Whether you’re just starting out in blogging, or you’ve been doing it for years, or you’re somewhere in the middle and trying to figure out how to get your blog out there to a wider audience, there is one thing that we all need to know as bloggers.
It’s not how to share your posts on social media.
It’s not how to make your site look good.
It’s not even how to add cool graphics and images to your posts.
All of these things are useful things to know, and will certainly help you to increase your blog traffic and engage your audience. The biggest thing though, which nobody ever seems to talk about:
Who is your ideal reader?
A little clue here: you can’t just answer this question with “everyone!” Yes, you might want “everyone” to read your blog. But “everyone” isn’t looking to read something that’s so bland it will hopefully appeal to everyone. I don’t know about you, but the blogs I stick around and read, the ones whose old posts I will happily trawl through, the ones where I sign up to be notified as soon as they publish a new post and rush to read it – those are the blogs where I feel like they are talking to me. Not everyone else.
Last year I wrote a post called Who Do You Write For, where I questioned whether we as bloggers write for other bloggers, or our own specific audiences. I think it’s really important to make that distinction, and to be very clear about who we want or expect to read our posts.
The one thing every blogger seems to want to do is increase their traffic; to get more eyes on their posts and more people looking around their sites. But very few of us seem to actually sit down and ask ourselves: who do I expect is going to come and read this?
Why do you need to know your ideal reader?
The first step in increasing your audience is knowing who you want to come to your site. Who are you writing this for? Who do you think will find this interesting? Who will want to share it with their friends, to come back again and again to see what you have to say?
When you know your ideal reader, you can use this information to help you decide on content. And when you are consistently posting content your ideal reader wants to read, you will find it easier to attract them to you.
Who is your ideal reader?
The first thing to say here: you cannot just say “my ideal reader is anyone who is interested in XXX” or “my ideal reader is any parent.” You’re casting your net too wide there, and in the process you will not catch anyone.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your ideal reader.
Are they male or female?
What age range are they?
Are they married? In a relationship?
Do they have children? How many? What ages?
Do they have a job? What sort? How much do they earn?
What do they like to do in their spare time?
Defining your ideal reader is the starting point for any serious, sustained growth in your blog.
Every decision you have to make, regarding content, reviews, advertising, sponsored posts, posting schedules or anything else at all – can be put against your ideal reader.
This might mean that you turn down opportunities you might have enjoyed, but those opportunities would not have appealed to your ideal reader.
For example, Money Saving Mom is a US-based blog about saving money and living a frugal life. It’s a massive blog these days, with a huge following and its owner Crystal Paine is offered lots of opportunities. She was recently offered an all-expenses-paid holiday in exchange for a post on her blog about it. But her blog is about saving money, not lavish holidays – how would photos of her enjoying a cocktail by the pool serve her ideal reader? She went back to the company and declined their offer, suggesting that perhaps she could host a competition to win the holiday instead. I believe this is the reason Crystal’s blog is so popular: her readers go to her site for one particular thing, and that is what they will find there. It might be nice for her to be sent posh new gadgets to review, or to go on press trips or model designer scarves – but none of those things are what her readers go to her site to find.
This is an extreme example of course, but it is a good example of someone who knows exactly who they are writing for. When you know who your ideal reader is, it’s easier to figure out what type of content to create, how long your posts should be, when you should publish and how often, and where your focus should be. Once you know who you are looking for, you can go out and find them.
It’s the difference between standing in the middle of a crowd and trying to get all of them to come with you, and going up to one specific person and saying “hey, come look at this, I think you’ll like it…”