You don’t have to watch this FREE blog teaching video…

…if you are satisfied with the money that you earned from your blog

This is my second part of how you could be a better blogger. If you have not read yesterday’s post, you may want to check it out before you proceed to watch this video. It will give you a better idea on what am I talking about.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of bloggers who show me their check statements screenshot, Adsense and Paypal account figures. Although it is one of the way to show me the proof that they are making money blogging, I don’t think it will give any benefits to me, unless they want to share with me how to do things correctly and get the same result.

Yaro did the other way round. He teaches me the step-by-step route that he took to get to 6-figure income, without him bragging away with all the screenshots of his earnings. With that he gained respect from me, in which I think would be the best person to show me the correct way of blogging for money.

The video that he made is also NOT just a cheap advertorial video captioning the benefits of his program with tons of rubbish screenshots. He actually TEACHES us how to blog for profits in less than 35 minutes!!! You really have to see it to belief it yourself.

Why do you really need to pay attention to his teaching this time:

  • You want to learn how to make money from blogging the smart way
  • You want to know how to use a blog as the only Web2.0 marketing tool you ever need
  • You want to work less and earn more (most bloggers work way too hard!)
  • You want to know how to use blogs for a STABLE six-figure income stream

I was really surprised when he still could give me more content and information (that I think I know) in that half an-hour video. The most important phrase that I learned from the video is Page View Slave. In one moment or another, I do feel that he is talking about me.

I also know some of us bloggers promotes affiliate products, post after post. At the end of the month, our blog will be full of products that we are promoting, but really failed to make even a single sale. Yaro explained why this never ending splashing affiliate products throughout your blog will not make you rich.

These are some of the screenshot of his teaching:

So what are you waiting for? Just spend half an hour of your surfing time to watch the free video. You may want to thank me later. Here is the video.

Oh, I saw that Yaro has upgraded the program to include new video presentations into the teachings. When I was with his program last year, it was only PDF and MP3 podcast files. You are really lucky if you decided to join him this year. If you missed this, you may want to wait for another year for his next enrollment.
Click here to download the Blog Profits Blueprint

To your blogging carrier,
Ruhaizad

10 reasons why your blog never break that two figure income…

…and you only receive your Adsense check every 3 months

I intended to write this post for bloggers who blog for money. If you are not blogging for money, i.e. blogging to fill up your leisure time with something useful and share your life story with others, then this post will most probably not be relevant to you.

For my regular Kinabalu Blog readers who are not bloggers, this writing may not make sense to you. You may read it as an additional information, in case you decided to blog later in life.

I have few friends who has been blogging as long as I am and asked me, what did I do differently from ‘ordinary’ bloggers to reach this far, in terms of readership, mailing list and of course, earnings. I did not reply to him directly, as I think it is good if I write a full blog post about it so that other bloggers can benefit from what I have gone through.

1. You are not blogging with the right mindset
You put money as the main drive for your blogging quest. When money is the main drive for your blog, you may get disappointed. Money in blogging does not comes that fast and easy. Most bloggers will dump blogging several months after they did not see the amount of money that they’ve expected.

Blog with passion on the things that you love. Money will usually comes as a secondary gratification.

2. You rely your livelihood of blogging in paid post
I have to admit to you that I regretted myself joining a paid post program a year ago. The feelings came after Google decided to penalize blogs which produce paid post, when Google found it hard to give credit for bloggers who blog for money. I felt really down when I saw my website’s and blog’s PR went down to big fat zero (until now). It hurts me a lot at the beginning, but not anymore nowadays. I learned my lesson the hard way.

When you are doing a paid post to earn money, you rely on the blogger-advertiser network to provide you with the opportunity to write a post for their advertisers. It was a good monetization program initially both for bloggers and advertisers, but when Google decided to penalize paid bloggers, less and less opportunity are available from the advertisers. With a huge pool of bloggers out there, getting an opportunity to write for them gets more difficult.

3. You are a reporter-blogger
Most blogs around the blogosphere are reporters (i.e. they just do report). While being a reporter is good only if you do it very regularly and specifically for your niche, most of reporter-blogger are just ‘echoing’ what other bloggers have said. Doing this will not add any value to your blog, as readers can usually get the same stories, updates and reports from other more trusted and established resources around the net.

