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How to Create Reader Profiles/Personas to Inspire and Inform Your Blogging

gareth.pngOne 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).

grace.png

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:

keith.png

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:

  • Demographics
  • Financial Situation
  • Needs/Challenges
  • How they use the Web
  • Motivations for Reading DPS
  • Experience with the topic – Level
  • Dreams

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.

gareth.png

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. BN Softs says:

    Profile really give us idia about the author of the Blog.Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a great practice. I think authors too often forget about their readers and this is an absolute perfect way to really get in touch with your readers and reach out to them. By visualizing who it is that you are writing for you can visualize exactly how it will be received by them. This is a tremendous tip. Thanks.

  3. What do you do with these profiles? Is this just something for you to crystallize who you are writing for? Or is it something you post on the site somewhere?

  4. Sudeep says:

    Hmmm .. intresting profile collection ideas … Need to think how I can use with my site when it is a very small blog at this stage of life .
    Regards
    Sudeep

  5. In the book “The Answer” they say that once you’ve done what you talked about, then it’s the ideal time to write your elevator pitch for that particular customer.

  6. Nik says:

    How about imaginary reader elevator pitches and how our writing can support their missions, goals, dreams, and vision?

  7. Matthew says:

    Great read! This is something we do in UX design as well. Great application to blogging!

    I can’t wait to share this with the readers of UXBooth :)

  8. Angela Mills says:

    What a sweet and thoughtful idea! Do the people you create them for know you are doing that? Or do you just get info you’ve gathered on the site over time?

  9. This is such practical information. I’ve really been wanting to tailor my style of writing to my readers a little more.
    I know Alexa has demographics information on sites that are in the top 100,000/older than 3 months, so I am hoping to be able to utilize that.
    Because my blog covers a wide range of thinks similar to Lifehacker, it is a little harder for me to know exactly who to target.

  10. Mrs V says:

    Never thought of this..I learned something today. Thanks for sharing this useful tips.

  11. This is an amazing idea. I know of business that have created a customer profile for their business so they can better tailor to that person needs.

    Whenever they make something they always ask “Would ‘Debbie’ like this?”

    That way they always stay true to their customers and get the best results in sales.

    I’d never thought of applying this principle to blogging before. But I guess it works the same way!

    Thanks, great post!

  12. tom says:

    I think this a great tool in the whole ‘brainstorming for new post ideas’ process. You can easily forget who you’re writing for and what they may want to know. What you think of as simple, old-hat stuff about your blog topic, may be a totally new and fascinating world for your reader – this is a way to get inside them and see what it is they are looking for from you.

  13. Love that you’re applying this tactic to blogging – I use it for all of my marketing writing and it’s only natural to expand it’s use to your blog – great reminder to stay focused on your niche, ideal reader and what they are interested in.

  14. This is a great idea. Anytime you allow readers to have a more active roll in the website you will get good results.

    I’ve been thinking about doing something like this for a while, but I haven’t wrapped my head around just how to do it yet.

  15. Great tip, what I like about this and teach my clients is that you humanize your audience when you create this type of persona profile for them. It’s a much better way to understand them and inspire yourself to blog at a deeper level :-)

  16. Interesting way of capturing viewers and attention.

    Drawn to your blog through facebook, thank you for sharing.

  17. This is such a great idea, both for business blogs and more personal ones, such as pop culture and humor blogs. Love this.

  18. Dan says:

    I like this very much! I need to sit down and do this myself for my blog. I have a niche blog, but I do think it will help me focus my efforts to reach and support that group.

  19. Daan says:

    Wow. That is awesome. Never thought of it this way. I’m definitely gonna use this on my blog. I’ve only started a week ago. But by the help of your website I’m growing better and better in the business. THANKS!

  20. Maria says:

    I do this on my site, an entertainment blog, and the way I do it is I interview a reader each week (or I try to, I can’t always find someone to do it). They get the thrill of seeing their name + picture + words up, I get a better idea of what kind of readers I have. The commenters also love reading about their other commenters. It’s a win/win!

  21. Jason says:

    Readers will feel more upclose with my blog thus constantly follow my latest postings! great

  22. se7en says:

    This is absolutely the best idea ever! Brilliant, practical and so easy to implement – I am definitely going to think about a couple of “real reader profiles” this weekend. I am so inspired – thank-you as usual!!!

  23. Dave Doolin says:

    Yeah, I need to do this.

    It’s a lot easier said than done, at least for me!

  24. Jim says:

    I really like your Idea. I am going to give it a lot of thought. Do you have several categories other than photography. And do you make so many profiles a week or is it random?

  25. Bryan says:

    This is a great idea! After reading I took some time to write ideas, and voila…I now have 2 different soccer player profiles in mind to focus some blog posts on!

  26. Felicia says:

    What a great idea. My blog is on the verge of being taken to the next level and I didn’t want it to lose its authenticity. User profiles seem to be a great way to keep on track with providing the right type of information for my readers.

    The timing of this post is perfect. Thanks!

