I was depressed, I would just talk about how oh, this is so hard. No one ever told me it would be this difficult. My nipples are hurting from breastfeeding, my baby seems to keep crying and I don't understand why he's crying. And I would just write whatever comes to my mind. And it's basically just [inaudible 00:36:58] on Dayre. That's the beauty of Dayre as a platform as well, which I love, because there's very little judgment. There is still judgment. Wherever you go, there will always be people judging you.

Eric Feng:

Obviously, you're dealing with people.

Dawn:

Yes, exactly. But I mean, it's the story and it's you. The stronger you are as a voice, and when you're just being real, there will be other people who are facing the same kind of challenges or the same stage of life as you, and that's where you find your connection. And it's a really beautiful thing, because when I was having PPD, other mothers who had it as well, they would actually reach out to me and they would share their tips with me. They would be like, when I had low milk supply, they're sharing me their tips on how they themselves boosted their milk supply, whether it's through pumping or through taking certain brands of lactation stuff. When I talk about how I was struggling with my weight, then they would give me solutions and advices as well. They would console me by saying, well, you're still nursing. When you're nursing, it's really hard for you to lose weight because if you diet, your milk will drop. Sharing all of that really builds that whole camaraderie.

Eric Feng:

Would you say Dayre is more like really a personal platform?

Dawn:

Yeah, it is.

Eric Feng:

It's not really a platform for you to teach.

Dawn:

Yes.

Eric Feng:

Because your financial blog is really for you to teach, to be an authority. But there, it's really for you to just share.

Dawn:

Yes.

Eric Feng:

Okay. I understand.

Dawn:

When I was pregnant, I would write about what I'm eating, even. 

Eric Feng:

Wow. Okay. Well guys, that's a new platform for you if you are looking for a place to share your life in words. I think Dayre will be a beautiful platform for you.

Dawn:

And pictures too.

Eric Feng:

Oh, pictures? You can do pictures and videos as well?

Dawn:

And even videos. I was singing karaoke at Batam, and I just uploaded it.

Eric Feng:

I'm going to check you out. Well, that was very good. You gave us a lot of tips on writing. Any final words for our viewers in terms of creating solid content?

Dawn:

I need to summarize it, write on topics that you're genuinely interested in. And really focus on just being you. Because the truth is, everyone else is already taken. When you try too hard to be like someone else online, people can tell. Especially you write online, where there's so many audiences, surely one person would know if you plagiarize, or you're trying to be someone else, a wannabe of someone else? You don't need any of that. And it's harder work. It's easier to just be yourself. 

            And I think the biggest advice I would give is many people are afraid. I get that. I'm afraid too. I have my own insecurities. But you will never get to a stage where you think you're perfect. If you do, you're not human. So, just embrace your insecurities and see criticism as feedback. And that's fine. People are going to criticize you. They are going to hate on you. But you don't have to care so much about what they think. Because those who are really close to you, they wouldn't be like that. And if people really just think only bad things about you, you also don't need them in your life. You wouldn't want them to be your real friend.

Eric Feng:

Yeah. They're not your fans.

Dawn:

Exactly. You just do you. Just focus on being you, being real. And what can you add value to people? I guess a lot of your followers are in insurance, in MLM and real estate?

Eric Feng:

Yes.

Dawn:

So, what do they do good? If you look at traditionally, for example the insurance agent, those who survive in the industry are those who give really good advice and do proper planning for their clients. Their clients see that value, and then they recommend that advisor to their loved ones. You can do the same thing online. If you do it traditionally, the only people who know of your value and the good work that you're doing is within the network. But when you do it online, and you demonstrate that, everyone else learns. And the other thing is, sometimes people are thinking, "Oh, but if I share my secrets so readily, then people will just copy it." 

Eric Feng:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. What do you have to say about that?

Dawn:

It's fine. Because if people copy, someone else will know that they copy. And copycats can only be after you. They'll never be number one. 

Eric Feng:

I love that.

Dawn:

Just focus on being you. Ignore the copycats. There will be copycats if you're good. But you just do you, and you just keep creating content, keep doing things that matter to you. And I think the following or the validation that you seek later on will naturally come. Don't write to be validated. Because if you do that, it's very obvious to people, and you might not just get that. 

Eric Feng:

Instead, what was the intent of writing that?

Dawn:

Passion. Write about things that you truly care about. And then you'll find people who also care about these topics and issues, and that will be the start of your audience. And it will just grow from there.

