Thursday, 26 November 2009

Earn $1 million in a day in Thailand, Kanye-style

Cost of living is one of the most attractive reasons for living in Thailand - many expats live comfortably on little more than 40,000 baht (roughly $1,000 dollars or £700) a month.

The cost of living is music to the ears of serials visitors in Thailand, who find their hard earned money going further than they could ever imagine here in LOS.

For resident expats, however, the low cost of living in the country is tempered by wages which are comparatively lower than at home. But spare a thought for native Thais, many of whom are lucky to earn more than 10,00 baht (circa $300 or £180) in a month - making the cost living far from low.

One man who had no problems making ends meet in Thailand recently is rapper Kanye West who, according to the Phuket Insider, made a million dollars (or 33,150,324.64 baht) in just one day thanks to a private gig in Phuket, Thailand.

Stacking up the baht, Kanye West

Last week West performed at the wedding of a wealthy Indian business man who, having already booked out the entire Banyan Tree hotel in Phuket, paid more than US$1 million for a one hour performance from the star.

West didn't hang around and flew straight out of the country having only arrived earlier that day.

Kanye West is a millionaire which makes the idea of him flying halfway round the world just to simply add another load of sixes to his bank account bizarre. Until, that is, you consider his ego and desire to succeed.

Still, the irony of a superstar earning such a staggering amount of money in a country with huge areas of poverty and struggling is not lost on me.

Kanye, imma let you finish but...if you need some help spending the cash you know where I am.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Ten tips to creating a successful blog for your company

[Originally posted on the Director Thailand blog here.]

I can't say I follow all of these, been especially inactive of late.

We’ve discussed social media in detail but have yet to touch on blogging – perhaps the original social media platform – in any detail.

Here we present ten essential tips for developing a successful blog for your business.

1. Think it all over first

Blogging isn’t for everyone so, before you launch your company’s blog take a little time think and plan exactly what you are looking to get from blogging.

Keep your goals and aims in mind every time new content is posted or the site is edited. This way content will be consistent and more appealing to potential new readers.

2. Write regularly

If a blog does not contain new content regularly readers will begin to lose interest and visitor numbers will decrease. Posting new content daily, or every day, gives regular viewers reasons to return to your blog meaning increased levels of traffic.

3. Use (a little) SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the art of positioning a website well within search engines. SEO pays homage to the power of Google which will can, when done well, generate a large amount of traffic for your blog – Google, SEO and other search engines cannot be ignored.

SEO techniques vary but, in terms of blog content, a website which regularly uses key words (words which relate to the company’s business) will feature higher in Google searches and drive more traffic from search engines.

Despite the positives key words only work to an extent and should not be abused. SEO done badly, with too many keywords repetitively positioned, makes a blog sound unoriginal and too focused on driving traffic, making it less attractive for readers looking for interesting content.

4. Sprinkle social media dust

Social media, like SEO, is a popular and effective way of generating traffic to a site.

Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Hi5 or LinkedIn, posting snippets of content alongside a link can significantly boost visitor numbers to your blog.

Equally, posting information about social networking, for example details of a company’s Facebook group or presence on Twitter, can generate interest in the company’s social media presence(s) which may in turn lead users to recommend, visit or link to your blog or social media profile.

Social media buttons, which allow content to easily be posted to websites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook and more, can be installed and will spread blog content virally over social networks.

5.Engage with the community

Networks of bloggers who cover similar topics exist across the web. Engaging with and entering a community is an effective way to get noticed, generate traffic and discuss topics close to your business.

The first step is always to monitor conservations and track other blogs that relate to you business/keywords – which are the influencer? Which generate the most traffic/comments, etc?

These are the influential blogs that can boost your blog.

There are many ways to engage. Linking to other blogs and websites in posts is a simple way of alerting other blogs to your presence and encouraging link reciprocation, and consequently, traffic to your blog.

Most blogs have a blog roll, a list of blogs that the blog owner reads or recommends to their visitors, which generate visitors to the blogs listed on them. Creating and displaying a blog roll on your blog encourages other bloggers to include you on their blog rolls which, in turn, encourages more traffic to your blog.

Commenting on other blogs will also help increase our visibility in the blogosphere. This will encourage blog owners to list your blog on their blog rolls and post comments on your blog and discuss ideas and topics you raise on their blog.

6. List contact details

Blogging is about communication so providing contact details is essential yet still many bloggers do not do so.

If a visitor reads an interesting post or is interested in your business and wanting to find more information listing contact details will allow them to get in touch with you directly.

On a more principled level, blogging is about breaking communication barriers and transparency, listing contact details will help your blog achieve these goals.

