I would like to believe that there are two schools of thought as far as the relevance of knowing your reading audience is concerned when blogging.
Those who belong to the first school generally tend to believe that the best way to connect with your readers is when you write for yourself without having a specific target audience in the mind. The belief is that you become your most honest self when you write for yourself. You also tend to enjoy the process more. After all, blogging is also about enjoying yourself too, isn’t it? And when you enjoy, the words come out more beautifully, the honesty is evident and that way, the connection with the readers is more real.
On the other hand, the second school of thought professes to know your target audience and to write the way they like to be communicated to. These people believe that it is important to know your audience so that the blog’s content could be tailored to suit their needs perfectly. After all, a blog is intended to provide solutions to the problems faced by people.
Over the years, I have seen that I have graduated from being the believer in “writing for yourself” to the more methodical “writing for the audience”. So, when I write this post today, I’m biased towards the relevance of having a target audience in the mind and to craft our content in lines with it.
Who are You Writing For?
When you’re in the process of writing, it is very easy to forget that you’re actually writing for an audience. A large part of the writing process is also self-indulgence, and unconsciously, we tend to write to satisfy ourselves. It is not something unacceptable but a blog’s target is a specific group of people who are looking for information to solve a particular problem.
Having the audience in the mind and how they look up to you can actually guide you towards creating content that finds most takers in a niche. When you don’t have a well-defined target audience, you fall back on the niche and try to structure content by picking up a topic from within the niche. The thing is when you write on a blog subject without the end readers in the mind, the connection might be missing.
The target audience always comes first. So, focus on their need and not so much on the information you want to cram in your blog.
Obsessed With the Idea of Being an Expert
The problem with creating a blog content based on the subject matter at hand instead of doing it for a target audience is that you actually could end up helping your competitors with your blog.
When you become too obsessed with the thought that you need to be an expert and try hard to be smarter than your competitors, you could end up sounding a tad overbearing or bossy. That could easily turn off people who will not link back to your article.
Customers don’t want to be lectured on how much you know more than other people. They don’t care about that. What they’re looking at is how much they could trust you to solve their problems.
Instead of trying to sound too techy, you could do well to write in a language that most people (especially beginners or amateurs) could easily relate to.
Building Up a Loyal Audience
One of the main objectives of creating a blog is to build up a loyal audience. A loyal audience helps to get your blog shared and in promoting your business to other people (your new customers). When your blog is created with this audience in the mind, you are assured of a pool of customers who are ready to agree to most that you say. Remember, it is more expensive to earn new customers than to keep your existing customers.
The advantage of defining a target audience is that you exactly know what problems they have, the values they share, their insecurities and how they relate to the world-views. This is the reason your posts get shared more easily by the people in your audience.
If you were simply creating content based solely on the subject matter, your target audience could be much smaller and they may not even share with others what you say.
Having a Target Audience Brings Up Endless Writing Possibilities
If you limit yourself to only a specific subject, the number of keywords that you could target also become limited. Your keywords will be centred only on the subject, and mostly they will all be competitive search terms. This puts a cap on the type of blog posts that you could create.
On the other hand, when you define a target audience, there’s an endless number of keywords that you could target based on the unlimited number of things these people could be interested in. There’s an endless number of ways you could be approaching towards dealing with their problems.
From the SEO perspective, when you define a target audience, the competition gets lesser. Your blog could be tailored to touch upon every inch of the ground. Finding those unique writing angles becomes easier. In other words, you become more creative when you base your blog on a target audience.
Writing for One Ideal Reader
Having a target audience in the mind could improve your writing. You could write with much clarity and arguments could be more succinct. One of the ways to do this is to form an image of one person who personifies your typical audience instead of having a general population in the mind.
You see, when you write for a broad audience, you actually end up writing for a faceless crowd. Even though you are clear about your target audience, when you write for them, you tend to take a safe stance and may fail to connect with them.
However, when you have the image of an ideal reader, you could relate more easily to his problems, fears, insecurities, aspirations, dreams and the kind of comfort zone he is used to. Hence, when you write to him, you are more direct and personal.
This is to say, instead of trying to focus on the whole audience, you would better focus on one single individual. Imagine as if you are speaking to him while he’s sitting just in front of you.
When you write to an ideal blog reader of yours, you are more focused and you have a better idea about what he wants.
Putting Yourself in Your Reader’s Shoes
When you finish writing your draft, try reading it as if you have no previous knowledge of the content. Are the explanations enough? Can it connect with you? Well, these are easy questions to answer first. I mean, when you yourself have written it and you’re trying to read it objectively, things are not as easy as it seems. You’re likely to be oblivious to the gaps in your writing. However, with practice, it is something that is not impossible.
One of the best ways to put yourself in your reader’s position is to outline your own draft. Try reading each paragraph separately and see if you can come up with the most logical gist of it. Write down these outlines (for each paragraph) in a separate page. Do the outlines connect in a proper and meaningful sequence? Is there a definite flow to it?
Another way to do is let someone read it aloud. When your draft is read back to you, it becomes easier to pick out those areas that do not sync properly with the tone or the message of your post. Also, you are able to sort out the grammatical oversights, the typos, and the missing words. This way you’re able to assess the overall quality of your writing properly.
Audience Does Matter
Writing for a target audience is a very different experience. To illustrate the importance of the audience, take the example of a letter written to your father about your experience of blogging. What are the things you would like your father to understand and what are the things that you could ignore? Are you saying it enough? Can you imagine writing the same letter to a close friend of yours? I’m sure the two writings will be different in terms of the words, structure and the tone employed.
When you have a specific person in the mind, it gives you more motivation to write. You become more creative in finding the different ways to communicate with your audience. It makes your writing tighter. There’s a sense of direction and purpose in it.