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Reader Personas & Blogging

What They Are and Why You Need Them

If you aren't in publishing or marketing, you might not have heard the term "personas." Most of the time they are called "buyer personas" when you're talking about directly marketing to consumers. Reader personas are a cousin to the buyer persona, and can be a powerful tool in understanding your blog audience. This information can help shape your content strategy.
Why You Need A Reader Persona
So what is a persona? It's just this: a profile of your ideal reader. 
Knowing your audience—both who you're currently reaching and who you want to reach—helps you kick your blog into gear. It helps with SEO. It provides guidance for your content calendar and helps you shape your content so it's targeting the right audience. It helps you determine not only who is currently reading your site, but who you want to target with future content. 
Best of all, it provides ideal information to advertisers and sponsors, and shows you know your blog well. 
Here's how you go about determining your reader persona and how you can use it to make your blog better.
Start With Demographics
It's time to dive into your analytics. Start by taking a look at who you are currently reaching on your blog. 
• Average Age 
• Gender
• Location
• Race
It's good to get a sense of the makeup of your audience. And on that last point, if you don't have a racially diverse audience, you might want to ask yourself why.
Look At Your Metrics
Here's some additional info you'll need.
• Bounce Rate
• Search Terms
• Referring Sites
Social Data
Take a look at your social profiles as well, and gather the same demographic data I've listed above.
• Average Age 
• Gender
• Location
• Race
Add in the following:
• Click Through Rates
• Link Clicks
Your social media demographic info might be quite a bit different from your blog demographics. This is valuable information to have.
Survey Your Audience
Lastly, create a survey for your blog audience and your social following. Keep it short and to the point (and anonymous). This will give you even more information about your audience overall.
Start Building Your Persona
The first question you have to ask yourself is this: is the audience you're reaching the audience you want to be reaching? This is where the compiled data from above comes in. If your data shows that the majority of your audience is stay at home moms in their 30s but you actually want to be reaching working outside the home women, your targeting is off. 
So using the info you have about the audience you have AND the audience you want, you can begin to create your reader persona. Think of it like creating a character in a story: you want to know what they look like, how old they are, what the value, and what their hobbies are. Take a look at this guide about building a buyer persona and use it as a guideline.
You can create two personas if you like: one for the audience you have and another for the audience you'd like to have.
Now What?
Well, go forth and create content. You know the audience you have and the audience you'd like to grow into, so begin creating content for those personas. Use it as the foundation for your content calendar. Continue to check your stats for new information and to see if targeting your content to these personas is working. Think of it as guideposts for blogging, and you'll see the results.
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