Once you’ve figured out who your audience is, it becomes much easier to determine whether or not content is appropriate for your site. The simple question of whether or not it appeals to this group is enough to decide whether or not it should be posted on the site.
Obviously, if your audience is broad, you have the potential to reach a very wide audience of readers, which is a good thing. However, broad generalizations rarely resonate with your readers. If I write a very, very general post about personal finance issues that tries to encompass everyone, I’ll bore almost my entire audience by either writing something too basic to be useful or too broad to be worthwhile.
The key to getting around this problem is defining a number of “mini” audiences. Whenever you write a post for a blog with a wide general audience, you are going to strongly engage a segment of the audience and very weakly engage other segments of the audience. If you want to keep the weakly engaged segments around, you need to regularly write posts that will deeply engage them as well.
Here are some ideas that will help you define and write for audiences within your audience.
Make a list of sub-interests within your topic. Within your area, what are some of the specific sub-topics that you write about? For me, I have a plethora of them: frugality, debt management, financial planning, investment advice, and so on. What are yours? Often, this will overlap strongly with a list of categories for your site.
Occasionally, check that you’re writing posts for each of these sub-topics. If there’s one you’ve neglected lately, that’s likely an area that you can focus on in the near future. Even better: giving yourself a very narrow focus for a new post can often fuel your creative juices.
Follow the interests in as many subtopics as you can. Someone out there is likely writing about a specific sub-topic that you want to include. Bookmark that blog or subscribe to its feed and follow what they’re saying. For example, professional blogging as an income stream is one topic that I follow for The Simple Dollar, so I keep in touch with sites like ProBlogger. Another example? I like to write about money saving technologies, so I also follow Lifehacker. I also write about parenting issues as they relate to money lessons and saving money, so I keep tabs with parent hacks.
Write occasional posts for specific or even individual readers. If a writer writes to you with a specific question or idea, it’s almost always a good idea to see if this will transform into a post. Often, the person emailing you has hit upon some sort of specific niche that isn’t being covered at the moment by your blog – but nearby niches are, which means that there are readers out there that you could intensely engage with a post that touches on the topic of the reader’s contact.
Building a Better Blog for 2007 is a month-long series at The Simple Dollar, outlining steps you can take to build a long-term healthy blog that will attract readers. Jump ahead to the next essay, Don’t Chase Away Your Readers, or back to the previous one, Search Engine Optimization Doesn’t Matter.