When you started blogging, you had a clear purpose in mind – you wanted to share a part of yourself, something unique to you, with others. Whether it was your stories and knowledge or a particular journey in your life, it all began as a way for you to communicate with others in a similar situation, or with those who could learn from your experience. Now it’s time to think critically about who you’re really communicating with – how intimately do you know your audience, and could you explain them in a nutshell?
Regardless of where your blog is in its lifespan, it’s important to know who those visitors are that are reading and engaging with your content, and how you can give them more of what they crave. You can easily use tools like Google Analytics to understand the statistics of your readers and their behaviour (and this is an important part of optimising your blog), but cold hard data doesn’t help you meet their needs. When your audience finds an answer to their problems, they’re likely to return looking for more and regard you as a trusted source of information. Each post needs to be something your audience is highly interested in, with a direct purpose and a valuable takeaway for the reader – a question Google Analytics will not be able to help you answer. They may be far more subtle than you expect, but these are what drives your readers to return and seek value from your content.
In this post, you’ll find two worksheets to help you narrow in on your audience’s persona and needs. Your answers can be broad and encapsulating, or highly specific – whichever helps you best describe your audience’s intentions and needs, AND your own. Each worksheet intertwines with the other, and we recommend reading this post in its entirety before getting started.
Content & Your Audience
The first worksheet, ‘Content & Your Audience’ aims to get you thinking critically about your blog – why did you begin your journey, who were you aiming to help, and what value would they gain from your content?
For example, Nikalene of SkinnyMixers began blogging to help herself AND others – she wanted to share her post-childbirth weight loss journey while helping others source and create healthy Thermomix recipes. Her ideal audience may have looked something a little like herself – busy mums looking for realistic ways to manage weight loss. Now, she’s helping thousands (150,000+!) in the Thermomix community produce healthier, delicious-er recipes AND inspiring other small businesses to chase their dreams.
Nikki is THE voice on Thermomix, besides the brand itself. Through her community, she can answer any questions Thermomix newbies or veterans might have – whether it’s how to turn it on and solve tech errors, or how to hide veggies like never before. Nikki KNOWS her audience is looking for ways to reinvigorate traditional recipes, lose weight and simplify their lives – her blog helps them by providing simple instructions and advice, healthy alternatives to old favourites, and tips to dramatically reduce their time in the kitchen.
Skinnymixer’s audience is connected by a few common factors – and some unpredictable ones too. Most are Thermomix owners, but there are also readers without, who persevere and modify recipes themselves. Many are looking for weight loss advice, a support community, and helpful tips, and others are simply looking for new ways to explore their favourite kitchen appliance.
Creating Your Audience Persona
Now that you’ve got a clearer picture on what drives you to create content, the benefits you prove your audience and reasons they engage with your content, let’s establish your first audience persona. To start, review your ‘Content & Your Audience’ worksheet – what kinds of people are seeking your help? Think of the type of person you first started writing for – this could be a friend, someone you’ve observed online, or a group of people. Fictional yet realistic characters or media personalities can also work well.
By picking a real, or familiar person, you’re able to build your own ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ list through the process of elimination. Project your audience’s needs onto this person (or people!) and see if they fit the answers you created earlier. Does Pam from down the street really need your tips on maintaining her home when she has a team of cleaners & gardeners? No, and now we’re all jealous of her. BUT, what she DOES need is organisation skills to help her manage each appointment – and that you’ve got. Now, you’ve established that Pam only somewhat fits your ideal audience, it’s time to explore further. Perhaps your ideal audience is actually Uni students moving into their first rental, trying to figure out how to turn on the vacuum or book an appointment, or new homeowners who are looking to learn household management and organisational skills themselves.
Pams will still visit your site – a section of your content still resonates with them, but now you need to consider which audience to pursue, or if you can satisfy each one. Can you expand into high-end home services, or are you better focused on ‘For Dummies’ style content? While it’s entirely up to you what content you produce and what direction you take, a happy and engaged audience will only boost your journey.
Our second worksheet will help you give your audience a face, but don’t get hung up on WHO they are – concentrate on what they’re able to get from your blog, and how you’re able to better meet their needs. While demographics (things like age, gender, location or career) may help you determine the who of your audience, the psychographics will help you determine the HOW – how you can better meet their needs and drive your blog to success. Keep reading for our Psychographics breakdown.
Building Your Audience Personas
You may want to create separate personas for your current audience AND your ideal audience, to help you understand the nuances between each and how you can create content to better serve your ideal audience’s needs and attract them to your blog.
