It’s important to identify your target audience and prepare content for that audience.
It’s also important to realize that your blog has three different audiences:
- Active bloggers who frequently read your posts and contribute to the comments section.
- Fans who stop by to check out your blog, who may find helpful content and continue to visit.
- Potential customers who discover your blog through search engines, links to your website, etc.
Each audience is important in its own way:
- Fellow bloggers who frequently like your posts and interact in the comments section give your blog life and personality. This activity makes you feel better and creates a great vibe when your other audiences discover your posts. Much of your following consists of other WordPress bloggers, Facebook followers, and Twitter followers.
- Fans of your current books may discover your blog from the About the Author section of your books. They may be hoping to learn more about you, find additional content on your website, or receive updates about your works in progress.
- People in your target audience who discover your blog through search engines are prospective customers. They didn’t already know about your book before discovering your blog. If the search terms they used are highly relevant for both the content on your website and in your books, your blog is working to help customers find you (rather than you trying to find customers).
It’s easy to get caught up in views, likes, follows, and immediate sales.
When you start out, these numbers can seem quite frustrating, since blogging tends to be very slow in the beginning.
Most of your likes, follows, and initial views are coming from other WordPress bloggers. Most of these bloggers aren’t in your target audience.
Fellow bloggers can provide amazing support, offer helpful advice, help to spread the word about you in the social media world, add to your following, and make your posts look engaging. You can also find wonderful friends among other bloggers.
But remember, most of these—totally awesome—bloggers aren’t in your target audience. Yes, some of your blog pals will support you with sales and word-of-mouth recommendations. But most of your potential customers aren’t to be found in your likes, follows, and initial views.
Your following will consist of some fans once you begin to attract readers. However, fans may represent a very thin slice of your total following. Much of your following may consist of ghosts, i.e. people who clicked the Follow button, but will almost never read your posts. But if you have readers and you direct them to your blog, some of them will show up as fans.
Tip: Don’t just include a link to your blog. Also add a reason to visit your blog. What will they find there that will make the trip worthwhile?
When you do a cover reveal, your fans will help you build buzz for the new release. When you release a new book, fans will help you with early sales and reviews. The larger your fan base, the better the potential of your next book launch.
Fans are people in your target audience who already know about your book. Bloggers mostly already know about your book, but aren’t likely to be in your target audience.
(Exceptions are fantastic, but they are still exceptions. Most of the books I’m reading now were written by WordPress authors that I met here. There are many WordPress bloggers who read books by fellow bloggers. This is all wonderful, but remember that most bloggers are outside of your target audience.)
Your website will be most successful in generating sales when it reaches people in your target audience who don’t already know about your book.
(Sales may not be the best measure of success, nor the best motivation for having a blog. Blog and write to share your passion. But in the interest of helping to share your passion through sales, the question of how to generate more sales may have some importance to you.)
That’s where the search engine can be a valuable tool. Prepare content that is likely to attract people in your target audience to your blog. The material has to be highly relevant both to your audience and to your books. Even if you write fiction, you can make some nonfiction posts that relate to the content of your books.
Test out keywords on Google. The keyword should be relevant to your post, relevant to your audience, searched for with some frequency, but not so popular that your post will be drowned out by many other articles.
When you see views of old posts every day, when your WordPress stats show that you have a large percentage of search engine traffic, and when the keywords searched for are highly relevant for your books, then you know that you’re doing some things right to attract people through a content-rich website.
This can start out very slow. If you write a post hoping to attract people through search engines, you might see dismal results in the beginning. It takes quality content and even then you must persevere through a long slow period.
After six months, if you have dozens of views every day coming from search engines, your blog traffic consists of hundreds of people per month who didn’t previously know about your books. There is incredible potential here, well worth the effort and the patience required to see it through.
On the one hand, you’re trying to establish your own brand, and this comes about from consistency and unity.
But on the other hand, variety helps to attract different parts of your target audience because even people who share some common interests do think much differently. Variety also gives you some flavor for your blogging.
It is possible to show variety while also being unified toward the same brand.
