When I craft content, a name or face automatically pops up in my mind.
Whether it is an occasional reader or subscriber of my blog, a client, or someone who shared one of my links, in nine cases out of ten, that particular person will engage with the post after publication.
Is it magic? Not at all. After more than a decade as a blogger, I know my audience. But, of course, it wasn't always like that.
I struggled for a long time before finding the key to good visibility -- targeting the right readers for my blog.
Today, I would like to help you increase your own blog’s visibility. Let me show you how to create ideal reader personas that inform your content creation. Whether you are a new blogger or cannot garner expected results, this series of steps should guide you.
1) 'Spy' on Fellow Bloggers
Studying fellow bloggers is one of the most important steps in the audience research process.
Select a dozen of blogs that cover your topics. Read their posts and take a look at their social media accounts. Then, answer the questions below:
- Who are their fans / visitors? Click profiles to find out locations, ages, genders, languages, etc.
- What's the language register? Formal or casual?
- Would a non-native speaker understand the posts?
- What type of content do they share? Graphics, videos, pictures, links...?
- What posts / updates get the most engagement?
- How often do they post?
- How quickly do they respond to comments and deal with complaints?
- How self-promotional are they?
- What mistakes do they make?
My recommendation: As appealing as a blogger with tens of thousands of Facebook / Twitter fans is for your research, the level of engagement of their community is a lot more important. You are looking for constructive data to inspire your strategy.
2) Find Your Potential Readers Via Twitter Search
Facebook has more than 1.6 billion monthly active users. But, it doesn't mean that all your answers are there. Twitter is also buzzing with conversations around your topics.
The social network has a fantastic internal search engine that uncovers public questions. You will find the option at the bottom of the Advanced Search page. (See below.)
Here is an example with the keyword "recommend ecommerce solution":
Telling, isn't it? Now, you know what your potential readers are looking for! Check out their profiles, read their tweets, and start interacting with them to get their attention.
My recommendation: To get more granular results, include a verb like "recommend" or "looking for" in your query.
3) Go Deeper with Quora Search
Another platform I recommend you to leverage for your research is Quora.
I recently wrote about the Q&A site for Atomic Reach. In it, I share an easy method to uncover targeted questions to understand the specific pain points of your ideal readers, and potential clients.
4) Understand Your Unique Blogging Angle
There are hundreds or thousands of bloggers in your niche. However, none of them has your voice and the same exact take on things.
Figuring out your audience is one thing. It's quite another to create content that speaks to them. So, how do you achieve that result? You spend time in the comment sections of the blogs you are studying.
It's impossible for a blogger to cover every angle on a topic. Chances are that they will overlook an idea or a tip.
So, if a reader hasn't found the information they need, they will ask in their comment. Take advantage of the loophole. That's your unique blogging angle and your chance to stand out from competition!
5) Create Your List
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of who your readers are. But you aren't done yet.
You have to organise your notes and turn them into a cogent list of profiles that describe the types of readers who are most likely to visit and enjoy your blog.
This is a fairly straightforward process. Regroup recurring information into three or four profiles. Some experts recommend six or seven. But as a small business owner, you want to avoid headaches when thinking of all the ground to cover for every post.
Each profile should include the following information:
- Name and photo (if possible)
- Specific demographics -- age, gender, location, education, mother tongue
- Job and / or financial situation
- Interest in and experience with the topics you cover
- Knowledge of social media
- Main questions and challenges
Here is an example of reader profile:
"Mark is a 38 year-old real-estate agent located in Montréal. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and currently makes $58K a year. French is his mother tongue but he speaks English fluently.
Mark reads blogs every week, including the Buffer blog and Social Media Examiner. He uses Twitter and Facebook for promotion and mostly works from his mobile.
He is looking for quick tips to increase traffic to his listings, which are on his website. However, he has a limited budget. And he doesn't have extra time to spend online beyond what he is already doing."
(For more examples, check out Darren Rose's excellent post.)
My final recommendation:
Readers' expectations and interests change over time. So, this list is in no way definite. Be ready to revisit and edit it regularly.
You are now ready to craft content based on your ideal reader personas. Let us know your results in the comment section below. Good luck!
About the Author:
Cendrine Marrouat is a content writer & curator, social media trainer, author, and photographer living in Winnipeg, Canada. She is the founder of Social Media Slant, an award-winning blog helping small business owners and solo-entrepreneurs to figure out the basics of social media. Cendrine has authored several photography books and social media ebooks, one of which received a 2015 Small Business Book Award in the Social Media Category.
Twitter handle: @cendrinemedia