People blog and write for different reasons. Some of them want influence and social power. Some want to sell a product. Others genuinely want to change people’s minds and persuade them to make the world different in some way or another. Still, others just enjoy writing or find it therapeutic and are happy to do so regardless of whether or not anyone reads it. When one is blogging specifically, though, it is implied that they are writing to be heard. After all, why else would they be putting it on the internet?
In the business world, we call any intended audience a “target market.” If you’re blogging, whether for monetary gain or just for fun, you’re selling your writing and ideas to those who you want to read it. You probably have someone in mind that the writing is for. So, your target market becomes the people you’re intentionally writing for.
Maybe you don’t know who your audience is yet, and maybe you do but don’t know how to reach them. If that’s how you feel, then know that you’re in good company with many other bloggers and writers. The world of business has some tips on how to encapsulate and expand the scope of your audience, which is commonly referred to as target market analysis or audience analysis. It all just starts with a question: who?
Who Is My Target Audience?
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Your target audience is anyone who needs to hear what you have to say. Since you do have something to say as a blogger, let’s examine the two main reasons for writing in this format, as it will answer the basic question proposed. After you answer who you’re writing for, you can go out and try to find them.
Maybe the most common persuasive reason for blogging on the internet nowadays is to literally sell something for monetary purposes. This is a form of what we call “content marketing.” The idea is that something is written for the purpose of getting users to buy something but is passed off as a normal blog piece or article. Specifically, this is a form of content marketing aimed at sales, though people also write content marketing pieces for the purpose of SEO, which you can learn more about on sites like moz.com.
However, persuasion doesn’t have to be a sales pitch. It can be a call to action for a political cause or social and personal change to the world you live in. It can be a rallying cry or an invitation to think more about things that matter. The point of persuasive writing is to incite some kind of change in one’s thoughts or actions. That’s not limited to monetary change either. Writing often plays the role of “top funnel” marketing — that is, good writing invites people to become familiar with what a brand is doing. For social change, sometimes it takes time to get someone on your side, so your writing just gets them in the door — but that’s okay, because it’s all an important part of the marketing process.
The other reason people write is to connect with people. They understand by venting their frustrations others may relate to. It’s a good feeling to relate. The kind of people you connect with through writing are those who you want to inspire or who you want to be inspired by. They’re close friends you already have and people going through the same things around the world. This kind of writing is not for monetary or sales-like purposes, but you may find yourself still looking for audiences to connect with. The same marketing tools can be applied, though the end result is often much different.
This connection doesn’t always have to be too personal or deep. Sometimes, the desire to share what you’ve created is simply that. And when you connect with someone on something you’ve created — a short story, let’s say — you sometimes get to connect with them on their creations too. It’s a special bond, the one between creators and consumers. Blogging is the perfect world for it too, as with the click of a button your ideas can reach the world at large, and anyone looking for community can start connecting with you through responsive comments and emails.
Where Is My Target Audience?
Once you nail down your target audience, you have to put your content in front of them. This means you need to seek them out first and do the proper research to find where they are and who else will be interested in reading your pieces. The tools you may use in business marketing come into play here, so here are a few of them and how you can use them to expand who you’re reaching to.
You may find that your target audience includes other bloggers. It’s important to network with other bloggers who have the same interests as you or do something related which you can cross-promote. And while working together is great, the business world often offers competition, so in those cases you should start studying their followers, because those are also your target audiences.
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Your Network’s Networks
Your friends, peers, and customers all have their own individual networks. While they may be similar to yours, they are never completely the same. It would be wise to invest in getting your message to your network’s networks too. By having a friend sharing your work in whatever way they find appropriate or best, you may actually find some new followers.
According to Statista, 77 percent of Americans now have social media profiles. Using proper hashtags and navigating engagement with your posts is important in today’s age. It’s important to explore communities within social networks as well. For instance, it’s wise to join Facebook groups and try paid promotions related to what you’re doing, as these tend to be effective strategies and free marketing tools.
Your target audience has a common demographic most likely due to culture and the place they reside. In analyzing the readers you’re attracting, you should be able to figure out where those people live, what their ages and backgrounds are, and what kinds of things they enjoy or find appealing. Social Media and Google Analytics can show you these demographics of your engagements, but in looking at yet-to-be-reached readers, you may have to conduct some demographics analyses on competitors and peers’ engagements.
