About Monster Elf

Welcome to Monster Elf, this is where I write about my interests. The articles I write draw from experiences I have with these topics:

  1. Search marketing
  2. Travels in Japan/Hong Kong
  3. Building wealth

Search Marketing

I’ve been a digital marketer for more than 10 years and currently with a Fortune 500 SaaS company.  Don’t call me a “guru” because there is still so much to learn in this constantly evolving space. I’ve done B2B, B2C digital marketing, mainly SEO and SEM.  I’ve used many SEO tools, services, and agencies and want to write about the unfair advantages large companies have and how small businesses can still outdo them. 

Living in Japan/Hong Kong

I love living in Asia.  The food, people, and cultures are amazing. Because all the countries are just a short plane ride away, you can visit a different country every weekend if you wanted to. 

My career in Asia

When I graduated from college, I had no idea I would be spending half my life in Asia.  To make a long story short, I first went to Hong Kong and worked in finance.  Then move to Japan to get my MBA but struggled to find a finance job after graduation because I could only speak conversational Japanese. 

I was stubborn and believed only a job in finance will set me on my way to financial freedom (yes, I was that naive).   Through a contact from my graduate school, I landed a job as a product controller at a top German securities firm.  But it didn’t last long as the bank had to close its Tokyo branch because it struggled to make money.  So I got laid off.  

Don’t feel pity for me because I soon had 3 offers from RBS, Lehman, and a top tier US bank.  Only the offer from the US bank was for a job in marketing.  That’s when I switched careers – from finance to marketing.  As my luck would have it, the industry got hit with a change in government regulation.  I was, once again, laid off.  

Getting laid off twice was a huge blow to my confidence.  But I looked at it as a blessing in disguise. I received very generous severance packages from the companies.  With the cash windfalls, I invested it all in myself. 

In 2008, I completed an intensive Japanese language bootcamp and tried my hand at entrepreneurship (website creation and SEO services for small businesses. I didn’t know a thing about building websites or SEO so I had to learn on-the-job). 

Fast forward four years later, my business didn’t take off like how I thought it would so I closed the company.    The valuable experience I gained along with my improved Japanese language skills landed me a position as SEO Lead with the Japanese subsidiary of the largest electronic components distributor in the US.  

I didn’t stay there long because the culture wasn’t for me.  I was later scouted by a recruiter at US-based SaaS for an SEO Analyst role.  As they say, the rest was history.

Building Wealth

1
I had $607.33 to my name in 1995

My net worth 25 years ago was $607.33 (not sure if you can see the faded print). Not being able to spend on necessities was tough. I rented out a walk-in closet of a dilapidated Victorian house as my room while going to college. My meals revolved around eating 99 cent whoppers, instant noodles, and frozen burritos.  

In hindsight, I could’ve been in a better financial position much earlier had I been more aware of my distractions (going out with friends, living without thinking about tomorrow, and not learning to invest).

I have no one to blame but myself for taking this long to manage my money better. But through constant learning about finance/investing and some luck, I’m financially comfortable. This ATM receipt is a reminder of how far I’ve come and how it can always fall back to that level if I don’t continue to drive forward.

Trying my hand at affiliate marketing

I want to build passive income streams with affiliate marketing using my experience as a digital marketer. I’ll be using this blog to test different digital marketing tactics. I do promote products I’ve used as an affiliate that will earn me commissions if you click my links and make a purchase on the advertisers’ site.  I would only recommend services/products from reputable and trustworthy companies.