Finding your target audience, knowing where to promote posts, recipes and products and what channels to use to boost engagement and make sales, is an issue that often ties bloggers up in knots. It’s a skill all of its own to grow a thriving blog community with readers and subscribers that really get where you’re coming from. Yet it’s these loyal followers that will ultimately become your customers and will help you share your message through social media and recommendation. Here’s how to start finding your target audience and growing that blog.
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Today we’re talking about finding your audience for your blog, in fact, more specifically than that, your target audience – the readers you will seek out yourself and the area where you will aim your products and advertising.
Do you know the difference between audience and traffic?
Let’s say you’ve written a brilliant recipe for vegan lasagne and it’s going viral. Somebody influential somewhere shared it, and now your website is getting hit after hit after hit.
You check your Google analytics and you can see that your traffic is through the roof. So you decide that now is a really great time to push your newest product: an e-book on easy pasta recipes. It’s bound to sell if there’s this many people on your site, right? Wrong! You sell just 1.
For, while your website is definitely getting lots of traffic, hardly any of them are your audience. You focus on Italian food but the visitors to your blog today are all vegan. They’re looking for more websites that adapt popular dishes for vegan diets – and you’ve only got this one recipe. In fact, the rest of your site – and your e-book – involves lots and lots of cheese (good old Italian food!).
So, once they’ve salivated over your lasagne recipe, they realise that there are no more vegan options and LEAVE!
Finding your audience is a vital first step
Meanwhile, your 100 subscribers you’ve got on your mailing list ARE interested in Italian food. They came to your blog a while back and stayed for the gooey pasta recipes – cheese and all. A quick email out to them about your e-book immediately brings you 14 sales. You wish you’d just emailed them sooner, but your list seemed so small…
So what’s the difference?
The people on your mailing list are your audience. They’re there because they like your niche, your style and what you have to say. So you had a much bigger success than when you tried to pitch it to people who just dropped by once.
The viral visitors were just traffic; your subscribers are your audience. And there’s a huge advantage to having a strong, engaged audience:
an audience will comment and share your material, creating a community around your work. A community enables your ideas to live on, even perhaps after you’re gone. A community supports one another and bands together to further the aims of your blog. And a community is a great place to do some market research into what it is that your audience really wants from you.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Your blog visitors are just TRAFFIC; your subscribers are your AUDIENCE.” quote=”You blog visitors are just TRAFFIC; your subscribers are your AUDIENCE.”]
Related: Why You NEED an Email List
Don’t be too hasty
Of course, your blog can benefit hugely from getting a lot of traffic in one day, like the boost you can get in the all-powerful Google rankings; however, it’s usually short-lived glory as the traffic soon tails off. Either way, today we’re talking about finding that all-important target audience that will part with their hard-earned cash and help skyrocket your blog.
Related: How to Get Your Readers to Trust You
Finding your target audience
We’ve already discussed your audience; they are the people who regularly read your blog and turn to you for food advice. But even having a loyal audience is not quite specific enough; you’ll get an even higher conversion rate on your products if you target your readers yourself (this is why bloggers invest so much time and energy in sales funnels and warming up their mailing lists).
There are two huge bonuses to knowing your target audience:
#1 you can tailor your message, food and advice directly to them;
#2 you can seek them out for yourself and offer your unique solutions to their problems, just when they need it.
This means that next time you want to launch a product, you can pitch it to exactly the right people at exactly the right time and reap the benefits in terms of sales. Neat, huh?
Related: How Food Bloggers Make Money!
So, how do I find them?
Ah, the crux of the matter. Where are they hiding, this future fan club of yours?
First of all, you have to define your target audience, your ideal customer, your customer persona, your “client avatar”.
And we’re going to do this by thinking of how your passion and position in the field combines with your readers’ interests and what help they need. It’s a balancing act between attracting the right sort of people in the first place, and constantly modifying your products so that you’re best meeting their needs. So it may need some compromise.
Your place in the grand scheme of things
Think about what you know about your current readers, what you enjoy writing about (because you’ll need this enthusiasm to maintain your work) and where you see yourself fitting into the blogging world.