How Do I Convert?
The word “convert” typically means monetary gain in a business sense. In your case, as a blogger, it may mean the same thing, but it may not. Again, some people blog for monetary gain while others have other intentions in mind. For these intents and purposes, conversion will be defined as “gaining readers”.
Building a readerbase is complicated. It’s different than simply being known or having your writing skimmed by casual readers here and there. It’s about building followers. As we touched on previously, there are tools that provide data that help you track responses. These responses can be direct or unspoken, so it does call for some discretion. Using this data wisely involves tracking simple awareness (people who like and comment on your marketing efforts) as well as any conversion that happens in relation to it.
Now, maybe you only blog for your friends, and that’s fine. Personal relationships are an important part of creating anything and finding people to engage with it. But if you’re wanting to expand your writing’s reach, then you need to know these factors in doing so. Let’s go through those, as well as some optional suggestions that may help you along the way.
Good content begets conversion. If you put out good content consistently, people will keep coming to your website to see what’s new there for them to read. They will hopefully become regular shoppers as well; buying any products or merchandise you sell as well.
It’s highly recommended that whatever website you use, your blog and web domain are optimized for good SEO. That is, it will be findable through search engines by utilizing the correct keywords in your content and code. It’d be good to check out the Moz.com blog for more information on how to set your site up for this kind of success.
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Since people are all over social media, it’s one of the best places to share your content, because potential readers will see it there. That said, before you go on a posting frenzy you should become aware of social networks’ guidelines and learn to use their algorithms to your advantage. And remember, all effective social media marketing strategies start with analyzing your goals — your etiquette and posting procedures will change depending on whether you’re a connective or persuasive blogger.
Affiliate marketing is often used as a fancy term for cross-promotion. For a blogger who doesn’t blog for money, this often revolves around working with your network of other bloggers to promote each other. See, if other trusted bloggers and brands give you recommendations, it gives you clout among their communities and will (hopefully) drive traffic to you. But quality is everything: You need to be good to be promoted by others in this way. Likewise, you should only work with other people and brands you think are worth mentioning to your readers.
The people in your life and on your social networks are the closest potential readers you have. Additionally, so are those you only meet for a brief second but who take interest in what you do. So, it’s important to be open to conversation, because you never know when someone might become a follower. And your personality is always a big part of your brand as a writer. Who sees your personality more than the people who actually know you?
Paid Promotion and Advertisements
Advertising can be helpful if the person designing the advertisements and distributing them knows what they’re doing. Be very wary of bad advertisement distribution, because you don’t want to get ripped off. Paid promotions on social media are similar, but something to keep in mind is that some believe paying for a promoted post sweeps your un-promoted posts under the rug until you pay more for them to be seen. They are convinced that boosting posts creates a cycle of social networks not showing your posts unless you pay money for exposure. While this has not been proven to be true, utilizing your organic reach is still important so you don’t have to boost or promote everything, which would simply be a waste of money.
Preaching to the Converted
When somebody becomes a convert or a blog reader, that doesn’t yet mean they’re lifers or dedicated followers of your blog. It’s similar to romance — just because you’re dating somebody doesn’t mean you’re going to marry them. You don’t want readers to find reasons to stop reading. Consistency has been listed by top marketers as important in gaining more followers. In addition to consistency, it’s important to stay innovative and relevant as well. Write about what your audience needs right now — not just what they needed in the past.
If you work with sponsors, see if they want to offer promotions for mailing list subscribers. If you sell merchandise based around your content, then promote your brand with discount codes for your merchandise. However — and this is important — none of this means anything without great content. You can’t just build a name for your blog and expect people to stay aboard the reader train if you’re not putting out what they came there for. Quality is absolutely key, and people can smell something fake a mile away nowadays. These aspects in retaining readers matter in creating a larger fan base later as well. It’s always helpful to continue building upon and revisiting who your audience is.
Lastly, take a piece of advice from Katie McBeth of Fiscal Tiger that describes the bottom line of keeping readers and customers.
“Marketing is all about connecting and creating relationships with the very people that keep your company running. Show your customers how you will listen to them, and how your business will meet their needs, and they will be there to support you through your toughest times.”
How do you best reach and connect with the audience you write to? Please share in the comments below!