If you write or ghostwrite blogs, you need a blog reader profile. That’s it. The end. Okay, not really the end, but it sounded punchy.
“Know your audience” is a something you’ve probably heard before. Whether you’re giving a speech, writing a book, or talking to a friend, communication depends on being able to express yourself to others in a way they understand.
Speaking the same language helps, but it isn’t always enough. Even though you and your audience understand, speak, and read in English, that doesn’t mean they’ll get your message.
Why? Because language is about both the words you use and how you use them. I can ask someone to join me on my postmeridian constitutional, but that’s a lot different than taking an evening walk.
Think of educational texts. Students learn about the same civil war in the 3rd grade that they do in the 12th, but are they reading the same thing? Of course not. The writers who create school texts write for their audience, and they know exactly who that audience is. Though the topic is the same, the products they create are very different.
The same should be true of your blog. You have to write in a language that your audience understands. You have to speak to them in the manner they want to be spoken to, and with a style they find comfortable.
So how do you know how to talk to your audience? How do you know who that audience is? How do you know what to say to them?
If you haven’t already done so, you should create a blog reader profile. A reader profile gives you a clear idea of the audience that is otherwise hidden behind the wall of anonymity that is the interwebs. A profile is just a mental image given a physical—or at least digital—form.
Here’s how you make one.
If you’ve ever played Dungeons and Dragons, you know how to make a blog reader profile. Yes, I’m serious. If you know what I’m talking about, bear with me for a moment while I initiate the novices.
Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, is a roleplaying game that only exists on paper and in the heads of the players. Players create characters, such as warriors, clerics, thieves, or mages (wizards). To create these characters, players choose what they want to be, role dice to determine abilities, and write everything down on a character sheet. This sheet contains every detail about the character, such his/her health, intelligence, skills, background, money, equipment, and everything else needed to enter the rather complicated imaginary world that is D&D.
Your blog reader profile is a character sheet. Where a character sheet lists intelligence, your reader profile shows how educated your average reader is. Where your character sheet details how much money your character has, your reader profile shows how much your average reader earns or what his/her socioeconomic background is.
How do you know all this? Like your D&D character, you make it up. Partially. You know what your blog is about, you know who is interested in the topics you’re interested in, and you have a good idea of what those people want. And what you don’t know you can research. After all, you have access to the greatest collection of knowledge in the history of the world.
You can customize your profile however you like. You can include a photo, make it multiple pages, write an extended biography, whatever. The simple acts of having that profile available, knowing who that average reader is, and explaining you topic in a way you think that specific reader will understand will help you instantly. It will help you write, it will help your readers understand, and it will give your blog a consistent voice and style.
As I said, you can include all the details you like when you create a reader profile. And don’t be surprised if you start really enjoying the process either. (Just ask the people who, even in the age of video games, still play Dungeons and Dragons.) Here is what I typically include in my blog reader profiles:
Got the idea? Even if you don’t use every category above, or include new categories of your own, filing out even a simple profile can be a lot of help. It can also be a lot of fun.