How to Identify Your Blog’s Target Audience

Whether you blog to inform, to entertain, to persuade or to provoke controversy,  to have a successful blog you must identify your target audience and Let Your Audience’s Interests Guide Your Content Strategy.

group of peopleVisitors who find what they came for in your blog become subscribers, who will share links to posts with like-minded friends. The increase in traffic will send your stats on an upward climb.

Locating high quality similar sites is an important step to becoming a better blogger. But It’s also logical to assume that those who read your blog now are among your target audience.

1.   Who is reading your blog?

Begin your research by taking a look at the blogs of those followers who comment most frequently on your blog posts. Then take a close look at the other blogs they comment on and social media sites they interact on before you search for similar sites.

You can do the same with frequent like button clickers. Check out their Gravatar accounts to determine what their range of interests may be, where they blog and comment, and which social networks they are active on.

Use your blog stats including your shares,  Quantcast  and Alexa to look closely at reader stats and  demographics to learn what you can about your audience from the Gender, Age, Income, Education,  Ethnicity, Geographic location (Countries and Cities), Browsing location (home, school, work) data.

2.  Who is your target audience?

Identifying who your target audience is, what they already know, what they need to know, and the best way to deliver your message is critical to success.

Investing some time into creating brief character profiles of the kinds readers you want to locate your blog and subscribe to it will provide clarity.

Ken McArthur published The Top 10 Ways to Find Your Audience that provides guidelines for starting your research.

Put yourself in the shoes of the reader you want to attract.working with generations

Click the image to view the slideshow.

Consider demographics, hobbies, professions, needs, wants, issues, knowledge, perceptions, and common goals. How old are they, where do they work and live, what are their preferences, attitudes and lifestyles?

3.   Where can your target audience be found?

Consider where your target audience can be found online and how can you connect with them there.  Then check out social networks, online groups, newsletters, chat rooms, forums, etc.

Which social networks are they most likely to be active in?

In Social Strategy: How to understand your social media target market, Kimbe MacMaster explains identifying who your target audience the first step, and the next step is understanding four main areas about your target audience before you develop a social networking strategy.

  • What they use: What platforms does your target frequent?
  • How they use it: What methods does the target use to access social?
  • When they use it: What time of day does the target visit?
  • Why they use it: What is the purpose of these social platforms?

Is your audience on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIN, Google Plus, YouTube, or other social media sites?

4.   Who influences your target audience? 

Influence is the ability to drive action, such as sharing a picture that triggers comments and likes, or tweeting about a great restaurant and causing your followers to go try it for themselves. Social actions are a signal that friends and peers in your social networks have been influenced by your content. “

group of peopleYou can use KloutKred, EdgeRank Checker, Hubspot’s Marketing Grader and/or Peer Index or one of the other social media engagement measuring tools to determine who influences your target audience.

“Digital Natives are people who take naturally to online communication. They can come from any of the generations. … You really have to pay attention to Digital Natives as they’re the biggest influencers today. … They have the biggest online reach.” Do You Know Where Your Digital Natives Are?

5.   What does your target audience want and need to know?

Connecting with your current readers and putting yourself in the place of your target audience will help you determine:

  • what your target audience writes about
  • where your common ground is found
  • how and where they engage with their audience.

Using tools such as Google Adwords Keyword Tool will give you a better understanding of words and phrases that your target audience searches for.

Poll and/or survey your existing readers, as using SurveyMonkey and/or PollDaddy surveys and polls can provide useful information to help identify your target audience and understand their needs.

group of people6.   Make social media sharing easy.

The best way to get your message across is to define it clearly and structure your posts to hold reader interest from the beginning to the end. The best way to get your message out is to have your friends promote it.   Insuring your WordPress.com blog’s accessibility and share-ability can be easily done in several ways.

“On one hand, in-depth knowledge of the topic you are writing on will make your blogging easier. On the other, no matter how much knowledge you have muddling along without expressing your blog’s purpose can lead reader confusion and blogger burn-out. From the outset you need to be able to describe  your blog’s purpose by expressing what you intend to blog about in as few words as possible.” —  Creating an Effective Blog Description

References:

The February 2013 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project report shows that young adults are more likely than others to use major social media. At the same time, other groups are interested in different sites and services.

Internet users under 50 are particularly likely to use a social networking site of any kind, and those 18-29 are the most likely of any demographic cohort to do so (83%).

Women are more likely than men to be on these sites. Those living in urban settings are also significantly more likely than rural internet users to use social networking. To view a breakdown of social networking site use by age group, over time, please visit the social networking summary page.

