Customer Targeting: How to Define Your Blog’s Target Audience
For many new or hobby bloggers, failure to grow is caused by a lack of customer targeting.
If your content is weak and gets little traction, it's probably because it is not consistently aimed at one particular group of people. This is why defining your blog's target market really makes a difference to your website's performance.
Once you know who you serve, why and how, you will bring more focus and relevance to your content. This always leads to increased authority and presence in your niche which, in turn, leads to more income opportunities.
In this article, you will learn...
- How to Define Your Target Audience
- Why You Want to Help your Chosen Market
- What You do to Help Your Target Audience
If you plan to follow along with the actions in this article, it will help to download the simple worksheet that accompanies it. Click here to get yours now.
It's important to know how you help because that decides how the whole of your blog works.
Your blog is not your business, its job is to bring people into your business.
But, you do not want it to be any old audience. No. You need the audience which is most likely to buy your product or service or act on your recommendations.
To do that you need to use your blog to ‘filter’ your audience. It needs to appeal to the people who are likely to buy from you and ‘turn off’ those who are not.
By creating a tribe of the right kind of people for your business, you'll grow much faster than if you try to please everyone.
How this Works
Using your blog to connect with your specific audience is simple to do - especially if you already identify with them.
It works because:
- You write in a way that is specific to your niche group and is not favorable to everyone else
- When you exclude people who are not part of your group, those that remain feel more valued. Your business feels like their club.
- You get to understand them better. As you write for your target audience, read their comments and hang out with them in social channels, you learn their hopes and fears, dreams and aspirations, and trials and tribulations. Write to all of that and, when you do, your customer target will feel that you 'get' them. They will grow towards your brand.
- You can exude authority on their subjects. This gives a sense of trust that you are a good person to follow.
- The products you create (or recommend), and the services you offer, will be so in tune with your customer's needs that they will rush to buy from you.
But it only works if your are very clear on these three things:
- Who you help (and who you do not) - So everything you do appeals to them
- Why you help them - what is your connection to your audience?
- How you help them - This is what your business does to make money
The job of your business is to create a profit. It will only do so if your target customer values your help enough to exchange their money for it.
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Who You Help - Defining Your Target Audience
My guess is that you instinctively know already who you are helping.
Your blog may have begun as a random collection of musings on parenting, cooking, chess, or pets all mingled with the general happenings of your life.
It may - as so many do - started as an innocent hobby or side project. It bimbled along merrily for months or years before you discovered it could make some money.
Or, you may have been much more intentional. You started a website with the intention of cultivating it into a valuable business.
Either way, the fact that you’re reading this suggests you want to be more intentional about it now; to make it a bigger part of your life.
And that is marvellous!
This marks the ideal moment to establish exactly who your blog is for from now onwards. You see, deciding who you help also means deciding on who you do not help too.
It means refining your niche. Your aim is to become very helpful (invaluable, in fact) to a smaller, better-defined audience. This will mean turning off some of your existing audience - which is unnatural, scary and imperative if you want to grow.
How to Choose Your Blog's Target Market
In some ways, it's easy to start from nothing and set a target audience: pick one and start producing content.
But, when you have established traffic, you can be a little more methodical about defining the people your business will help.
So, how do you decide on your target audience?
Well, first off, you already have a feel who you write for.
(By the way, I'm going to use 'write' a lot in this article, but take this as code for 'make content'. Feel free to substitute it with podcast, vlog, etc).
Worksheet Question 1: Be concise and write down what your blog is about using the format 'X for Y' in the first box of the worksheet.
For example, is your website about recipes for vegans, parenting for mothers of twins, chess playing for teenagers or chinchilla grooming for the retired?
OK, what you've written is the first insight to your target audience. Now let’s get some data to support it.
Getting Real Demographic Data
Real data will show whether you are serving who you think you are or cause you to reflect on your assumption.
A great source of demographics data is the Google Analytics and Facebook accounts linked to your blog.
In the image below (which you can click to zoom) you can see a snapshot of data from one of my websites. It clearly shows a bias towards men in their mid-20s to mid-40s.
To find the same data for your site, go to your Analytics account and use the menu items I've highlighted in the red box on the picture.
Your Facebook 'insights' will show you similar results based on the people who interact with your page.
My snapshot, below, shows less of a male bias, but the age group slant is even more visible.
Follow the steps on the picture to grab your own insights.
Final Question… Who Do You Want to Help?
Remember this is your business!
I believe it has to be enjoyable for you to run to stand any chance of being successful.
Producing content is a big part of a blogging business, so you need to relish the subject you write about.
That said, I do need to be clear about something at this point:
Turning your blog into a growing business means accepting that your website can not be about you anymore. To your audience, it can appear to be about you, but it will not be.
It's a subtle but important distinction.
Your audience is not coming to hear what you’ve got to say because it’s ‘you’ saying it (sorry to break it to you). They are coming because the way you speak to them resonates so strongly - it feels like the thoughts they have in their own head - that they can't resist reading your perspective.
In other words, they like to read/see/hear from you because you make them feel good, even if you are - on the face of it - writing about yourself. They are coming to your website because they know you understand and empathise with them and you help make their life better.
Back to the point then: you must feel good about your business and working in it.