7. Use multiple authors

With a need to post regularly and insightfully, the job of blogging is made easier when shared.

Using multiple authors will give a variety of insights, experiences and knowledge which may make your blog a more interesting read for visitors.

8. Be creative

A blog is more than just pages of text, it is a medium to entertain and interest. Adopting a creative approach will sustain visitors interest, maintain traffic levels and generate interest and buzz in the blogosphere.

For example, why not run surveys, regular features, interviews, guest posts, pictures and special offers in addition to regular blog posts. The variety and different angles will generate a greater level of interest and interaction with readers.

9. Have patience

Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither will your blog be. It may take anything from one month to one year before you start seeing regular numbers of comments and visitor numbers – persistence and patience are key virtues which pay off in the long run.

10. Monitor, monitor, monitor

There are scores of web analytics and monitoring tools which provide insightful data about your blog, its readership and how it is used.

Free services such as Google Analytics, Alexa, Technorati and others will help you understand more about your blog and how you can better use it as a resource. For example, which blog posts pull in the most visitors, which keywords generate search engine traffic and which websites are sending traffic to your blog.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Back up your hard drive...NOW

Just do it.

Take it from.

Today I lost all the data from my laptop which caught a virus after I borrowed a USB to help print a document.

Silly move.

Of course the work I have written is replacable with a little effort but, as I only backed up a small number of the near 1,000 pictures taken of the little one since his birth, I'm going to be missing lot of baby photos from my son's first year.

I'm not one to be overly sentiment but I was looking forward to going through them with him when he is older. Digital camera and seemingly endless digital storage enables parents to keep all kind of photos and videos of children - something that I can say, at the grand old age of 27, "didn't happen in my day".

This may in fact be music to his ear's as the by spearing him hours of agony as his dad goes through seemingly endless baby snaps which are a little over indulgent for him.

Either way I've learn the hard way and will be investigating back-up options. Expect to read something about that sometime soon.

Ironically I'm working on a cloud computing article, a concept of storing documents online - a concept which leaves documents unaffected by virus on computers.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

That Man and That Article

Note: I've waited a while before posting as other bloggers' posts has drawn a line of acceptability for reporting this news.

That said, the goverment has blocked certain links to the article in question, as well as threatening legal action on anyone reporting it, so you will find no outgoing links here.

If you wish to read the article, please Google for it yourself, at your own risk.

Here's to freedom of speech.

Thaksin Shinawatra's interview with The Times has been talk of Thailand with blogs, Twitter and the web in general abuzz with discussion of the fall-out from the piece.

The article is likely to bring charges of lese majeste, a law which prevents criticism of the monarchy, brought against the exiled former Prime Minister who was already in the news for accepting an economic advisor position with Thailand's hostile neighbour Cambodia.

From reviewing both the article and the full interview (in fact an "edited transcript") the article's headline appears to be the primary offending element.

There is also likely to be controversy over the suggestion that Thaksin endorses reform of the monarchy and the fact that he openly talks about the King's death - despite both topics having validity and relevance to the future of Thailand.

Referring to the transcript, however, it is clear that the headline and many quotes attributed to Thaksin have been taken out of context and are not reflective of the entire interview.

At no point is Thaksin critical of the King or the Thai monarchy.

Instead, he criticises the "royal institution" - advisers and consorts who work with, and around, the monarchy.

Yet he is likely to fall foul of the law.

There are two schools of thought.

From a Western perspective it is crazy that one headline can be responsible for this level of chaos. Particularly when it is clear Thaksin has gone to great and careful lengths to voice support for the monarchy (regardless of whether it is believed it or not) and brought up the very relevant issue of succession and modernisation of the monarchy.

The headline used for the article does not fit with the context of the interview. It is deliberately controversial to stoke interest in the story/newspaper/journalist (successfully achieved) though, as Asia Editor, Lloyd Parry would have been aware of lese majeste laws in Thailand and the impact the story/headline could have.

Should the article have carried a more suitable, less controversial, headline in line with the gist of the interview?

Another perspective, accepting (but not agreeing with) the workings of the media and laws in Thailand, is to criticise Thaksin's naivety for openly discussing contentious and controversial issues with a foreign journalist.

Foreign media do not adhere to the local rules and specifics of the Thai press, they have no allegiance and will publish content regardless of any waves subsequently generated in Thailand.

Either way lese majeste charges, which carry a maximum 15 year prison sentence, are likely to have little impact on a man already in exile (the fate of some lese majeste authors) from existing criminal charges.

The danger for Thaksin is that his comments, unlikely to affect ardent Red Shirts, may turn sympathisers of his cause against him.

On the other, as one leading blogger argued yesterday, with Thai translations of the article circulating across the country, many of the natives will read Thaksin's open and honest comments.