Eric Feng:

Wow. That was fantastic. That was awesome. I would love to take notes and so on. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Dawn from SG Budget Babe. Do check her out and get some inspiration from there. But remember, do not copy her articles. Use that as your platform to be inspired to write content that you care about, and from there, attract your followers who care about the same thing. And then from there, start writing things that you too guys care about. And that's how you keep your followers. Thank you very much, Dawn. 

Dawn:

No problem. Thanks for having me.

Eric Feng:

Thank you. You know, here's the problem. The people watching this, many of them are financial advisors, property agents, or even direct marketers in the area of health. What if their passion is not in the area of their profession? That means they're not very passionate about finance, they're not very passionate about property or health. Then that's it for them, right? Does that mean that they have to change career?

Dawn:

Well, there's two steps they can do. One is to change their career and do something that they're genuinely passionate to.

Eric Feng:

Please don't. Your manager will kill me.

Dawn:

Or the other one would be to tie in with what they already love. 

Eric Feng:

Interesting. What do you mean by that?

Dawn:

For example, you mentioned earlier on one of your followers loves tidying up. And he's a financial advisor?

Eric Feng:

She. 

Dawn:

She.

Eric Feng:

She loves Marie Kondo a lot. 

Dawn:

Okay. She could basically create content around tidying up one's finances. Or tidying up your financial life, which there's a lot of content that you can write from there. 

Eric Feng:

Very nice. That means you use again what you're passionate about, take the elements, and combine it into a topic that you may not have most interest in. But now the mash-up become interesting.

Dawn:

And that will now become interesting to you as well. So, you found your passion in an area that you weren't very passionate about. If she were to write about finance in the normal way-

Eric Feng:

Which is what everybody does.

Dawn:

Yeah. But she would be bored. And people would sense that boredom. So, no one would like the article. But if she's so passionate about tidying up, and she writes about it in tidying up your financial life, she could talk about how, for example, cutting down your expenses, that's definitely cutting out. And then including insurance, what should you cut out, this is what you should get, your investments, your allocation of fund. There's so much that you can write on tidying up your financial life.

Eric Feng:

I get you. Okay. As long as we have a passion, we are on to something.

Dawn:

Yes. I think passion shines through really strongly, and it will lead you to do the things that would help you to become successful.

Eric Feng:

A little bit mechanical, though. When she posts her blogs and all that, and her Facebook, is it okay she also share, write about just pure tidying? Or must she always combine tidying with finance as a post?

Dawn:

I think it depends on what is her objective. Because if she only wants to be a thought leader in finance itself, then everything would be marrying her passion of tidying up with finance. But if later on she wants to branch into other areas as well, you can do so many things that are tidying up. 

Eric Feng:

Okay. So, it depends on her positioning.

Dawn:

Yes.

Eric Feng:

Got it.

Dawn:

That's why I think, at the end of the day, your voice grows with you. And that is the most logical and most organic growth that you will experience. 

Eric Feng:

Just a word. Sometimes I feel that we overthink it, which is what I learned from you, which is we think that oh, I'm trying to get sales. But actually, whatever that you're doing on social media is not to get you sales. It's to first get you attention. It's not about sales. Sales will come if I pay enough attention with you, so much so that I start spending time with you. And that time leads me to trust you, and that trust is what gets the sale.

Dawn:

Correct.

Eric Feng:

Right? We need to first be passionate about something so that we can play the long game. But it's also the passion that will help you capture attention from people who are equally passionate about the same topic as you. And then from there, I guess [inaudible 00:44:50]. The more time I spend with you, I'll start to trust you. And even if you don't talk about money, but if I trust you, I'll still be willing to meet up with you, and that's when you can introduce the other side of you. I really feel that today, my biggest takeaway from you was, go back to your first love, which is what you really care about and what matters to you. Start communicating in that space. If you're more into video, do it on video. If you're more into written work, write. But whatever it is, that's the source of all your originality and creativity.

Dawn:

Yeah. Passion needs to be at the heart of what you do. Because imagine this. You are reading an article as a consumer from someone who very obviously is selling you something. Would you want to read it?

Eric Feng:

No. I would not even want to read it, really.

Dawn:

Exactly. Because you know his objective, and his agenda, to use a better word. So, you wouldn't care. But if this person has no agenda and is really all about just sharing his opinions or his passion, that will shine. And you'll be more likely to listen to that person, or to read and hear what that person has got to say. And then from then, that basically just kick-starts the journey with you. 

Eric Feng:

There you have it. I have no way to add on to what she just said. That's really awesome.

            Thank you so much for listening to the entire interview. I trust that it was valuable to you. Now, it would mean the world to me if you could write me a review. Who knows? Your review may be featured in the very next episode. So, what are you waiting for? Go. Go write a review. #HighlySoughtAfter.