Create a Reader Persona
Are you ready to launch a money-making blog? I’m excited to help you on this journey and show you the ropes.
I’ve been around the blogosphere for several years now. I published my first blog posts in 2013. I learned a ton from that first blog and made loads of mistakes. It took me years to make any income from it.
But, I didn’t give up. I started learning and experimenting. I invested in myself. And when I launched my second blog in 2015, I was ready. I’ve made a steady profit ever since then. In fact, in 2017, I averaged $2,300 a month.
What was different?
That’s what you will discover as you read this book. I share all the nitty-gritty details I learned about using a blog to generate income. I want you to walk away with everything you need to start strong.
Of course, it takes time to get all the pieces in place. Blogging is not a get-rich-quick plan. However, if you follow the steps I present, you won’t need to spend years trying to figure it out on your own.
Let’s get started.
Build Your Foundation
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a foundation is “an underlying basis or principle for something.” For a blogger, your foundation has two core components—who you’re writing for and what you’re writing about. In the rest of this chapter, I walk you through how to answer these two questions.
So, take the time now to think through your foundation-building process. Because if you don’t get your foundation in place, your blog will have no clear direction and won’t attract readers. Your readers are your potential customers. So, without readers, your chances of earning money from blogging will seriously diminish.
Who Is Your Blog For?
To make money from your blog, people must read it. Who will read your blog? Who are you writing for?
Don’t say everybody. You cannot write content that appeals to everyone. It’s not possible. There are millions of blogs online. If you try to attract everyone to yours, you will achieve the opposite.
No one will read it. They won’t know why they should.
You must figure out who your ideal reader is. This is crucial, and it’s a step I skipped with my first blog. I was writing for my family, but I also wanted to write about homesteading, homeschooling, and life in general.
I spent all my time writing for myself instead of for my readers. It’s no wonder my blog didn’t make any money for a long time.
I had no plan.
And as Benjamin Franklin said:
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Don’t plan to fail. Keep reading to learn how to identify an ideal reader for your blog.
What Are You Going To Blog About?
Before picking an ideal reader, you need to know what you want to blog about. This is your niche. Here are ten popular, money-making niches:
> Blogging/making money online
> Personal finance
> College prep/higher education
> Personal development
Are those the only niches you can pick to make money? No! There are plenty of bloggers making money in other niches, like Jennifer Maker. Her crafting blog now earns a full-time income. So, don’t feel limited by this list of niches. They’re just some of the most popular ones, not the only choices available.
What are you passionate about? As you create content for your blog, you will dedicate hours of your life every month to this topic. It’s a lot easier if you pick something you know about and care about.
To help you find your niche, get out a piece of paper and a pen. Spend a couple of minutes brainstorming topics you would like to write about.
When you finish, read over your list. Look for patterns. Do most of your topics fall under one main category? If so, congratulations. It looks like you have a starting niche.
If not, don’t worry. Spend a little more time thinking. See if any of the ideas on your paper spark other topic suggestions.
Think about the topics your family and friends ask you for advice about. Are you the go-to computer gal who provides better service than tech support? Do you know a lot about troubleshooting car problems? Are you a master organizer? Do you enjoy repurposing old items into something beautiful?
Use your skills and interests to help you pick a niche for your blog.
Three Common Fears About Picking A Niche
It’s common to feel nervous about picking a niche. I often hear people say:
1. I’m not an expert in any area.
2. What if I pick the wrong niche?
3. I have too many interests to pick just one.
People tend to use these excuses as a reason for not blogging. The fear of picking the wrong niche stops their progress completely.
Don’t let fear stop you from starting.
Fear #1: I’m Not an Expert
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be an expert at a topic to successfully blog about it.
You know why? Because even though a fourth grader doesn’t yet know everything, a fourth grader is an expert in the eyes of a second grader.
You have knowledge. You have skills. You know more than some people. Your unique insight is valuable.
So, your goal is to write to the people who can benefit from what you offer. There will always be people who know more than you, or who do more than you. Those people are not your ideal audience.
But there are others who need you. Write for them.
Fear #2: What If I Pick the Wrong Niche?
Picking the wrong niche is a very real possibility. You may not pick the perfect one right from the start. But if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never get the opportunity to learn from the experience. Picking the wrong niche brings you one step closer to finding the right one.
Here are some warning signs you picked the wrong niche:
1. Your posts aren’t getting shares, likes, or comments.
2. You don’t enjoy your topic.
3. You can’t easily brainstorm blog post ideas.
4. You can’t find any other bloggers making money in the niche you selected.
These signs all indicate that you may need to tweak your niche. Listen to your audience and your gut, then start tweaking. Many successful bloggers shifted their focus over time when they realized what they were doing wasn’t working anymore.
Alee King started The Beautified Life as a beauty and lifestyle blog, but she realized she didn’t want to write about this topic forever. Her true passion was in blogging and helping other moms create profitable blogs. She made the switch and her blog’s stats and profits soared.
Your niche isn’t set in stone. If you decide you picked the wrong one, shift your focus and pivot. You may lose some readers who decide they don’t like the new direction you’re taking, but that doesn’t matter. Losing readers who are no longer in your target market is okay.
Fear #3: I Have Too Many Interests
Humans are beings with multiple passions. You have many interests and skills. The thought of picking just one feels limiting.
