Once upon a time, there lived a girl who loved cheese. Like a lot.
She loved cheese so much that she calls herself ‘Cheesie’.
In 2004, she started a blog. It was named… wait for it… cheeserland.com.
Her first blog post was about her first overseas trip (in Korea). The word ‘cheese’ appeared… wait for it… 9 times (and that’s excluding variants like ‘cheddar’, ‘mozzarella’ and ‘cheesus’).
Fast forward to 2016. Cheesie blogs for a living. She’s happily married and blessed with two toddlers. Her second home is Tokyo. She has published a book. She’s a household name in Malaysia and Singapore.
All through the power of words. More specifically, just one: cheese.
Fifty Shades Of Cheese
Why so cheesy? What’s the story behind the name?
“I really did like cheese when I was younger,” Cheesie admits. The name traces back to her Friendster days (“yeap, I’m that old lol” she quips). “I didn’t want to put my real name so I created the nick name “Cheesielicious”,” she recalls, “Back then everyone was “Cherylicious” or “Babylicious” etc etc.”
Ah, the dark days of Internet anonymity and faceless avatars. Yes, we’ve all been there. But whereas most of us cast away our embarrassing nicks, Cheesie wears hers proudly like a badge.
“Then it was shortened to “Cheesie”,” she continues, “And I notice I started getting lucky after using this name (winning contests, getting more popular etc) so it stays.”
Does she really like all types of cheese? The stinky ones?
“My passionate love for cheese sort of expired a while ago, and now I am obsessed with some other food/things, but it is a little too convenient for me to change my name to suit [my] current obsession,” she reveals. “I still generally love all things cheesy and would eat most of them, but I once tried a type of goat cheese that I did not like. And I have yet to come across Limburger, which is said to be one of the smelliest cheese.”
Even the ones with worms inside?
“No,” she says firmly. “Probably not even if I get paid.” Then, after a thoughtful pause, she corrects herself: “Unless a lot.”
So what’s her real name?
She smiles sweetly, munches on her cheese crackers, and says nothing.
From Tokyo, With Lov
Lately, she has been sharing a lot about life in Japan.
Is it possible to travel to Japan for a week with just 500 Singapore dollars?
“Yes,” she nods, “S$500 is about 37500 yen. Hotel 3000 Akihabara is 3000 yen per night. 3000*7=21000. Meals daily could be under 1500 yen. Yoshinoya for less than 500 yen and onigiri/sandwiches in convenience stores at 120 yen. (Tap water is safe to drink in Japan). 500*7=10500. Train tickets average 500 yen a day, less if you are willing to walk. 500*7=3500. Total: 35000.”
That’s amazing maths. And she’s not done yet. “You still have 2500 yen left to buy your Tokyo Banana souvenir for family and friends,” she ends with her trademark witty flourish that sends her fans in stitches.
Pokemon Go is taking over the world. So is Tokyo the place to catch them all?
Cheesie thinks so. “You can catch the region-specific Pokemon “Farfetch’d” (Kamonegi in Japanese) in Japan,” she rattles on excitedly like a tour guide. “I caught 3 of them, one at Ikebuuro station, one in Harajuku in front of WEGO (near Ichiran Raman shop), and one right in my own apartment.”
She also disclosed the hideout of the elusive Electrabuzz. But let’s not spoil all her secrets, shall we?
Blogs To Riches
Want to be the next Cheesie? Well, there’s good news! For she’s actually quite transparent about her tricks in the trade.
The key is audience engagement. To aspiring bloggers, her advice is to “look at retention rate (how long a reader spends on your blog/website) other than traffic”. The same rule applies to social media. Comments like “nice pic!” aren’t enough. “The best types of engagements are when your followers ask you questions or even share their own experience,” Cheesie explains, “It means that they are truly interested in what you post and would love for more.”
Easier said than done, of course. Which is why Cheesie has helpfully set out how she does it in greater detail in her e-book “How To Be A Successful Blogger (Cheat One™)”.
It’s A Cheesy World
So what’s next for Cheesie? Start a cheese factory? Star in Marvel’s next blockbuster Cheese Ninja?
“Rather than big plans, I am taking one step at a time,” she replies. “Blogging/social media is constantly evolving, and I may not have the time nor energy to catch up anymore to have it as a full time job, having a family to take care of now.”
So what happens after the kids have grown up? Surely in a world that’s turning to videos and cool stuff like VR, she can’t keep blogging forever, can she?
“I will be doing tourism related work for Japan and continue to spread the beauty of this country to the rest of the world, as I still have my life mission to complete, which is to visit every single prefecture in Japan,” she says.
Her ultimate retirement plan?
“And when all my dreams have come true, I would move to a small village in Japan and plant radish.”
No matter where she goes from here, one thing’s for sure – Cheesie is full of cheery smiles.
And with a girl like Cheesie, the world will never run out of cheesiness (except maybe the ones with worms).
This article is based on Q&A extracts with Cheesie. To read her answers in full, download PopDQ. Feel free to pop her questions of your own about cheese, Pokemon and life itself!