Be an expert-blogger (i.e. you are the expert in your own niche and domain). mount kinabalu is my keyword and I work extra hard to blog almost anything about the majestic mountain of Borneo. When you are an expert in your niche, you will have almost all the information about your niche in your blog. It gives Google no reason to omit you from their search engine result page as most of the search about your niche will end up in one of your blog post.

4. You treat blogging as a hobby, not a business model
Blogging as a hobby is not actually a bad thing, provided that you do it properly and professionally. I have a friend who has a hobby of playing video games and earn a decent income from blogging on his specific niche of video games. But if you take blogging as your main hobby without any specific niche tagged in, you will not be able to bait Google to come and index your blog, as Google could not find a specific keyword to relate to your blog.

When Google does not see your blog, your blog do not exist. When your blog do not exist, no traffic will be sent to you. When you have no traffic, nobody sees your ads or for affiliate bloggers, nobody will read what you have to say about any of your product that you are promoting. You may want to streamline you blogging hobby as a business to boost your credibility and of course, profits.

5. You have a very little content, but huge amount of advertisement
You only write less than 50 words per post, and most of your less-than-50-words post are about how your day sucks or how your boss pisses you off the day before. I don’t think it will be an interesting content to other people (even your mother), and this kind of post will surely not get properly indexed by Googlebot.

Worse still, you have a very huge advertisement banner across your blog header and hoping somebody will click on it, when in reality, nobody comes to your blog to read your ramblings. Write more meaty contents. Google loves it.

6. You do not have much traffic from search engines

Search engine traffic is the best for Adsense ads. Period.

If you have traffic from your friends, other bloggers and family members, you will not earn much from Adsense. This is because, most of traffic that comes NOT from search engines comes regularly and used to seeing the ads. They won’t be clicking away your ads, especially other bloggers who will know that you will earn money if they click your ads. Search engine traffics, especially first timer who arrive on your blogs are the best visitors who could increase your Adsense income.

7. You are not optimizing your keywords
Try punching ‘mount kinabalu‘ in any search engine. You will surely get my website pages and blog mostly on the first page of their result page. Optimizing keywords need you to target a very specific niche, where your blog need to have a very high keyword density in your blog posts. I know it is difficult for you to find a suitable keyword and a specific niche when you have been blogging for years, but unless you do something to change it, you will still be where you are years from now.

“Define stupidity: Doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result”

8. You are blogging about your personal life
Only if you are a well known person (like a superstar or a politician), your life story will not be so interesting to others except your friends and families. While getting in touch with close friends and acquaintances gives you personal satisfaction, it is not the best way to earn money from blogging.

9. You are not diversifying your income sources
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While putting advertisement in your blog is one of the way to earn money from blogging, there are no rules that avoids you from getting offline to diversify your income. Offer offline services. In our Sabahan bloggers context like for example, we have the opportunity to earn a small slice of the annual RM2 billion receipt in tourism industry.

Year 2006 was unquestionably a better year than 2005 for Tourism Industry in Sabah. Sabah welcomed 2,091,658 visitors’ arrival in 2006, posting a 14.4 percent increase over 2005. This translates into a tourism receipt of RM 2.875 billion for Sabah.Quoted from Sabah Tourism’s website

Write ebooks. Teach people what you know. Write books if you are brave enough. Do join venture with other bloggers / service providers that you know which can benefit you and your visitors. Find a win-win situation with other people.

10. You are relying too much from our own bloggers-advertisers network to pay you that 4-fig income
Belief me. They won’t be able to do that. Comparing with Adsense, they do not have the scale just yet to get the ball rolling. Bloggers are increasing by numbers each days in Malaysia, but I don’t think their advertisers database expand as fast as the bloggers are. When this happened, your earnings are actually ‘diluted’ – as more small portion of the money must be divided to you and other bloggers as well.

However, if you don’t mind getting free movie tickets and some freebies once in a while, then do support them.

Why am I writing this post?

