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?


Maokong gondola + tea plantations

Maokong is known for three things: tea plantations, great views of Taipei, and the gondola you ride to get there. our views of Taipei were obscured by haze and tinted gondola glass, but it was still lovely to get out of the city and wanter through the hills in the fresh air.

the gondolas and the station have been taken over by Hello Kitty. who doesn't love Hello Kitty?

Saturday was warm and the lines were long, but worth the trip I think. we were crammed into a gondola with four strangers, and up we went through the mountains...

I'm hoping the next time I go to Maokong it will be clear. if you look closely you can spot Taipei 101 through the haze. that large building on the near hill is some kind of temple/monestary which you can also get off at the second gondola stop and explore.

we got off at the top station and took a right. there were signs for a temple, so we wound our way around a road to find it. there were plenty of tea houses offering drinks and snacks along the way, though I think some of the more famous ones are to the left of the station. each sign we found pointing to the temple seemed to lead in a different direction and the distances were misleading, and eventually we started down a "trail" [otherwise known as a brick-paved path] such as the one above.

after an hour of wandering around [not entiely unpleasant, because the air was fresh and the trails were nearly empty] we found a temple. I'm not sure if it was the temple we were searching for, but I found a stairway in the hillside that let us climb up to be eye-level with the roof dragons.

worth it.

+ how to get there +

take the wenhu [brown] line on the MRT all the way to the Taipei Zoo station. leave via exit 2 and walk to the large glass building covered in Hello Kitty gondola cartoons. you board the gondola on the 4th floor. use your EasyCard or pay 50NT for a ticket all the way to the top. [tickets for glass bottom gondola costs more.]

the cup of coffee that fueled the writing of this blog post was sponsored by Polly. she drinks her coffee  with lots of milk + sugar, and blogs about travel and expat life over at A Girl and her Travels.

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


Ubud // Taco Casa

I'm having one of those days. where being an expat is hard and I'm missing the convenience and familiar things of America. [side note: I'm sitting in Starbucks wearing probably the most "American" outfit I could have: cutoff jean shorts with TOMs and a baseball tee.] lately I've really been missing food. and by food I mean easy gluten-free things like Buddy's pizza and New Planet pale ale and grocery stores like Wegman's and Whole Foods that believe in labeling allergens [in English.] traveling and living abroad with food allergies... sucks. living in Asia with a shellfish allergy and gluten sensitivity is really difficult. especially when I can't read or speak the language. I am so ready to head back to the states for summer and eat all of the things.

part of our summer will include traveling to California and Texas, during which I plan to eat my weight in Mexican food. I can't eat flour tortillas but corn tortillas in the form of nachos, enchiladas, and tacos? yeah, I'm all over that. [if you live near/have traveled to San Diego or Austin, please send me your taco recommendations!]

and I suppose my taco craving is why today I want to share with you the amazing Mexican place in Ubud where we ate literally every single day when we were in Bali: Taco Casa.

when I say we ate there every day, I am not exaggerating. we ate ten meals at Taco Casa during our stay in Ubud, and considering we had to hike through the monkey forest to get there, I think that's pretty impressive.

and when you have to hike past those terrifying monkeys? well, darn it, you deserve some margaritas!

in Taiwan, there are a few "Mexican" places that try but fall pretty short. if we want to eat Mexican we cook it at home [thanks to Costco carrying tortilla chips] but it's not really authentic. in Bali they have the climate to grow all the right spices and peppers, and they use them. not to mention, somehow they have cojita cheese.

their menu includes all the standards: taco, nachos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, and an incredible 8-layer burrito. the staff is friendly and the kitchen runs like a well-oiled machine. everything is made fresh and from scratch: tortillas, beans, hot sauce. have you ever had enchilada sauce from scratch? you want to, trust me.

and if you're not into margaritas I will drink yours for you you can order one of their amazing juices [this one was ginger + carrot + beet] or a ginger lemon soda, or a mint + lime + ginger ice crush. tequila optional.

and if you needed another reason to go? yeah, this sign.

now if you'll excuse me, I'll be spending my afternoon daydreaming about tacos. [and seriously, send me your taco recommendations.]

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