Are You My Audience?

rendered people with targets instead of headsRemember the classic children’s book by P.D. Eastman where the baby bird left the nest, searching for his mother? The hatchling wandered from dog to boat to car to power shovel asking, “Are you my mother?” This was an ineffective and frightening way to conduct his search. (Don’t worry — the book has a happy ending!)

As bloggers, we need to know who our target audience is, where they are, what they need, and how we can help them, but searching for them in the are-you-my-mother manner can become as ineffective and frightening as the little bird’s adventure.

Today’s Wednesday is Friends Day post will share tips on how to find your audience, create an audience profile, discover their needs, and determine what you can do to help them.

Steps to finding your target audience:

If you haven’t already done so, determine your blog’s topic:

  • Make a list of everything you have the talent, experience, and desire to blog about. If you’re like most people, you will have a long list.
  • Select the top three things on your list — the items you have the most experience, talent, and desire to blog about.
  • If you’re hoping to blog for profit, ask yourself if people spend money to learn about these things.
  • If you’re an author, ask yourself what it is you’re really “selling.” (Hint: It’s not just books.) For example, if you write romance novels, your target audience is likely looking for the fulfillment that comes from being in a close relationship. A good blog topic for you might be ways to keep your relationship fresh and exciting. Once you’ve positioned yourself as an authority in that topic — in other words, once you’ve helped your audience solve their problem through your blog — your books will sell naturally because your audience likes and trusts you.
  • If one item of your top three stands out to you, great! That is your blog’s topic. If not, complete the remaining steps for all three items.

Find out who’s interested in your blog’s topic:

  • Conduct a Google search. Instead of typing in one keyword, like “relationships,” try forming questions your audience might ask, such as, “How can I get the romance back in my marriage?”, etc. Who is asking these questions? Where are they asking them? (Hint: typing the question without quotes will get you more results to look through. Be creative in your Google searching. There are a variety of ways to use Google search.
  • Search for your topic’s keywords and phrases on social sites. Try search.twitter.com or facebook.com/search. Search Facebook groups. If people are grouping together on a social site to discuss your proposed topic, there’s a good chance you’ll have a receptive audience. Once you’ve made your final topic choice, join groups associated with the topic. For example, if you’re blogging about dog health, join some dog lover groups. And participate.
  • Find blogs and other sites about your topic. Alltop is a great resource for researching what people are saying/thinking/blogging about a specific topic. Google blog search is another great place to look (blogsearch.google.com). Once you’ve found some other blogs about your topic, check to see if they have forums. Lurk in the forums and see what questions your future audience is asking. (Take notes.)
  • If you do these exercises for your top 1-3 blog topics, you should be able to determine which topic to focus your blog on, and therefore, discover who exactly you’re writing to.

Develop a profile of your typical target audience member:

  • What age group is interested in your topic?
  • Are they male or female?
  • What occupation do they work at?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their income level?
  • Are they married? With children?
  • What are their defining traits?
  • What are their biggest desires? (Examples: Wanting to retire, wanting to infuse romance into a stale relationship, wanting to get accepted into an exclusive university, etc.)
  • What obstacles do they face? (Examples: For the person who wants to retire — money, for the stale relationship member — perhaps she feels too busy or tired to work on her marriage, for the future college student — maybe he doesn’t qualify for enough scholarship money to fund the expensive school.
  • What specific steps could be taken to get them from where they are now to where they want to be? List these steps, one at a time.

The most important question: How can you help them?

  • What is the very first obstacle blocking your audience member from his or her goal? Perhaps for the harried housewife, it is a lack of time to focus on her marriage. If you’ve done thorough research, you may know exactly what she spends most of her time on, if not, you may need to go back through the previous steps to learn.
  • What specific steps can be taken to overcome that obstacle? Can her kids pitch in more? Can she afford to outsource tasks, such as housecleaning and other chores? Could she delegate more at work? Can she plan a weekend getaway with her husband?
  • You probably figured it out already, but those obstacle-overcomers are the makings of individual blog posts to help your target audience member reach her goal.

If you’re goal is to create a product to sell . . .

  • Remember — desperation is a key factor in sales, especially instant downloadable information products, such as eBooks. If you can provide a specific solution to a pressing problem to an audience you’ve developed a relationship with, your sales conversion rate will be high. For example — an eBook on “How to Reconcile after a Big Fight,” could be helpful for the one who wants to help her marriage. It is an instantly accessible solution to an immediate problem.

The point isn’t to blog with the intent of making money, but with the intent of helping your audience solve their problems. If you blog with the sole purpose of making a profit, your audience, which is comprised of real people, will see through that quickly, and your blogging days will be short-lived. But if you blog with the hope of helping, then yes, you can reap some benefits for your efforts along the way.

Until next time,

Happy blogging!

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