To be honest, I am actually showing you the correct way of blogging for money, in which, will bring a new hope to your blog – to treat blogging as a business. If you have been blogging and:

  • Stuck at where you are now, in terms of earnings, readership and followers
  • Wonder how can you get to the next stage of blogging platform
  • Wonder why those A-list bloggers earn that fat amount of money each month
  • Has been blogging for the past donkey years, and want to learn more on how to improvise your blog
  • Wonder if you could make blogging as a carrier
  • Find ways to increase your existing income

Then joining Blogmastermind is the best decision that you will ever make in your blogging carrier. I am not saying this to you as an affiliate blogger, but as a friend who has experienced the program myself. I have joined Yaro’s Blogmastermind program as a student last year when he first opened the program to bloggers.

Yeah, I was as skeptical as you when I first got the invitation to join from Yaro. At that time, I don’t think spending my hard earned dollar in my Paypal every month for 6 months is a good idea, as I have been doing quite good with the website.  But I joined him anyway because I want to learn to blog correctly.

The best thing about Yaro’s Blogmastermind program is: He is giving you a FREE 50 pages Blog Profits Blueprint for you to read BEFORE you make any decision to join the program. Just download it and print it out to 4-page-per-piece of A4 paper. You will save a lot of trees by doing that.

Then make a cup of your favorite drink and read it quietly at your veranda. Even if you decided not to Join Blogmastermind after reading the blueprint, it has enough information to transform you to be a more knowledgeable blogger around the net. It’s the best investment that I have ever made in my blogging carrier.
Click here to get The Blog Profits Blueprint

To your blogging carrier,
Ruhaizad

Mt. Kinabalu Travelogue by Brodie, John

I received an email with a very long travelogue and 53 pieces of photos from Mr. John Brodie yesterday. Let us read together his story…

Ruhaizad

Well I am back at work now offshore and I am still on a high… It was an unforgettable experience. I arrived on the 24th June 2008 and jumped in the taxi to the Liwagu Suite, after about two or three miles I noticed a lot of traffic jams outside the petrol stations, then the taxi driver informed me that he didn’t have enough petrol to get me there and him back ?? The petrol stations where supposed to be closing down that night and he feared he would be stranded. So it was back to the airport where I got the services of one of his colleagues, a very friendly Chinese guy who took me there and even arranged to pick me up on my return.. Result..

Arrived at Mount Kinabalu HQ at around 18.30 and got checked in, then took some food. Food at the cafe was basic but just ok, it had been cooked for a while and some of it was dried out a bit..Took some food and headed off to my room at the Liwagu suite. Got a few basic supplies at the shop there and off to bed for an early night ready for a 07.30 pick up the next day…

I got picked up promptly at 07.30 and it was off to HQ to do all the usual things, check out of room, check in my bag for storage, register for the climb etc. Check and double check my equipment. Last and most importantly I had a good breakfast before I left. I got picked up by the driver and the guide and was taken to the HQ at the Mesilau Trail. We traveled through Kundasang village and up and up and up, it was quite amazing to travel so far up and then find one of the most beautiful golf courses I have ever seen just appear.. Quite literally breathtaking, it just appeared out of nowhere and not something I expected to see at such a high level.

Got checked in at Mesilau Trail and then I started the trek, my guide for the climb was Maurice, a very friendly and informative guy, our group started off up the Mesilau Trail and he explained that the slowest person would dictate the pace and he would remain with them. The trail was one path with no hope of getting lost so I was able to forge ahead at my own pace, deliberately holding back and taking it easy as I did not know what was in store for me later that day. Maurice had told us we would reach Laban Rata around 17.30 hrs that day..

About 8 hours after we started the climb… wow that is a long day… everything went well, I reached the Pondok, rest huts and waited for the guide and carried on like this until I reached the intersection from Timpohon gate. It was then that the weather took a turn for the worse and it started raining heavily… I covered my bag with my waterproof jacket in an attempt to keep my clothes dry inside and pressed onwards and upwards. The temperature had dropped noticeably and I was now very wet.

