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Building a Blog - Understanding and Reaching Your Audience
An audience is what brings a blog to life. Their involvement, engagement and attitude are a critical part of the success of your online writing and content creation. That's why it's vital to spend time understanding who your audience are and how to reach them effectively.
This article explores the main ways that you can find and interact with your audience and the best channels to use to reach them. We'll cover:
- Understanding your audience - Working out who your audience are, where they are, how to reach them and how to engage them
- Having a strategy for promotion and getting an audience - Putting the right channels in place so that you can promote your blog and content
Defining and understanding your blog audience
A blog without readers is like an unpublished manuscript - you might enjoy writing it, but it's just words until readers bring it to life. This means that you have to establish if your blog will have a potential audience and understand who they are.
Think about the following:
- If you had to define your audience 'segment', how would you describe them?
- Do you know what your audience wants?
- How do your blog audience want to receive information?
- Where does your audience gather online?
- What's in it for your audience?
How would you describe and define your audience?
Examples might include: dog owners, PhD students, stay at home moms, freelancers,classic car enthusiasts, organic gardeners etc.
The more narrowly you can define your audience, the better.
What does your audience want or need?
Try to understand what your blog is going to offer them.
They might want information, tips and advice, research, reviews, entertainment, jokes, how-to guides, distractions or something else.
How do they want to receive information?
Your approach is vital; the way that you present information on your blog will really matter to your readers.
If they only have a short attention span, you'll need to break things up into small bite-sized chunks; if they want to read in-depth analysis then you'll need to provide that. You have to provide content that engages your readers in a way that's meaningful to them.
Where does your audience hang out online?
If you want to reach your audience, initially you're going to have to go to them; this means understanding where they congregate online.
Find out what communities already exist for your audience and the best channels to use to reach them. Establish a presence on forums and social media related to your blog subject.
What's in it for them?
If you want people to read, re-read and engage with your blog, you need to provide something unique that they can't get elsewhere.
Whether that's the quality of your articles, a quirky approach, beautiful, simple design or something else, always put yourself in your audience's shoes and think 'Why would I read this blog?'
An example of defining your audience
An example of how you might answer this could be:
"My audience segment is small business owners and freelancers, mainly those that are just starting out and want to find out more; they want tips and practical advice on the nuts and bolts of running a small business and I'll provide that information through practical, clear and simple guides.
My audience gathers in business communities (e.g. on Google+ or LinkedIn) and I can reach them there; I break down business processes into bite sized chunks and use images and pictures to explain context and information."
Have a strategy for promotion and getting an audience
If you build it, they are not automatically going to come, just as if you write, you aren't automatically going to get readers.
You need to have a way of promoting your blog effectively to the people that are going to be interested in it. Your strategy will be unique and based on your understanding of your audience and the best channels to reach them, but might include:
- Onsite Search Engine Optimization
- Offsite Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media
- Content marketing
- Participating in communities
Onsite Search Engine Optimization
Creating great, feature-rich content, formatting and linking it well, using appropriate title tags and images and following all of the other great advice that's available on SEO.
Offsite Search Engine Optimization
Building up high-quality, authoritative backlinks and establishing a reputation.
Establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon or elsewhere and providing value to the community; sharing blog posts that are relevant and useful to your followers.
Writing great articles and guest blog posts for other sites, in return for a link back to your blog; this can be an effective way to get new readers.
Participating in communities
Because you know where your blog audience are, you can interact with them directly on their communities; remember though to always 'add value' - Simply spamming / sharing blog links without context won't win you any fans!
Blogging tips on research and audience building
What is the main way that you want to promote your blog?
Having a varied, wide-ranging and engaged audience can make a big difference to the success of your blog.
The more accurately you can define your audience and how you are going to reach them, the more relevant you can make your content.
This will directly translate into building a successful, ongoing blog that's useful and effective.