I was born and raised in Malaysia. I've always wanted to start a blog, but because I was too insecure about my poor English (Chinese is my native tongue) and afraid of being judged for it, I'd been putting it off.
So I spent a good few years learning, improving, practicing, and sharpening my English skills. Though it's not perfect, over the years, I've gotten more comfortable with the idea of putting myself out there and starting a blog in English.
After graduating high school in 2005, I decided to step into society to get a job and not pursue higher education due to financial reasons.
But the decision posed a conundrum:
I didn't know what I wanted to do. I had no skills. No credentials. I was just a young man from a small town venturing into a (relatively) big city — Kuala Lumpur.
I'm trying to think of some interesting stories to impress or entertain you, but honestly, there weren't any.
Looking back, all I did was spend a decade of my life jumping from one job to another just to try different things and to see what kind of jobs I'd enjoy working.
Most of them were sales jobs because that's what pays the most. And money was what I needed the most to splurge on material possessions and to fill my inner void.
Flash forward to 2016 — a good friend brought me into the internet marketing space. I told him I needed to make some money and he promised that if I followed his advice to a letter, I'd make $3,000 in 90 days.
He was very active in CPA marketing at the time and made pretty good money. So I hired him to teach me to do that.
Over the next 12 months, I was making money like this:
If you don't know what CPA marketing is, it basically means Cost Per Action marketing. As a CPA marketer, my job was to get people to take a particular action (could be a signup or a purchase), and the product owner/company would pay me a commission.
I was able to generate daily income like that for a whole year because I believe I was one of the pioneers who started promoting those affiliate offers using Facebook ads while most other marketers were using SEO, email marketing, etc.
To give you some idea, I was spending $750-ish on ad spend a day. The ROI was insane. And to get ROIs that insane, you're either selling something shady or promoting something shady.
Yep, I was promoting some shady offers for crazy commissions. Actually, I wasn't even aware of that at the beginning, but when I was, later on, the money was too tempting for me to stop doing it. So I kept going.
But the problem with Facebook ads — or any paid ads, for that matter — is that it's too easy to spy on and copy others' ad campaigns.
As soon as people knew how much money I was making (my bad for posting it on Facebook 😂), they quickly started copying my ads and became my competitors.
When an influx of marketers started running ads for those (shady) offers all at once, Facebook started noticing those ad campaigns.
And that's when Facebook started taking action.
A full year later, Facebook shut down my ad accounts and personal account. Obviously, they didn't like what I was doing on their platform.
So all of a sudden, my income halted.
And because I was so complacent with my “wonderful” life over that short year, it took me a while to face the music.
Actually, it's way longer than I expected…
After losing my sole source of income, I wasn't ready to give up. So I started looking for other ways to continue promoting those shady offers.
But the niche was getting darker and darker. More ridiculous offers were popping up. As more new affiliates were coming in and trying to promote those offers, it became more and more competitive.
Affiliate networks had to raise their payouts here and there to attract affiliate marketers to promote their offers. At some point, the commission rates they offered were 2x or more than what was offered a year earlier.
That's when I started to sense that things were going to an end.
I was right, and I'm glad I didn't pursue that path further. But at this point, I had more significant problems to deal with — my finance and my confidence.
Now, I'm not gonna bore you with my family drama, but growing up, unhappiness and insecurity were my best friends.
And they probably still are.
When I became an adult, all the negative traits I had developed over the years were now ingrained.
The crazy part?
It all happened without my knowledge. Yep, the subconscious mind is a bitch.
So when I finally had a chance to make good money, I earned myself some self-respect and confidence.
But at the same time, I got a little overly egotistical, and I started judging other people for not having “success” or being ambitious…
I also started buying things that made me look good on the outside, or at least I thought I was looking good.
For whatever reason, I was trying to show people that I was successful because it felt so good! I was too arrogant to take advice from people that genuinely cared about me.
In hindsight, I was self-sabotaging and setting myself up for failure.
Even after I lost my source of income, I still wasn't willing to confront my problems. Or maybe I should say I still wasn't consciously aware of my problems.
I lucked into a fortune and inadvertently built an arrogant identity around that. I fell in love with my egotistical self-image.
I thought I was intelligent and successful — and that I was destined to do great things. What a goddamn fool I was!
It wasn't until a few years later when I'd tried multiple business ventures and failed at all of them, that I realized I wasn't as smart as I thought.
The “success” I had was essentially a one-time fluke.
And when I was finally willing to start accepting the truth and myself, my confidence crumbled.
I lost faith in myself. I was back to the point before everything began, if not lower. I was afraid of taking on new challenges…
"What if I failed and looked stupid again?" Or worse...
"What if I succeeded, did stupid things, and lost it all again?"
I was so afraid of being judged because of how much I judged others when I thought I was a successful self-made millionaire.
To make matters worse, I made many stupid financial decisions and lost all the money I had made over that year, which led to even more self-loathing.
It took me years to embrace myself and all the mistakes I've made and be able to even talk about it.
A New Beginning
After years of refusing to get a job and struggling financially, in Oct 2022, I finally compromised.
My friend introduced me to a job, and I've been working as a digital marketing executive for a couple of months now.
Funnily enough, the friend that got me the job was the one that taught me affiliate marketing back in 2016, which then led to the million-dollar roller-coaster journey.
Anyway, over the last few months of working at a job after years of hiatus, I've had some pretty profound realizations:
- The skills I developed from trying all sorts of things over the years are very useful.
- Having been through quite some hardships over the years, I now have more resilience at my disposal when things don't go my way.
- No matter how great or secure your job may seem, it's a constant rat race. There'll be things you don't like about the job and can't do anything about it. You can only find a new job and repeat restart the rat race in a new environment with new people.
- Etc etc.
Those realizations have led me to a decision to restart my blog. And this time, I want to do it right — grow it slowly and steadily while working at a job until it generates enough income for me to support myself.
If you've made it this far, I genuinely appreciate it. At the end of the day, it's not that fun to read through my dull and boring story.
I first launched this blog in June 2020. After publishing three posts, I abandoned the blog because I couldn't cope with the tremendous self-doubt.
But every time I make a comeback, I feel myself getting stronger and more committed. The future of the creator economy is bright, but the path to get there is ridiculously rough.
And I believe I'll eventually get there if I don't give up and keep trying. No matter how long it takes.
If you want to follow along on my journey and potentially get some exclusive content creation tips and practice life advice first-hand from yours truly, I'd love for you to hop on my newsletter — Subtle Scoop.
Thank you so much for spending your time with me. Take care!
Until next time,