Finding Your Blog's Ideal Audience and Why We're So Over Customer Profiles
Marketing can do pretty amazing stuff for your business. But the one part of it that's not that cool is customer profiles. And that's especially true if you're starting a brand new blog from scratch.
What's a customer profile anyways?
Customer profiles are semi-fictional representations of the people you want to reach. These profiles, also known as buyer personas, include details such as:
- Who you want to reach
- What they do for a living
- How old they are
- Problems that they face daily that might impact their decision to buy things.
Why they're not the greatest strategy:
Buyer personas only scratch the surface of what kinds of people you're trying to reach. And people are a lot more complicated than a one-dimensional character type. So there are always surprises. This is especially the case for new blogs, because when you’re creating your first blog, your audience is likely one big question mark.
I have a confession to make:
When I started my first blog, I had no idea what I was doing. I was a gal that liked to write and hoped to do something about it. But the low numbers I had when I first started blogging didn't discourage me.
And here's why...
I was goal-oriented from day one. If you're a bit overwhelmed by the idea of keeping yourself goal-oriented even with a low readership, I feel your pain..
Here are some strategies for keeping yourself goal-oriented when starting your blog:
1) Soul search
Getting your blog's focus right starts with you. If you're starting a blog because some guru told you it's a good idea, then don't do it! If you want to make a real connection with a real person, then that's a good starting point. Don't invest money or time into your blog until you do some serious soul searching.
Stop thinking of your audience as some sort of mythical character type.
Instead, treat them like real people. And treat them like treasured guests in your lovely little corner of the Internet. Then they'll want to subscribe, share, etc., and you won’t have to do much about it!
What can you feature on your blog to make your audience feel at home, and actually want to keep on coming back?
Once you work on being a good host or hostess for your reader, you’ll be well on your way to creating a blog that you can actually be proud of.
2) Push yourself to get super specific.
Vague statements such as, "I want to make money on my online course" aren't enough. Take it one step further by being all like:
"I want to make money on my online course by reaching X type of person and writing content about X, Y, and Z."
And then, take that one step further. Ask yourself how you can make things relevant to your goals, as well as your reader's goals. Sound daunting? Think of it this way…
How can you improve the lives of the people you want to reach?
If you do that, then you'll bring your bounce rates down a notch or two.
3) Just listen!
Once you’ve figured out your blog's goal, it's time to focus on listening. I could rant for hours about why I hate customer profiles, because they overlook something pretty crucial:
The power of listening.
And listening is your greatest weapon, because it helps you build a meaningful, reciprocal relationship with the people that you're actually dealing with.
And if you have no idea what your audience wants, just ask.
In fact, over on the TCC Facebook group, I saw someone excel at that:
She wasn't sure what confused the heck out of her audience about writing web copy, so she just went ahead and asked TCC's audience of female entrepreneurs.
Some of the group members are new to the whole online business thing, so they want to learn more about how they can get loyal customers.
And that's exactly why it's such a smart decision to start listening! If you're not sure what you're interested in, this is an approach that can work.
Let’s use this as a case study. You could do your research in any of the following ways:
- Go to meet-up groups in your area where your ideal audience hangs out. Ask people what's confusing the heck out of them, about whatever you want to write about.
- Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups where your ideal audience hangs out. Don't be shy about asking them questions about what freaks them out about what you want to write about.
- Survey the followers you already have (and no, a small following is not an excuse to not try this out). Interfaces such as Typeform, Surveymonkey, and Google Forms are recommended.
- Try forums such as Quora, and find out what questions people have about your blog's area of expertise.
Want to get something valuable out of all your hard work? I recommend putting more than one of these strategies in place.
4) Read similar blogs, with similar audiences
I'm not saying that you should steal ideas or anything.
Ugh, don't do that!
Instead, read blogs with similar audiences. This will help you get to know what does and doesn't work. Following blogs that write about similar stuff will help you get to know what your readers might respond well to.
For instance, let's pretend that you're a web designer and you want to reach other web designers. In that case, you might want to follow web design blogs so that you can always be up to date on what's new in your industry. There's a lot that you can learn from reading other people's content, because it will inform your process over the long-term. Make sure that you read diverse blogs that cover the same subject, to get a lot of different perspectives.
5) What happens after someone reads your posts?
Want to be goal-oriented and get a valuable return on investment? If that's the case, you also have to know what you want readers to do after they read your post. Because the consequences of not telling them what to do kind of suck!
- Lose interest
- Have an "oh look, a squirrel" moment and forget what they're reading
- Start watching the latest viral video, and never come back again
- Hit the back button and read someone else's blog instead.
And that's not the result that you want. Especially if you want to make people interested in what you have to offer. And you don't want that either!
So how can you tell your readers exactly what to do next?
Let's go ahead and use the online course example again. And let's pretend that...
Your course focuses on DIY printing your own comic strip, and you want to reach stay-at-home moms.
6) What do you want your readers to do after they read your post?
You'll likely want to get them to either learn more or buy now. So that should also inform your content too. A great way to do this is to focus on "how-to" posts, and anything else that gives readers a peek behind the scenes.
This will help you...
Stick out, and personalize your message, no matter how saturated your niche happens to be. Above all else, what you should be doing is getting to know your customers on a personal level, from day one onwards. Because creating an avatar of someone that doesn't exist will force you to create posts that are based on the fact that...
All (insert age, relationship status, occupation, etc here) people struggle with a specific thing.
And if you do that, you'll alienate your readers and no one will read your blog. If you incorporate these steps into your blog planning process, then you'll be well on your way to creating content that readers will love.