previous  |  next

Blog your way to better times

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

A few days ago, I was listening to a radio interview with a few local and federal government officials including David Cohen, the current deputy assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior.

In discussing ways to remedy and reverse the CNMI’s current standing (i.e. brand identity) in the minds of those in Washington D.C., Mr. Cohen mentioned that one of the most important things to accomplish is to have a human face associated with the issues concerning these islands. Lawmakers and decision makers in Washington don’t have an appreciation for the culture, the lifestyle, nor can they attach a human face with form and feelings to this region so as to appreciate the plight of the living, breathing people who call the CNMI their home. As a result, when lawmakers discuss issues of minimum wage and immigration, for example, the issues are treated as abstractions—as merely concepts without any compassion.

Among the ideas suggested to address this void in perception was the creation of a delegation to represent the people, articulate the vision, expose the culture, explain the lifestyle and humanize the residents of these uniquely blessed and strategically positioned islands.

“This is not the time to be shy,” Mr. Cohen said. This is a critical time in the future of the CNMI, and people (all over the world, not just in Washington), need to know who we are what our unique needs and concerns are. Without this missing element, when it comes time to passing legislation, the CNMI may get swept up in a broad brush of rules and regulations, opinions and attitudes, mixed with election agendas that omit the critical human factor.

It made sense, I thought to myself. So how can the average person participate in this humanization of the CNMI?

The answer: Blog. That’s right, I said blog!

Yes, believe it or not, through blogging, we can harness the power and global reach of the internet to participate in the (re-)branding of the CNMI, and blog our way to better times. First a little background to bring some of you up to speed.

BLOGGING 101: What’s a Blog?

A blog is nothing more than a website—specifically, an online journal with entries in reverse chronological order (latest posts on top). ‘A blog is a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. The term blog is a shortened form of weblog or web log. Authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called “blogging”. Individual articles on a blog are called “blog posts,” “posts” or “entries”. A person who posts these entries is called a “blogger”. A blog comprises text, hypertext, images, and links (to other web pages and to video, audio and other files). Blogs typically use a conversational style of documentation. Often blogs focus on a particular “area of interest”, such as Washington, D.C.’s political goings-on, or simply discussions and chronicles of one’s personal experiences. (Source:

In case you’re not aware, blogging is huge! Millions of people every day post to their blogs, and tens of millions more visit them each day to read them. Relationships form, networks expand, businesses get launched, friends are made, families are reunited, scandals are uncovered, news is made, and this huge world we live in is made a bit smaller through blogging.

So, Phase I of our plan to blog our way to better times is:

PHASE 1: Establish your own blog

1. Go to (not the only option, but one of the better)

2. Sign up (follow the “3 Easy Steps”), then

3. Start blogging and posting pictures to your blog

Once you’ve set up your blog, your blog’s Internet address might look something like—this, by the way is an actual blog launched by Franicia White to, in her own words, “blend my world of health and nutrition, bargains and good deals, and business ventures.” You also have the option of getting a personalized domain name like, for example, and having it take visitors to your blogspot blog.

So, with minimal computer skills, absolutely no knowledge of web design or HTML, you can have a blog that millions of people have potential access to. You can blog about life on Saipan, how you spend your day, just about anything you like. (My personal suggestion, given the abundance of negativity out there, is to do something different and focus on what’s great about life in the CNMI—but that’s just my way of viewing things.)

Cost to you so far: $0.00.

PHASE 2: Blogging for social change

These days, the Internet is the first place for people to start a search for information on a new or unfamiliar topic. So when a newspaper, television or radio reporter, a student, or even a government official is on a quest for information for an article, essay or report, say, on “worker’s rights,” “CNMI immigration” or simply “life on Saipan,” more than likely he or she will go to their favorite search engine (e.g. and do a search. Wouldn’t it be nice if when they do that search, they find something positive and inspiring about life on Saipan? Well, through the power of blogging, they can!

Angelo Villagomez’ blog at is THE most popular blog coming out of the CNMI (appearing in position 14--page 2) on any Google search for “Saipan.” As a result, Angelo receives anywhere from 300-400 people per day visiting his blog, enjoying his account of people, partying, politics and his passion for life here on Saipan.

BeautifyCNMI’s blog at (also chronicles the vision, efforts and successes of this unique coalition to make Saipan a pleasing place to live and visit—all documented for the world to see.

So how much impact can blogs have, you ask?

Over the years, bloggers have achieved tremendous credibility as shapers of public opinion and gauges of public sentiment with the unique ability to galvanize, mobilize and influence, public thought, action and discourse. Consequently, bloggers are being granted VIP access to sports and industry press conferences, media announcements, even political conventions!

