Image from Flickr by Photos by Mavis
You’ve started a company blog, or you’re planning to begin one soon. You’re probably feeling a little unsure what to write about ... or you might be worried that your blog won’t bring the results that you want.
By considering your ideal reader, you can solve both of these problems. You’ll have a clear idea of what topics you should cover, and in what depth – and you’ll be much more likely to reach your business-related goals.
Your ideal reader is an imagined individual who represents those you want to reach through your blog. If the main goal of your blog is to boost sales, for instance, then your ideal reader will also be your ideal customer: someone with money to spend, who’s ready for the services or products that you offer.
Finding Your Ideal Reader
Your ideal reader will probably fall into one of two groups. They could be:
- Someone who’s likely to be interested in buying from you (and in a position to do so).
- Someone who has influence in your field – like a well-known blogger, or a journalist.
You may decide to come up with a clear image of your ideal reader for both of these, or you may choose to angle your blog primarily towards one or the other.
Let’s say your company sells premium health foods.
Your ideal reader-as-customer will probably be:
- Reasonably affluent – able and willing to spend enough to afford your products.
- Interested in health and nutrition – simply having enough money isn’t enough to make them buy.
- Willing to order products online – though you may need to be prepared to do a little work to show that your company is reputable and reliable.
Your ideal reader-as-influencer will probably be:
- Able to spread the word about your company to a wide audience – perhaps through a health-related website or magazine, or through a newspaper.
- Knowledgeable about your industry – but interested in new developments and good angles for a story.
- Potentially sceptical about “miracle diets”, “superfoods” and other over-hyped trends – they’ll want facts, not just promises, about your products.
Questions to Ask About Your Ideal Reader
As you think about your ideal reader, ask yourself these questions:
#1: How old are they?
There’s obviously a big difference in writing content for teenagers versus content for pensioners ... but there’s also a difference in how you’ll approach writing for readers aged 20 – 35 instead of those aged 35 – 50.
This will have an effect on your content. For instance, if you want to include testimonials from people who’ve enjoyed your health foods, you might want to mention their age – and you’ll want to focus on testimonials from customers who are a similar age to your target audience.
#2: Are they male or female?
With a few exceptions, most businesses will have at least somecustomers from each gender – but you may want to skew your content toward one or the other, if your customers are predominantly male or female.
The same goes for the major influencers in your niche. If most of the bloggers and journalists covering your subject are from one gender, you’ll need to make sure that your content is going to resonate well with them.
#3: What sort of lifestyle do they lead?
You may want to consider whether they live alone or with a partner, whether they have children, what their interests are, and how affluent they are.
Knowing about your customers’ lives and lifestyle will inform the topics that you choose to write about (e.g. “eating healthily when you have young kids” versus “great one-person meals you can create in 10 minutes”).
#4: How educated are they?
This will inform your writing style: if your customers are highly educated, you can use more advanced vocabulary. As well as considering their general level of education, think about how much they already know about your industry area.
You may need to create content that helps answer beginners’ questions – an FAQ page can be great for this, or a series of “101” blog posts. Alternatively, if you’re writing for influencers in your niche, you might need to go much more in-depth with your content – they won’t be interested in reading yet another rehash of the basics.
For readers-as-influencers, add this question too:
#5: What stories do they cover?
Try to pinpoint specific influencers in your niche, and see what types of content they write about. If they have a big social media following, look at the content that they share.
By taking a look at the content that naturally interests influencers, you can plan and write blog posts that will have a strong chance of engaging them.
Creating Content With Your Reader in Mind
When someone visits your website, they’ll have particular questions in mind, or particular needs that they’re trying to address. For instance, on a website about premium health foods, a reader might have arrived because they’re anxious about their weight but don’t know where to begin with healthy eating.
Your website might not be their intended destination – they may have come across it by chance, through Google or through a friend’s link on social media – but it’s part of their journey to where they need to be in their life.
Even if you don’t make a sale instantly, being helpful – providing the information that they need – makes you look good. They might read more posts on your site. They might share information with their friends. They may very well come back again in the future, when they are ready to buy.
This doesn’t just apply to potential customers. Influencers who visit your website will be looking for something. Perhaps they simply want to check out who you are. Maybe they’re trying to find a specific piece of information. They might not spread the word about your company today or tomorrow or even next week ... but if the quality of your content impresses them, they may well be back.
When you brainstorm ideas for content, picture your ideal reader coming to your site for the first time. Ask yourself:
- What questions are they trying to answer?
- What needs or desires do they have?
- What worries do they have?
- How can I help them?
You’ll probably find that it’s easy to come up with ideas ... and that these ideas result in content that really engages your ideal reader.
Addressing Your Ideal Reader
Some people find that it’s helpful to write out a description of an individual reader – either an imagined avatar, or potentially a real life customer who matches up well to your “average” target audience.
When you create blog posts, or other content for your site, you can imagine that you’re addressing this person directly: you might even want to pretend you’re writing them an email. This can be very helpful if you get stuck on what information to include, or how to phrase something.
It doesn’t take long to get to know your ideal reader – but by investing 30 minutes in this now, you can ensure that your blog will be heading in the right direction and attracting the right audience.