I had about 4 km left to cover and these proved to be the hardest part of the two days for me. I was feeling the effects of the altitude slightly and this was slowing me up.. I was now resting around every 50 metres or so, but I kept going.. The rain had made the path treacherous in some places so I had to be very careful with my footing… It was then I heard somebody running ?? I looked up to see one of the guys from the Park running down the mountain ??? With and empty gas bottle strapped to his back… What ? I just couldn’t believe my eyes…

Here was me struggling every 50 metres with a small back pack and there was a guy with a gas bottle on his back ….. running full tilt down the same track…… I pushed on up and reached the Laban Rata at 17.00 hrs, the rest of my group arrived at 18.20 hrs.. I rewarded my first day with a can of beer and a big plate of food… Then it was a nice hot shower and straight to bed.. I was in bed at around 20.00 hrs and asleep by 20.01 I think… Alarm was set for 02.00 hrs.

Alarm woke me at 02.00 hrs from a very deep sleep, the way I felt I could have quite easily turned the alarm off and went back to sleep… Apparently and according to my guide, quite a few people did just that. But I had got this far and in another 3 hours or so I would be at Low’s Peak… So I forced myself out of bed, packed my essentials, had some hot sweet, Sabah tea and I was ready to go.. Everybody virtually started the climb together in the pitch darkness. It was a wonderful sight to see all the torches and head torches ahead and behind me snaking their way up the mountain…

The quicker people moved through the field the slower people taking more rests… I just followed the group again separated from my guide. Head torch on lighting my way just a few feet in front of me. The start was mainly stairs, these where very wet and very slippery in places so pace was slow and sure. It wasn’t too long before I came to the rock and this was marked out by rope to help you find the way and in some cases to help you up the rock. I got past the check point where I was asked to show my registration card and the number noted then again it was onwards and upwards slowly but surely. I was now feeling the effects of the altitude and was quite literally walking about 50 metres then resting, same as the previous day..

As it started to get lighter as day broke I was beginning to see the mountain and surrounding areas in all their magnificent glory…. On arriving at the edge of Lows Peak there was many people at the summit. I waited until they had all gone so I could have my photo taken at the peak on my own. I spent about half an hour at the peak just basking in the splendour of it all. Then it was the long decent back down to Laban Rata.

Coming down in the daylight gave you a view of what I had climbed in the dark… It was quite hairy…..although it was much quicker getting from the peak to Laban Rata than the other way round.. I made good time down the first stage, took some breakfast, checked out and prepared for the long decent by filling up water bottles..

On the way down seen all the people on their way up, the camaraderie was amazing, encouragement being offered, questions being asked and answered. But one thing that came out every time from me was keep going, yes it is hard work, but it is all worth it for the end result. Seeing the local men and women climbing this mountain with three or four rucksacks, seeing them climb with all the provisions for the Laban Rat was just amazing, the fitness levels of these guys is truly amazing. But what absolutely took my breath away was seeing these guys carrying up massive panels to erect a building, two panels strung together with a pole up the middle being carried by two men or in some cases one man carrying a full panel on his own… I just couldn’t believe it..

Made very good time coming down according to our guide and reached the bottom at around 13.30.. I transferred on to the coach and headed back to the HQ where I picked up my certificate gave my guide his very well earned tip and then went for that hard earned breakfast.

Taxi took me to my hotel in Kota Kinabalu where I had a lovely long soak in a hot bath..

Photos attached (check out his photoset in my flickr)

All in all this was an experience of a life time and something that will remain in my memory for the rest of my life.. what more can I say.. It is not easy but the end product arriving at Lows Peak makes all the effort worthwhile. Putting this into perspective for me, was the comparisons between Mount Kinabalu and the highest mountain in UK, Ben Nevis, Kinabalu is well over three times higher than that..

All in all, two memorable days.

Regards

John

RM7 (~USD2.16) Insurance coverage for climbing Kinabalu

If you have been following me for the past few weeks, there was an issue about climbing insurance for climbers of Kinabalu. BS Tan sent me an email in regards to the issue, which I could not find the solution myself.

