One of the techniques that I’ve employed in my blogging over the last 6 months behind the scenes is to create Reader Profiles (or Personas).
The technique is simply – open up a word document and begin to describe a type of reader that you’re either attempting to write for or who is already reading your blog. I’ll show you some examples of reader profiles that I have created below – but in short the task is to describe who they are, what their interests are, why they might be reading your blog and what their needs are.
The idea is that you end up with a picture of who you’re writing for that you can then use to inspire and inform you in your blogging.
Before I talk about the benefits of doing this and give a few thoughts on how to do one for your own blog – let me show you one that I created a while back for my photography site (click to enlarge).
The profile above describes one of the types of readers that we have on DPS – people who largely use their cameras to photograph their kids.
The profile describes why she reads DPS, some of her dreams, the type of photography she’s into, how else she uses the web, a little about her demographics, the level she’s at etc.
Here’s another one from a different type of reader at DPS:
Again – I’ve described another type of reader in a similar way to the first.
In each of these cases the reader profile is based upon a reader group already within the community – however this same exercise could be done with potential readers – or the type of person you want to read your blog if you’re just starting up a blog and don’t yet have readers.
Why Do I Create Reader Profiles?
Hopefully you can already see some of the benefits of these kinds of reader profiles – but let me list a few of the things I’ve enjoyed about having done this exercise:
- It Personalises the blogging experience – I find that having a person (real or pretend) in mind as I write reminds me that there are real people on the other end of my posts. There are people with faces, names and needs – I find it inspiring to visualise them as they read what I’m writing – it also helps me to write in a more personal tone.
- It informs my writing – having these kinds of personas before me and in mind as I write reminds me of some of the needs, problems and questions that readers might have. As a result I tend to write more practical posts that are written with real reader needs in mind. Often as I write I visualise the questions and reactions that these different readers might have to my posts and then try to build answers into what I’m writing based upon these questions and reactions.
- It identifies opportunities – I remember writing the first profile above (Grace) and having the realisation that quite a few of my readers have mentioned that they have dreams of one day making some money from their photography. This triggered me to start a section in our forum on making money with photography which has been really popular.
- It can be helpful for recruiting advertisers – often when talking with potential advertisers the question you’re asked is ‘what type of reader do you have’. Having these pre prepared personas can be really useful in answering that question. It also shows that you’ve thought about your readers and run a professional site.
- It identifies ways to connect with your readership - you’ll notice I’ve included details in the profiles on how the reader uses the web. It’s really useful to know what other sites your reader uses and what places of presence that they have as this can identify opportunities to identify places where people like the readers you already have (or those that you want) hang out.
- It will identify opportunities to monetize your blog – knowing information like what your readers currently spend money on, what their needs are, what kind of income they have at their disposal will give you all kinds of ideas for the types of advertisers you should find, the type of affiliate promotions you coudl do and the type of products you could develop.
How to Create a Reader Profile?
There are no real rules – you can see I’ve developed a certain style in my personas above. I added a picture to each of the type of person in the profile to further personalise it. I also tried to include information on these kinds of areas:
- Financial Situation
- How they use the Web
- Motivations for Reading DPS
- Experience with the topic – Level
I’m sure that others would include other types of information – if you’ve done this type of thing before please feel free to share your suggestions and tips in comments below.
Let me finish this post off with one last persona – again for DPS.