You’ve heard the term “target audience” a few times by now, but what exactly does it mean?
Well, your target audience is the group of people you’re writing to. They are the ones who are most likely to:
- engage with your content
- self-identify as having a strong interest in your blog’s main topics
- have the most to benefit from your content
- take definitive action after reading any actionable steps you might share with them
But, of course, that’s not what troubles most bloggers.
In fact, most bloggers struggle because they are trying to attract the wrong target audience.
While it’d be great to be able to consider everyone in the world somehow within your “target audience,” this isn’t a realistic approach, especially if you’re serious about growing your blog.
As a rule of thumb, most popular bloggers, in fact, focus on a very narrow demographic, or what some like to call a “Minimum Viable Audience.”
Instead of searching for the biggest possible audience, you need to maximize your impact by crafting your message to attract your minimum viable audience. Seth Godin often talks about this strategy:
“Stakeout the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve.”
This strategy is about thinking bigger by thinking smaller. It is about understanding your ideal reader’s biggest pain and delivering a solution for them. David M Hobson, Head of Marketing at Foundr, states:
“The first step in building your marketing strategy is to know who it is you’re marketing to and what their core drivers are.”
When you target everyone, you risk pleasing no one.
It is easier to build a successful blog when you have a few people who care a lot about your content instead of having a lot of people who don’t care much.
That’s why I don’t use the term “target audience.” I use “ideal reader.” We’re no longer talking about a multitude, about a faceless crowd, and we no longer define our content by the use of numbers.
We are now writing for just one person, trying to understand their behavior, values, attitude, and lifestyle.
The more people you try to attract, the more complicated it gets. There’s more competition, and there’s a higher chance you will fail to create content that both engages and adds value to even most of your readers.
If we take The Art of Blogging as an example, my ideal reader is someone who is passionate about starting a blog, growing an audience, or even monetizing a blog.
People who don’t care about blogging likely won’t take the time to read the articles. They won’t subscribe to the blog, or share the posts with their friends, or enroll in any of the courses.
In the same way, a travel blog isn’t going to trend well with people who aren’t particularly interested in travel.
A food blog that focuses on vegetarian recipes isn’t going to attract people who aren’t interested in a vegetarian diet, and so on.
Why is it important to figure out your ideal reader?
Figuring out your ideal reader enables you to develop a deep understanding of how you can best offer real value.
Engaging directly with this ideal reader helps you learn whether or not you’re creating content that’ll resonate within your niche, whether or not you’re adding to the conversation that takes place among similar people.
Without understanding who you’re writing for, you don’t know if the content you create will be helpful or meaningful to anyone at all.
It’s always the bloggers who never bother to think about their target audience who struggle most with creating compelling articles, growing an audience, and monetizing their blogs.
As a side note, this is a topic I discuss in-depth in my course, From 0 to 5,000 Readers in 6 Months. Do check it out. It’s the best course you will ever find on the web for the price.
One way to discover what kind of content is important to your ideal reader is to find real people to engage with. You can find people interested in the content topics your blog covers, in places like:
- Online communities
- Social media platforms
- Message forums within your niche
- Comment sections of larger blogs and publications in your niche
- Fan groups of brands, blogs, or people in your niche
If you take the time to ask whether or not a particular blog post idea resonates with them, they’ll let you know. Listen carefully and you can better understand the types of content that’ll add value to their lives.
Also, identifying who your ideal reader is will help you learn exactly where on the web you can find more readers.
As an example, those who are into interior design spend a lot of their time on Pinterest, while most people who are interested in travel or lifestyle usually spend their time on Instagram.
Professionals like to use LinkedIn, while those who are avid for knowledge (or are looking for answers to specific questions) go on Quora.
This goes deeper, like examining one key demographic like a person’s age group can help you discover which social media platform they may prefer.
In general, younger generations are going to use social media more than older generations.
Let’s compare the demographic usage of two popular social media platforms, Facebook and Snapchat.
Facebook is most popular with people aged 18-49.
Now, let’s compare that with Snapchat.
As you can see, there’s a sharp decline in usage as we progress through age groups.
Why does it matter?
Because you would be wasting a lot of your time, effort, and money trying to promote your blog on a platform that isn’t used by those who are in your target demographic.
If you’re trying to reach an audience in the 30-65 age range, Facebook may be a better platform for you to focus your efforts on. If you’re hoping to reach a younger demographic though, you may want to use Snapchat.
Another important reason to spend time working on figuring out your ideal reader at an early stage in your blogging journey is so that you can help establish more loyalty with your blog audience.
The more you understand your target audience, the more they’ll see you as a source they can trust and turn to when they have questions within your niche.
If you consistently publish content that your audience wants, they’ll keep coming back to you for information in the future.
As you publish more content for the right audience, you’ll also benefit from them sharing your content across their social media channels, they’ll be more likely to forward your email newsletters to a friend or co-worker, and you’re that much more likely to earn some word-of-mouth referrals when your target audience gets together in-person.
If you produce content that really resonates with your target audience, they’re naturally going to feel compelled to share it with others.
This is one of the greatest advantages you can reap from having a clear vision of who your ideal reader is—and purposefully creating content with them.
Attention: Most bloggers are unaware of the importance of this compounding effect.
You won’t reach all the people in your target audience at once, but rather your content will reverberate within the confines of the social media outlets of your audience, reaching more and more people.
If, on the other hand, you do not write articles that cater to a specific audience, you will be faced with the following issue:
If your readers don’t resonate with your content, all the other platforms and tools won’t act as an echo chamber.
Which qualities and traits should you observe about your ideal reader?
When we talk about our ideal reader, what kinds of things are we really taking into account?
Here are some of the key considerations you should look for when defining who your ideal reader is.
Demographics tell you the basic characteristics of a population. These are broad and the characteristics include things like:
- Age range
- Employment status
- Marital status
- Whether they have kids or not
- Education level
These are all useful characteristics to determine about your ideal reader, but demographics alone are not extremely useful when it comes to figuring out what type of content to best serve your readers.
Thus, we make use of:
Psychographics run a little deeper than demographics and are less quantifiable. They aim to show why people do something, what their core beliefs and interests are. Some answers you should look for in psychographics include:
- Opinions and world views
- Interests and passions
It all seems unnecessarily complicated, and in most cases, you’re right. You don’t have to be a data scientist to be able to figure out your ideal reader.
That’s why there’s a shortcut I am going to share with you. In a lot of aspects, you are your own ideal reader.
Your target audience is going to be similar to you at least in some ways—so first identify some key demographics and psychographics about yourself:
- What age range do you fall in?
- What is your level of education?
- What stage of life are you in?
- Are you married?
- Where do you live? (Think rural, suburban, urban)
- What are your main interests?
- What values do you have?
- What are your aspirations in life?
Identifying your own demographic and psychographic qualities may give you a launching point, but it doesn’t mean that you’re limited to that exact target audience only.
It gives you a good first step for understanding who else may be interested in your blog content. If you’re passionate about the topics you’re blogging about, then there’s a good chance other people like you will be too.
This lesson is straight out of “From 0 to 5,000 Readers in 6 Months.”
If you want to learn more about growing your audience, developing a proper strategy for success, and taking advantage of a dozen or so different tools and platforms for growing your blog’s audience, be sure to check it out.
Also, you get to download goodies such as The Ideal Reader canvas:
Click here to enroll in the course today and begin your journey towards the blogging stratosphere.
No, seriously, the course is that good.