7 Things That Will Make Your Blog Shine in 2016

When I first started blogging, I had no clue that blogging was hard work. I, like most people started blogging to keep a journal of my conversations and experiences with my kids. As I began to enjoy what I was writing and saw that my audience liked it too, I realised that blogging requires not only that you enjoy writing in your niche, but also requires tremendous focus, discipline and a ton of learning- just like in any other subject. It is a science in itself.

Here are 7 things I wish I knew before I started:

1. Build a robust site:

You might probably think that a blog's design and content are the most important elements of a blog. While they undoubtedly are, there's another factor that is very frequently overlooked- the speed at which your blog loads. According to a study in 2010 by Gomez that studied the impact of delay on websites, more than 75% people left for a competitor's site when they encountered a delay of even a few seconds. You may also receive penalties from Google if you have a slow-loading website. Some plugins like W3 Super Cache, W3 Total Cache help reduce load times by storing a version of the website on the browser while the actual site is loading.

2. Build your niche:

Most popular bloggers around the world are popular because they are experts in a a specific niche. In other words, they do not blog about well - everything. Blogs should aim to share something special with their audience- a desire, a drive, a solution to a common problem- whatever it is, it cannot please everyone. In other words, blogs should aim to build a shared sense of purpose with their audience- and people looking for serious information look for them among the niche experts.

3. Build your following:

About 15 years ago, when blogging was just a beginning trend, people used to stumble upon a blog, love what's written on it and remember to go back to it when they had a long afternoon ahead of them. Today, there are about 347 posts created every minute. Frankly, nobody can blame the reader for not returning. That's why, you need to create your own email list and reach out to your audience regularly- and keep growing your list if you are serious about your blog. Even a simple opt-in to let your visitors know what you can offer is a great thing to start with. Social media is also a great way to increase visitors to your site, but email is the best to keep them hooked.

4. Know your audience:

To be able to deliver content that is relevant and useful, you will need to know what your audience is looking for at the moment. Apart from trends on social media sites, there are some useful tools that help understand what the audience of a particular niche is looking for at a particular time. Sites like AllTop and BuzzSumo help track trends in all niches. Google Keyword planner also is a great tool to optimise your posts to rank well. Just make sure your top priority is always your reader and not the search engine.

5. Connect with influencers in your niche:

You might have probably noticed this while shopping. If you are looking for pet food, you will actually find all options stacked on a single aisle. That's when you are exposed to a whole new range of options. Brands compete with each other; but they also feed off each other. Its the same with blogging. To get your word out there, you need to track bloggers who are already established in your niche. And then reach out to them, even if you feel like a nobody.

6. Deliver great content:

This is probably the most important part. You might have a great theme, mind-blowing design on your blog, but if it does not connect with your audience or help them in any way, your blog is as good as dead. Using a conversational tone on articles make it easier for the reader to connect to the topic.

7. Write for other blogs:

Guest blogging
is a great way to drive traffic to your site. There's no better way to do it that than to write- and write more! And if you are on other high-authority blogs, it is a great way to reach several thousand people that the site already has. It also helps you understand various writing styles and audience needs. You also land backlinks to your blog; which increases your own domain authority.

Treat your blog as if it is your most important asset. Because, it is the most obvious signature of yours out there for the world and you deserve to be successful!

The author writes on www.kidskintha.com; a platform that focuses on two important facets of childhood- Parenting and Education. She believes that happy adults create happy childhoods.