Anyway, she received a reply from Sabah Park, explaining about the insurance coverage, after she sent them an official complaint letter. She is kind enough to share with us the reply:

Dear Madam,

COMPLAINT LETTER: INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CLIMBING GUNUNG KINABALU

I refer to your email dated 10 June 2008 with regards to the above-
mentioned subject.

Insurance coverage for climbers are as follow:

INSURANCE (PER ACCIDENT)

-DEATH PER ACCIDENT ONLY RM50,000.00

-PERMANENT DISABLEMENT AS A RESULT OF AN
ACCIDENT RM50,000.00

-EXPENSES PER ACCIDENT ONLY RM5,000.00

-REPATRIATION OF REMAINS RM2,000.00

<–Omitted text for confidentiality–>

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

AK.MOHD.RODZAN PG.DAHLAN
SABAH PARKS
KOTA KINABALU, SABAH, MALAYSIA

So now you know how much your compulsory RM7 insurance worth if anything happened to you. Happy climbing!

Sutera Harbour 7K Sunset Charity Run 2008

This annual charity event is here again for the 8th time! Although I have never participate it myself 9although last year I intended to), this year is a bit special, as one of the beneficiaries for this year’s event is Special Olympic Sabah! The other non-profit organization that will receive the benefit is Sabah Thalassemia Society, in which, I was also involved while I was working in Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

This is an event where you register yourself to participate in their 7 kilometers run, and try your best to make it under 77 minutes. There will be no winners in this event, but if you manages to complete the route in the allocated time, you will qualify for a lucky draw prize just after the run.

By paying RM20 for adult, and RM10 for children, you will be given a t-shirt and some of your money will be donated to the beneficiaries.

The main sponsor for this event would be Digi, one of Malaysian mobile telecommunication company and F&N 100 Plus.

So, if you happen to be around Kota Kinabalu on Saturday, 26th July 2008, spend some money for the needy, get yourself some sweat and have a jolly good time with the crowd. There will be live entertainment, food and games stalls that add to the festive carnival atmosphere.

Call their 7K hotline for registration and information: +6088-308121.
http://www.suteraharbour.com/promotions.php/type/events/item/76

I will try my best to join the event!!!

Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL) website revisited

After they upgraded their office here in Kota Kinabalu, I noticed that they have also redesigned their website. Apparently, they scrapped their SSL office header logo to make way to Sutera Harbour Resort. If you go to Wisma Sabah nowadays, you will not find Sutera Sanctuary Lodges anymore.

They centralized their operating office under Sutera Harbour Resort, which is one of the main player in Sabah’s tourism industry. I am not going to blog about their “new” office, as I have never been there myself. But I used to walked pass by their office, almost everyday on the way to my office. I really hope that their services improves in accordance to their upgrading process.

Back to their website issue. The question that I asked myself before I write this:

  • Is their website new design and set up more user friendly compared to the previous one?
  • Have they change to the better?

Website redesign issue
From the first glance, they still stuck with web1.0. A static website. As more and more website visitors comes to see the emerging of web2.0 (more interactive websites), SSL still left way behind. I am not surprised with that development, however, as it is known that big companies like SSL do not bother to use the power of internet to expand their business.

By the look of the pages, most probably SSL paid some novice webmaster to create a 15-pages website which they think is enough to get the message out to the netizen that they are running an accommodation booking website. But they did not able to specifically state that they provides packages for Mt. Kinabalu climbing.

I just feel that having a static website for SSL is inappropriate, as most of the website visitors nowadays are clever. They need updated information, news, up to date stories, feedback and interaction between them and the site that they are dealing with. They should have created a more interactive platform, like blogs or news feed on the home page, to inform their visitors of what happened in real time. For example, the news about the offices upgrade and renovation was only seen in local newspaper. It should also be announce in the website.

For SSL, don’t just cut cost by having one-off payment to your webmaster. Get a good webmaster who could regularly update the site with more updated information. Create a blog. Create a forum. Get your clients to easily contact you, and be more transparent with the information that you have. It will boost your credibility among netizens.

First time visitor experiences
Most of the netizens who arrived on SSL website will surely be lost. And the worst part, almost all the traffic to the website were directed from here (sorry friends… I don’t have much choice).

