From ‘Everyone’ to ‘Someone:’ 5 Ways to Figure Out Your Target Audience

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When it comes to your blog, it helps to know who you're talking to. The people you're actually reaching are your audience. But the people you want to reach? Those are your target audience. In a perfect, the people reading your blog and the people you want to read it are one and the same. But sometimes it doesn't work out that way. Today's article is all about making sure your demographics aren't an accident. Because it's not about speaking to every reader. It's about speaking to the right reader.

1. Start by taking a look at your stats.

I really like Quantcast for this purpose as it digs deep into reader-level stats. What you're trying to do now is determine if the people reading the blog are the people you want reading (i.e. are you talking to who you think you're talking to?). That might sound a bit strange at first. After all, isn't any reader a ‘good' reader?. But if you think you're talking to an American audience of women in their late 20's and it turns out you're actually talking to a German audience of women in their late 30's (purely hypothetical example), that's useful information to have.

2. Now that you know who's actually reading your blog, be specific about who you want to read it.

The “specific” part is key here. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it's easier to write a blog post for one person than it is to write a blog post for 1,000 people. Getting hyper-focused on the kind of people you want to talk to is critical for knowing and reaching your target audience. Many bloggers go wrong here by making their target audience of people they want to reach way too broad. “Women,” for example, is not a target audience. Neither is “people who love fashion.”  The reason is because both those categories are so broad they're almost meaningless. Think about it… people who shop at Bergdorf's and people who shop at Forever21 are probably women who love fashion. But the types of articles either group of shoppers wants to read is likely to very different. Ask yourself if your readers are high school students, college students, or post-grads. Are they fast fashion focused or do they prefer eco-friendly fashion and sustainable goods? Are they city dwellers, suburban, or rural? Are they fashion newbies or fashion veterans? You want your readers to feel like you get them…because you do. And all these questions help you get who your target audience is. One quick note. You don't have to decide all of this all at once. Take as much as time as you need.

3. Feeling stuck? Use fashion magazines as inspiration.

Every magazine represents a different target audience. Are you a Vogue or a Seventeen? A Glamour or a Lulu? A Bust or an Elle? All of these magazines cover similar and often overlapping topics (specifically in the areas fashion, beauty, and lifestyle), but they do it in different ways because they're all talking to slightly different audiences. Just as important (because we all know fashion magazines don't represent everyone), think about what periodicals you wish you could read but that aren't available. Would you like if there was a petite fashion magazine? How about a fashion mag just for women sized 20 and above? Use your imagination to help you figure out your core group of readers.

4. Double check that your target audience is a good fit for you.

It can be glamorous and exciting chasing trends for a little bit, but after awhile it stops being fun. That's when burnout happens. And if you've already developed an audience by then, you can start feeling trapped into your content. That's a bad thing because if your blog isn't inspiring you anymore, why do it? Be honest about what you're passionate about and what you want to talk about. Again, specificity is good. Not every blog has to be a style blog; going after a niche audience is great too. If you love jewelry, write a jewelry blog. If hairstyles are your thing, focus on that. If it's all handbags, all the time…great. Any subject you love can provide endless topic ideas. There's also value in being a subject matter expert, especially in the increasingly-crowded field of fashion blogging. Basically, make sure you'll never grow tired of talking about this particular topic to your audience.

5. Be careful of borrowing too heavily from other fashion bloggers.

Someone else's target audience does not have to be your target audience. In fact, it shouldn't be. Susie Bubble…Man Repeller…BryanBoy, these are all great bloggers, but don't make the mistake of going after the exact same target audience they are. Ask what can people get from you that they can get from nowhere else. Give your readers a reason to come to you in particular. There's always room for another unique voice in fashion blogging. You just have to be confident enough to find it your own.

Finally (and this doesn't quite fit into anything else above), be okay with change. As you grow and develop and mature – both as an adult and as a fashion blogger – it makes sense that your target audience will grow and develop and mature as well. That's a good thing, and it's one of the perks of fashion blogging. Instead of being trapped into one audience like a fashion mag, bloggers can change audiences as they themselves change. It's not unusual for a long-lived blog to tweak it's target audience every few years. Being dynamic and responsive is part of being a great fashion blogger.

How did you find your target audience? Do you have any other advice for bloggers trying to find theirs? Let's talk about it in the comments.

Visit Cora at her blog: The Lingerie Addict

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27 Responses

  1. Grechen

    to a certain extent, they will come to you – especially after your blog is established and starts to rank highly on google for your key search terms.

    but in the mean time, forums and other blogs are a good way to find your audience – they will click over to your content if your comments/interactions are useful and relevant.

    also, in every aspect of blogging, patience is key 🙂

    Reply
    • Cora Harrington

      Hi Grechen!