The perfect mash up of all this advice is to help people you want to help by doing something you enjoy doing. That way you will enjoy creating content and they will get great value from it - everyone wins.
Worksheet Question 2: In a few sentences, write about who you help in the worksheet's second box.
You don't need loads of detail and polish, but it does need to be clear and make sense to you every time you revisit it. You should be able to pick it up, scan read it and have back in your mind’s eye a clear picture of who you help.
Why Do You Help Them?
Now you’ve written down who you help, it’s time to cement that image in your head by thinking about why you help them.
There is no right answer to this. They range from mercenary “parenting is a massive market and they’ll always want to buy stuff for their kids” to the altruistic “I hate seeing chinchillas brushed the wrong way and am on a mission to change the chinchilla-owning world for the better.”
The point here is, you need to be honest with yourself.
Don’t rush at this because your answer must match your genuine beliefs. If you lie to yourself and say something here which you don't believe, it will show through in your business... and not in a good way.
Take the time to explore and play with ideas.
I start by writing down words and phrases that feel like they might fit. Next, I ponder on them for a while until some rule themselves out and others leap out as being my actual truth.
My answer to 'Why Do You Help Them?' for this website is:
“I help bloggers who are past the beginner stage because I see it as a growing market that is poorly catered for. Most marketers claiming to help bloggers grow have never run their own non-blogging website.
“I want to help successful bloggers grow because I have the experience and expertise to help and it's a subject I get a buzz from learning and teaching.
"One of the biggest joys I get in life is helping people achieve more for themselves than they thought was possible.
"Finally, I want to help because it’s a solid foundation for a profitable business with scope to grow.”]
It’s ok to be selfish about why you help who you do. In fact, I'd argue it's essential. You must enjoy what you do to stand any chance of success!
Let's wrap this section up.
Worksheet Question 3: Why do you want to help your audience? What's in it for you - money, prestige, gratitude, etc? Write your answer in the worksheet.
Remember that you need never share this with anyone. So, take your time, be honest and be true to yourself.
With that done, it's time to figure out how your business will make money.
How Do You Help Them?
This is where we finally turn to the heart of your business.
Any blog can think about who they help and why. Running a business demands that you put equal consideration into answering the how question.
The answer to 'How you help your audience' is also the answer to 'how does your business make money', so it's worth the effort.
To make this easier, let’s tackle it in two parts - the paid and the unpaid:
The Unpaid How
There's an expression I love: "Wear the suit for the job you want, not the job you have". It means you first have to look like right for the job before you will get it.
The same is true when it comes to your business asking for money, it must deliver value before it can make sales.
This is where your blog comes into its own. Your blog's job is to provide value to your audience by helping them for free. Examples of how it can do this are:
- Show them how to do something they’ve been struggling with
- Empathise with them and help them see they are not alone / mad / unusual
- Share stories with them of others who have been through their situation
- Provide them with new ideas for being better at something
Every free piece of content you provide for visitors should do the following for your business:
- Bring new customers into your brand
- Appeal specifically to your target customer
- Increase your authority in their eyes
- Bring them closer to a purchase by encouraging them onto your email list, social channels, or another blog post.
Can you see now why I say 'your blog is not your business'?
It's a route into your business and is great for advertising and growing it, but it is not your business.
Your business only exists when people give you their money for your product or service.
Worksheet Question 4: What are the unpaid hows you will provide for your audience? How are you going to help them by providing value for free? Use your worksheet to capture your thoughts.
The Paid How
We've hit the point of all this defining: what will you do to help your audience that they will pay for?
I know you are already making some money from your blog. It may be a decent amount too - if not yet quite enough for it to be the only source of your income.
There are options for producing an income but broad strokes are:
- Review and recommend products as an affiliate
- Create and sell your own products
- Provide a paid service
- Set up a membership site
- Sell advertising
Worksheet Question 5: Write down your preferred (or existing) route of income and three ideas you can pursue in more detail.
Bringing it All Together
This is a great point to look back and see how far you’ve come during this article.
The fundamental point of any business is to get customers to exchange money for a product or service that helps them. Your blog is not your business but is a solid route into it.
You've decided who it was you wanted to help - because businesses specific about customers and their needs are more likely to thrive.
This led us into thinking about you and your needs, specifically, why do you want to help the people you want to help?
Next, you linked these two things together - who you’d like to help and why - by asking what will you do to help?
Value comes before payment, so you now have strong ideas about how you will help your audience in unpaid and paid ways.
Look Backwards to Move Forwards
Finally, it's time to check your paid and unpaid value tie together well. To function at its best, your free value (question 4) should encourage visitors to pay for your services or products.
You should now be clear on what you'd like to sell your audience [question 5]
What unpaid help could you provide them that will make them more likely to pay you for your product or service? Here are some examples to help you:
- If you want to be an affiliate, then a free how-to guide might encourage them to buy via your recommendation, earning you a fee.
- If you are selling a product, what topics can you write about to give free, valuable help which will encourage a later paid sale?
- Selling a service? What is it about your free content that pushes your target audience to want to buy it?
Worksheet Question 6: In the final section of your free worksheet, write down exactly what free content you will produce to encourage sales of your paid product.
When you’ve done all that, you are well on your way to turning your blog into a business.
Please share in the comments section your ideas for defining the audience you serve and how you'll create a business from helping them.
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