A Chinese woman suffering from loneliness and insomnia started a business selling goodnight texts for 15 cents a message to help others with similar problems.
While working part time in Shenzhen after graduating college in 2012, Wong Biying, now 35, suffered from insomnia due to isolation and loneliness. Born into a “typical Chaoshan family,” Wong said she never got any affection from her parents and went through a “lonely time” after college.
She was inspired to start a business where strangers could connect and find companionship. Wong then came up with the idea of selling goodnight texts and opened a shop on the Chinese online shopping platform Taobao called “A person selling a good night in a deserted land.”
“I thought I could connect these strangers to confide in each other and keep each other company,” Wong told Ziniu News via South China Morning Post.
Wong, who is based in Guangdong Province, initially believed that her business would be unsuccessful. However, she was surprised to see her first order a few days after opening.
While some goodnight messages are typically short and friendly, other cases require the texts to be up to 200 characters long. Wong said she occasionally receives strange requests such as debt collection reminders and enemy curses.
In a video posted to Chinese TikTok-like platform Douyin, Wong explained that customers will share their story while placing an order. She then curates special goodnight messages centered around the customer’s personal life.
“When people place an order, many of them will write down their own stories, and, through every story, I get a window into their souls beyond the screen,” Wong said in the video.
Some of Wong’s customers include cancer patients, children with divorced parents and people of the LGBTQ community with unsupportive families.
Since 2012, Wong has made over 30,000 yuan (about $4,452) and once sent out over 300 goodnight messages in a single night.
While some have criticized Wong for profiting off of text messages that are considered free, she explained that her business takes “a lot of time and energy.” Wong pointed out that 30,000 yuan was not enough to support herself over 10 years.
Despite experiencing less insomnia and loneliness over the years, Wong decided to continue her business as it brings positivity.
“The trust of strangers keeps me going, as well as bringing warmth to others while healing my lonely self,” Wong said.