Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blogging for Perks and Pleasure

Yesterday's item in the Japan Times titled "Bloggers gain perks to pitch tourist spots" reminds me, in a round about way, of why I started this blog almost exactly three years ago.

At the time I was living and working in London, but my wife and I had had enough of living in the UK and were keen to go out to Asia. So, the plan was hatched that she would get a job teaching English in Seoul, I would have a year off from work and become a house husband, we'd spend a year there, then I'd get a job in Japan and we'd move across the Japan Sea. Which is exactly what we did.

When I first told friends and family we were moving to South Korea most people knew very little about the country and the people. I had been following a number of blogs at the time and had been casting around for a good subject for a blog. I realised that a blog on what life offers in Korea might make a good topic. My aim was not only to inform friends and family of our life in Korea, but also to provide detailed information for other expats and tourists coming to Korea.

I soon discovered a healthy Korean Blogosphere with a wide range of bloggers from those fresh off the plane excited to taste their first Kimchi to the seasoned long termers like Robert at the Marmot's Hole and Mike the Metropolitician.

I enjoyed blogging about the interesting and varied places and events we visited. From the peace and quiet of Samcheonggak to the fun of the Hi Seoul Festival
Other useful information I blogged about ranged from The Best Bread in Seoul , Discount Cards to the first day of the Arex Airport Railway.

Since we moved to Japan my blogging frequency and volume has been reduced but I still try to post two to three times a month on something topical. I've done my best to promote regional attractions. I provided a link direct to Shizuoka Tourism's site promoting the new airport that opened at the beginning of this month. I documented our summer trip to Hokkaido last summer.

This blog has always been a hobby and I never attempted to make any money by trying to commercialise it, I got as far as signing up for AdSense, but because the blog is still on the old format blogger template (long story) I have not bothered to incorporate the adverts. I have always been open to reviewing products or services in return for an honest write up, but have sadly never been offered anything.

Strangely the Japan Times does not include any links to the bloggers depicted. I spent a few minutes searching to see if I could find any of their sponsored blog posts but I couldn't find anything obvious. Instead, I found another blogger ( Kimonobox) also commenting on the same story and looking for the same thing! She's done a bit more research and come up with nothing either. She is waiting (I fear in vain) for a reply back from the Japan Times to her request for more details. My guess is they are blogging in Japanese which is why the Japan Times did not include any links.

So if the Wakkanai tourism association is interested I would be more than happy to accept a trip up to the northern tip of Hokkaido to see more of the spectacular scenery.

This was intended to be an entry for this month's Japan blogs Matsuri which is hosted by Billy at Tune-in-Tokyo on the subject of Living on a budget in Japan. But, I am not sure after all that rambling, it counts on the subject of how to save money? What are your thoughts on bloggers posting for perks and could you save money from it if you have a blog?


Our Man in Abiko said...

Getting freebie travel in exchange for a review is part of the great BS of the newspaper world. No matter how hard you wish to remain honest, the thought of that free trip to Hokkaido or Okinawa does tend to skew your take on the holiday to always positive shite, which, while sometimes is fair enough, is not doing the reader a service - you end up being as bland as the dreaded mainstream media. You lose the respect of your readers. But gain a free holiday.

Our Man would prefer to pay his own way and keep his opinions free.

Jon Allen said...

Thanks. I can see the problem.

balaam said...

Interesting. I'd love to work in Korea or Japan (again) but my main worry is the overtime in the IT industry.

Is this much of an isssue? Was it easy to find work?

I taught English in Japan as part of the JET program. I'm just about conversational in Japanese. I'd love to spend some more time there. England doesn't really appeal to me all that much either!

Jon Allen said...

Hi Dan,
It's very hard to generalise regarding overtime. I work for a multinational bank, and the work ethic is pretty strong, so long hours are expected.

There was a lot of debate on this topic over at on one of his posts, with quite a few varied experiences.

As for getting a job here: that was NOT easy, and that was two years ago when the economy was good. I spent six months searching, before being offered the job.

One or two IT jobs are being offered these days, and as you know Japanese that would be big advantage. I can send you some contact details of agents I have used if you are interested.