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Writing for a Diverse Audience, Part 2

Last week’s post on writing for a diverse audience sparked a great discussion, with some really interesting thoughts contributed by bloggers at all stages of building a blog, and from a range of markets and niches.

AudienceOne thing that really struck me about these conversations was that bloggers seem to feel a bit of a conflict between audiences and niches. I wanted to clarify that today.

Audiences, niches, and topics demystified

I have a pretty simple way to differentiate between an audience and a niche.

I think about an audience as being a group of people.

To me, a niche is like a market “space,” including other blogs, other offerings, other sites and services (all of which may also serve other niches), as well as readers.

And a topic is an area or item of interest. It’s relevant to particular audiences, and probably relates to more than a few niches.

Let’s see how this works in practice.

DPS: topic, niche, and audience

To explain this most clearly, I’m going to reverse the order in which we consider these concepts because I think that’s a more intuitive way to grasp them.

On DPS the:

  • topic is photography
  • niche is DIY amateur photography education
  • audience is English-speaking amateur photographers who want to teach themselves more about photography, typically for a specific purpose: travel photos, family snaps, portraits, and so on. These people have various characteristics—age, gender, purchasing power, previous experience with my brand, degree of photographic skill, interests, and so on—that I can use to unite them into different audience segments.

From this little explanation, you can see that the topic is a big umbrella. The niche fits under that umbrella, with a lot of others. There are lots of other niches in the field of photography: professional photography services, photography equipment and software sales and reviews, photographer profiles, folios and galleries—the list goes on and on, and the niches overlap.

Finally, the audience is the group of people who are engaged with or interested in that niche. They might also be interested in other niches under that umbrella, too—which is why DPS provides reviews and offers on equipment, shows off reader photos in galleries, and so on.

In fact, that’s an example of writing for a diverse audience.

Planning content for a diverse audience

A diverse audience might contain groups of readers with clearly differentiated needs or interests, but most commonly, the truth is that different audience members may move between audience segments, or have a range of “niche” interests that vary over time.

On DPS, I have readers who just want to get better at taking photos with their phone cameras. This is their key need. Then I have readers who are interested in developing a range of professional-level skills as a photographer, without any interest in establishing themselves as pro photographers.

Both these audience segments might be interested in content on taking images of people, provided the information focused on their common needs. What are those needs? Off the top of my head, I’d guess content on either portraits and/or action-shots of people could be made to appeal to both these segments.

Importantly, to meet the needs of these diverse segments, the content would need to give advice that wasn’t equipment-specific, or, alternatively, it would need to give equal attention to the different equipment these readers would be using.

Article ideas that met the needs of these diverse audience segments might include:

  • the basics of photographing people in motion
  • how to spot a good action shot, any time, any place
  • tips for better nighttime photography of people
  • post-processing tips for portraits.

These article ideas are all on the same topic—photography. They address the same niche—self-education for amateur photographers. Within that, they look at the sub-topic of photographing people. And in so doing, they target users from diverse audience segments: camera-phone junkies and high-level amateur photographers who want to develop pro skills.

Show us how you meet the needs of your diverse audience segments

Hopefully this has made the idea of audience segments a bit clearer, and provides a helpful roadmap for your own review and analysis of your own readers and content.

If you’re writing for diverse audience segments on your blog, why not show us how? Point us to a post that meets the needs of multiple segments, and explain how it works—and whose needs it meets—in the comments.

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. Samuel says:

    I would try to identify what the audience is looking for and see what type of content is most popular with them.

    I encourage to make your audience as happy as possible, but sometimes it is too much for your schedule or the path to greater success.

    Just do what works and make them happy along the way on your journey.

    Excellent article!

  2. This is a fascinating topic, Darren. I think the reason why an online article can better serve a diverse audience, as opposed to a printed article, is the hyperlinks that are included. These allow the reader to wander off wherever their fancy takes them as they explore ideas. You could envision the article as a node, a place on the road to diverse paths, and the reader chooses their own route to follow.

    With an article written for a diverse audience and with several hyperlinks, it would be fascinating to see how the audience ‘flows’ through the various paths that the article allows and indeed encourages.

    • I agree with you, Barry. Hyperlinks in online articles help your diverse audience a lot. My blog caters both for the new bloggers and the advanced internet marketers who would want to know more.

    • I love the idea of an online post being a node. That’s so expressive of how people use the internet. It would indeed be “fascinating to see how the audience flows through.”

      Thanks for providing a new way to look at my posts!

  3. Hi Darren Rowse,

    Another extraordinary article! It is true that many people don’t undestand the difference among topic, niche & audience but this post is really helpful and now I am sure that everyone here has completely understoond these concepts!

