Have you ever written a blog post that you absolutely loved, hit publish, and then heard nothing but the sound of crickets?
It happens to everyone at some point. We think we know EXACTLY what our audience wants to read, but we end up being so far off the mark.
I mean, some of the posts I really wasn’t that excited about blew up on social media and posts I thought would do amazingly well shriveled up and died in the internet ether.
Sometimes it really can feel like you’re bashing your head against a wall, but creating content doesn’t have to be a “hit and hope” type thing. In fact, if you stick to a few key methods, you can create content that your audience lap up, share, and engage with time and time again.
How do you do that?
Start by knowing your audience.
Who is your ideal audience?
2016 seems to be the year for “knowing your audience,” right? There seems to be a blog post every other day that harks on about why you need to figure out your ideal audience.
This is because it’s actually a pretty important part of creating content and growing a blog that people really care about.
The problem? So many people try and please everyone with their blog, but it’s just not possible. By throwing your net wide, you’re not catching any fish. In fact, you’re actually doing yourself AND your readers a disservice.
It’s like if you try to create a dish that pleases both vegetarians and meat eaters, you’ll end up pleasing no one.
Okay, right, but how do I figure out my ideal audience?
The key here is to get really, really specific. Like, minute-detail specific. By the end of the process you want to have one single person in mind and, when you write ANY content related to your blog, you want to have this person in mind (you could even draw them and stick them near your computer!).
Start by answering these questions:
- Male or female?
- Are they location specific?
- What are their 3 main interests?
- What makes them tick?
- What makes them happy?
- What kind of lifestyle are they trying to create?
Even by just answering these seven questions, you can narrow down your focus. By now, you should have “persona” in mind. A persona you know all about, including their age, sex, location, lifestyle choices, interests etc.
So once you’ve figured out your ideal audience, it’s time to tap into their paint points.
Provide Solutions to Problems
It’s not enough to simply guess what your ideal audiences’ problems are. I know we pretty much took a swing in the dark to answer the questions above, but this is the part where you need solid facts.
Without solid facts, you’ll end up missing the mark again and again. This is the part where so many people go wrong. They THINK they know what their ideal audience want and need, but it’s even better to KNOW, right?!
So how can you “know”?
Notice what they’re talking about.
Find out where your ideal audience hangs out. For example, if you’re looking to target photographers, Instagram’s a good bet, or if you’re looking to reach small start-ups, Twitter could be a better option.
Don’t exclude forums and real-life places, either (looking to attract stay-at-home mums? Try coffee shops on a weekday).
When you’ve discovered a few places where your ideal audience hangs out, you want to listen to their conversations. For example, I’ve found tonnes of content ideas from freelancing Facebook groups I’m a part of. I look out for questions written by freelance writers and then answer them with blog posts. Simple, right? But so effective!
When you’re listening in, try and answer these questions:
- What are they talking about the most?
- What topics do they share the most?
- What questions are they asking?
The answers you have here are the skin and bones of content. You’ll then need to flesh it out with your sterling advice and anecdotes (more on this in a bit).
Ask THEM what they struggle with
If you’re struggling to pick up on cues your ideal audience are offering, or if you want to get some ideas quick, simply reach out to a few members of your ideal audience and ASK them what they’re struggling with.
I see this all the time in Facebook groups and on Twitter: content creators ask something like “what’s the one thing stopping you from moving your business forward right now?” or “what confuses you the most about social media?”.
With the responses they get from these, they can create posts that actually answer real-life questions, worries, and struggles. So, say someone answered “I’m really confused about how to use Facebook groups,” you then have the perfect post: “Everything You Need to Know About Using Facebook Groups.” Simple, right?!
There are various ways you could reach out and ask:
- Use social media shout-outs on Twitter and Facebook
- Run a survey to get a handful of results
- Handpick a select few individuals and send them personalized emails
- Ask in relevant forums
Okay, now you’ve got some ideas for content that your audience really NEEDS, it’s time to start creating that content and making it awesome.
Speak in the Same Language as Your Audience
This one seems so mind-bogglingly obvious, but a lot of bloggers overlook it. When I say language, I don’t mean English, or Spanish, or French, I’m talking about using the same words that your audience use.
When you’re in a conversation in real life, who do you gravitate towards the most: people who use the same lingo as you, or people who use words you’d never use in a million years? I’m guessing the first option, right?
It’s the same online. By using the exact same words your audience use, you can create connections without having to try anything too complicated.
Uh, ok, but how do I do that?
- Find out where your audience hang out (by now you should totally be all over that)
- Listen in (you should be good at that now, too!), and note down words that crop up a lot, or variation in phrases – for example, do they use “good”, “great”, or “fab”? Little differences like this don’t seem to matter, but when combined together they can create a hefty impact
- Use these words in your content. The EXACT words
Alrighty. So we’ve figured out our audience, we know where they hang out and what their problems are, and we know what language they use. So how can we make our blog posts stand out from the crowd?
Go One Step Further
As you probably know there are millions and millions of blog posts published every day, which means it’s highly, highly unlikely that your idea is original. But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for it!
In fact, there’s plenty of hope for it if you put a little bit of extra elbow grease into it. You can do that by:
- Adding real life examples and stories that your audience can relate to. Do you prefer reading pieces that only show cold, hard facts? Or do you prefer reading pieces that show a journey, or a personal experience that runs alongside those cold, hard facts?
- Filling in the missing pieces. Before you hit publish, do a quick Google search of your topic and see what the top results are. Are they missing anything? Ask yourself how you could make these pieces better and apply your answers to your own piece.
Finally, Always Have the Reader in Mind
Before I publish any piece of content, I read through it and ask myself “what will the reader get out of this?” If I can’t come up with a solid answer, I revise the piece until I can.
If you really want to create content that your audience goes crazy for (and, trust me, it’s possible!), you have to be thinking about them at every step, from the topic, to the title, to the format, to where you promote it afterwards.
When readers KNOW you have them in mind, they’re so, so much more likely to engage with your content and share it.
Have I missed anything? Let me know your content creation process and how you make sure your posts are the right fit for your audience!