Bali // Taman Ayun Royal Temple

Taman Ayun Royal Temple was the first temple we visited in Bali on our day of touring the island. this was one of our "surprise" stops on our tour. we knew nothing about it before we arrived, and it was not a place we had requested to visit. but it certainly wasn't a terrible place to spend an hour in the morning sun...

the entire compound is surrounded by a moat. inside that are gardens, with the main area of the temple guarded by a wall and another moat. on the grounds there are several smaller buildings and shrines, and one tower that is open to the public [of course we had to climb it!]

atop the tower we found large wooden bells, a bit of shade, and a view of the main temple area. the wooden bells look like solid logs, but are actually hollow [though not open on the bottom like a metal bell.]

like most other temples in Bali, tourists are not allowed to enter. but you can still get a great view of the grass-roofed pagodas and intricate stone carvings from outside the wall.

Taman Ayun isn't on a lake [or in the sea] but it is part of a series of temples dedicated to the water systems of the island and keeping the evil spirits away from Bali. it may not be as famous, but all the blue sky and orange stone [and low crowds] made it one of my favorite sights.

linking up with Bonnie, Tina, and Melanie for Travel Tuesday.


roll with it

in less than a week, my friend Kelsey is arriving for a ten day visit! I am SO excited to have her, but it means that somehow April has escaped me and I'm about to enter a six-week-long touring + travel extravaganza.

we'll be hopping all over the island while she's here, and then a week after she leaves I'll be heading to Tokyo Disney for a belated birthday trip. [my birthday is actually next week, the 30th. I'm turning 29 and it doesn't even seem real at this point.] a few days after our return from Tokyo, my brother arrives for Taiwan tour part two. and after a few weeks of that, he and I will be flying back to Michigan together. Husband will head back to the states when school ends later in June. [and then it's weddings and babies and flying all over the country.]

I'd love to tell you the book is finished and I have posts written and scheduled for the next month or two. but no. I'd love to tell you that my house is spotless and I'm 100% ready to start receiving visitors. that I have packing plans for Tokyo and America all ready to be thrown into suitcases. but no, and no again.

in fact, I don't even have groceries or a plan for dinner.

add to all this madness that we just spent the weekend in Taipei instead of cleaning and planning, and this week I am helping teach Husband's ninth graders how to create and set up their own blogs and, well... I've got myself whipped into a frenzy.

I like to be prepared and to have control over things, and right now I very much do not. I've run out of time to accomplish everything and now I have to play triage with my tasks. but before I go off the deep end, I'm going to just stop for a minute and breathe.

I've decided to follow a new plan, something Husband like to tell his students: roll with it.

the world will not end if I have to order take-out. if I haven't swept under my bed by the time my friend arrives. if I miss a blog post or don't check twitter for 2 days. things go wrong, life happens, internet connections suck and laundry takes at least one full day to dry here. I'll do what I can. because at this point, there's not much else I can do.

so maybe this is reminder to myself, or maybe a reminder to you as well:
you are human, it's ok. just keep going. roll with it.


how to get the most from your sponsorships

today I want to talk about sponsorships - about purchasing them and how to get the most out of your experience. it seems like there are a lot of posts debating the virtues of offering sponsorship and how to be awesome at that, but I think putting some thought into where and how you advertise yourself bears consideration. I started buying ad space on other blogs about six months ago, and my readership has more than tripled in that time. I don't think this is entirely due to sponsorships, but I believe they have played a large part in my growth, and I've learned a lot from the experience. here's how I've tried to approach it - hopefully these tips can work for you [and your blog] too!

+ be choosy about who to sponsor +

finding the right fit for a blog to sponsor isn't always easy. when you purchase a sponsorship, your face and name are going to become associated with that blog's brand. some people look for blogs to sponsor based on pageviews and followers. while those should be factors, I think it's more important to consider the content and audience of who you are sponsoring. do you write about similar topics? does your content something have something relevant to offer their readers? are their readers engaged and active on their site? is this a blog that you actually read and enjoy? if you answer "no" to any of those questions, you might want to reconsider purchasing a spot.

to me, putting my face on someone's sidebar isn't just about getting more views for myself. it's my way of saying I support this person and what they are doing. so I like to sponsor blogs that I like to read, and people who I want to support. another great source for finding blogs to sponsor is to look at your own followers - if they already love to read your blog, they're more likely to promote your content authentically.

+ pick the right spot for your blog +

most blogs offer a variety of spaces that come with different options and features. make sure that you read through the terms carefully before choosing which one you want. does it include a solo feature or a group interview? are social media shout-outs guaranteed or given organically? typically it's worth the few extra bucks to spring for a spot that includes some kind of feature. this will give readers a chance to get to know you beyond seeing your face on the sidebar.

also consider the amount of time and level of involvement you want to take in the process. are you willing to do an interview or write a guest post? do you have the extra cash to put in for a giveaway? sponsoring a blog can involve answering questions for a feature, finding and sending photos and links... or sometimes just submitting a banner. if you don't have the time to commit to that, you may opt for less exposure [but less work on your part] and simply buy an ad without the extras.

+ create an attractive ad +

once you've decided who to sponsor and which space you'd like... it's time to create a banner. there are some blogs that will design an ad for you for an additional fee, or if you had a designer work on your site they may have given you a pretty button already. if not, get creative and make one yourself. there are plenty of free sites that allow you to edit and add text to photos [pixlr and picmonkey for starters.] some people choose their site logo, others like to have their face on it - really you can do whatever you like. feel free to use fun fonts and eye-catching colors as long as your blog name can be read clearly.

and for the love of cheese, size your ad properly! if you are buying through passionfruit, the ad description should include the dimensions of the spot. don't be lazy and submit a rectangular ad for a square spot [or vice versa.] your ad will be stretched or squashed and that doesn't exactly make a great first impression.

+ be easy to follow +

when someone new arrives on your blog, what do they see? can they find your "about me" page and links to your social media easily? if you want viewers to become readers, you need to make it easy for them to connect with you. [some of this I covered when I wrote about why I love to read your blog.]

I understand and respect that some bloggers like to keep certain aspects of their life private. if you choose not to have public twitter/instagram accounts then by all means, that is your right. but you should have links to whichever accounts you publicly use, so that new fans can add you easily. this also means you should have an rss feed of your site and a bloglovin account for readers to subscribe to new posts.

+ post quality content +

I don't know who said it first, but they said it right: content is king. I think a lot of new bloggers start buying sponsorships because they want to grow [and that's great!] but you have to have something for all these new viewers to look at. and for people who want to re-invigorate their stagnant blog with new readers [also great!] you should start writing again before you start trying to draw people back in. if I come across a blog that hasn't been updated in months, I'm not likely to start following in hopes they might post again some day. when you decide to advertise your blog, it should already be worth advertising. you need to be posting quality content, and posting it consistently. this will make you more promotable, and also help catch the interest of new viewers who will come across your page.

most of all - your aim with sponsorship should be to gain new readers, not just new followers. participating in giveaways can be a great way to boost your numbers. but you have to back it up with content if you want to keep those new followers coming back.


to me, getting the most out of your sponsorships isn't just about who you sponsor, you actually need to put some work into it too! I know that the topic of purchasing and/or offering sponsorships is highly debated in the blogging community, and I want to know what you think. do you agree or disagree with my points? what are things that you consider before buying an ad space - or do you buy sponsorships at all?
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