Why do people start a blog? What is their ultimate goal? I want to argue that bloggers write to get high traffic to their website. Here’s the thing. There are two basic categories of bloggers: personal bloggers and business bloggers.
Personal bloggers write for their own sake. Their stories revolve around their interests for example, family, cooking, or even professional development for women. But their motivation is to express themselves and possibly sharing knowledge to readers. They do not think of making a profit out of their blogs.
Business bloggers are the opposite. They do want to monetize their blogs and so they are careful about what they write and how they promote it. For example, they could make a year-long plan on the content of blog posts and they follow a schedule on social media posting to invite new readers to their website.
The similarity of these two bloggers is that they both want more readers to read the blog. Traffic brings satisfaction and approval on their writing, connecting them to like-minded people. Keeping this in mind, the next step is to understand the potential readers better. We want to make sure that what we write is what they need.
Find your niche
Most people started their blogs by focusing on their interests. This is a good start. Another method is to focus on a niche that is currently popular. For example, traveling, lifestyle, personal development, and others.
My recommendation is to look at your strengths, especially if you aim to sell products and services in the future. Ask three questions:
Note: these questions are from Ramit Sethi's "5 Simple Strategies for Recognizing the Business Idea that's Right in Front of You"
Observe what people look for
In this step you’re trying to validate your target market. Let say you want to focus on learning languages. You then need to understand what it is people are looking for in the internet. To simply put, you want to know the keywords they put in to Google or the questions they have in mind.
Practical steps you can do are the following:
The thing to keep in mind is that at this stage, you are assimilating with your potential readers. If you want, you can even throw a question on the discussion forum yourself. Coming back to our example on learning languages, you might want to ask “What hinders you from studying a new language?”
Hear their stories
Here comes the emotional part. You need to use people skills, empathy, and listening ear in this task. Read through what people wrote and copy paste what they say to a Word document. This is important. You will refer back to these stories as ‘Pain Points’. It is your database, your research. You can even quote them when you write your blog. For example, you can write,
“Why can't I speak English well, even though I have studied it for 11 years?”
If this is in your mind, I can help you excel and gain confidence in mastering foreign languages.
Note: originally taught from Ramit Sethi’s “Zero to Launch” course
You can also give feedback based on your current knowledge. This way you can start building relationship with the people in the forum.
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Identify common problems
Based on your findings, identify the common problems people are facing. Using the language learning example, most people think they lack the opportunity to practice speaking their foreign language. They also lack the confidence and are self-aware on their mistakes.
This is where you come in. This is where your blog posts can help.
You should write solutions to the common problems people are facing in your niche. And keep your writing simple so people can understand. For example, you might give them theories of language learning, how brain is developed by learning foreign languages, and more. While the idea is entertaining (both for reading and writing), it would be useless unless you tie it in with some practical recommendations.
These days people skim through content. It took them seconds to read the title and key visuals and decide whether to continue reading or not. Even when they decide yes, they want to read on, they might glance over your writing and only focus on the subheadings. It is your job to make the writing interesting, not boring. It is your job to make your customers say “Oh, this is very useful and doable.”
Know who they are
Next, you need to know the behavior of your customers. How old are they? Women? Male? Both? What social media do they use? What countries do they come from? This information is important because you want to make sure that you know your customers. In terms of making profit, you want to make sure if they are capable and also willing to invest in products and services.
Easy steps to follow are these:
Provide quality in your content
Last but not least, you need to commit on building high quality content on your blog. Here is what most people do: they race in the online business game. You can also focus on building customer base (by getting more likes, more shares, more subscribers). The other option is to build your website with high quality content to attract the right people to your website. By that, I meant people who will read your blog post, who will share your blog post because they value it, and ultimately will consider paying your products and services.
In short understanding your target customers is all about focusing on your niche, observing what customers look for, hearing their stories, finding the common problems, knowing who they are, and providing high quality content.
One last tip from me, is to build your email list early (basically a list of people who want to subscribe to your newsletter). In your first email to them, ask them questions about who they are. You can even send a survey for them to fill out in order to better understand them, and cater their needs through your blog posts.