Who Are You Writing For? – Developing A Content Strategy, Step 1

So it’s day one of the content strategy training and you may be surprised to hear that we’re not diving in and planning post topics right away. There’s something a lot more important to consider first: who are you writing for?


You might think you already know the answer to this simple question. And you could go ahead and plan your content before you work on this, but you could be wasting your time if you’re not narrowing down the idea of your “ideal customer”.

Hint: It’ll also help to take previous content you’ve written and judge it to see if you’re writing it with the right people in mind!

[tbpquotable]When you truly understand your ideal customer, you can focus your content on solving their problems.[/tbpquotable]

Finding Your Ideal Customer

If you try to please absolutely everyone with your content then you might do OK, but it’s unlikely you’ll really connect deeply with anyone. If, on the other hand, you hone in on a specific sub-audience within your niche then you can get to the heart of what really matters to them, and understand their frustrations, desires and needs. If you can do that, then you’ll find people who really want what you’re going to give them!

You probably already know your broad audience. For me with this site, it’s for people who need help with content marketing. But that’s still too broad!

Here are some questions to ask yourself to narrow it down:

  • Is your ideal customer male or female?
  • How old is your ideal customer?
  • What level of education do they possess?
  • Are they tech-savvy?
  • What’s their average yearly income?
  • Do they have children?
  • Where are they from?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What matters most to them in life?

When you answer these questions, you can either answer them based on a real-life customer who you know represents your target audience, or you can answer them based on what you want your target audience to look like. It’ll probably end up being a combination of the two.

And remember, not all of your readers and customers are going to fit into the exact picture you paint here, but it’ll be the answers you give to these questions that shape the direction you take with all of the content you put out there.

Now you put together a few sentences describing your ideal customer. Here’s a fictional example:

My ideal customer is a college-educated woman aged between 30-50 who has children still at home. She earns a modest income, which she wants to supplement by making crafts at home, but she doesn’t have much time or money to spend on learning.

Getting to the Heart of What Matters to Your Audience

Now that you’ve answered those all-important questions, you’ve got a good fictional representation of your ideal customer. Next we’re going to use this to figure out how to solve their frustrations, desires and needs – those three crucial elements that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. But don’t worry – we’ll save that until next time so you don’t have too much homework to do!

Your Homework: Go through the questions mentioned above and then come up with 2-5 sentences describing your ideal customer.

Look out for the next step in the training on Thursday!


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14 thoughts on “Who Are You Writing For? – Developing A Content Strategy, Step 1

  1. Patti Stafford says:

    One thing in the worksheet that stuck out at me was looking to see which posts you get the most comments on. I don’t have to look at my stats, it’s obvious to me. As you know, I cover a lot about content and blogging too, but I also cover other IM or business stuff. However, the stuff I get the most comments on is about the struggles or the mindset posts, what we deal with in those areas.

    I’m thinking I should cover that more and maybe even re-analyze who I’m writing for and why. Maybe I am an authority on the human side of things instead of on the content side or business side.

    • Ruth says:

      Patti – Glad to hear you had a breakthrough, that’s really interesting to hear – look forward to reading more of that stuff from you 😉

  2. Tamala says:

    Loved this post!!!! It’s so important to get as specific on your vision as possible and in this case knowing your target audience so to grow your online biz. You provided a great example as well that made it very clear on how we should really identify our target audience. I look forward to your post on how to reach your target audience.. where do find them. 🙂 I’m looking forward to that one.

  3. Timothy Torrents says:

    Really great post Ruth! I was actually thinking about the same concept earlier today. It is very important to learn how to target a certain audience. I remember a couple years back when I made a blog I kept writing blog posts that are completely unrelated and as you could have imagined the traffic was completely useless. I don’t want that to happen again with my new website! So I guess I have to think of the audience that I want to target and tailor articles specifically for them. Thanks for reminding me to do this! You probably just saved me from making the same mistake that I made a couple years ago. Great post!

    • Ruth says:

      Timothy – I know what you mean about blogging on unrelated topics. It’s fine if it’s for enjoyment, but if we want to make something of our blog then it helps to have a target audience in mind. That’s not to say that post topics can’t still be varied, but there will at least be something pulling it all together.

    • Ruth says:

      Lisa – I am guilty of ignoring this is the beginning too! In fact it wasn’t until I started this blog only a few months ago that I really went through and thought about the exact details of my target audience!

  4. Bonnie Gean says:

    Brilliant writing, Ruth!

    Even though I know who my target market is, I’m going to do the exercises with the rest of the crew! There’s always a chance that I will learn something new!

    Thanks for doing this!

  5. Pingback: What’s the Problem? – Developing A Content Strategy, Step 2

  6. Edie Dykeman says:

    I learned the hard way a while back on Elder Care Café when someone left a comment letting me know I didn’t really know what my readers preferred. I was doing a series of movie reviews once a week, and the woman said something like how do you know what movies the elderly watch. When I thought about it, I realized she was right. We all have our own likes and dislikes. I haven’t worked through your checklist yet, but will today. I think it is very important to know who we are writing for.

    • Ruth says:

      Edie – Interesting to hear your experience, it can be hard to know sometimes what our audience likes depending if WE are our own target audience or not. I guess it takes practice, definitely does for me too.

  7. Fran Civile says:

    I was glad to find out you were doing this Ruth – I’ve been following you for a long time and have grown to trust your ideas.

    I’m planning a couple of blogs on fitness and healthy eating but I still can’t give up on this IM blog. Since Feb.2009 I’ve made so many mistakes about targeting an audience and writing content, I consider it my practice blog!


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