Who is your ideal audience?
If you’ve spent any time researching how to build a successful blog and online business, then you’ve probably come across this question a jillion times already.
Or perhaps you’ve heard some variation of it.
Who is your ideal reader? Your target audience?
Who is your ideal…tribe member?
All of these different terms can be really confusing.
In fact, the whole concept can be super confusing.
How are you supposed to figure out who your ideal audience is?
Once you know who they are, how do you find them and connect with them?
What on earth does “ideal audience” mean anyway? And why is it so important to know who they are?
In this ultimate guide to finding and attracting your ideal audience, I’ll answer all these questions…and more!
What Is An “Ideal Audience”?
There is a big difference between an audience and an ideal audience. And as a blogger and online entrepreneur, it’s important to understand the difference.
The Types of People That Make Up Your Audience
Your audience is made up of all the people who read your blog and follow you on social media.
Within this audience, there are a lot of different types of people. I’ve loosely categorized them into four main groups.
The Window Shoppers, Tire-Kickers and Freebie-Seekers
These are the people who are pretty much only interested in free help.
They’ll happily consume all of your free content. BUT, the minute you make an offer, they get offended.
Even super cheap, discounted offers get their dander up.
Their philosophy? Why should they pay for your help when they can get all that info for free elsewhere?
Often you’ll hear comments from them like: How dare you charge for this! I thought you wanted to help people!
For big-hearted bloggers and entrepreneurs, people like this can be super hurtful. They can also undermine our confidence.
We pour so much of ourselves into our blog…
And we give so much value for free…
Yet their comments can leave us questioning ourselves.
Am I charging too much? Do I have the right to charge for what I’m offering? Am I giving enough away?
It’s important to realize here that no matter how much you give away, these people will never be happy with it. They’ll never appreciate it. And they’ll never see the value in it.
These are the types of people we DON’t want to attract!
Unfortunately, they tend to make up a big part of the online audience as a whole. And it’s virtually impossible to weed them out ahead of time.
The Discount Shoppers
These are the people who are willing to pay for your expertise, but only if it’s super cheap. At the same time, they tend to expect huge value from their cheap purchase.
They pretty much make their buying decisions on price alone.
In other words, the cheapest offer wins.
Which means that there really isn’t a lot of brand loyalty. If someone else comes along with lower prices, they’ll bail on you.
Interestingly, these are the customers who typically say they aren’t “seeing results” with your product and/or services. They are the ones who ask for refunds. The ones who think they “know it already.” And, they also tend to be the biggest complainers.
What’s important to understand about these people is that they don’t see results, because they don’t implement.
They start, but they never finish. And they usually blame it on their circumstances. Or they blame it on you.
Once again, this is an audience that you really don’t want. As with the freebie-seekers – there are a lot of them out there.
However, you can dodge this bomb by making sure you price your products well. In other words – charge what they are worth (don’t go cheap).
Cheap products attract the discount shoppers (I’ll talk about that more in a future post).
The “Interested & Engaged But Can’t Afford It” Audience
These are people who are genuinely interested in you and in the content that you create.
They read all your posts. Sign up for your email list. Follow you on social media. And engage with your content. They also absorb, learn from and implement everything that you share.
But, as much as they would like to, they just don’t have the money to invest in your products and/or services.
These people technically don’t fall into the definition of our “ideal audience.”
However, I still see them as people I want to serve.
Because as a heart-centered blogger and entrepreneur – my blog and biz isn’t all about money. It’s about helping people. Serving people. And helping others experience real change in their life.
The personal philosophy that I try to live by is to be generous.
I don’t want to be the kind of person who only gives value to those who can pay for it.
And who knows? If I help someone and their financial situation gets better because of my help, maybe someday, they’ll become customers.
But even if they don’t – my perspective is that’s it’s rewarding and fulfilling to be able to give to those who are in need and genuinely appreciate what you have to offer. Even if they can’t ever “give back.”
Your Ideal Audience
These are the people who are interested and engaged in your content. They want and need what you have to offer.
They see so much value in what you give for free that they are willing to invest in your products and/or services to go deeper.
And they are loyal.
These are the people you want as the backbone of your tribe.
These are the people that you want to work on attracting.
Your Goal As A Business-Minded Blogger Is To Find and Attract Your Ideal Audience
My goal as your virtual blogging coach and mentor is to show you how you can pursue your passion, make money and change lives with your blog.
Ultimately, the only way that you can make money with your blog, and turn it into a profitable online business, is by finding and attracting your ideal audience.
In other words, attracting the people who want and need what you have to offer. AND who can afford, and are willing to invest in your products and services as well.
Now, does that mean you ignore those who need you but can’t afford what you have to offer?