You want to prepare material for all three audiences, and to mix it up. This helps you engage everybody, such that when people stop by, on any given day one of your recent posts is likely to appeal to them.
- Engage your fellow bloggers and interact with them.
- Have content that will interest your fans and encourage them to visit your blog periodically.
- Post content that will attract your target audience through search engines.
I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.
[ Smiles ] I can clearly see that you did your homework in the area of blogging.
This is a very impressive post!
Thank you. 🙂 (My hello world post was just the opposite though.)
[ Chuckles ] As we experiment, our understanding of the blogosphere grows!
I’m curious when you say “bloggers aren’t in your target audience.” Can’t they be? How can you tell? Cheers, Jackie
Sure, some may be. My feeling is that most won’t be. For one, you get many followers from people who never like or comment (maybe just hoping for a follow back). Many bloggers are authors themselves. While many authors are readers, too, if you just find 100 random readers, only a tiny percent will be in your target audience. If most of the bloggers in your following are authors in your genre, then they are in your target audience, but you’re also in their target audience.
My point is that the % of people finding your website through search engines who are in your target audience can be much higher than the % of WordPress bloggers coming to your website. And many of the bloggers stopping by already know about your book, whereas from search engines they probably don’t.
Thanks for the prompt and thoughtful response.Yes, I guess followers are a limited pool. It’s all about forming new relationships, opening yourself up to being newly discovered.
The bloggers that don’t engage are a funny lot, aren’t they? 🙂 If they don’t think of engaging with you after they’ve followed and you’ve followed back, and you in retaliation don’t check in with them, it’s such an empty follow, isn’t it? Like collecting friends on Facebook even though you don’t have anything to say in person. Weird. Don’t they read blogs like yours and brush up on the etiquette? 🙂
Unfortunately, I believe one of the “popular” marketing strategies in social media is to find lists of people to follow, hoping to “build” a large following. I guess, for them, it’s all about having an inflated number to show off, and not about engaging interactions, support systems, developing a fan base within your target audience, etc.
Ooooh? I might have been targeted by one or two of those. People who just follow without clicking Like or looking at anything on your site. Kinda makes me annoyed. In general I find those bloggers who desperately want numbers very off-putting. Like the eels at the bottom of the ocean gobbling up everything! There is one guy (you prob know of him, won’t name him as any mention of his name and he swoops in to make more publicity for himself) who’s a really aggressive blogger and I find it very unsettling and I would hate to be part of his life. But hey, different strokes for different folks.
Always a pleasure, Chris.
Aggressive blogging. Sounds kind of like a sport, huh? 🙂
I constantly tell myself, when checking on a new Like or Follow person (usually another blogger), not to envy them their traffic, comments, and likes – that so many are playing the follow-back game.
I don’t think it will lead them to new readers for their fiction – which is the only reason I would follow them back: if I like their work. It’s all about the work. Not about accumulating numbers of followers.
The only thing that will lead to readers for my fiction is finding the people who like my writing and the story I am choosing to tell.
I know there’s a tribe out there – but that is the one thing I’m having difficulty with: figuring out how to access them.
In a way, this is everyone’s problem: discoverability.
I’ll think of something, eventually. And it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to market until you have a final product, and not just book one of a trilogy (I’m starting to hate that word), but books two and three, and the possibility of an omnibus full edition. Especially because I’m such a slow writer.
But everyone in my family who knows I write just wants to know when it’s coming out – and is surprised that I’m still working on the same book so many years later. And a great number of the people who are a natural audience for this particular book, because of their life situation – are also less likely to have the energy to read it.
My consolation is the small but continuing group of people who seems to be waiting for each new scene to be polished and birthed (every Tuesday for well over a year now) – and the knowledge that it must be the story or the writing that’s hooked them, because they sure are NOT in my target demographic.
Very nice post, Chris – you have the readers perfectly sorted. Acute observations about bloggers, too.
It’s great to have a fan base waiting for your work. Sometimes, a person wasn’t in your target audience until your writing showed them how much they can like it. That must be a great feeling. 🙂