When it comes to defining your target audience, you’ve heard it all.
Be specific, write content for your ideal reader, think about your audience’s problems, etc--you get it. You’ve heard the same advice regurgitated over and over again, in countless forms and from thousands of bloggers.
Odds are you’ve already done the work. You’ve already figured out your target audience, defined your ideal reader, and established how you can help him or her. But have you thought about one possible MAJOR mistake you could be making?
This is a story of one of my biggest blogging #fails
My other blog, beside Fierce Blogging, is a book blog. It’s all about YA books, reading, and the teen book community. I wanted to create a hub for teen readers where I could share my opinions on books, and give recommendations to help teens find their next great read.
A few months after I started blogging, I discovered this community of book bloggers out there. It took me long enough! I made some really great friends in that community, and I found myself reading more and more other book blogs out there. It was great!
Until I got this comment in an end-of-the-year survey:
….I love your style and your reviews are always very honest. I wish you would connect with your nonblogger readers though….
Have you ever had a moment that just made you go “a-ha!”?
That moment was it for me. Looking back at my first few posts, I noticed how much my style had changed from my early posts, and not just because I finally figured out how to use formatting.
Comparing my early posts with my most recent posts, I noticed a huge difference. My old posts were targeted towards teen readers. My more recent posts were targeted towards book bloggers who read teen books. Key word: bloggers.
I’d spent so much time networking with other book bloggers that I’d inadvertently started writing blog posts for them.
Even worse, the same thing happened with Fierce Blogging. Fierce Blogging is dedicated to helping bloggers build inspiring and exciting online presences. I started out by following other creative entrepreneurs and people who teach blogging, until I realized that I was doing the exact same thing I had done with my book blog.
I was targeting my peers instead of the people who needed my help.
Creative entrepreneurs and people who teach blogging wouldn’t need to visit Fierce Blogging. They already know how to blog–that’s why they are teaching others how to do it.
Instead of targeting them, I should have been reaching out and recruiting the people that I can actually help: bloggers who want to learn how to master their blogs, but haven’t gotten there yet.
99% of the time, your ideal reader will not be your peers.
Odds are that something like this may have happened to you. You may have defined your ideal reader as a hip, 20-something mom who wants to cook healthy meals for her children on a budget, but look at your most recent content. Have you actually started writing content that will impress other food bloggers instead of your ideal reader?
99% of the time, your ideal will reader will not be your peers, and that’s a big distinction that you need to make sure you know about.
For my book blog, It took me a while to figure out that I wanted to write a blog targeted to teen readers, not just other book bloggers. Those two audiences might cross over, but my ideal reader is the person that I really want to appeal too.
What if you realize you’re making the same mistake?
Have you read this and gone “Yikes, that’s so me!”
I’ve been there, and it isn’t fun. But don’t freak out! You can totally fix this. Let’s steer your blog back on track, and reconnect with the people who are your REAL target audience.
1. Do you need to redefine your ideal reader?
First, let’s talk about the difference between your “ideal reader” and who you are currently writing for. It’s time to seriously think about who your ideal reader is. Have you just gotten distracted from your ideal reader? Or do you want to actually change who your ideal reader is?
For Fierce Blogging, I knew I had just gotten distracted from my ideal reader. I was running a blog about blogging. My “peers” already know how to do that–that’s why they are teaching it as well! In my case, it made total sense to just refocus my content towards my original ideal reader, but your situation might be very difference.
2. Ask your ideal reader where they hang out
One of the biggest problems that I’ve encountered is about where I hang out. If I spend lots of time in places where other creative coaches and bloggers hang out, I’m more likely to absorb that and start creating content that is geared towards them.
Likewise, if you hang out where your ideal reader hangs out, you’ll be able to figure out what their problems are and create the content that they need.
You’ll probably be able to figure out a few places where your ideal reader hangs out, just by brainstorming, but there’s nothing like actually getting to ask them. Send out a tweet, survey, or email and take a poll of the social networks, websites, and online hubs they spend the most time.
3. Be aware of the content you consume
In the case of my book blog, I started reading a lot of posts about how to run a book blog, and advice for book bloggers.
That’s all really great content, but I eventually realized that instead of just reading the content, I was starting to write content for that audience as well. Yikes.
Is something similar happening to you? Maybe you are reading a lot of posts about how to run a travel blog, and suddenly you find yourself sharing blogging tips as well. Make sure that you’re able to consume content with accidentally wanting to write similar posts.
4. Surround yourself with a mix of people
When I set up my Twitter account for Fierce Blogging, I followed a lot of creative coaches and bloggerpreneurs I admired. Great, but I realized I had totally forgotten to use Twitter the way it was intended to be used: to connect with my audience.
Have you done something similar? Don’t just follow your peers. Surround yourself with a mix of people, including the people you admire AND your aui