Writing an effective blog post takes time and effort. You need to do the proper research, provide enough information to make it useful, and make sure you are targeting the right audience. To accomplish all of that, there are three questions you need to ask every time you write a blog a post. Everything you do on your blog should have a purpose and be highly targeted to your primary audience. The following questions will help you write a blog post that people want to read.
For Whom am I Writing?
Perhaps more important than anything else, deciding who you are writing for will determine the rest of the post. To do this you need to know your target audience. Most small businesses think they know their target audience. If you ask, they’ll tell you it “Men, between the ages of 18 and 35, who want to grow their website or blog traffic.” This seems like it’s a pretty good target audience. Only, who is this person?
The problem is simply that the target audience is far too general. While it might seem targeted, it’s really not. Your blog post should speak to a single person, not a group. Customer personas are the way to accomplish this. A persona is simply a fictitious person that represents your target audience. They can get rather complicated and detailed, with photos and descriptions of their personal and professional lives. There is no need for you go crazy with personas, though. Most small businesses need only 2-3 personas and can define them quite easily. Here are twelve questions to get you started.
- Male or female?
- Age (not a range, but an actual age)?
- Marital status (single, married, divorced, etc.)
- Education level and area of study.
- Current job, does he like it, what is he doing?
- How does his describe himself?
- What are his goals and aspirations?
- What prevents him from achieving his goals and aspirations?
- Why does he want to buy your product or service?
- How will he benefit from your product or service?
- Why might he be hesitant to buy your product or service?
- What is his name (give him a real name, not something generic)?
With these questions you can start to understand the person for whom you are writing. You might end up with something like, “John is a 28-year-old account manager for Ogilvy in New York City making $62,700 a year, and has a BA in Marketing from the University of Oregon. He spends his evenings during the week trying to build up his link building business. On the weekends he hang out with his friends at the local sports bar. He is tech savvy and understands websites, but doesn’t have the time or detailed knowledge to build out his website. He want his link building business to be successful so he can quit his job with Ogilvy. He has heard of web developers not delivering whats promised, taking too long and increasing the cost so he is concerned about hiring a company to build his website.”
This is quite detailed, but that’s the point. John is the person you are writing for and you need to know and understand him. When you write your blog post, you should ask yourself if John will read it and find it useful. Over time, you will build out John’s persona with even more information and detail, and you’ll create other personas to help you market. Every post you right should target one of your personas.
You might be thinking that this means if you are writing for John then you are not writing for everyone else, and you would be correct. That’s the point. You have to let go of the idea that you can be all things to all people. You want to target your writing (and your products and services) to a very specific audience as represented by your personas.
Why Read My Post?
People read blog posts for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are simply curious or seeking something specific information. They might be looking for entertainment or just surfing the web. Whatever the reason, you need to determine why they should read your post. More specifically, why should John, or whomever your target persona is, read your post.
The reason should be crystal clear to everyone‚Äö√Ñ√Æyou and your reader. If you aren’t sure why someone should read your post, that will show through. The reader will likely abandon the post (and your website) and move on to something with more clarity and direction. It’s important to tell the reader why they should read your post. You do this with a great headline, first and foremost, A great headline grabs the reader and holds them, and might looks something like these.
- To 10 […]
- How to Use […] to […]
- Don’t Do These 5 Things When […]
- Do You Make These 9 Mistakes?
- Secretes of [Famous Person or Famous Group]
What all of these headlines do is create tension, the feeling that you might be missing out on some special knowledge. They draw the reader in with the promise they will learn or gain something. One of the best headline formulas, however, takes this a step further and looks like this:
Primary Benefit ‚Äö√ú√≠ Time Frame ‚Äö√ú√≠ Primary Objection
Using information from your persona, you can develop a headline that will really appeal to your target audience. Such a headline might be, “How to Build a Website in 1 Day Even If You Don’t Know HTML” or “Generate 1000 Sales Leads in 30 Days Without a Website.” This type of headline not only promises something, but it does so within a certain period of time and overcomes any objection the reader might have. You know the benefits your persona seeks and his possible objections, so creating this headline should be fairly straightforward. If you need more inspiration, Copyblogger has some great advice here.
What is the Purpose of My Post?
Every blog post should have purpose. Your goal might be to get people to sign up for you newsletter. Or you might want them to attend a webinar or download a whitepaper so you can market to them more in the future. You could be doing market research. Perhaps you are just trying to increase traffic to your website through link bait. Whatever the reason for the blog post, make sure you define it.
Defining the reason will help you remain focused in your writing. It will also help you determine the best way to market your post. Will you email it out to your existing list, will you tweet it, will you guest post on another blog, etc. Everything you do on your blog should have a clear and defined purpose. Knowing what you want your readers to do will help you take them in the direction you want them to go.
Before you even start writing your blog post, ask yourself who you are writing for, why they will read your post, and what you want to accomplish with the post. Identifying the answers to these questions will help you craft a blog post that targets your primary audience, engages your readers and accomplishes your objectives.