“Write for one reader” is advice we hear often in the blogosphere, and it can be a useful way to get a consistent voice going on your blog.
But the longer you blog, the more likely you’ll be to get to know your readers, and the more diverse their needs may seem. Or perhaps you’re blogging in a niche whose readers, while they’re united on some fronts, have deeply divided opinions on certain aspects of your topic.This kind of diversity can be particularly common among readers of blogs in the religious, political, and “cause” niches—areas where people feel really strongly about the topic, and have a deep appreciation of what can be the many complex aspects of the topic.
That said, I’d guess that plenty of blogs would reach audience segments with differing—perhaps conflicting needs. Meeting the needs of those segments is a challenge that every blogger faces.
What if you don’t have “one reader” that you can keep in mind as you write? What if you have three, or four—or more?
Today, I’d like to talk about a strategy you can use to meet the varying needs of a diverse blog audience. It has three key steps:
The first step—and perhaps the most important—is to understand the different audience segments you’re writing for. Have a think about your readers, and note down the ways you think they vary.
For example, if you’re writing a travel blog, you might be juggling the needs of armchair travellers who want a vivid story and glowing shots from around the globe with those of pragmatic travellers who really need practical advice and inspiration to help them get out there and see the world.
You might have more segments than just two—that’s fine. Once you’ve worked out what basic factor differentiates them from other readers on your site, it’s time to delve a bit deeper. Look through your blog comments (or those on other blogs or forums in your niche) and try to track down some key facts about each segment:
- Their attitudes: Consider their motivations or reasons for holding certain opinions.
- Their media preferences: Your blog may in fact unite readers who might not otherwise come together online. But even if it doesn’t, different segments will likely use different media within (and beyond) your niche. It’s a good idea to make a little profile of their media usage habits, as far as you can work them out, as this can give you insights into other opinions, preferences, or expectations they may have.
- Their post format preferences: There may be little difference between segments’ preferences for different formats, or there may be a lot. Do certain segments prefer list posts, or vlog posts, or opinion posts? Does your podcast subscription list equally represent your audience as a whole, or has it attracted more readers from a particular segment?
All you’re tying to do here is get a feel for what makes these different segments tick—what interests them, and why.
Once you understand each segment a bit better, you can consider how your brand serves the needs of each one.
You might be able to see, for example, why different reader types respond in certain ways to particular topics you’ve covered on your blog, or why they react in certain ways to your interactions on social media. Ideally, you’ll be able to point to actual examples of posts on your blog that work—and don’t work—for each segment within your audience. I’ve visualised that matching of your brand, your blog topics, and your segment’s needs in the diagram below.
Don’t just look at posts on your blog, though—it’s a good idea to also at the other media you know this segment’s readers use, and do the same there.
Hopefully, this exercise will help you come up with a list of topics and messages that your brand can use as a basis to form deep, lasting, loyal relationships with the readers in this particular segment within your niche.
The last step in this process is to make sure you meet each segments’ needs through your activity on and around your blog.
You created a list of topics above, you know what aspects of your brand resonate with each segment, and you also know how they like consuming your content. The trick now is to create a list of potential posts that look at the topics of interest through the lens of your brand.
Now you can drop those post ideas into your content schedule, so that you can make sure you’re meeting the needs of the important segments within your larger audience. If you want, you can probably come up with some more targeted, specific ways to address them through social media, through your current (or new, targeted) email sequences, and perhaps—for large segments—through your product strategy too.
This way, you can make sure you’re diligent about meeting the needs of each subsegment within a diverse blog audience, without undermining your blog’s brand or making any group you want to serve feel left out or forgotten about.
I think that perhaps the best way you can go about addressing sub-segments of your readers very specifically is to get excited about the diversity your blog has attracted!
One of the most enjoyable aspects of blogging is how it opens up doors to connect with people we’d probably not have met otherwise. Those relationships can be so rich and rewarding—don’t miss the opportunity to connect with key segments in your broad audience.
Does your blog have a diverse audience, with a few—or more—different segments? Tell us about them, and how you’ve tackled them, in the comments.