By Sadia Roohi and Nur Isyana Isaman
Learning to be financially savvy is part of the adulting phase that everyone goes through, but financial topics can be boring. That is where Goh Wei Choon (ADM/2014), The Woke Salaryman co-founder, puts his storytelling and illustration skills to good use. He breaks down financial concepts into bite-sized messages and enlivens them in his monochromatic comic art.
Speaking at the NTU What’s Up Wednesday Alumni Speaker Series in April 2023, Wei Choon explained: “I am the layman checker. When my co-founder, He Ruiming, who knows a lot about personal finance, writes something too complicated, I let him know. This has been a key component of our success because on social media, we have chosen the mainstream target audience.”
Before setting up his own content agency, Wei Choon’s talent was showcased during his school years, through illustrating for NTU’s award-winning HEY! magazine.
Similarly, the other speaker, Chua Yuxuan (WKWSCI/2015), dipped his toes into content creation when he was still an NTU undergraduate by writing articles for an online media title, Mothership.
Right upon graduation, he landed a job with HEPMIL Media Group, which owns SGAG – known for its humorous content. Yuxuan started as a content strategist in 2015 and is now the head of creator partnerships to help nurture new talent and guide the company's creative output.
Mr Goh Wei Choon (ADM/2014), co-founder of The Woke Salaryman (centre) and Mr Chua Yuxuan (WKWSCI/2015), head of creator partnerships at SGAG, provided insights on content creation during the talk moderated by Ms Nikki Draper, WKWSCI’s Assistant Chair for Student Life and Alumni (left).
Here are eight key takeaways from them:
(1) Create content to solve problems
Wei Choon believes that content creation can be used in problem solving. He said: “During the creative process, forget about the medium. Content creators should focus on the problem they are trying to solve. This approach allows for more adaptability, so that creators are not limited to specific labels, such as video creators, and can think more broadly.”
Wei Choon also found that personal stories are very successful. When Ruiming wrote about his father’s retrenchment during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the post went viral in 2020 and even caught the attention of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
(2) Learn from others
Yuxuan pointed out that many creators focus solely on their craft, failing to realise that the content creation and distribution process is equally important. Creators can keep track of their ideas, deadlines, and projects in one place using basic tools on Google Drive and Microsoft Excel.
(3) Consistency is crucial
Wei Choon emphasised that one can potentially reach millions of people with just a mobile phone and an internet connection, but format consistency is crucial to going viral and monetising content. He cited the YouTube channel, Good Mythical Morning, with its consistent format of playing a game every day, helping it gain a large following and become successful.
Yuxuan also advises creators not to dwell on poor-performing posts. “No one will remember. It is more important to be consistently good in what you do,” he said.
According to Wei Choon, maintaining a consistent format is essential for achieving viral success and monetising content.
(4) Create positive impact
Content creators should use the wide reach on social media to create a positive impact. Yuxuan explained that while his company’s content help most clients tackle challenges and solve problems, it is when they work with non-profits that they feel their work is particularly meaningful.
“During festive periods, some of our creators gave free sponsorships or shout-outs to small businesses. This impact is what truly inspires my team and I as we feel a sense of purpose in knowing that we are making a difference through our work,” he said.
(5) Be open to sacrificing artistic integrity
Professional creators work with their clients to do storytelling. Although Wei Choon aspired to be the best artist in school, he realised that pure artistic and technical mastery does not translate into real-world success.
He said that as an illustrator, his job was to solve problems rather than create artwork for himself like an artist would. Sometimes, he had to sacrifice his artistic integrity to find a solution that works for a client.
(6) Choose suitable social media platforms
Both alumni highlighted that it is not necessary for a brand to use every social media platform. Brands should understand the strengths and limitations of each platform, and focus on platforms aligned with their values and target audience.
Yuxuan said, “SGAG focuses on micro content, short videos, and stackable content on Instagram. Although our team discussed about expanding to video-centric platforms, we are cautious not to invest too many resources on something that may not work for our content.”
(7) Value academic experiences
Initially, Wei Choon was sceptical about the value of a university education as he is a practical learner. In hindsight, he is thankful for the academic training that shaped his critical thinking.
“I had to prove my statements in academic reports by citing sources, which forced me to describe my conclusions. This approach is useful when I pitch my ideas to colleagues and stakeholders these days,” he highlighted.
Yuxuan appreciates his internships during NTU days in forging a career. He approached SGAG to list his final year project on their website – a campaign promoting positive social media behaviour. The project ranked top 10 on the website’s homepage for weeks, which landed him a job.
Yuxuan expressed that he highly valued the NTU attachments and internships, as they allowed him to gain practical experience and uncover his strengths through working in real-life situations.
(8) Taking a detour is alright
Some content creators may ponder if they should do it full-time or continue as a side hustle. Wei Choon knew he wanted to become a full-time business owner, so he set three criteria to meet before quitting his job: Pay off his debts; make at least S$4,000 a month for three consecutive months through The Woke Salaryman; and have liquid savings to cover six months of his expenses.
Wei Choon put his passion on hold and worked at a medical company for over a year. The savings from that job paid off his study loan, and he took the leap to run The Woke Salaryman full-time in 2020.
“It is alright to prioritise earning money over passion for a while. It is possible to use financial stability as a stepping stone towards achieving one's goals, even if it means taking a detour along the way. Also, it is important to have a conservative approach, as opposed to the idea of throwing caution to the wind. While the process may not be exciting, it can lead to a successful outcome,” he said.
The audience gained insights into content creation from the two alumni speakers.