There are hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet, but of these only a small percentage are both active and successful. What separates the blogs that do well from the many that lose steam along the way or never get going to begin with?

As in life, to find success at any venture there are rules that must be followed, and this resonates in blogging as well. If you are serious about succeeding with your blog, both in terms of traffic and monetization, here are ten rules that you should follow that will propel your blog out of the giant pool and into the successful minority.

1. Create relevant content for your audience.

If you don’t build it- they won’t come. Creating quality content for your blog is absolutely the most important way to bring in new readers. If you don’t have readers, you won’t be able to monetize your blog. If nobody is reading your blog, and you aren’t making any money, you probably aren’t going to be very successful. So, first thing is first, quality over quantity.

Create content that is shareable and relevant to your brand. Include pictures, break up long paragraphs, and ensure that punctuation and grammar rules have been followed. The last thing you want is the reader skimming through your article instead of reading it because of simple mistakes.

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Content is still King.

2. Find your niche.

How do you compete with 2 million other blogs that write about the same subject as you? You find a niche within your field and become an expert at it. This doesn’t mean you need to write about something absolutely no else is doing (although this would be a plus), but you should narrow down the subject to something more specific.

If you are a fashion blogger, you may want to write about women’s fashion of the East Side. A travel blogger may want to focus on long-term travel for families with small children. A marketing blog may want to focus on social media marketing for small businesses. Narrow down your blog focus and write great content on a smaller scale.

3. Implement SEO.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can greatly affect both your page rank and traffic. That awesome content you are creating is still number one with SEO practices, and your engaged audience will help when they share it across their social media accounts. Keyword stuffing and awkward headlines are becoming a thing of the past, but there are still a couple of things you can do to improve the SEO of your blog. Internal linking will increase the time visitors spend at your blog, plus, it makes your blog appear more relevant to the search engines.

You should also optimize all of the images you post on your blog by using descriptive file names and alt text that tells the search engine what your image is. Instead of ght456jbi4.jpg try fuzzybunnyslippers.jpg with alt text Pink Fuzzy Bunny Slippers. As an added perk, when users search for images in google, in particular for images of Pink Fuzzy Bunny Slippers, your image will pop up – this will also result in more traffic to your blog.

4. Integrate social media.

There is no excuse these days for any professional blog or business to not have social media accounts. Not only is social media integral to increasing your online reputation, it is often the number one source of traffic to a site. Adding buttons that link to your accounts directly on your blog will make it easier for readers to connect with you. Always share new content across your various social media platforms. This serves to increase engagement, traffic, and shares.

5. Guest Post on other blogs.

Guest posting is an integral part of creating a successful blog. Not only does it look amazing for the search engines, but it is probably the best way to increase your readership and make connections with other bloggers in your field. The backlinks you will get to your blog from the guest post will help your blog rank higher.

In terms of readership, assuming you are guest posting on a similar blog to your own, you can tap into a new community of readers whose interests match your own. Networking with other bloggers can be an extremely powerful tool. Not only do they likely have a wide reach of influence in their own communities, they can also come in handy when you need guest posts on your own blog later. Relationships are key.

6. Allow e-mail subscription.

Why would allowing e-mail subscription on your blog help make it a success? If you have ever clicked on a recent post from your favorite blogger in your e-mail, you should already know the answer. Automatic reminders to your readers that alert them about new content keeps them coming back for more, and keeps you relevant. You need those loyal readers more than you need big numbers because at the end of the day, they are the greatest influencers.

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Your readership is integral to your blog’s success.

7. Attend networking events.

Sometimes stepping away from the computer can be the smartest blogging decision you ever make. Making real life connections always beats the ones you make online. Attend blogger networking events in your area, business cards that list your blog address, contact details, and social media accounts are a must.

After you return home, connect with the same people online as well by following their blogs, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook accounts. These real-life relationships can lead to some serious opportunities. If there are no events in your area, start your own and be a leader of your region.

8. Be consistent.

If you want your blog to keep growing, you need to be consistent with your posts and subject matter. Consistency does a few important things for your blog. First, it builds a stronger relationship with your reader; consistency leads to trust. Second, Google loves a blog that creates content consistently, and favors ones that have fresh material for users to read.

9. Blog with integrity.

Never ever steal content, images, or any other material on the web that you don’t have expressed permission to use. If you have sponsored posts or freebies, this should be clearly described to your readers. Following these basic integrity rules you ensure that you are a positive addition to the blogging community and that you can be a trusted blog to read and work with.

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Repeat after me.

10. Monetize your blog.

You have awesome content. You implemented some SEO. You networked your little butt off all weekend, both offline and on. Your readership numbers are soaring and you have finally found your place in the world of social media.

You are ready to make some money.

Monetizing your blog can range from relatively simple additions such as Affiliate Links, to more complicated business transactions of sponsorships. Create a media kit that includes basic statistics on your blog such as page rank, monthly page views, social media followers, and information on your average reader. This will help, and be appreciated, by the PR and marketing guys and make you look more professional and investable. E-Books are also a great way to solidify your expertise in the field, while at the same time, bringing in money on the side.

Most blogs on the Internet fail after only three months because they didn’t follow the basic rules of blogging. If you do nothing else, keep creating and sharing quality content; much of the rest will eventually fall in line. Even with hard work, not every blog will experience monetary success or readership in the millions, but if you create a solid business plan outlining strategies as mentioned, you may soon be on your way.

Jessica Galbraith is a writer, blogger, and social media expert. When she isn’t providing quality content, she works on improving her bookkeeping and CMS skills.

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