How much impact can one blogger have, you ask?

Beverly Cabanatan’s blog ( has great pictures of her scuba diving, working at her dental clinic, and offering her takes on life the way only she can. As a result, she gets a steady stream of about 40-50 visitors each day who tune in to see what interesting things she has to say. Recently, she received an e-mail from someone, inspired by her blog, wanting to learn more about Saipan and at what hotels to stay! Imagine that, a one-woman tourism campaign! How many tourists might YOUR blog encourage to visit Saipan? Hmmmm.

Just think of what will happen when hundreds, perhaps thousands of people each with their own unique blogs, voices and stories to tell populate the internet. Once you’re up and running, your next task is to make sure people know you exist, and where to find you. Being part of the network can help.

The site was created with the specific goal of improving Saipan’s visibility for people searching for Saipan-specific information. When blogger Angelo Villagomez and I launched the website on Dec 6, 2006, the site showed up at position 155 (page 15) on a search for Saipan. Today, just 30 days later, the site appears at position 50 (there’s always some fluctuation day to day)--all thanks to the power of exchanging links with other bloggers. The more people who link to us, the higher our ranking.

So now, when people do a search for “saipan” they’ll discover our network and be led to real people with real blogs like yours giving them authentic snapshots of what life is like.

So, Phase II of our plan to blog our way to better times is (once you’ve set up your blog)

1. Go to

2. Add a link to us from your site (we provide easy instructions on how to do it)

3. Email us your “Why I Love Saipan” testimonial

Cost to you so far: $0.00.

PHASE 3: Blogging for money

Now all that blogging and linking will eventually help the CNMI, assist in redefining our brand identity, and even have an effect on national tourism, but what about your own personal economic condition—YOUR better times?

Now here’s where it gets really fun! Let me tell you about Wendy Cheng. Wendy Cheng is a young girl from Singapore who decided to start her own blog. Using and following the simple instructions in Phase I above, she set up, a simple blog where she gave her opinion on anything she felt like addressing. She’s got such a unique way of blogging, that today, she gets about 20,000 visits per day, has her own TV show, and flaunts endorsement deals from clothing companies who pay her to post pictures of herself wearing their clothes. She even sells ad space on her blog for $100 per pixel.

Her blog is nothing more than her crazy thoughts about life, and what she does from day to day. Wendy represents the new era of economic possibilities for anyone with a voice, a viewpoint and a passion for communicating both. She recently mentioned on her blog: “I want to be one of the first few people in the world who are able to answer ‘I am a Blogger!’ when asked what my occupation is.”

Even if your blog never achieves stardom on Wendy’s level (though there’s no reason it can’t) you can still make money in any number of similar ways. You too can sell advertising space on your blog. If you take a look at many blogs including Angelo’s, you’ll see ads by Google, ads by Yahoo, etc. in the side columns. Every time a visitor to your site sees something of interest in these sponsored ads and clicks on it, you earn money—anything from a few pennies to a few dollars depending on the ad.

Other avenues for revenue including writing for other blogs and publications, selling e-books or other products, public speaking, and sponsorships. The sky’s the limit, and new channels, avenues and opportunities are popping up every day.

So, Phase III of our plan to blog our way to better times is:

1. Sign up for Google’s Adsense program (for more on how to sign up, visit my own Side Orders: The Money On The Side Business and Lifestyle Blog at and click on the Adsense link)

2. Join one or more affiliate programs

3. Add a donations button to your blog

4. Solicit sponsors for your blog, and

5. There’s much more that can and has been written on this, so visit for more information on how to blog for dollars.

Yes, it’s indeed possible to blog your way to better times. It’s something we all can do. Your unique voice, your unique perspective on life, your sense of humor, your unique group of friends, the way you look, you way you think, the way you communicate, the photos you take, your crazy family, your crazy friends, your religious perspective, your political views, everything and anything can be fodder for the blogger.

And with the abundance of Internet cafes, wireless access in clubs and bars here on Saipan, everyone with a computer, or simply access to one, can join the blogosphere. So, even if you don’t have the time to fly to Washington to speak in front of panels and committees, and if you don’t have the connections to be part of a delegation, you can instead start a blog

And then, when a delegation of representatives does in fact reach Capitol Hill in the U.S. to plead the CNMI’s case, who knows, they may mention our network of bloggers in their PowerPoint presentations, distribute downloaded excerpts of some of our bloggers’ sites to legislators to show them who we really are….or, who knows, they may not even have to…we may already have reached and touched enough people to make a difference.

* * *

Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!


previous  |  next