We are in part three of Finding Your Perfect Audience! Catch up by reading the first post on how to identify your purpose and then the second on how to create your ideal reader profile. Today it’s all about how to identify your current audience.
When you are trying to grow your audience, a hugely important step is to know how to identify your current audience. You may have created a fantastic and detailed reader profile and know how to reach those readers, but what about the audience you already have? Unless you are starting from scratch, you already have an audience. And sometimes your current audience doesn’t match up with your ideal.
Listen to Create If Writing – Episode 048
How to Identify Your Current Audience
Even if you don’t LOVE analytics and number crunching (I don’t), you can fall in love with analytics (I did). The great thing is that you can use free analytics for your blog and also your social media sites that give you great info that you can use to your benefit.
Site Analytics – You should be using Google Analytics on your site, not trusting the Jetpack stats on WordPress or the stats in Blogger. They included extra bot traffic that isn’t actually REAL. This may mean you have less numbers than you thought, but you’d rather get an accurate picture.
To install Google Analytics, you can read this helpful post from Hubspot. I would NOT recommend the plugin on WordPress, only because more plugins mean slower site and you can do without. I use Genesis, so utilize the Simple Hooks plugin that works with Genesis. It basically has these nice blank spaces you can paste code in that will add it to your CSS without you crashing your blog or doing weird stuff. (Also, if you have a super low–under 10%–bounce rate, you probably have GA installed twice. Here’s how to figure that out.)
If you’re like me and Google Analytics makes you totally nuts, then you should consider using Dashboard Junkie. You can easily download a new dashboard right into GA that cuts out some of the things that might stress you out and highlights the things you care about. I have two that aren’t available anymore, but the Gender Insights dashboard might be really helpful for considering audience. The Personal Blog dashboard also has a lot of the information you might want to see. These dashboards give GA some focus and help you see only what you really want to see.
Social Analytics – Just about every social media platform has analytics you can use. (For Pinterest, make sure you have a business account! Read more on setting this up on my post at Jane Friedman’s blog.) Twitter has analytics. Your Facebook page has insights. If you want to use something like Iconosquare with Instagram, you can get a better idea of how Insta is working for you.
Use GA to see where your traffic comes from and then focus on the analytics for that social site to see what is working there. How are people engaging on Facebook? What pins are people repinning on Pinterest? If you find that people are engaging more with content that is NOT yours on those social sites, that can help you see the kind of content you SHOULD be creating for your readers.
Surveys can be invaluable. Whether you use Survey Monkey, Google Forms, or Typeform (my fave because it’s so purty), ask your readers who they are and what they want from you. Some people offer a prize, so that each person who responds gets an entry. This may get you more responses, but if you don’t offer something, you’re more likely to get people who are passionate.
This deep-dive from Ramsay of Blog Tyrant has some really great suggestions for surveys and out of the box ways to ask people. Pat Flynn interview Ryan Levesque, the author of Ask, all about HOW you should ask. I’ve actually read his book Ask (*affiliate link!)and it has some great specific strategies if you want to go all in with surveys.
I do this at least once a year with my people one both blogs. Sometimes I’ll do mini surveys. It’s a great way to find out what your readers want and also the language they use to describe their problems and their wants. This is something great to use when you’re writing your About page and sales copy when you create products or books.
Actually TALK to Them
I have never done this, but have heard many people recommend getting on the phone with your people. Send them a link to sign up for a Skype or phone call using something like Calendly (what I use for my podcast episodes). You can’t do this with everyone, but maybe try to talk to a few people a month. (This IS something I plan to do this year, so get excited!)
If you do get on the phone with people, do a lot of listening. Let there be awkward pauses. This allows you the chance to really hear things. Record it so you can go back and don’t have to take extensive notes, but can just listen in the moment. (Ecamm Call Recorder is what I use to record Skype calls on Mac and Pamela is a great Skype recorder for PC.)
If getting on the phone gives you the heebie jeebies, you can also chat with people in your Facebook groups, do something like Blab, where people can comment in or even join you on screen to talk in more of a group setting. You could also ask in an email for people to reply if they are interested in a longer conversation and you can talk via email. Find a way that feels comfortable to you. Ask. Listen. Get to know your peeps.
What If Your Current Audience Doesn’t Match Your Ideal Audience?
You may discover as you learn more about your current audience that they don’t match up with the ideal reader profile you created. This is common, so if it’s you, don’t freak out. It often happens if you aren’t blogging intentionally from the beginning or if you pivot, changing your why and the purpose of your blog. It can also happen because sometimes we don’t see ourselves and our message clearly. You may need to get an extra set of impartial eyes to read your blog and see if your intentions and your why are lining up with your content and strategy. (Pssst- I offer this service! And it’s one of the things I think I’m best at! Check out brand audit service HERE.)
If you find a mismatch, don’t worry about it. You have options with pros and cons.
Option 1- Forget the Current Readers & Write for Your Ideal
This seems a little cold, but there might be instances in which you want to move on. If you are completely changing your theme or purpose but don’t want to start a new blog, writing for your ideal audience will drive out the current audience members that are NOT your ideal.
Option 2 – Slowly Transition Your Current Readers into Your Ideal
If option one seems to hasty and inconsiderate, option two might work for you. You can be more gentle and gradual with reaching new audiences without completely ignoring or alienating your current readers. Consider posting once a week with the content you are writing for your ideal readers. Slowly build up to a bigger shift over time that would allow you to convert or change some of your current readers to be more of your ideal readers, or at least more interested in the content you are creating that is geared toward that ideal reader profile.
Option 3 – Write for Your Current Readers & Let Them BE Your Ideal
In some cases you may want to throw out your ideal reader profile. (Don’t forget the free printable guide to creating your ideal profile!) If you have a large current audience hungry for what you are already creating, then you may want to consider these readers your ideal and rewrite the ideal profile including what you know about your ACTUAL readers.
Option 4 – Start a New Blog
This is what I did when continued surveys of my readers at my KirstenOliphant.com blog said they did not care about writing or blogging posts. I still really wanted to write them, so starting a new blog with a more narrow focus made sense. If you don’t want to change your current readers and also don’t want to stop writing the content that they aren’t interested in, consider starting a new blog.
Now it’s time for you to go and DO THINGS. Find out about your audience. See how they line up with your ideal and figure out what you’re doing to do if they don’t! Join us in the Facebook group for more conversation!