You know what you want to write about. You have the technicalities set up. Your blog is ready to go, right? Not quite.
You may have considered the voice of your blog and your goals from your own perspective, but have you defined your audience?
This doesn’t just mean you know that you want to write to consumers in general.
Defining your targeted audience should follow a particular strategy and should drill down to the details as much as is possible.
The more you can identify your audience, build a persona, and then target them, the more success you’re likely to see as a result of your blogging efforts.
How do you target your audience in a way that’s realistic in terms of time and money, but also effective?
The following are some of the essential steps you can take that will work regardless of your industry and your overall goals for blogging.
Understand the Importance of a Persona
In Neil Patel’s Step-by-Step Guide to Blogging, he highlights some of the key reasons a persona is vital to bloggers. He defines it as something that gives “clarity, power, and passion” to writing. By identifying even the most minute specifics of the person you’re writing for, it’s not just going to help you target content they’ll find interesting, but according to Patel, it’s also going to strengthen your writing in general. You’re more likely to have writing that’s going to “come alive” as he puts it, and it will help your blogs flow more conversationally, which is something readers love.
Think Outside Your Niche
Here’s something to consider: when business owners or professionals are writing blog posts, they can come from a sense of authority and expertise in their niche, but does this translate to the consumer? Probably not. For example, if you’re an interior designer, and you’re writing for your niche, your topics are likely technical and are probably going to be more appealing to other designers than they would be to the people who might be searching for your service.
On the other hand, when you think outside of the niche, and instead write for a carefully crafted persona, your posts are going to have better appeal to the people you want to reach. Your ultimate goal shouldn’t be self-promotion or writing an advertisement with each blog. It should be the delivery of information that’s relevant and valuable.
Use Real People
You have people all around you that can work well as a resource when you develop a persona to guide your blogging. One place to look is at your website comments. If you have active comments from readers, look through them to see what the conversations are about, where their focus lies, and what their criticism and comments may be on your existing content.
You can also monitor your social media channels to gauge similar information. What about your current customers? Ask your employees what customers are asking about and what seems to be important to them. Create profiles based on existing customers so your blog posts will be highly targeted and evoke a sense of authenticity.
Expand Your Social Media Listening
Beyond your own social profiles, you can also start building personas based on outside social media channels. Do regular research on your keywords and your competitors to see the types of customers that are having conversations within your niche.
Within the broad scope of your general topics and keywords, what are the specifics these people are discussing through social media? What are their questions? Where do their particular interests lie?
It can seem like a big undertaking to listen to the social conversations happening in your industry, but luckily tools like Brandwatch, Zoho Social and Brickfish are making it affordable and easy to do just that. You can not only “hear” what’s happening in the social world, but many of these social listening tools will also provide you with actionable analytics.
Organize Your Personas
Once you’ve sketched out the people you want to be reading your blog and ultimately become your customer, organize them. Many bloggers and digital marketers will give them names, for example, “Do-It-Yourself Dan.” You can then start charting their characteristics, which will help you as you move on to the next step of outlining their goals.
This organized table of personas can also be useful for your writing team, and it can be used when you’re creating content calendars and planning your social media strategy. You may even find it helpful to add a photo of who this person would look like. That will make the person that much more realistic as you start crafting the ideal content to target the persona. You may also find that it helps you when you’re writing conversationally, which should be the goal of almost any blog post.
Outline Customer Goals
Once you’ve developed customer personas (you may have more than one, or even more than a few of these), you can start looking deeper. You can take their characteristics and use them as a way to outline their specific problems and goals that you can ultimately solve. Explore not just what they might want to achieve by using your product or service, or even just reading your blog, but also what might be holding them back from becoming a customer.
Look at those challenges you’re up against in terms of converting this targeted persona, and then move forward with a content strategy that directly addresses these issues. One final note as you embark on the process of identifying your targeted reader or readers: don’t be afraid to change or update your personas as you go.
You may find that things about these personas changes as you delve deeper into social listening, or just over time. You can always update or alter your personas as necessary, and in fact, it can be a good thing to regularly make sure your personas are still relevant. You’re likely to find that once you have these personas in place, blogging becomes not only easier for you, but you’re also likely to see more traffic as a result.