In the July 2013 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project report 6% of Online Adults are reddit Users  it’s reported that young men are especially likely to visit the “front page of the internet .” Some 15% of male internet users ages 18-29 say that they use reddit, compared with 5% of women in the same age range and 8% of men ages 30-49.  View Online or Download

In the August 2013 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project report titled 72% of Online Adults are Social Networking Site Users the researchers also studied online adults’ use of Twitter. The percentage of internet users who are on Twitter has more than doubled since November 2010, currently at 18%. Internet users ages 18-29 are the most likely to use Twitter—30% of them now do so.

This research found that both teens and adults use Facebook the most of all social networking sites — 94 percent of teens and 67 percent of adults. However, it’s adults that are more active on Pinterest and Instragram, while teens are more active on Twitter.  View Online or Download

In Social Media: Do You Know Where Your Target Audience Is? Heidi Cohen provides an overview of social media user data. Just over half of Twitter users are 35 or older, nearly 80% of LinkedIn users are 35 or older. Facebook and Twitter have more female users as only 40% are male, and 80% of Pinterest users are female.

group of people Conclusion

Your primary focus as a blogger is publishing original content targeted to appeal to a specific audience and presenting it in a manner that makes it readily and easily available through search engines.

If you don’t have a clear vision of who you are blogging for and where you want your blog to be, then it won’t be a success and you won’t be able to take your blog to the next level. That’s why knowing who your target audience is and knowing what your purpose is, are key to your blog’s success.

Write for your readers.  Know who your audience is and what they want to know, then give them what they want.

Related posts:
Social Media and Social Networking Plain and Simple
Mastering Shameless Blog Promotion
WordPress Followers, Likes and Stats
WordPress.com: Who Follows Who?
WordPress.com Top Posts and Pages

39 thoughts on “How to Identify Your Blog’s Target Audience

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  7. [ Smiles ] Okay, this is a tricky one, because in my “About” page, I did specify that my blog is for people of all different walks of life; I deal with miscellaneous topics.

          • Ok … the strange thing is … I’ve been getting regular e-mails from your site every time you write a new post since I began writing mine. You helped me months ago when I posted a plea for help. Yet when you asked me to subscribe, I noticed the ‘Following’ indicator at the top of the page wasn’t checked off. Odd.
            Anyway … thanks again for all your great posts. Very helpful. :)

          • Hi again,
            I also offer subscriptions by email through Feedburner so maybe you are subscribed via Feedburner.If so then you will end up with updates in your WordPress.com Reader and in your email. :)

  8. Really good topic. If I want to gain more exposure for my work, it definitely would help to sit down and figure out who’s reading what. But given my interest and content, I think I would have difficulty adjusting my content to cater to specific demographics. Hmmm….

  9. In short, I do subconsciously create a blog that is a safe, hopefully and occasionally an interesting place to hang out for a wide range of ages/generations.

  10. Gosh, I’ve been blogging for nearly 3 years and have been selfish for my personal blog: I don’t think too much about blogging for any target audience. It seems I just have some regular readers with whom I’ve developed a distant friendly blogging reading exchange/chat. Since you’ve pulled out of my blogging narcissism, I’ll try to figure out my motley audience:

    *casual/regular cyclist or interested in any form of regular exercise
    *cares about food/health but enjoys great, unusual food
    *appreciates art / design in their daily life /tourist visits
    *curious about local history or other interesting history bits
    *appreciates more subtle/harmless humour

    And age group? Seems me I tend to attract those just finishing post secondary education (university/college), parents, adventurers/travel fans, some artsy types. I do have the occasional high school reader but they seem to be trying to figure out how to build their own blog fan base.

    Country of origin?
    *some non North American readers who have been curious about certain things I’ve seen in North America
    *has an interest in cross-cultural matters and cross-cultural ideas : being Canadian of Chinese descent does provide several different angles for blog topics and attracts readers who are themselves of Asian descent but who have lived/born outside of Asia.
    *I don’t have many European regular readers. Don’t know why. Maybe I’m too boring. Or I don’t visit enough Europe English-language blogs. Or many readers can’t relate to my stuff.

    I make every effort not to write too slangy or use too many idiomatic English expressions that would puzzle international readers. But as a result, I don’t think my blog is read by rap, hip hop fans, etc. and other folks who love manga, anime, video games, etc. Meaning younger generations who are trying to belong edgier margins of popular culture. The reason I say this, is that when I read such blogs, it’s a strange world to me. So my blog world must be strange and boring to them. After all, I don’t use profanity when I blog. I reserve it off-line.

    • Dear Jean,
      I love reading your feedback. You take my questions seriously, you use tools, you analyze and you deliver. Long may you blog!

  11. One thing that I have ignored in my blogging is the social media. I spend so much time on the content of my post, posting comments and answering them and following too many blogs that this area has been neglected. I will pay attention to it now. Thanks for another enlightening post. I always learn vital tips of blogging from them. Take care.