For example, I could have started Food Blogging Collective as a resource for ALL bloggers and called it The Blogging Collective, instead. But I chose to focus on food, because #1 I’m a food blogger and #2 I struggled to find information for my own work all in one place and #3 there are still very few blogs out there that deal with growing just food blogs, but plenty focussed on blogging in general.
Therefore, I tailor all my posts to helping food bloggers grow. If bloggers from other niches want to read too, then – great, that’s up to them (they’re my audience)! But I’m not going to write posts or create products specifically for them, or I’d lose you foodie guys (you’re my target audience)!
By the way – are you signed up to the Food Blogging Collective email list yet? Every week I send out my Weekly Wonders which are sneaky tips to help you send your blog through the roof. And the best part is: they’re reserved JUST FOR MY SUBSCRIBERS! Are you missing out?!
So, my current readers (you) are probably food bloggers and they are just beginning or just starting to grow, and want to know which methods work best for food blogs. They are not getting 1 million hits a month – or they’d be teaching me a thing or two! Rather, they are small-mid scale and feel a bit overwhelmed with the sheer number of ways you can approach the blogosphere.
What about your readers? What do you know about them?
[clickToTweet tweet=”How well do you really KNOW your readers?” quote=”How well do you really KNOW your readers?”]
It’s at this point that business coaches like to get really specific. They’ll ask you whether your reader is male or female, how old they are, what hobbies they have, what their level of education is – and much more. Trust me, I know; I’ve been there and paid their bill. However, I feel that this might be a little too specific for you to start with; rather a more general idea about what kinds of people read your recipes is needed, unless it is particularly prudent to note (e.g. in the case of baby-food blogs designed for new mums).
Making the leap from audience to target audience
BUT of course not all of my information is even relevant to all my audience. One food blogger might choose Pinterest to grow, while another might choose Instagram. One might write restaurant reviews while the next develops gluten-free recipes.
You see how specific you can get?
So if I decide to write a course on how to set up your food-blog Pinterest account properly (it’s in the pipelines, I promise!) then it’s no good marketing it to the Instagram-user; while they technically are part of my audience, they are not the target audience of that product. And they’re not likely to purchase it either, so I’m wasting my time pitching to them.
So, where do they hang out?
Now that you know what kind of person is reading/will read your work, and how you can help in the wider world, you can answer the really BIG question: where does your target audience hang out? This is where the demographics can help; obviously there are certain age groups that use certain channels of social media more than others – so it’s worth having this in the back of your mind when you answer this question. But, as we’re all food bloggers here, it’s safe to say that the main source of traffic for food has to be Pinterest since it’s so visual. And let’s face it, people were pinning recipes on their boards long before food blogging became as popular as it is today.
However, if you are a food photographer, you might prefer Instagram as a channel for connecting with your audience and if you are a health/nutrition coach, then you might prefer Facebook – even having a Facebook group – so that you can speak directly with your followers and run interactive challenges.
This is why it’s so important to know who you are talking to before you choose where to do it. And the next time you launch a kitchen product, a recipe book, a cookery course or seminar, consider first who will be paying for it – and pitch only to them.
A really contentious point
Think of this point as niching down – but with people! Don’t be afraid to CUT PEOPLE OUT if they are NOT your target audience. Yup, it’s ok to lose a few luke-warm followers if you can really focus on the ones that are hot, hot, hot. And yes, that does seem counterproductive. But all of the big blogging gurus – in the food field and elsewhere – will tell you that it’s the key to your success.
Why write a recipe for lasagne when you can write one for vegan lasagne? Why write a post on growing your blog when you can write one on growing your food blog? Pare down your field – and your audience – as much as possible and you will soon find that your engagement and sales go up.
A final note
If you are stuck as to what products you should be creating and you don’t know what it is that your audience needs, then: ask them. Conduct a poll, send out questionnaires, pay attention on your social media and answer ALL comments on your blog. It’s first-hand market research, and it’s FREE.
Comment below and share your target audience with us!