She's Singapore's most popular--and perhaps most infamous--blogger.
Eight years since her online debut in 2003, Wendy Cheng has shot to fame with her pointed, brusque and unabashed writing, and her willingness to discuss anything and everything, from politics to penis sizes.
Today, she runs 10 public and private blogs, with her main one, xiaxue.blogspot.com, receiving some 40,000 unique hits a day. The petite 27-year-old has also just released the 100th episode of an online TV show she helms, Xiaxue's Guide to Life.
She only started vlogging on YouTube about two months ago, but fans have wasted no time in following her there as well, with her video tutorials clocking more than 100,000 views each. She is also probably the first Singaporean to become a YouTube partner, getting revenue share from Google ads displayed on her videos.
In conjunction with the Yahoo! Singapore 9, our campaign to recognise the most influential and inspiring Singaporeans in celebration of National Day, Yahoo! Singapore catches up with Xiaxue to find out what she's been up to since she turned full-time in 2005:
Is blogging the only thing you do? How do you earn your keep, and how much do you earn?
Yup! I have been blogging full-time since 2005. I earn through ads and advertorials on my blog. I guess I am a professional blogger now--although hey, prostitutes are professionals, too, people who sell sex, right?
My income is not stable because I earn based on the ads--so it depends on how many there are. I would say it ranges a few thousand a month, on average... which is okay. Particularly because I get a lot of free stuff! A lot of things are sponsored, and so a lot of my expenses are paid for.
What kinds of products do you review, and what were some of the weirdest things you have been asked to write advertorials for?
I guess beauty products get sponsored the most--beauty products, fashion and electronics. The weirdest thing? I don't know... probably halal toothpaste. Seriously! I'm like, why are you giving me a freaking halal toothpaste? I'm not even Muslim. How am I supposed to advertise for you? And I didn't even know there was such a thing.
What were you most excited to review?
I got sponsored for my Invisalign--invisible braces. That one is very expensive, about $10,000, but my dentist is very good--quite cute, some more!--and he's very nice; he sponsored it for me. I was very excited about it, because I've always wanted to fix my teeth, and people have always said they're very ugly.
Another thing would obviously be my nose job. That one I was very happy about.
Any plans to fix anything else?
Not at the moment, no!
Ever considered a career switch?
Not at the moment, I guess... no. I like my job, it's great--I get a lot of freedom. I woke up just before this [Writer's note: this interview was held at 4pm on Friday]
What is a day in the life of Xiaxue like?
Waking up late, at maybe 3 or 4pm, and sleeping really late--when the sun rises! I start blogging very late at night, at about 3am. I don't like disturbances, otherwise I won't blog--also my husband will be bugging me, saying "Let's watch shows together!", and stuff like that. I'm really a homebody--I stay at home a lot, although sometimes I meet friends, go for events, shoot for Guide to Life. In the evening my husband comes home from work so we normally go have dinner, then he sleeps and then I start to use my computer.
I guess a lot of people think that I'm a slacker and that I just don't work at all, but actually I do. When I work on a blog entry, I really go crazy--I spend hours and hours editing all my pictures. If an entry has just words, it would take a few hours, but the more obsessive ones can take up to a day; 10 hours--gathering all the information and editing all the pictures.
So you always work at night? Doesn't it bother you that you keep different hours from everyone else--your husband, for instance?
Sometimes I work during the day when I feel inspired, but most of the time it's at night. My husband doesn't like it--he likes me to sleep together with him, but I cannot--so I just sleep for a bit and then sneak out of bed, mostly. He knows I do this, but what to do? It's just how I am; he's known it from the start.
What are people's biggest misconceptions of you?
1) People think I am very stupid. I mean, I don't think I'm extremely smart, like rocket scientist-smart or anything, but I'm definitely not dumb, lah, okay.
We heard you passed the MENSA test?
Yeah, I took it in 2003 when I got fed up of people saying I was stupid--so I passed it, but I didn't join them in the end 'cause I couldn't really be bothered to. When I was younger, I was very indignant--now, I'm too old to be bothered.
2) People always say that I hate my race and am trying to be white. I don't know, just because you like another race's hair colour doesn't mean that you hate your race, right? I love being Chinese--I love Chinese food, I actually only listen to Chinese music and I converse with a lot of my friends in mandarin also, so I don't like it when people say that (I'm trying to be white) because I'm very proud to be Singaporean, and that's who I am.
I feel and I think it's very buay paiseh (literally translated: 'No shame') of them to say that, especially when they're white themselves, like f**k, what makes you think everyone wants to copy you?
And then people always say I did my nose because I wanted to look white. But actually I did my nose because my nose was freaking ugly last time! It really was, lah. It was super big and flat... aiyah see, nobody remembers how I looked last time, so 'fugly'.
So you've been nominated for the Singapore 9 Media category! How do you feel?
Very honoured, I guess. When people from other countries read my blog and say they like me and stuff, a lot of times I feel maybe I do bring some kind of pride to Singaporeans! After all, I won in the nuffnang Pacific Awards under the Best Blog category; that's against Australians, Malaysians and Philippine bloggers... but I always feel like nobody in Singapore is ever proud of me or gives me any recognition--it's kind of unfair, like what the f**k? Other occupations like singers, you get so many people saying "I'm so proud of Sun Yan Zi, I'm so proud..." nobody ever says they're proud of me! It's so sad!
And then people always say "I'm so ashamed of her (Xiaxue), she's so blonde" and what not... but no matter what, I'm still beating everyone else in popularity and stuff what. Nobody cares. So yes, this is nice, for once. Although people are going to say they're going to vote for everyone else and not me... but whatever.
Now that you've got a massively-popular blog, an online TV show that's just hit 100 episodes and a recently-active YouTube channel, what else have you got on the cards?
Well, I've just been given a partnership from YouTube--and I believe I'm probably one of the first Singaporeans to get it, since it isn't supposed to be available to Singaporeans yet. I think it's nice of YouTube (to have this partnership scheme); since they could just put the ad there and not share the money. Michelle Phan, the top female YouTuber in the world, said that the top YouTubers earn a lot of money from Google ads--tens of thousands of US. dollars per month--this over and above the other endorsements they get!
Beyond this? I guess I'll take it one step at a time.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
The next decade? I guess maybe with one or two kids of my own, and I'll be blogging about them instead of me... I don't know.
What about when you're much older, say in your 60s?
I think I still will, in some form.
I will keep blogging for as long as I have something to say, I guess. I don't see a future when I'm not blogging unless it dies down... and even then, even if nobody reads, I'll still blog.
Wendy Cheng, blogger Alex Au of Yawning Bread, The Online Citizen co-founder Andrew Loh, satirist extraordinaire Lee Kin Mun (mr brown) and The Straits Times social media editor Ng Tze Yong are the nominees in the media category in Singapore 9, a Yahoo! project to recognise nine Singaporeans who really made a difference in the past year. Make your vote count here.