As most of us know, a big numbers of netizen who came here have only one thing in their mind: to climb Mount Kinabalu. But their intention met a stumbling block when they arrived on SSL website. They did not see any “Mt. Kinabalu Climbing Package Booking” anywhere. They just do not know which button to click to get their intentions going. They will also be confused on where will they be staying if they decided to go.

If they have enough information from my website and blog that they will be staying in Laban Rata on their way up to the peak, it will be easy for them. Just by clicking “Laban Rata”, much of the problems are resolved, but they will then faces new challenges:

Choosing the accommodation for the climb
Arriving on “Laban Rata” page, you will then be showed 3 options for the accommodations:

  • Laban Rata Room 1, which sleeps 2 – a high class accommodation
  • Laban Rata Room 2, which also sleeps 2, same as Laban Rata Room 1
  • Laban Rata Room 3, which is a dormitory, sleeps 6

For those who never been up there, the information above may or may not confuses you. According to the numbers above, do you notice that the total number of beds at Laban Rata is only 10? The truth is, at any one time, a total number of 140 climbers will be able to get their beds with SSL, plus another 30 beds that is run by Mountaintorq. Did they mention it anywhere on their website?

SSL did not declare that they actually have different kind of accommodations with different numbers of climbers per room. For old timers like me, seeing the accommodations page without Gunting Lagadan Hut, Waras Hut and Panar Laban Hut really disappoints me. Why did SSL hide the information?

Yes, the other huts that I mentioned are not heated and not the same “standard” as Laban Rata Resthouse (I suppose where the Rooms they mentioned are situated). But who cares? Some of the climbers did not even care about comfort and convenience, as long as they are able to climb. And most of them are actually ready to camp at Laban Rata if they are allowed by Sabah Parks. Why not just tell the truth about the accommodations and let climbers decide?

The climbing package

Yes, the prices has gone up 3-4 folds. I used to climb Kinabalu with less than RM250 – complete with transportation from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park HQ. I just need to fork out my own money to buy foods up there, but most of my foods were self-prepared. It was a couple of years ago.

Now, the price that are stated on their website are RM546 (Room 1 & 2) and RM1688 (Room 3). Bare in mind that the price does not includes your transportation, your park fee, mountain guides and certificate. Care to calculate how much it will cost you yourself by following the rate in their “Climbing Mt Kinabalu” page?

Okay… Okay… I complained too much. But I think it is for the company’s good image. I have nothing to loose here, my friend. I am hoping that SSL can improve their services up to our client’s expectation.

Oh, should I go to their customer relation issues?

In conclusion, I think:

  1. SSL still sucks big time on explaining how to go about (the straightforward way) on booking the Mt. Kinabalu climbing package, despite the new website redesign.
  2. They failed to inform us the whole truth about the accommodations at Laban Rata – Gunting Lagadan, Waras and Panar Laban.
  3. They failed to tell us that at any one time, SSL could accommodate up to 140 climbers at Laban Rata area.
  4. They still left behind with static web1.0 on their website. SSL, you may need to fire your webmaster and get a new one with web2.0 or even web3.0 oriented.

Good Luck.

I am not for hire as a webmaster – unless I am paid RM500k (hint) per year… HAHAHAHA…. (with evil laugh!)

Mt. Kinabalu Summit Trail Map – using Inkscape

As most of you know, I am an Open Source supporter. Although I don’t know how to write code for software and application, I know how to get involve with the community – by using their software. It’s free, I don’t have to go to Center Point 3rd floor where I used to go, looking for pirated software, and I also contribute back to their community by sending them bugs. I think you should do the same too.

Anyway, yesterday I managed to create a very simple and basic graphic illustration of Mt. Kinabalu Summit Trail Map, using one of the best open source software for creating vector graphic – Inkscape. If you find out that the license for Adobe Illustrator might squeeze your pocket even more after the fuel price hike, then this is your choice. Just download their installation package and get your things running in few minutes.

