I’ve read endless blogposts to help me work out who my target blog audience is. While I knew it was essential to know about my audience, I always struggled. I could reel off the demographics of my readers but when it came to specifics, I always drew a blank. I concluded that I was either asking the wrong questions or I was writing too widely. My blog definitely lacked focus and I was trying to appeal to everyone.
I was unable to define my target audience.
Eventually, through the process of defining what Penny’s Lane is about and really thinking about my purpose and values, I finally understood who I was writing for. Once you get to grips with this, blogging becomes so much easier. By holding your ideal audience in mind, you’ll have insight into what they want to read, and what they’ll find valuable. The ideas just flow.
How do you get there?
I can only share what I found helpful when it came to defining my audience. There’s lots of advice out there but I needed quite a lot of specifics to get me thinking in the right direction.
Here’s what I found useful.
Defining Your Content or Niche
I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you’ll have some idea of what you want to blog about, and may have started. I think it’s ok to have more than one niche but don’t write about everything for everyone. I’ve been there and it doesn’t work. You won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay.
Don’t be afraid to narrow down your niche, especially to begin with. Really hone in on what you want to write about and what’s spurring your creativity, and go with that. By defining your brand or niche, you’ll be able to write with confidence and offer authentic value and expertise to your audience. Also, by identifying your niche you can then think about your ideal audience and reader in detail.
When it came to thinking specifically about the lives of my ideal reader, I found this to be easier said than done. You can check your audience demographics on Google Analytics to find out things like age brackets, gender and where your readers are geographically. There’s a need to go beyond this though if you want to know who your audience are, and what content they want from you. I found certain questions like, “What interests does my audience have?” “How do they spend their spare time?” and “What values and beliefs do they have?” the most useful.
It’s ok to think quite deeply too. What do they read? What social media platforms do they use? Do they have children? What brands do they buy? You may wonder why these questions are needed. If you know your target reader is more likely to shop at John Lewis than Primark, for example, that tells you quite a lot about their taste and the brand values that are likely to appeal to them.
I think these questions are easier to answer when you already have an audience and you know what you want to write about. This gives you something to pin your answers on. It’s important to consider their everyday lives, what they do and what they want to be. There will be parts of your audience that reflect your own life or values, and that’s totally fine.
I think there’s something about experience here too, and how your audience want to feel when they connect or engage with you and your content. Therefore there’s a need to consider how you want them to feel when they find you.
I know when I write about running, specifically a race review, I want my readers to feel the excitement, motivation and the “fired up” feeling that I experience on the day. Ideally, I’d love my readers to feel motivated and inspired to enter that race, or something similar near them. Likewise, when I write my posts about Cornwall, the same phrase is in my head each time, “I want to go there.” That’s what I want to offer my audience, whether they live in Cornwall or not.
What Problems Do They Have?
Once you’ve sussed out your audience and readers, you can start to think about the problems they’re likely to have. This underpins the value you offer through your content and engagement. If you’re able to offer solutions to your audience consistently, you’ll be viewed as reliable and will be someone they actively seek out.
When I think of the problems my readers may have, I consider what a novice may need to know as well as someone with experience or knowledge. If you’re writing about something you know a lot about (which I hope you are), think about what problems or hurdles others are likely to face and overcome. When you started, what problems do you come across?
The catch-22 with writing any blogpost that solves a problem for your target audience is that there’s someone else who’s probably already written about it. There’s nothing wrong with checking out the competition but think about what you can do, or how you can deliver your information differently. The wider question here is, what makes you different? Highlight what distinguishes you from others and use it to your advantage. Show your audience what you’re best at and celebrate it in your own fantastic way.
In short, be memorable.
Ask Your Audience
If there’s something you want to know about your audience, ask them. This is also a good way of finding out if they want a specific blogpost or not. Instagram stories is great for this. When I want to know something, I put it to all social media platforms to cover all bases.
When you’re writing a blog or instagram post, think about who would like it and who is is likely to respond. Ask yourself if your ideal reader is likely to engage with it. Would you engage with it? Such considerations are more likely to lead to meaningful posts that prompt authentic engagement and help build your online community. Sometimes it’s about experimenting too, so don’t be scared to try something new.
Audience Motivations and Values
When it comes to considering your audience, think about what drives and motivates them. Is it getting outdoors and exploring, for example? What motivates them to do this? It could be any number of things, such as an interest in nature and natural habitats, exercise and fitness, or a need to do something locally to support the community. Understanding their motivations and clarifying them will help you get the angle of your content right for your ideal reader. It will also tell you about their values, which are likely to be similar to your own.
Understanding and defining your audience doesn’t have to be an arduous task. If you’re already using platforms like Instagram and Twitter, a lot of the information is there. Check out the analytics for each of your accounts. Look at the people that follow you. You’ll be able to gage some clues to what their values are, and what potential problems they have. Check out your audience demographics too. They won’t tell you everything, but it’s a good starting point.
When it comes to defining your target blog audience, are you finding it a challenge? Are you in the process of doing it? If so, are there any questions or strategies you’ve found particularly helpful?