    • Identifying where your audience gathers and connecting with them makes sense and I do recommend them, despite the fact I do not excel when it comes to social networking. In the early days of social networking I spent hours almost everyday on social media sites only to find myself overwhelmed. Worse still my offline friends felt neglected and clearly told me they thought the amount of time I spent online was excessive. They were correct, so I made the decision to cut back on social networking and devote more time to content creation. I do hope what I have provided in this article will be helpful to you when it comes to the growth of your blogging readership.

      • Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience. As for me I have learnt everything from your posts about successful blogging and I followed those golden rules and I am very satisfied with the results. I enjoy learning new things and this is helping me to a great extent. I learn something new every time I read your post and then apply it to my blog and it works beautifully. Thank you so much for such an informative and helpful blog where you put in so much hard work and I want you to know your hard work has helped us all tremendously. Thanks once again and take care.

  12. (In the event my original comment got lost in cyberspace.)
    Great advice, timethief. I have several different interests when writing for my blog. Hopefully, that change in direction doesn’t throw readers off course. :-)
    Thanks for recommending that Forbes story about Siri and Jarvis. It mentioned one of my favorite movies, “War Games.” Also Hal of the 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  13. Great advice, timethief. I have several different interests when writing for my blog. Hopefully, that change in direction doesn’t throw readers off course. :-)
    Thanks for recommending that Forbes story about Siri and Jarvis. It mentioned one of my favorite movies, “War Games.” Also Hal of the 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    • Thank so much for saying that as I do share the same POV and did find value in your post. I’ve been perplexed as to why the views and comment count is so low on this post. Normally I get far more views and comments on my posts so maybe folks have a Labor Day hang-over.

  14. Thank you so much for this. Some of us who blog our passion or hobby may think that this kinda info is not necessary or needed. And that’s a wrong assumption. I have a little story about target audience.

    I blog about books and reading. In my About page I say the blog is about ‘my reading life” and not giving it much thought, had assumed that my readership are bloggers like myself and other avid readers. I was also aware that students who are assigned African literature search the internet looking for write ups on assigned books.

    Earlier this year, I noticed a little more traffic for one particular post originally published in 2011. Not just traffic but comments as well. These new commenters seemed to be conversing with each other. I did some digging; looked up their IP addresses, did some targeted search and voila! Turned out a professor had assigned that particular post, requiring students to read and leave a comment! It had never occurred to me that teachers would use my blog; students yes, and often to plagiarize but never teachers. It’s been an eye opener. The discovery will not impact on the type of books that I blog on, the blog is still about what I read or want to read. But I do keep this new target group in mind when writing my posts. And I’m working on a series of posts with book lists and recommended reading that teachers can use when teaching African literature. Still my passion, just better.

    So thank you again. It helps to find out who is reading our blogs!

    • Hi Kinna,

      Turned out a professor had assigned that particular post, requiring students to read and leave a comment!

      Wow! What an interesting story that one is. I’m so happy you shared it here. Clearly, there wouldn’t have been a story to relate if you hadn’t done some research and uncovered this reader group who were commenting on your blog. As the articles I linked to in my post reveal, we can have more than one target audience group and your experience affirms that. When it comes to content creation it helps to find out who is reading our blogs and what their focus is. Best wishes re: your African literature series.

    • While it’s true that every blogger is in charge of developing their own approach to blogging and some bloggers prefer to publish stream of consciousness writing, clearly I don’t don’t blog here for the attention of those bloggers.

      While it’s also true that some bloggers are happy to blog with comments closed as they have no concern at all about connecting with an audience, clearly I’m not blogging here for the attention of those bloggers either.

      Though one may assume I have nothing to offer bloggers who adopt what I characterize as “voice in the wilderness” blogging style, but it just ain’t so. I have evidence that some of them do follow my blog. ;)

      I’m blogging here to provide advice to those bloggers who want to identify their target audience and increase readership by creating content that fills their target audience needs, as well as, increasing their traffic, their blog’s standing in the SERPS (search engine results), and their blog’s page ranking. :)

      • Oh, I think there’s always ideas here for any blogger – don’t sell yourself short. (You don’t check cards at the door for “serious bloggers only”?)

        Still, bloggers needn’t feel diminished/forced to adapt one set approach because that’s the “right” one.

        Just like in life, read, evaluate, adapt, and use what is useful.

        It seems what makes people successful in real life sales also makes bloggers successful in building readership?

        • Just like in life, read, evaluate, adapt, and use what is useful.

          Well said. I also agree that no matter which field they are in relationship building is a characteristic that all successful people possess.

  15. There is some serious meat here! Thank you for all the time I know it took to write the article and then get all the links going. I’ve bookmarked this one for a repeat read. And thanks for including my blog in your links – it’s an honour.

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