Yesterday I was interviewed for an upcoming podcast with - we had a great chat covering a wide range of topics related to blogging (I look forward to sharing a link to it once it is live) but one of the things that I found myself coming back to time and again throughout the hour long chat was the need to put yourself in your readers shoes.
The most powerful thing I think that I ever did to grow in the early days was to create 'reader profiles' (some people call them 'avatars' or 'personas'.
I wrote about how I did this quite some time ago at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/09/26/how-to-create-reader-profilespersonas-to-inspire-and-inform-your-blogging/ but since writing that post I've come to see the power of doing the exercise of creating a reader persona even more.
Knowing WHO you want to reach with your blog will inform:
* The content you create (identifies the problems or needs your reader has that your content can solve)
* The way that you build community (gives you hints as to what will make your readers engage with you)
* How you build your readership (identifies the places you need to develop a presence online)
* How you monetize your site (identifies the needs of your reader that you can solve with products/services - which informs the products you create or promote as an affiliate... or the advertisers that you target). Knowing your reader also helps you to understand their budget and spending habits which is helpful in working out pricing and the types of products to create.
If you think about it - those 4 things are perhaps the most crucial pillars to building a profitable blog.
3. Promoting Your Blog
Knowing who your reader is or who you want them to be will take you a BIG step forward in all of these areas.
Not only that - having a clear understanding of who your reader is (or who you want them to be) makes your content more personal (I constantly imaging that I'm writing my posts to answer questions of the people in my profiles (and as a result am constantly told by people that they feel like I'm writing to them).
I also find that as I've grown my team in the last couple of years that these 'profiles' are useful to help bring team members up to speed and they're also useful when I speak with potential advertisers on my blogs.
Reader Profiles are just one part of it of course - there's a whole heap of other ways to get to know who your reader is:
* We run regular surveys on our blogs (eg: the recent ProBlogger Census http://www.problogger.net/archives/2013/02/27/problogger-census-we-need-you/ which we run annually)
* I have a survey in the autoresponder sequence on (read about this at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2010/09/01/how-i-generated-over-6000-ideas-to-write-about-on-my-blog-in-15-minutes/). This technique alone has now created 20,000 suggestions from readers as to what posts they want us to write on dPS!
* I love to run regular polls
* We monitor comments/tweets etc for questions/feedback etc
* Also I like to be more proactive on SM too and ask questions that help me get inside the head of readers/followers
I can't emphasise it enough - know your reader. It'll help you improve your blogging so much!
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