This is the first in a series of posts on how to Find Your Perfect Audience! Find links to the rest of the series at the end of the post.
When I first started blogging eight years ago, I had a simple goal: to share updates on my pregnancy with friends and family who lived in other states. I did not edit or plan posts, but wrote what I wanted, when I wanted. People weren’t using social media to promote blogs back then, so my workflow was as simple as write a post, publish the post.
Though I had just received my MFA in Fiction and was hard at work on a manuscript at the time, I did not see any correlation between what I considered my “real” novel writing and my “fun” blog writing.
A few years later my blog grew to reach ten thousand readers a month and I realized I had missed something really important. My blog writing differed from my book writing, but the two were linked. If an agent or publisher cared enough to look (for they were just starting to ask about platform at that time), I wouldn’t want them to read my off-the-cuff, unedited blog.
To be honest? I didn’t consider my blog WRITING. And I did not consider who was reading. I wrote for ME. And if people showed up, great.
As I moved toward using my blog as a platform to build readers for MORE than just my blog, I had to think about my goals and also my readers. What did I want to accomplish? Who were my readers?
Choosing clear long-term goals and thinking about my audience made my blog a much better read. It also meant being more purposeful about connecting to the right people. I saw that my blog was part of a whole big picture and bigger goals.
In this series of posts I want to help you save all the time I wasted not being intentional. The goal is to walk you through steps to create intentional blog content that targets the right kinds of readers.
The first step in this process is to know your goals. It all starts with your WHY.
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Identify Your Long-Term Goals
When you think of your long-term goals, you want to identify the reason you are blogging and what purpose you want your blog to serve. Keep your audience in mind, but this step is primarily about YOU.
Do you blog to build an author platform? Do you blog to bring in revenue? Do you blog because you love it? Do you blog because someone said you had to? Do you blog to discuss the process of writing your book? Do you blog to have a creative outlet?
If you plan to publish books, it’s important to know which comes first—the book or the blog. Do you blog in order to support your first love of writing books? Or do your books stem from the blog?
These distinctions matter. Identifying your goals will impact the kind of content you write and also the kind of audience you will build.
Identify your primary goal. You will likely have secondary goals (and maybe even tertiary) as well, but make sure that you know the order. The more specific you make your goals, the better you will be able to follow the next steps and make decisions related to your blog.
Identify the Main Theme of Your Blog
In ninth grade I thought I was pretty hot stuff in my honors English class. Until I got an F on my The Old Man and the Sea paper. My mother, furious, called a conference with the teacher. “It’s simple,” my teacher explained, “the assignment was to write on a theme in the book. This paper is a plot summary.” In that moment I realized I had no idea what theme meant.
Plot tells what something is about. The Old Man and the Sea is about a man on a boat trying to catch one large fish. In the case of your blog, the topics, the niche, and the general content categories are like the plot of a novel. The plot of your blog might be defined as a food blog sharing original recipes and restaurant reviews.
Theme, on the other hand, is about what something means. A book may have many themes, but there is also usually one central meaning tying the events together. Theme on a blog shows the perspective of the writer and carries an implicit message through each post. The theme of the food blog mentioned above might be Healthy Living Through Healthy Eating. Think how different that same food blog would read if the theme was Eat, Drink, & Be Merry for Tomorrow We Die. Same content, different lens.
Sometimes the theme is subtle and sometimes it becomes the phrase you put on your business cards. For my lifestyle blog (which has nothing to do with the process of writing) my tagline is “An eclectic celebration of chaos.” I have four kids and blog about everything from parenting to food to faith. Life is crazy, but my theme through the blog is to celebrate that everyday craziness.
When you think of the theme of your blog, keep your goal in mind. If your goal is to create an author platform for your true crime novel, you probably don’t want the theme of your blog be Encouragement for Daily Living. Even if are a positive person, that theme is disconnected from your goal and would be jarring to potential readers.
I’m not saying you can’t have that kind of blog, but if your end goal is to support your true crime novels, you should perhaps consider two blogs. The one whose goal is to support your crime novels should be something relevant to an audience who wants to read true crime. Perhaps the theme of this blog would be True Stories Are Worse Than Fiction.
Here are some questions to answer as you move toward finding your WHY:
- What is the overarching purpose behind your blog?
- What are your secondary purposes?
- Where do you hope to see yourself in a year?
- What do you consider the theme of your blog?