Quick quiz for business bloggers: In one sentence, describe the audience for your blog.
If you had your answer ready, you’re ready to write must-read content for your customers. If you had to stop and think about who your audience is, or if you said “everybody,” it’s time to get a clear picture of your readers so you can create more effective content.
In both cases, the key is to research, build, and use buyer personas.
Write for a Specific Persona
If you aced the quiz, it’s because you have a customer persona. Personas are like character sketches for marketers and bloggers. They define types of audience members by their interests, age range, online behaviors, and shopping habits.
You create personas based on data from your site analytics, social media monitoring, site-visitor surveys, and interviews with your readers and customers. If you’re just starting out, research the types of people you’d like to have in your audience.
Start with the persona that represents the largest part of your audience. Let’s say you have a blog for your hobby farming supply business. Your primary persona might be a retired banking executive (let’s call her Daisy) in her early 60s whose partner is also retired. She recently bought a vintage farmhouse on a small acreage. Her interests are raising flowers and herbs for market and she’d also like to set up a duck pond and a rental cottage on her property. Daisy likes to carefully research purchases and she prioritizes quality over price.
Here’s a sample persona template you can use to create your own website personas:
Speak the Same Language as Your Customers
Whoever your persona is, write in a voice that they’ll understand.
Let’s stick with the hobby farm supply example for a bit. Maybe your background is in agribusiness. Daisy, your retired banking-executive persona, won’t know the ag jargon that you do. She searches for terms like “how much to feed ducks,” not “how to formulate balanced poultry rations.” Include the keywords she’s likely to use in your posts to show her you’re speaking to her, so she’ll stick around.
Bonus: Better SEO is a natural outcome of using the phrases your personas use.
Not sure how your persona talks about or searches for their interests?
- Look at your blog and social media comments and email messages from your customers.
- Monitor your Google Search Console data to see which keyphrases bring readers to your blog.
- And check out other blogs, vlogs, and podcasts in your niche.
The goal isn’t to copy anyone else’s voice but to connect with prospective customers by speaking their language.
Tailor Post Length to Your Audience and Your Goals
How long should your business blog posts be? That depends on your goals for each post and the time your persona has to read it.
Daisy is retired and has time to focus on her interests, but an audience of mid-career professionals with small children will have less time to read. Short and long posts both have their place on your posting schedule, but you’ll want to skew toward what your audience prefers.
The Case for Short Blog Posts
Short blog posts of at least 300 words are a great way to tackle niche topics. That’s good for readers who want specific information. It’s also good for SEO, because narrowly focused posts can help you rank well for longtail search phrases. For example, if the persona you’re writing for is a pet rabbit owner, it’s going to be hard to rank well for “rabbit care,” which generates more than 443 million results. By going into more detail with posts on “elderly rabbit grooming,” “safe chew toys for rabbits,” “how to build a rabbit castle” and so on, you’re more likely to reach readers searching for those topics.
You can later compile all your short posts on one topic into a PDF to give away to readers who join your list.
The Case for Long Blog Posts
Long posts—1,000 words and more—are more challenging to write and require a bigger time commitment from you and your customers. Long content typically does well in search results, so it’s worth your time to create at least a few.
These can be mega-posts that combine and expand on previous short posts. They can also be new content, like a list or a how-to guide, to promote an upcoming launch or new product. For example, if you’re preparing to start selling an online course, a long post that includes a sample of the class material can help prospective students decide to register.
Take your time writing and editing long posts to make sure they deliver what your personas want to know, using the same language they do.
And if you’re planning a product launch, review your current site hosting plan to make sure it can handle launch-related spikes in traffic. You may want to upgrade to a more powerful plan like HostGator Cloud Hosting for more speed and bandwidth, and add on CodeGuard daily backup service to easily restore your site if your launch-prep site changes temporarily break things.
Pace Your Blog Posts Properly
Ask your readers how often they want to hear from you, then build a calendar to match your persona’s preferences. If you don’t have a big audience yet, remember that most people are happy to read one or two new posts a week from a blog they value. Less than that is probably okay, too.
Too-frequent posts may overwhelm subscribers and lead them to drop your blog. Save daily posting for when you can hire help, have a large audience, and have specific marketing goals that require lots of new content.
Keep an eye on your blog, email, and sales metrics. Over time, you should see how your publishing schedule affects page views, time on the site, email opens and clickthroughs, unsubscribes, and conversions. Tweak the schedule if you need to so your readers stick around.
Close with a Call to Action
What separates good bloggers from great bloggers? Great bloggers who build thriving online communities and businesses have a clear goal for each blog post before they write it.
Before you write, decide what you want your readers to do when they reach the end of your post. Do you want them to join your email list? Share your post? Buy your duck brooders?
Once you know, ask them to do it. Don’t assume it’s obvious. Life is filled with distractions, so make your calls to action clear: Join the list. Get the book. Register now. Reserve your appointment.
There’s one other benefit to building personas before you blog. It helps to make your posts more conversational and builds rapport with your audience. So, whenever you’re ready to write, think about your persona, what they want to know, how much time they have to read, and the keywords they search for. Then you’re ready to write posts that will connect.