Absolutely NOT. We talked about this earlier.
As world-changers and heart-centered bloggers, making a difference in people’s lives is important.
Whether or not they can afford to pay you.
That’s why I give away as much content as I do, for FREE, here on Blog to Biz Strategies.
BUT the hard reality is you can’t make a living just by giving away free content.
You HAVE to bring money into the equation.
Think about it this way.
If you can’t make a living with your blog, you have to find another way to make a living, right?
But if you have to make a living another way, that leaves you less time to put into your blog.
Less time to create content means LESS great free content to help your readers.
Do you see how it’s a lose-lose situation?
The more time you have to put into your blog, the better it is for everyone. For you AND for your readers.
When you get paid for the time and work you invest in your blog, it motivates you to do more and give more. You can afford to invest time and resources into freely helping others (including those who can’t afford it).
How Knowing Who Your Ideal Audience Is Will Help You
It’s pretty simple really. When you know WHO your ideal audience is, it makes everything about blogging a whole lot easier.
It’s Easier to Connect With Your Readers
Think for a minute about the people in your immediate circle of friends.
Ask yourself – why are you friends? What is it that makes your friendship strong?
Chances are, it’s because you share values, life experiences and/or common interests.
The same principle applies here.
We want to build connections with our tribe.
It’s easiest to build these relationships around shared values and experiences.
When you share the pieces of your life that you know will resonate with your audience, you are creating those connections.
When you know your audience inside and out – you then know what pieces of yourself to share.
For example. If your ideal audience consists of mothers – then you want to make sure that you share experiences that you know other moms would relate to.
You’ll Never Run Out Of Content Ideas
Creating content is SO much easier when you know who you are creating content for.
The more clarity you have around who your ideal audience is and what they are interested in, the less you’ll struggle with writer’s block.
When you know who your ideal audience is, you can connect with them.
As you connect with them, and get involved in conversations with them, you learn a lot about them. Specifically, what they are interested in and what they are struggling with.
You can then take this knowledge and use it to create your content strategy.
You Know What Products and/or Services To Create
When you know your ideal audience, you are able to find them. When you find them, you can talk to them.
Once you talk to them, you’ll know what it is that they struggle with. You’ll also know what kinds of things they have tried to solve their struggles. You’ll have an idea of what’s worked for them and what hasn’t.
When you combine that information with what you learned in your niche research, you’ll be able to confidently create products that you know your audience will want.
It Increases Your Conversions
If you haven’t heard the term “conversions” before, it’s really just marketing speak for when a reader becomes a buyer.
When you know your ideal audience so well that you create free content and products that they want and need, it will naturally lead to the sale.
How Do You Find Your Ideal Audience?
Finding your ideal audience involves figuring out who they are, connecting with them, and getting to know them.
And it is a key step in the blogging success path.
Let’s go back for a minute and review.
There are 8 key steps to building, launching and growing a profitable blog. If you need a refresher, you can read all about them in my post: Make Money Blogging: The 8 Key Steps to Blogging Success.
In that post, I shared a visual map of what the blogging success path looks like. I’ve included it below for your reference.
You’ll notice in the map, that finding your ideal audience comes AFTER you choose a profitable niche.
Once you know you’ve found a profitable niche (that you are also passionate about) follow the steps below to find and get to know your audience.
Step 1. Decide What Audience You Want To Work With
We started talking about this when I walked you through the process of choosing a profitable niche.
If you want your blog to succeed you need to actively choose your ideal audience rather than letting your audience just find you.
This goes back to our discussion about audience vs ideal audience. I hope I drove home the point that:
When it comes to building your tribe, you don’t want just anyone.
The majority of people in the online world who actually fit the criteria of “ideal audience” is pretty tiny.
Can you imagine what it would be like pouring your heart and soul into people who don’t get you and don’t value what you have to offer? Who aren’t willing to support you and your business?
Draining. Exhausting. Frustrating. Discouraging.
These are just a few words I can think of to describe what it’s like when you aren’t working with and serving your tribe.
Not to mention the fact, you’ll never see the success you want.
So let me put it plainly.
It’s not enough to be passionate about your topic, you have to be passionate about the people you are serving as well.
So choose wisely.
Take the time to think about the people that you have been involved with, in your life. This could be an audience group that you have been a part of, you are a part of, or have experience working with.
If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas, then you need to dig deeper.
Ask yourself whether there are any audience groups that tug on your heartstrings. Are there any audience groups that you feel called to work with?
When you begin daydreaming about the blog and biz you want to build, do you see yourself working with anyone in particular?
Make a list of all the audience groups you would love to work with. Then move on to step 2.