  27. Simon says:

    Darren, a really nice round-up of personas! In an ideal world, it’d be great to collect all reader types and prioritize them accordingly to user-base and activity; which ultimately leads to not only better blogs, but better navigation, content and websites in general. I doubt this will happen, but articles like this are a great start!

    Working in the business & marketing sectors, I regularly have to explain this to clients. Appeal to (and think about) your readers and everything improves.

    Thanks

  28. bob bessette says:

    I love the idea of creating reader profiles. I am wondering if you contact your readers to ask them the questions that you have in their profile or do you glean this information simply from their comments? I can see that if they have blogs then the answers may be in their About page.
    I think it is an excellent idea especially when you talk about the advertisers. Advertisers want to know what demographic is visiting your site and you have this info in the reader profile.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this idea.

    Best,
    Bob Bessette

  29. That is a great idea! This is something I need to think about for my blog because it’s all over the place… I guess since I’ve been making a goal of posting one photo a day this month (and meeting that goal), that my audience is art-lovers and possibly amateur photographers. I talk a bit about each photo when I post it. A photo-blog.

  30. Professional photographers, how can they be without their beloved camera in their portfolios. Nice profile.

    A strong profile is a must in order to make the first impression a big bang.

  31. Angela Wills says:

    I love this idea, thanks so much for sharing. I can certainly use this on my own blog. This would also be a great thing to have handy anytime I’m writing copy for a product, affiliate program, advertising, etc.

  32. SeoNext says:

    Its an amazing idea,I want to use it on my blog.Can you please tell me how I can use with my site,Nice interesting article.

  33. Jonny says:

    Smart, but i still consider this as a big project, really hard to apply.

  34. Techgeek says:

    This is a very interesting idea. This is strongly emphasized in college comp classes. We are told to think about who our audience is and this is truly a smart idea. As always, thanks for the great tips.

  35. JJ says:

    Great way of capturing viewers.

  36. Andy Gibb says:

    Brilliant idea. I do this for characters that I create in my books and it just seems to make so much sense to do the same for the reader, who after all is also involved. Nice bit of inverted thinking there, mate!

  37. Thanks for writing this, reminding me about this subject. I wrote a series of reader profiles about six months ago, then it dropped off mainly due to workload. I feel inspired now to try it again with some fresh angles. So, thanks!

  38. Fakhrul Alam says:

    Nice one.. Thanks for sharing this useful information tips…

    Waiting for more articles..

    Thanks..

  39. Carol Cox says:

    Creating and understanding your user/reader profiles are definitely key to a successful site or blog. I teach a course at Full Sail University on creating effective website pages and landing pages, and the first thing I have the students do is write user profiles for the site they are working on.

    I also own an Internet Marketing and Technology company, http://www.intermedia4web.com, and one of the initial pieces we put together for our clients is user profiles. They are always blown away by how this exercise can tell them so much about their customers.

  40. BloggerDaily says:

    Nice practice that I missed before this! Thanks for sharing!

  41. Paul Hassing says:

    Fascinating stuff, Darren. Whenever my clients want me to do copywriting for them, I refuse to move until they’ve explicitly defined the target audience and what they want that audience to do after reading my words.

    Yet it never occurred to me to turn this process on myself for the purpose of my blogging. Thanks for yet another thought-provoking post. Best regards, P. :)

  42. It inspires me to write about my readers. This strategy could help you build trust from your readers where they think that their is a real person behind the site they often reading to get more information they want.

    In other hand it could also a benefit for webmasters and bloggers to make a connection to their users.

  43. Ronblogger says:

    Profile is one of the most important part of our blogs,strong profile gives readers an idea about the author

  44. This is great for building authority, especially for the beginner one. I like this, because it’s very me indeed.

  45. rick says:

    Love this idea. I run a photo blog review site and recently thought about incorporating the same (profile) concept, since many of my readers are looking to self-promote as well as gain insight on others in the industry.

    Also (off-topic comment), I would love to be able to reply directly to a specific comment/commenter on this site, as opposed to leaving a comment which gets listed in the order of submission. Basically, being able to have follow-up comment(s) listed directly under the original comment.

    Since your site gets so many insightful contributors in the comments section of each post, I feel this (cascading comments) would be of value to many.

    Thanks again for this great site!@

  46. Melissa Galt says:

    This is akin to the “Most Wanted Client Profile” I advise creativepreneurs and small biz owners to create and post in their offices. It includes a picture and in depth lifestyle, workstyle detail on their target along with personal values, priorities, dreams, and goals for each target. Very effective, thanks for sharing.

  47. Hi Darren,

    Where exactly in yr DPS blog you place these profiles?
    Can’t seem to find it.
    Would like to see it in application.

  48. titan says:

    nice. I also learn about that. Its not easy to create our own profile with greatly.

  49. Wonderful!. This is a great idea in blogging. It’s refreshing and inspiring. Thanks for sharing .

  50. Laurie says:

    Once again, a great post written for real people by another real person. Practical, inspiring, and can be put to use by anyone right now – without buying anything. That’s why I recommend Problogger.com to all of my contacts.