KUALA LUMPUR: Fed up with day jobs and measly pay, a small but rising number of people have become full-time Internet entrepreneurs, some raking in five-figure salaries, often in the comfort of their living rooms.
A popular Internet income generator is through the sale of advertisement space in websites and blogs. Others sell anything from e-books to software, either authored themselves, or through an affiliate programme.
There are no statistics on the number of Malaysians who have gone full-time into online money-making ventures, although anecdotal evidence suggests more are doing so.
However, before Malaysians start jumping on the Internet income bandwagon, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has a word of caution: Beware of online scams.
“Surfers should not fall for get-rich-quick scams that are aplenty online. MCMC continuously monitors and acts on them,” said a spokesman from the regulatory body from the communications and multimedia industry.
But for those who have struck gold online, the returns are generous, not only in terms of pay.
Most work from home, which means they do not have bosses breathing down their necks, don’t have to get stuck in traffic jams and can spend more time with their families.
Liew Cheon Fong, who runs a technology blog (www.liewcf.com), claimed he was the first Malaysian to go into blogging full-time in 2005 in what started out as a hobby to share computing tips with friends.
The Kluang-based 27-year-old computer science degree-holder posts a few entries in his blog daily. He needs to keep his entries interesting to attract web traffic, failing which his income could dip.
One of his sources of income is Google Adsense, an online advertisement programme run by Internet giant Google. Liew gets paid whenever visitors click on advertisements placed on his blog.
Website operators who sign up with Google Adsense display advertisements related to their websites. For example, a blog on pets may feature ads on dog shampoo or pet grooming services.
Often, revenue generated online is in US dollars and credited into e-commerce facilities like PayPal. While Malaysians cannot withdraw money from PayPal accounts, many use them to make online purchases instead.
Unless you earn a monthly five-figure salary like Samsul Zamzuri Abu Bakar, 32, a Sungai Buloh-based Netpreneur (see accompanying story). He has opened an account with a United States bank which allows him to withdraw earnings credited into PayPal.
Then using his ATM card, he withdraws his money here.
But Samsul, who co-runs several blogs on gadgets like handphones and digital cameras, said many people have the misconception that entrepreneurs making money over the Internet involve “just working a few hours a day and spending the rest of the time watching their money roll in”.
Samsul spends up to 12 hours in front of a computer, either liaising with his co-bloggers, marketing his blogs or simply surfing the Internet for ideas or to keep abreast with the latest developments in technology.
There are also drawbacks when your sole income is derived from such unconventional means. A common complaint is erratic income.
In Samsul’s case, revenue peaks during the Christmas and the US summer seasons when sales of technology items go up, while for the rest of the year, earnings can be slow.
Last June, Liew’s income was badly hit when Google dropped his blog’s ranking, resulting in a drastic reduction in the number of visitors to the site. Liew has since recovered after Google upgraded his ranking. Now, almost a quarter of a million visitors go to his blog per month.
Gobala Krishnan, 27, who sells e-books and software online, said it was more important to plan ahead and follow it through. Otherwise, his earnings would be affected in the long-run. He claimed to be making RM20,000 to RM30,000 per month.
How does one identify online cheats, especially since some of the operators are based overseas?
Krishnan offered his rule-of-thumb: “If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Just like any business, Internet business takes capital, time and dedication.”