Don’t worry that you’re locking yourself in a tiny box by picking a niche. Your readers will want to get to know you. As you share your story and interests on the blog, you can offer insight into other aspects of your life, as well.
Perhaps you could add a “behind the scenes” post every Friday. Or publish a round-up post of items you love every other Tuesday. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can try something and see if your audience likes it or not.
Just make sure you aren’t experimenting so often that no one remembers what the focus of your blog is.
In the introduction to this book, Sally shared how she struggled with having too many interests. Her solution was to find a common theme and write for one person. I talk more about how to identify your ideal reader later in this chapter.
Creating Your Ideal Reader
Once you have a general idea of what you want to write about, it is time to figure out who your audience is. You need to create an ideal reader persona for your blog.
This step helps you get to know your readers. The more you learn about who is reading your blog, the more you can help them. And when you provide helpful content, you pull in readers who stick around and share your content with their friends and followers.
Before you make any more plans for your blog, or create a single piece of content, you need to nail down your ideal reader. Everything you do on your blog should speak to this reader.
Writing a blog post: Is it a topic your reader cares about?
Building a product: Does it solve a problem your reader struggles with?
Sharing a blurb on social media: Will the words and images resonate with your reader?
Creating a graphic: Is the style one your reader enjoys?
Recording a video: Does it speak to your reader?
Every aspect of your blog must work together for a single purpose: to serve your reader.
Who Is Your Ideal Reader?
The more information you have about your reader, the easier it is to monetize your blog. As you think about your ideal reader, consider their characteristics. Here are five aspects to think about:
3. Social habits
4. Media habits
5. Money habits
In the following sections, I dive deeper into each of these five aspects. We’ve also created a free workbook that guides you through the steps to define your ideal reader and start your blog. You can download the workbook from the bonus area: sallyannmiller.com/bloggingbook
Demographics of Your Ideal Reader
Who is your ideal reader? Where do they live? What do they do? Demographics of your reader might include:
> Level of education
> Income level
The more you know about your ideal reader, the easier it is to craft content they will love. You need to dive deep into their personality. Here are some aspects of your reader’s personality to consider:
> What are their interests?
> What do they do in their spare time?
> What prominent personality traits do they have?
> What are three adjectives used to describe this person?
> What are your reader’s secret hopes and dreams?
> What would she most like to change about her life right now?
> What are her biggest problems or challenges?
> What keeps her awake at night?
> What kind of content would deliver exactly what she needs?
Next, make sure you know where your ideal reader hangs out. Which of these networks does your reader use? How often are they on each?
How will your ideal reader access your content?
> Which browser does your reader use?
> Do they favor a PC, tablet, or phone?
> Does your ideal reader prefer written, audio, or video content?
Lastly, think about your reader’s money habits. Here are some prompts to help you:
> What is your reader’s relationship with money?
> What problems would they gladly pay for someone else to solve?
> What are your reader’s favorite splurges?
> How does your reader primarily shop? (In the store? Online?)
> What stores does she frequent?
Creating a Persona Takes Time
Answering all these questions about your ideal reader won’t happen overnight. You may need to do some research, especially to learn more about social media use.
To research your audience, go where you think your target market is and start gathering data. Look at common questions on online forums like Quora. Check out questions in Facebook Groups or on other social media platforms. Read reviews of books you think your audience is reading on Amazon. See what information is missing, and what types of content they love.
If your friends are your ideal reader, talk to them. Spend some time chatting about hopes, dreams, challenges, and habits. Listen and learn.
As you gather more information, use it to write down everything you can about your reader. The more details you capture, the better.
Naming your reader helps make them more personable. Then write a paragraph or two describing this person.
Here’s an example:
Andrea is a thirty-two year old stay-at-home mom to her four young children. While she enjoys being home, she misses the career she had before having kids. She knows the budget could use a little boost and wishes there was some way she could earn money from home–without getting scammed.
But between dishes and laundry and the kids needing her, she doesn’t believe she has time to work. There’s just no margin in her life, and she’s constantly overwhelmed. Social media is a fun outlet, and she enjoys interacting with friends and family on Facebook. She spends quite a bit of time looking for ways to streamline life on Pinterest. She knows if she could just figure out this time thing, she would be unstoppable.
When you first create this persona, you may make some assumptions. And you may make them incorrectly.
It’s okay if this isn’t perfect. Your ideal reader may change over time.
You can always add more details and make changes as you go. Just don’t spend a ton of time creating content when you don’t know who it’s for.
Your ideal readers are out there. You just have to find them.
Throughout this book, I ask you to complete action steps. Please don’t skip the action steps. If you don’t act, you won’t see results. Having said that, don’t stress about racing to the finish line. This is your journey. So, take things at your own pace.
Starting a blog can be overwhelming. There’s a lot to learn and do. To help you break the process into more manageable steps, we’ve created a free workbook for you. The workbook covers the action steps you will find in this book and includes additional prompts to help you keep moving forward and tackle each step at the right time.
Download the workbook from the bonus area: sallyannmiller.com/bloggingbook
1. Answer the questions at the start of this chapter and pick a niche for your blog.
2. Follow the directions in this chapter to create a persona for your blog’s ideal reader.
You now have a clear picture of who you’re writing for and what you’re going to write about. You’re ready to share your passion with the world. In the next chapter, I teach you how to set up your blog so you can get started right away.