    To tell you the truth there are also many people who are confused and don’t see the difference between Niche & Market…so the answer is that market is “health” for example and niche is “how to lose weigh” or “how to beat cancer” etc. Generally speaking first of all you need to understand some very important concepts and then start to implement the knowledge you have.

    Making money online is not an easy process so you need to learn as much information as you can but there are 3 main factors you must know!!

    1) You need the right people around you who can teach you
    2) Create your website and understand your ideal visitors
    3) Start your marketing efforts and bring traffic!! But believe me that successful internet marketers are not the smartest people worldwide but they know what they can do and what work they can hire someone else to do…!!

    Good luck,
    Zouras

    • Thanks for the reminder about the differences between market and niche. The market is too general start with, so it’s important to identify a niche within the market.

  4. Jason Parker says:

    Nice article. (Off to read Part 1 in a moment).

    One way I get article ideas is by taking a look at the sales material of popular products in my niche.

    If it’s a long-form sales page, I’ll pay attention more to the bullets.

    A single bullet can become the topic of a great article.

    I also pay attention to sales videos of popular products and generally listen to it and see if I get any ideas that would be of interest.

    That said, I don’t write very many articles, but looking to start writing some consistently (that’s why I’m sharpening up my chops by reading ProBlogger. I’ve been reading this blog on and off since 2005).

  5. Ben Troy says:

    It might be easy to claim that each different audience needs its own separate user interface but the danger in this approach is a proliferation of different, specialized versions, adding complexity both to the design process and to readers process of finding the right version for them.
    I must admit that I have tended to think that you need to provide separate content for different audiences and have not considered how much they might actually have in common.

  6. Shelby Roth says:

    Nice article indeed! I believe your audience wouldn’t luck something to cheer of if you really know the line of interest to them and also can be able to differentiate between an audience and a niche.For sure there is a conflict between audiences and niches but to win that is enduring and finding a line of interest to make the two parties become one in one business! I really love your content. Sounds so fascinating and actually encouraging, keep up the great job Darren!

  7. As always a helpful person you are Darren! I really was much interested in the DPS explanation and you really gave me a break-through. It sounded my line of weakness that was being solved within seconds, very encouraging and inspiring site; keep up!

  8. Hi Darren.

    Thank you so much for this topic. It is not easy to find such a useful tipping here and unlike most bloggers, you just gave the perfect thing. Genesis is what I and my fellow writing researchers deserve.

    Thanks again.

  9. I am encouraged by your work Darren. Thanks for the post!

  10. Reed Nixon says:

    You have crafted this piece so well and it’s something for me to aspire to as I take hold of my writing. I am increasing my ideas the best way I can for a diverse audience. Writing for huge audiences is quite a task but I am headed towards the breakthrough that will enable me to keep verging ahead. Thanks.

  11. Speaking of niches and audience and topics, I post about a lot of topics and see which gets popular and then rinse and repeat. Maybe like what you did right now part two of the older topic. I cover related aspects of the same topic breaking it down into many posts. That way i get the maximum benefit from a popular post.

    • “Rinse and repeat” is actually what it boils down to. Even following the best advice is not guaranteed to produce the desired results, so we’re constantly going through a process of trial and error (hopefully with less error as we gain experience.)

      Another thing you do that’s a good example is STUDYING how your audience reacts. I think we often miss this important step of the process.

  12. I’ve never overtly thought about audience the way parts 1 & 2 of this article outline, but now I see how I’ve been doing it haphazardly (and how I’ll do it more purposefully).

    My blog’s niche covers insight from various books on writing (distilled through my own perspective, commentary, and experience).

    In planning posts, I think about why diverse writers might buy the particular book I’m discussing. It’s common that a poet and a blogger might buy the same book because it addresses a problem common to diverse writers.

    One example of a post that I crudely planned to reach a diverse audience of writers is Clearing out the Cliches. I simply thought poets, novelists, essayists, and bloggers are all looking for ways to make their writing more original and fresh.

    But maybe that’s all it takes. Maybe I don’t need to do a formal breakdown or audience profile every time I post. Maybe it’s enough just to be thinking about the diversity of my readers.

  13. Thanks for this Darren! I’m fairly new to blogging and your articles have been very helpful in getting my blog headed in the right direction. My topic of work life balance has a very diverse audience as there are so many different niches that you can cover. This has really got me thinking of how to specialize my blog a bit more so its not too generalized.

  14. You know, I have never thought about it this way before. I had my topic and my niche pretty sorted but I wasn’t thinking about the actual audience in the way you had described here. Definitely has me thinking about how to write future posts!

  15. Kiran says:

    A really interesting article with lots of food for thought. I feel that if you can cover every aspect of a topic on your blog then you will also attract a greater variety of people to your site.

  16. Mark says:

    Most important part is audience niche, category, age and what they thought regarding your product etc.

    Excellent explanation on this topic. Thanks Darren