If you’re finding your current audience is too hard to bottle into one persona, why not have multiple? Individual users come to your site with different needs, and they can’t always be summed up the same way. You may want to create a persona to represent an audience that converts less, but regularly accesses your content and engages, and another for your audience that converts well – both these audiences are gaining value, but have different motivations and requirements for your blog.
You may even end up with two audience personas represent your own goals. You may have one persona that’s your actual, current blog readers, and another that’s your ideal audience. If you’re not connecting with those you’d really like to, use your ideal persona to guide your blog towards content and outcomes that closely interest them. You may realise that your blog delivers very different outcomes to what your ideal audience needs, and is attracting another readership group altogether – and that’s okay! Maybe you’ll be inspired to head down an entirely new route with content designed to serve your ideal readers better, or focus on improving your current readers’ experience.
You may also have multiple personas that have different individual needs but can still benefit from the content on your site – say you run a parenting blog that touches on many different aspects that are connected, but attract separate, narrower niche audiences. Consider how different these audiences are, and whether they can both benefit from your current AND future content.
Using Psychographics to Understand Your Audience
Psychographics are qualitative measures – they cannot be easily compared, or included in a statistics table. If you were defining your audience with a test, psychographics would be the written component – individual answers that don’t fit nicely into a ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ category. That doesn’t mean they’re hard for you to answer – and they can be far more beneficial than understanding demographics. They’re what really distinguishes your audience from any other, and helps establish the real connection between your content and their needs. Imagine your audience was writing a dating profile – do they like pina coladas? Are they expecting their first child, or looking to DIY their home? What worries them at night, and what do they want to get out of life? We’re hoping no one’s dating profile is that intense, but you get the point!
Think about the following points and combine them to create your final audience persona.
When you started your blog, who did you have in mind?
Were you inspired by your own journey and quest to find more information in your niche, or were you inspired to share from personal experience? Perhaps you had a specific friend in mind who needed answers or a particular group. Try and pick out a familiar face as the base of your audience – consider what you know about the real person, and the characteristics they share with your target audience – and things they don’t.
What questions can YOU answer?
What are areas are you a specialist in, or particularly knowledgeable on? What differentiates you from others posting on the same topics?
What answers does your audience NEED?
Why have they landed on your blog? Are they looking for weight loss tips and healthy recipes to help them on their journey, or are they focused on sustainable and eco-friendly diets? (This is also a good guide for future blog posts.) Are they looking for short-term information, or will your advice help them in the long run?
Does your audience currently look at similar blogs?
These could be similar in style or niche to your blog or be part of your audiences general interests. Are you the first of your kind covering your content, or are you breaking into the market? Do they follow popular parenting blogs or high brow news sites? Are they up to speed with the latest BuzzFeed quizzes, or looking for peer-reviewed content? How does this content compliment, challenge, or support yours?
What was your intent when starting a blog?
The scary ‘WHY did you start a blog’ question, simplified. Was it to teach, expand your knowledge or engage in your community? Were you wanting to promote a course or product, or even build your personal brand? How does this match your audience’s goals & needs?
How does your content help your audience solve a problem?
What kinds of content do you offer, and what resolutions are within those? Do you offer guides in the form of blog posts or listicles, do you draw from personal (or external) experience, or bring in experts to your podcast? Do you give your audience key takeaways and actionable points to work with, or concepts to consider in future? Are you helping solve a quick task like unplugging a sink, or are you priming them to save for a home?
What common factors connect all your readers?
Are all your readers’ single female parents looking for ways to produce income on the side, or are they photographers looking to improve their skills? They could be connected by job title, physical location, or a particular need or experience – or a combination. Consider what factors might exclude someone from your audience.
Are there any outliers in your audience?
Is there anyone that doesn’t fit into any of the ‘boxes’ above, but would still benefit from your content? Perhaps a couple expecting their newborn could still benefit from your advice to single mothers. Is this a second area worth targeting and tapping into?
What is their preferred content style?
Do they get the most value out of long blog posts, or are they after quick fixes to fit into their busy lives? Are they tech-friendly and easily able to access your podcasts, or do they like the ease of having your newest posts straight to your inbox? Do they prefer a professional voice and content they can share with their management, or are they engaged by your casual style and not offended by occasional swearing?
What are their pet hates?
The last thing you want to do is drive your audience away – will they be frustrated by daily emails, obnoxious YouTube intros, or constant sales pitches?
As your blog expands it may begin to take a new path, or you may want to explore different topics than those you covered right at the beginning. Maybe your readers only engage with certain posts or topics and seem to have different needs from what you’re producing. As tides shift, your blog will benefit from revisiting your audience avatars and re-evaluating their fit.
Download Your Worksheets
How did you go creating your audience? We’d love to see the personas you created and the information you used to build them. Were you surprised by what you discovered?