Prioritising family and lifestyle are what drove Winnie to set up an online marketing business.
What’s your story?
I was trained as a system analyst with a programming background so I started off being a bit geeky. After my son was born, I decided that being a full-time mum for my child is more important than my career. In the mid-90s, the internet had just barely started to be available to the public, so without a thought, I built my first website in between looking after my son.
People soon realised that there were business opportunities on the internet and affiliate programs were everywhere. As I enjoy travel, I built websites about travelling in Hong Kong and other countries with affiliate links to promote travel-related products. They were a huge success, and they brought me a very handsome income while I could stay home with my children.
Now that my kids have grown and go to school full time, I can spend more time on my business. From time to time there are friends who ask questions about promoting their business using website or internet marketing. So I decided to expand WL Media to help both SMEs and people like me, who want to earn a living while still enjoying the freedom of doing the things they prioritise most.
What excites you most about your industry?
I love the challenge of internet marketing. There is always something new. It’s changing, it’s evolving, and you need to be creative to win in this game. What works today may be abused and become a taboo. As a former programmer, I like the technical side of it. But I also thoroughly enjoy the marketing part which requires a lot more planning and thinking.
What’s your connection to Asia?
My mum’s family was originally from Singapore though they went to China and then Hong Kong after the war. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. My working experience in international company allowed me to meet and work with people of different nationalities, including Indian, Taiwanese and Filipino.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is very competitive though I still think Hong Kong has an edge. Not just because how easy it is to set up a company, how efficient and robust the legal and financial systems are, but also its closeness to China. Any business which plans to enter the China market will benefit from first starting a company in Hong Kong, then learn his way to China.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Believe in yourself and your dream. Don’t let fear stand in your way. Take full responsibility for the consequences.
Who inspires you?
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador. I was thrilled to find that in 2001, Roque Sevilla, a nature lover and the former mayor of Quito bought a large swath of the Chocó rainforest which was due to be logged, and has turned it into a hotel with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows for people who wish to have a close-up experience with nature. The hotel was built by the joint effort of scientists and naturalists with a vision on conservation and sustainable ecotourism. He trained local loggers to staff his lodge and help on conservation rather than deforestation. And there are researchers in the Life Centre carry out ongoing monitoring and research. Visitors can join all kinds of walks with the experts there too. Find out more about them. They have certainly done a lot of amazing things!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would go and study entomology and environmental study, and work with conservation programs worldwide to get some hands-on experience. With my knowledge in digital marketing, I will help to raise people’s interest in nature and awareness of the big environmental issues ahead of us.
How do you unwind?
I like to watch insects and different life forms in my garden. I have photoed and recorded the life cycle of stinky bugs’ eggs. Puzzles are my favourite too. Once I start a puzzle, I cannot put it down until I have finished it.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. I love the gentle Indonesian people, good food and the tranquil environment.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It is a book about web design. Nowadays, everyone should have a website and it should be easy to use or you will lose your potential customers quick.
The same principle applies when dealing with your customers offline. Don’t make them think. You should do the hard work and make it as easy as possible for the customers to choose.
Shameless plug for your business:
At WL Media HK we combine a business orientation with a technical background to do internet marketing that works. We reject all quick-fixes and the underhanded techniques so prevalent in our industry and focus on reliable, ethical and honest promotional methods.
Whether it be in-house SEO training workshops, monthly promotional packages or a starter package for a new business we have a range of options available. But more importantly, we are willing to sit down with a business and understand enough about your goals, pain points and competitive environment to come up with online marketing strategies that will work.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.