As a crafter, you may offer a wide range of craft ideas and projects, so your audience might be all crafters and do-it-yourself folks. If you are a knitter, your audience would be a smaller subset of crafters, focusing on knitters. If you specialize in lace or Fair Isle knitting, your target audience would be an even smaller subset. Passionate about tatting, trust me, your readership just dropped to triple digits.
The key to hitting a target is not punching a giant hole in the middle of it. It is hitting the bull’s eye, the smallest spot in the middle, so let’s define your audiences even more in these Blog Exercises.
Before we dig into narrowing down your target, please remember that blogging is not a violent act. You are not publishing on the web to beat people over the head and drag them to your blog. Your job as a blogger is to serve your audience and meet your own needs as a self-publisher and contributor to the world.
Liz Strauss describes the blogging methodology of defining a target audience as inviting someone to your home. You want to welcome them, make them feel comfortable, and you want them to be the kind of people you would invite into your home, people you trust and want to call friend. By clearly defining your audience, you are looking for friends, people with like-minds, common interests and passions.
As a specialist in lace knitting, do you want to serve only beginners or advanced lace knitters? Or not talk about the knitting techniques but the tools you need to knit the projects? Or maybe not how to do it. Maybe all you are interested in is sharing and selling lace knitting patterns and inspiration to keep them interested and motivated to buy your patterns?
Maybe you want to mix it all up?
If your subject matter is astronomy, who is your audience? Those just learning how to identity the stars in the sky or those debating the science of the universe in 10 syllable terms for hours on end?
Let’s apply this to personal blogs, those in which you may not have a specific area of focus. You need need to define your audience.
My cousin, Duke DesRochers, started his site to share his stories and found artwork projects. I wrote about him when he auditioned to be the next TV super chef and as an example of a perfect personal blog. I’m quite proud of him. His work has him traveling and working long hours this past year, letting his blog lapse, but let’s talk about his audience as an example of finding your target audience for a personal blog.
His audience is not art buyers. It isn’t a DIY blog with a ton of tips and techniques on how to create the artwork and recipes for which he is known. He doesn’t have a gallery or information on where and how to purchase his pieces, just the occasional announcement of a gallery showing or event. I wish he would, but that isn’t the purpose, nor the audience for his site. His audience is friends and family. If someone stops by for a chat, he’s thrilled, but he gets more jollies when family members cheer him on. The purpose of Duke’s site is to share stories of his past, preserving them for his children, grandchildren, and the next generation. It is also to showcase and brag about his found objects and the process of converting them into amazing artwork projects. He doesn’t want to connect with other artists, he just wants the family to be proud of him.
He’s not watching the stats and counting every visitor. He’s waiting on Facebook for the family to give him the cheers and giggles he demands from all of us. That’s where the conversation really happens around his site, not on his site.
No matter how specific you get defining your target audience for your site, your audience breaks down into these niches.
- Beginners/Novices: No matter your subject matter, you may dedicate your site’s content solely to beginners and novices, or offer a section of your content to those new to the craft or industry.
- Intermediate Users: Like beginners, your site could be dedicated to or partially serve an intermediary skill level, helping those familiar with the basics move forward with their craft or skills.
- Advanced Users: Even those who know it all need help. How are you serving those who know it all on your subject and still want to learn more.
In addition to the beginners, novices, and advanced users, target audiences can be broken down by family and friends and fans, and the fans can be divided up even more specifically.
- Present Customers/Fans: Serving those that keep coming back for more regularly means continuing to give them what they want and need from your site, the reason they arrived in the first place and the reason they stayed.
- Past Customers/Fans: There will be times when you want to produce content that will bring back once loyal fans. This could be a call to action such as a campaign, or it could content that reminds them of the value they once found and could continue to find in your site.
- Future Customers: While your focus is usually on your present readers and fans, there are times when you need to reach out and bring in a new audience and expand your current subscribers list. Consider what content and actions you may take to reach that audience.
- New Customers: Maybe you need to consider not just future but new customers, the ones arriving for the first time. Do you have specific content for the new folks, introducing them to yourself and your topic and the references and resources they need to know to help them get started?
- Extended Circles: Google+ made a brilliant decision in helping their members extend their reach easily. You may publish content that reaches a specific group of people, all of your circled people, or reach out to the circled people of your circles to contact others one step beyond your current connections. It’s the stereotypical “friend of a friend of a friend” connection made virtual. Sometimes your target audience isn’t just your past and future customers but the friends and family of your current customers. Think about the content and campaigns you could do that would encourage fans to tell their communities about what you are doing.
Can you define your audience? Can you break them down into specific groups? From there, can you identify which content you’ve published lines up with each group?
Write out a list of your various target audiences. Be as specific as possible.
Take another look at your site’s purpose and mission statement. If you have included it on your About Page, consider updating it to specifically identify the audience you serve. This may help to clarify the purpose of your site.
Let’s talk about your audience. How do you define them and how does your content serve them?