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There are sure alot of blogs out in cyber world now.   But do you know what a blog is?  I know some people don’t because when I tell them I’m writing a blog, they ask what in the world is a blog and why am I writing one.  My quickest explanation is that a blog is an online diary where you write whatever happens to be on your mind and then invite others to read your thoughts and post comments.  For some, this is a matter of self-expression–the need to write down and share their thoughts on anything from daily homesteading activites to political ramblings and ravings.  For others, writing a blog is part of their effort to further their brand’s recognition and awareness.  Many corporate blogs are designed for this purpose.  And there are some that are really good at getting their message across without sounding like they’re trying to shove advertising down your throat.  I’ve written about corporate blogs before and I still feel that two of the best are Dell’s and Kodak’s.

What is apparent about these two blogs is the passion for the products the bloggers are discussing.  They are not just raving about computers or cameras, they are sharing their interests and product expectations with others who do the same.  Because their products encourage lots of consumer interest, drawing these folks into reading the blogs and commenting is fairly easy.  However, what do you do when you have a product that doesn’t necessary have a huge following yet?  Or how do you encourage communication with those people who may be interested in what you have to say about your product?  In other words, how do you chum in readers to your blog?

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I like to read–alot.  Some of my favorite authors have created blogs to discuss what they are currently working on.  This helps to create interest for their upcoming books and hopefully aid in sales.  Some of the ways that these authors encourage readers to visit again and again is to hold contests.  One of my favorite authors, Gena Showalter, not only posts regularly on her blog  (also a way to chum in visitors), but she routinely holds contests for her readers to win books.  And what serious reader doesn’t want to win a book?  When looking at ways to increase traffic to my blog, I posted on two forums where I’m a regular visitor, Backyardchickens.com and Paperbackswap.com.  I asked for people to visit and comment on my blog and at the end of 3 weeks I would choose a prize winner.  For backyardchickens.com visitors I offered either $15 to be used in the BYC store or a $15 Amazon gift card.  For Paperbackswap.com I offered a choice of several popular hardback books, $15 Amazon gift card or 4 credits to be used at PBS.  Both of these posts led to many new visitors to my blog.  The amount of traffic increased tremendously with some  very nice comments made.  Just check out the stats below.  You can easily see how much the traffic jumped in response to my posts announcing my contest.

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