In a land where discussion of certain subjects is taboo, Thaksin's comments on controversial but increasingly pressing matters, which his foes cannot discuss, is unlikely to win supporters but it may help him begin to re-establish his credibility.

Then again, this is Thailand, anything could happen next.

There are a host of bloggers whose takes on this development are interesting - worth digging around for as I won't publish links.

Baby moonwalker

This has to be the best value baby product we've bought to date - beating more than a few worthy contenders.

It comes at a time when The Little One has just turned one - an age at which he has the energy and desire to rush around the place, sadly this isn't matched by his legs which allow half a dozen or so steps before sending him crashing down to earth.

The moonwalker (not a tribute to MJ) supports his weight, unlike reigns, allowing him to practice and train to wreak havoc and terror by walking completely unassisted - where the fun starts.

It is really simple to use too, it's wearable like a set of pants, with secure clicks providing safety and the puppet like strings to control and prevent tumbles and keep him on the straight, and hopefully, narrow.

Best part, The Missus found it on a Thai website for less than 300 baht (£6). Highly recommended, a true bargain and, most importantly, one happy little punter.

Monday, 9 November 2009


I suffered my first car accident a month or so ago, which is quite something as I've been driving for nine and a half years.

Ironically it came minutes after I'd been talking to a family friend, over from Switzerland, about the standard of driving in Thailand.

As it happened, the incident was the perfect example for my Swiss friend, who, as a former expatriate in Singapore, was interested to learn "how it all works with accident insurance" in Thailand.

My answer?

It doesn't.

The lady who drive into the back of me (the red/burgundy car) whilst I waited for at a red light was pretty shell-shocked, even more so on seeing a couple of foreigner step out of the vehicle.

"I'm so sorry, I didn't see you" she kept repeating in Thai.

The damage to my car was minimal, she bore the brunt of the spare tyre into her bonnet, but we took her number and some photos just to be sure.

After a chat with her, The Missus quickly found that, like all too many motorists in Thailand, the lady had neither insurance nor a license to drive - a combination with severe consequences back in Blighty, but pretty standard here.

The woman was so shocked by it all that she nearly reversed into the central reservation when my Swiss friend and began pushing her non-starting motor to a safer place. I did feel sorry for her but that feeling was nothing compared to the relief that our car was not damaged.

Lesson learnt, never tempt fate discussing car accidents whilst driving a car.

Particularly in Thailand.

I got off pretty lightly.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Thailand Twitter List

Decided to practice my preachings about Twitter Lists.

I've created a list, @jonrussell/thailand, for English-language Twitter users in Thailand - both Thai and non-Thai - which is pretty comprehensive.

You can access it at by clicking here or browsing the widget near the top of the blog's right sidebar.

Whilst it is unlikely to deliver breaking news like other lists, it's a neat way of seeing what people are talking about in the Thai Twitter community and may help you find new people to follow.

If you're not on the list my apologies, it's not easy to go through 400 plus contacts. Just drop me an email or find me on Twitter, I'm @jonrussell, to remind me.

If you don't know what Twitter is and you live in, or have an interest in, Thailand, read this post and come back to this page.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Loy Krathong in Saraburi 2009

Last year's Loy Krathong fell a few weeks after I'd arrived in Thailand making it a great, first insight into Thai culture and tradition. We went to a beautiful local river, taking some amazing photos and videos in the process.

A year on and it is still my favourite Thai festival.

Most people probably prefer Songkran, with its week-long, never-ending water fights, but Loy Kratong has the (enjoyably mild) weather and amazing sight of Kratong (boats made from leaves and, well, anything) sailing down the river with candles alight in the dark of the night. That's not even including the legions of Khom lanterns which float away with candles ablaze.

Add to that the traditional Thai costumes, dancing, festivities, etc and you have a truly spectacular time of the year.

So how did I spend Loy Kratong?

Erm, with an impromptu booze up - rare if you know me here in Thailand.

Yep, we left The Little One at home and headed out with a few Thai peeps.

I was sad to have missed the ceremony but I did manage to grab a couples of snaps during the day though they don't rival the sadly grainy night pics from last year.

At least I can say that my Thai is decent enough to allow me to go out for drinks with only the occasional use of English.


I'm putting DISQUS on gardening leave whilst the rest of the world, and my small portion of readers, catch up with the service and start using it.

I think the service is top notch in putting all of a person comments together, and other elements which seem obvious but no one else is doing. Alas precious few seeming to use it, it's coming down for the moment to be replaced by the bog standard Google comment machine.

As Charles said recently "management reserves the right" blah blah blah.

Bye bye DISQUS, see you soon I hope.