Step 2. Choose An Audience Group That You Have Experience With
In order to make money with your blog, there are two things that you need to do.
The first is to build authority and credibility in your niche. In other words, your audience has to see you as an expert. They need to believe that you know what you are talking about, and that you can help them.
Second, you need to have a good relationship with your audience.
The fact of the matter is that it’s easier to build relationships when you have common ground.
In order to create that connection with your audience, they need to feel that you understand them. And that you understand the challenges that they are facing.
When you are walking the path your audience is walking, or you have successfully walked the path that they are on right now – that builds trust. It shows them that you can relate to what they are going through.
When your audience sees that you can relate – it gives you credibility.
When you have overcome or already helped others overcome the obstacles/issues/challenges that they are facing, your audience will see you as a guide.
It’s for this reason, I would recommend choosing an audience group that you are a part of, or have been a part of.
If not, then at the very least, it should be a group that you have experience working with, or have been specially trained or certified to work with.
My preference is the former. When you are in, or have been in the same group as your audience, and you’ve shared common experiences, it gives you that connection. This makes it easier to build relationships with them.
So take your list from step 1 and narrow it down to audience groups you have experience with.
The goal is to have a few different groups on your list.
Because as with your niche, not all your audience groups may be a good choice. So you want to have options.
It’s now time to take your list and start validating it.
What You Are Looking For In An Ideal Audience
In the last section, I talked about validating your ideal audience.
What exactly does that mean?
The term “validate” simply means that we want to find proof that there really is a legit audience out there that meets our “ideal audience” criteria.
So first of all, we want to make sure that they are real. Not just a dream client that is literally just a dream (ie. doesn’t really exist).
From there, we want to make sure our ideal audience meets the following criteria:
- Your ideal audience can’t be too broad. When your audience is too broad, it’s hard to serve them all well.
- They have to be easy to find online. If your audience is not online, you don’t have a business.
- Your ideal audience has to gather in groups. The last thing in the world that you want to have to do is find your audience, one person at a time. It’s impossible to grow and scale a blog and business that way.
- Your ideal audience has to be spending money in your niche on the kinds of products that you want to offer.
How To Validate Your Ideal Audience
So we know what we’re looking for. How do we go about finding that info?
Below I’ve outlined a series of things that you need to think about and look for in order to validate your ideal audience.
#1. Make Sure Your Audience Group Shares Similar Interests
You might think that in choosing an audience group, they would automatically share the same interests and perspectives, but that’s not always the case.
For example, let’s say you are in the food and nutrition niche and you have decided to focus on vegetarians.
Even though vegetarianism is fairly specific, there are still different interest groups within that niche.
Take a look at vegans. There are some pretty big differences between a vegan audience who avoids all animal products and a vegetarian audience who only avoids MEAT products.
#2. Make Sure People In Your Audience Group Self-Identify With One Another
Although this step seems pretty similar to the last step, it’s actually not.
You see, a group of people can share similar interests, but not necessarily identify with one another.
For example, let’s say you are in the fitness niche and you want to help women lose weight and get it shape.
A 20-something woman will likely not identify with a 60-something woman.
They’ll probably have different reasons for wanting to lose weight and get in shape.
Their bodies will respond differently.
Their abilities will be totally different.
Trying to help both these age groups (and all the ones in between) would complicate things for you as a blogger.
If you were to talk to the 20-somethings, your 60-somethings wouldn’t resonate with your message and vice versa.
In order to resonate with both, you’d have to write separate content for each.
Which is really hard to do. Especially when you are just starting out, or still struggling to get traction with your blog.
Think about it this way.
Have you ever tried to carry on two different conversations at once?
It’s virtually impossible, isn’t it? You just can’t focus.
Not only that, it’s hard to go as deep because you’re bouncing back and forth between the two conversations.
It’s no different with blogging.
When you focus on too many groups, your message ends up being spread too thin. Which means that there’s not enough there to help either group.
#3. Make Sure Your Audience Gathers Online In Topic-Specific Groups
I realize that this is hard to believe in this day and age, but believe me when I tell you, not all audiences are online.
And even IF your audience IS online, they may not be easy to find online.
For example, one aspiring entrepreneur I know has been struggling for MONTHS trying to locate his ideal audience.
He wants to work with ambitious young professionals (under 30) who want more out of their careers.
At first glance, you’d think that there are lots of these people online. And perhaps there are. The issue this entrepreneur is facing is that he can’t find any online groups where these people gather. And if you can’t find where your audience gathers, you are left trying to find them one by one. Which is a VERY slow way to build a blog and business.
I can’t emphasize this enough:
If you want to make money blogging, you have to be able to find your audience so that you can then attract them back to your blog.