Learning curve? Not as steep as I expected. I just learned the differences between 3 major photo and graphic extension (jpg, gif and png) for any of my works. By knowing the differences, you will then know how to optimize your photos and illustration in your blog for aesthetic purposes.

After getting some elbow grease (or maybe mouse-and-index-finger movement), I roughly made up a rough sketches of the Summit Trail of Kinabalu. But still, the information on the shelters (pondok), the huts and the peaks are correct.

I know, the illustration looks like very simple. I agree with you that any school children who are taught to use Inkscape will do better than me. But it is better than nothing. Now I don’t have to worry about getting graphic illustrator for the book. I just to learn smarter to create more attractive graphic like the one below…

Well, at least it’s a good start to visualize things that you could do in the future. It makes you work hard towards your goal.

I am an a4trip writer…

Almost a month ago I received an email that I mistakenly think as a spam. Ryanne Lai wrote to me the email after he she found this blog, and decided to work together on “Mount Kinabalu Travel Guide Project”.

He She is working with a team of talented freelance writers and graphic designers at www.a4trip.com. A4Trip.com produces travel guides for various tourist destinations around the world, translated into various different languages. They have just launched their 3nd guide recently- the travel guide for Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

I did not think much of whether I should not join him her in his her team or not, as I AM looking for this kind of opportunity. As most of you do not know, it’s easier working with the people who want and appreciate your work (like him her), rather than getting some travel and tour operator to work with their team to boost tourism industry of Sabah.

I must say that almost all tour and travel operator in Kota Kinabalu still do not know the power of promoting their business via internet generally and blog specially. Our own Ministry of Tourism? Better stay away from their site as long as they think that bloggers are anti-government.

Anyway, today, a4trip have updated their website and blog. I am glad that they have worked very hard for the past few weeks in searching for writers for 60 destinations around this region. As this post were written, they only have 3 travel guides ready – Yogyakarta, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. And more guides are coming out soon, including my Kota Kinabalu Travel Guide. Yes, we have decided to create a Kota Kinabalu guide with Mount Kinabalu as a featured destination.

Writers for a4trip are given the framework and the time frame to complete the travel guide, in which will then be edited and published in the website. I am now in their week 4 of their writer’s framework. A lot of things still need to be done. Luckily they have their own graphic designer. Otherwise I don’t think my illustration and design will be up to their standard.

I think they still need some more writers for Sandakan and Tawau (east coast destinations in Sabah) which includes Sipadan. You may want to email Ryanne directly from a4friends website if you are motivated to be a travel guide writer and love to promote Sabah’s unique destinations to the world. Oh, maybe earn some income from the travel guide that you produce too!

The challenges of becoming a writer of Kinabalu

Anything worth doing is difficult

I am at the same situation where I was 3 years ago. When I said that I wanted to write a book about climbing Kinabalu last week, I know it would not be easy. Writing this book is the same as creating my website 3 years back.

For the past 7 days, I have been busy doing my new homework – on how to become a writer and maybe a self-publisher – after telling you that I am writing a book. I learned new things, I faced new challenges and I meet new friends on the quest being another writer. I just would like to share with you some of the challenges that you might be facing if you decided to join the bandwagon.

The challenge is on the production process
While having Mount Kinabalu as my main theme, and all the information will be gathered around the majestic mountain, finding information and writing about it is not a big problem for me. It’s the production process that really gives me new challenges.

Now I know that I need an editor for the book as my English (or Manglish) is not very good. Publishing a book without editing it properly and professionally will jeopardize your credibility of writing. After searching for few online editors, I chocked up when I saw their fees for editing. Searching for an editor locally in Kota Kinabalu will be another big challenges as I have a very limited information on who to refer to. Maybe looking for an English teacher or uni tutor may save me some cost on editing process…

I need to get a publisher to publish the book. I tried traditional way – emailing one of the famous Sabah’s local publisher in Kota Kinabalu. I got rejected, but I don’t mind. I have expected that to be happening, because they don’t think my title would have a big audience and market demand.

Dear Ruhaizad,

Thank you for your email of June 13. After careful consideration, we regret to inform you that we are currently not interested in publishing a book based on your website and blog (http://mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/).

