You may be an inspirational blogger who just writes for the sake of writing. But since you’ve navigated to this article, I’m guessing you are probably not that kind of blogger. You’ve probably started your blog to promote a product, service or idea. And to do that, you desperately need your posts to be read and shared.
Have you ever wondered if you can predict how many people would find your articles worthy of reading? To know if anyone would care reading them at all?
Of course, your style and talent are the lion’s portion of your content’s success. However, blogging is nothing like writing a novel. You cannot just publish something, and then let your readers find your post – it’s your post that has to attract readers. Even the brightest of articles often get lost and die in loneliness in the far corners of the web, if they are not delivered to the right audience. In order to make sure your pieces are appreciated and serve your promotion purposes well, you have to know exactly who you are writing them for.
Personas are an old and proven marketing tool to get to know your typical buyer. As described by Ardath Elbee, CEO and founder of Marketing Interactions Inc., “a marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.”
Drawing up personas is a lot like designing fictional characters. They’ve got to be as human as possible, or else no one would want to relate to them. Common advice for Persona description includes defining their gender, age, social status, occupation, goals and challenges, values and fears.
Below is a neat example of a well-formulated marketing Persona.
Image credit: Xtensio
By creating Personas, the seller gains a better understanding of their buyer. And with that comes the idea how to appeal to that kind of buyer. Let us look how this renowned approach can help us write terrific blog posts that our readers would never dare passing by.
Who is Mr. Reader?
When you started your blog, you must have had a general idea on which people it might be interesting for. Now it is time to revise and categorize your readers - existing and potential ones. I am a web designer, so let me use my own blog as an example here.
Basically, what I want my blog to do for me is attract clients. Therefore, my blog posts need to cover topics sought by people who need a website produced for them. Who might such people be? Well, let’s see:
- Business owners - simply to develop a website for their company;
- Private entrepreneurs - for personal and small business websites;
- Start-uppers - to test their business idea or gather crowdfunding;
- Public figures - politicians, celebrities, athletes etc. - well, for obvious reasons;
- Corporate marketing officers - because they need promo websites for launching their company’s products.
All these people are my potential clients, so I need them to land on my blog and read it. So, before I think of topics to write on, I must personify each of these client types to identify which subjects would be common for all of them, and which would require fine tuning and specialization for each particular Persona.
Below I will briefly describe each kind of reader I want to see on my blog:
- George - a 40 years old Business Owner from Boise, Idaho. He runs a dairy farm, which supplies organic raw products for several brands like Western Family Foods and Walmart’s Great Value. George wants a website that would showcase his company facilities, emphasize on clean and animal-friendly production, and unobtrusively promote the health benefits of dairy products.
- Nathan - a 35 years old Private Entrepreneur who is an Interior Designer from New York City. Nathan started his own small studio and has become known locally by his previous works. Now he seeks nation-wide and international recognition and decides to invest in a website to match the ones of the world’s top interior designers.
- Matti - a 27 years old Start-upper from Ashkelon, Israel, who just patented his brand new invention - an industrial water filter running on solar energy. Matti wants to promote his invention, check out how it is accepted by the market and gather funds for building a full-scale prototype.
- Lena - a 24 years old Public Figure, who is an Electronic Musician from Dusseldorf, Germany. Lena has been writing her music and selling it through Bandcamp, Deezer, and Soundcloud. Recently, she managed to sign with a major music label and has her first professional album coming out in 3-4 months. Lena needs a website to portray her as a celebrity musician and facilitate the album sales.
- Claudine - a 30 years old Chief Marketing Officer at an international beverage distribution company, residing in Glasgow, UK. Claudine is responsible for the market launch of a new soft drink and needs a website to promote the product and attract followers via BTL activities.
Now that I’ve got acquainted with all of my reader types, I can try to identify which of my insights are likely to be appreciated by each of them.
Sounds pretty logical up to this point, doesn’t it? Having thought of which materials my collective readers might be interested in, I can now write these materials from the viewpoint of their needs.
For example, my Website Production Cost & Timeframe article would be targeted to every reader category. That means it would have to be more general, and have examples that all my readers can relate to. On the contrary, when I write about How to Prepare A Good RFP, I would have to be more specific about Promotional and Small Business Websites.
Persona control of your content production process
All right, so we figured out which kind of insights our blog needs to have. Let us now see how our new friends can help us proofread our nuggets of wisdom.
In content production, you basically have 4 major stages:
- Topic (selecting the problem which your article would cover);
- Material accumulation (research, gathering facts and opinions);
- Plan (outlining the sections to fit your material into);
- Draft (assembling the content piece).
In the previous paragraph, we have seen how George, Nathan, Matti, Lena, and Claudine were able to help us evaluate the importance and relevance of the post topics. Now let us move on to stage 2 - the gathering of data.
It is no secret that every possible topic has been already covered by someone on the Internet at least once. In the field of web design, it all has been probably covered not less than ten times. So, what we have to do is Google our next article topic from our Personas’ viewpoints. This will achieve three purposes:
- We will see on which resources they are likely to land;
- What kind of insights those resources provide;
- What our new post needs to look more valuable to the Persona than the ones that already exist.
Having got the understanding what to include into our article, and what to exclude from it, we are moving on to the Planning stage. Here is where we have to formulate our points, and make sure they give straight answers to the reader’s questions.
After that - and only after that - you have the green light for writing the post. Feel free to fill it with your style, but remember to stick to the point. Place calls to action and attention catchers. One or two good visuals - either pictures, videos or infographics - are a must. Be sure to insert proper keywords (or ask a SEO specialist to provide you with ones), and link out to trusted resources. To gain more readers, you might also consider publishing the post on your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts, as well as in various industry-related social media groups.
My final advice would be not to go ahead and publish your post right away. It is better to proofread it from the Persona’s perspective once again, on the next day when you head is clear. Try to identify points that are not likely to be appreciated by your Personas, then remove or rephrase them. After you have finished proofreading, ask yourself again if the article is giving your Persona what they were looking for. If it is a firm yes, then you can rest assured that your post has good chances to be read and spread by the people you have written it for.
Denis Kurylenko is Design Researcher and Technical Journalist @ Vintage, an award-winning web design company from Eastern Europe. He blogs regularly on topics of online marketing, brand promotion, and web design.