That means that your audience not only has to be online, but they have to be easy to find.
How do you do this? You look for online groups or forums where your audience gathers. And then you join them.
If you can’t find any such groups, that’s a good sign that you need to rethink who you want to work with.
#4. Make Sure Your Audience Group Is Already Spending Money Online In Your Niche
There are two things you want to find proof of in this step.
The first is whether or not the specific audience group you are interested in, is spending money in the niche you have chosen.
Let’s say you chose the parenting niche and you want to work with parents of toddlers.
When you checked out your competitor’s blogs – did it look like their audience included parents of toddlers?
You should know this by looking both at their content and their products.
Then you would want to see if any of their products were specific to parents of toddlers.
Finally, you want to see evidence that this group is buying products similar to what you have to offer.
Using the example from above. Let’s say you want to sell one-on-one coaching to parents of toddlers.
In your competitor research (which you did when choosing your niche) – you would want to look at whether any of your competitors are selling one-on-one coaching.
If not, that’s a pretty good indication that you could have a problem.
So to recap – at this stage, you are looking for is evidence that your audience group is spending money in the specific topic area that you are looking to focus on. AND they are spending money on the type of solution that you want to offer.
If your audience passed all these “tests” then you have now validated your audience.
What happens if your audience group doesn’t meet the above criteria?
I hate to say it, but if the audience group you decided on doesn’t meet all the criteria I outlined above, then it’s time to choose another audience group and repeat the validation steps.
What if none of the audience groups you identified meet the validation criteria?
Then it’s time to go back and look at another niche.
I know. If this ends up being where you are, that can be pretty discouraging.
But think. Better to know now, than have invested a ton of time building out your blog and creating content, only to find that no one is interested.
How To Know What Your Ideal Audience Wants & Needs
Don’t you wish you could peek into your ideal audience’s mind?
Well, you can!
Yeah, I admit it, I set you up for that answer LOL.
A lot of bloggers struggle with knowing what to write about. Then there those who have plenty of ideas of what to write about, but their audience doesn’t seem to be responding.
The secret to this is knowing what your audience is really and truly interested in.
And it’s way easier than you think to figure that out.
There are three steps to getting to know what your ideal audience is interested in.
Step 1. Observe your audience “in the wild.”
This means going to the places online where your audience gathers and make note of the conversations.
What kinds of things are they talking about? What kinds of questions are they asking? Are there any particular issues that they seem to be struggling with?
What kind of information are they looking for and sharing?
Document this in a spreadsheet. Copy and paste the questions, answers, and discussions that you find.
Step 2. Initiate conversations with your audience.
I’ll be honest with you, if you’re a person who tends towards shyness, this can be a scary step.
At least it was for me.
Although I do love people, by nature I am not super outgoing.
I love my alone time. Or time spent with my family and a few close friends.
I don’t feel the need for a lot of social interaction. In fact, I find it kind of exhausting.
Really, I would happily hide behind my computer all day.
Which is why I love the online world so much.
Unfortunately for us introverts, there is only so much research you can do.
The BEST way to get to know your audience is to TALK to them.
In real life.
Like real conversations, LOL.
The more conversations, the better.
The fastest and easiest way to do this is to reach out to people in your online network. Facebook is a great way to do this.
All you have to say is that you are doing some research on the biggest struggles people are having with “x” (ie. your topic area), and ask if they would be willing to chat with you.
Arrange to have your chat via Facebook Messenger or text messages so that you can go back and refer to the conversations.
Have as many text-based conversations as you possibly can. I personally spoke via messenger with about 50 people.
Yeah, it took quite a bit of time. But what I learned was pure gold!
Compile each conversation into a document and then input it into a spreadsheet.
I would also encourage you to have some phone or video based conversations as well as they give you an opportunity to go into even greater depth.
Step 3. Make note of the main themes in your conversation.
Once you have finished your “in the wild” research and your audience conversations, re-visit your conversations and look for any themes that emerge.
What you want to do is to go back through each conversation and pull out the main themes.
Then look at all the themes that you pulled out from all the conversations, and make note of the themes that you see recurring over and over again.
These themes are what your ideal audience is interested in knowing more about and getting help with.
Congratulations! You now know what your audience wants and needs!
If you follow all the steps in this blog post…
If you commit to taking the time do really do the research, and have the conversations…
I can promise you that you will never struggle with creating content again.
You will know exactly what to write about. And everything that you write about will be content that your audience is interested in. Stuff that they want to read about and need in their life.
Not only that, but you will also know how to position your blog, and write in a way that resonates with your audience.
Your audience will feel like you see them, know them, and understand them. And they will love you for it.
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