Although you operate a successful website with valuable content on climbing Mount Kinabalu, we believe that the market demand for such a book is insufficient for this project to be a financially viable one.

We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to contact us and your kind consideration in approaching us to be your publisher.

Do keep up the great job with the website. It’s a great resource for everyone interested in climbing Mount Kinabalu.

I went online and found Lulu.com as a good option. I know by going to Lulu, I will be labeled as self-publisher. Lulu gives me a new hope of becoming a writer. They just need me to write the book, send the file to them and they will charge me for printing. Although the price stated on their website is a bit overboard for a self-publisher like me, none other online publisher could give the same kind of services that Lulu could provide.

I have checked out more than 20 other online publisher (in which almost all of them based either in the US, Canada or UK), and Lulu stands out of being the publisher that is ‘borderless’. Sounds really easy, but there are some catch.

Lulu will not help you on editing your book, unless you pay for the services. Lulu will not help you on formatting your book. What you sent to them is what they are going to print. If your format is haywire, you will get an ugly book to sell. Especially so for me, as I am going to put in photos, graphics and illustration on the book to enhance it usability. Lulu will also not going to create a book cover for you, but of course, you could pay them to do it.

ISBN issues

To publish a book, I need to have my own ISBN number for my book. Books without ISBN will be difficult to market, as Barnes & Noble and Amazon do not sell books without the ISBN. I spend almost one whole day reading about it to understand ISBN, and to be a credible writer, I have to have the number for my book. I still confuse in some of their information, so if you want to know more, it is better for you to check on ISBN from Wikipedia yourself.

Luckily for Malaysian, requesting for an ISBN for your book is free. We just have to send two forms from Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia website and a copy of your Mykad and they will do it for you. I saw some website that could provide the same service, but you have to pay them for it.

After considering all the features, I decided to do take up the challenges and DIY most of the things – except the editing process – that I could pay someone to do it. I am where I was 3 years ago – doing everything from scratch. It was my website then, and this book now.

Yesterday I was busy getting myself a grip with my GIMP version 2.4.6 to create the book cover. There are still a lot to do on the cover, but it may be good if you could give me some comment before I finalize it.

Now I need to learn Inkscape to get my graphic and illustration done…

Mount Kinabalu via ferrata booking page updates

It has been long overdue. I set up a booking pages for Mount Kinabalu via ferrata adventure together with my existing normal climbing packages few months back. I only managed to put on one package instead of three via ferrata packages that Mountaintorq offers.

Now that I have some time to update the system, I am going to add the other remaining two packages: The Low’s Peak Circuit & The Preamble. While Walk The Torq (the first package) is a “warm up” session of their via ferrata package, the other two packages offers more adventure for you.

The Low’s Peak Circuit (From point A to point C)
You will follow Mountaintorq’s trail down the mountain on Panar Laban Rockface. With this package, you will first summit the Low’s Peak (the highest peak of Kinabalu). And while coming down, a diversion not far from Sayat-Sayat Hut will bring you to this trail.This detour will show you the stunning views and explore hidden corners of the mountain plateau.
This package is suitable for those who NEVER reach the Low’s Peak before and want to get the extra thrill at the same time. First timer should consider this package a bonus – when I went up there 8 years ago, there were no such thing as via ferrata on Kinabalu. Now you can experience TWO adventure in just ONE CLIMB!!!

The Preamble (From point C to point A)
This package will not leads you up to Low’s Peak. It’s a trail that is made in the opposite direction of The Low’s Peak Circuit. While Low’s Peak Circuit leads you down the mountain, The Preamble will leads you up – you will experience the via ferrata by climbing up the route. You will start just after Gunting Lagadan Hut, goes up and ends at Sayat-Sayat, before you go down on the usual Summit Trail back to Pendant Hut.
This package is suitable for those who HAS BEEN up Low’s peak hundreds of time, and not planning to reach the peak again while doing this route. So, for example like me, who has been to Low’s Peak few times, and don’t find sitting on the cold peak with another 100 climbers, jam packed at a very small place, squeeze themselves just to take pictures of their achievement, this is the package to consider.