      I completely agree.

      When I started blogging, there were maybe 5 lingerie blogs and none of them looked anything like mine (they were very image heavy and I was more text heavy). They were all, of course, way more popular than I was, because they were older.

      Instead of stressing out about that, I focused on writing the kind of blog I wanted to read. That built up search equity, and as people found my site organically, they shared and talked about it with their friends. It certainly didn’t happen quickly, but like you said, patience is key.

      –Cora

      Reply
    • Cora Harrington

      Hi Monica,

      That’s an interesting observation. How did you discover you had a different target group?

      –Cora

      Reply
  2. Andrew

    Some great advice 🙂 love this post. I am always finding different tips to help progress my blog so thanks again! :)So important not to be too broad. The more specific you are, the more you will please that demographic. And even though it’s easy (I have been guilty of this), you shouldn’t borrow too much from other bloggers. People will read your blog for you, not the style of someone else.

    http://www.theinclub.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Cora Harrington

      Definitely! It’s so important to be yourself. At the very least, imitating others takes way too much energy. Thanks for commenting!

      –Cora

      Reply
  3. These Stylish Streets

    this is really helpful. i started blogging at the beginning of the year and I am still finding my way. this is great for recognising the audience you want to get in front of as so many people just concentrate on getting in front of anyone and everyone that will listen.

    Reply
    • Cora Harrington

      Congrats on starting your new blog! You’re spot on. It’s not about getting anyone and everyone to read your blog. It’s about getting the people that are the best fit for what you have to say. Thanks for your comment!

      –Cora

      Reply
  4. Kajsa J. Andersen

    Comments are my source of getting to know what my readers like. Creating content that the readers like are my number 1 priority. The feedback I get from them really helps.

    I try to stay away from over-thinking or stress too much. Putting effort in communication is just as valuable.

    http://kjandersen.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • Cora Harrington

      Good point…especially if you have readers willing to tell you what they want to see more of in the comments. Like you said, it should always go back to what your readers want to see more of. They’re my #1 priority too.

      Thanks for commenting,
      Cora

      Reply
  5. Kathleen Lisson

    Knowing my target reader has really helped me to focus in on what topics to cover in my blog.

    Equally important, I know when NOT to stress over low numbers on social media services. I stopped wondering why my Bloglovin follows were so low when I looked into advertising on the service – 50% of all users are UNDER 22, with the peak ages on their graph seeming to be 14 – 17 year olds. http://www.bloglovin.com/advertising
    My blog is nothing like the seventeen magazines I used to love reading as a teenager, so why should I focus on growing that audience?

    Now I don’t worry as much about increasing my bloglovin’ numbers and concentrate on developing good content for my target readers – women who attend polo, horse racing, opera and evening events.

    Reply
    • Cora Harrington

      Hi Kathleen,

      That is a *really* good point…I’m glad you made it. Knowing which platforms are the best fit for your blog and having appropriate expectations is very important for setting goals.

      Thanks for commenting,
      Cora

      Reply
  6. Hey Mishka

    This is awesome advice, especially #3. It’s hard to determine how to craft your content when you’re just ruminating over who your target audience is, but when you think of it editorially, things become a little more clear.

    Reply
  7. Lauren Haber

    I love this article. Identifying a target audience is so important when starting a blog. Understanding who you are trying to speak to is part of being a good writer, whether it is within a blog or otherwise. The one thing (IMO) that is missing from this article is once you have identified your target audience, how do you show them the content you have created? Aside from social media and such, if other blogs like yours don’t exist, how do you show your target audience that you have created content that would be suitable for them?

    Just a thought!

    Lauren // thepearshape.com

    Reply
    • Cora Harrington

      Hi Lauren!

      I didn’t forget. It was a very deliberate omission. That’s because I believe identifying the target audience for your content is a very different thing from content promotion, which, of course, could take up pages and pages on its own.

      There’s value in identifying who you want to talk to (and why) before thinking about how you will promote your content. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into the trap of just blogging about what happens to be popular at any given time because it’s easy to promote. And that’s the kind of accident this blog post is all about avoiding.

      Thanks for your comment,
      Cora

      Reply
  8. Seppy

    Great post! Thanks Cora !!
    As a new blogger, I am still struggling to figure out not only my target audience but also just generally…the content of my blog!! There are so many things I want to do and talk about but then I’m wondering if I should be just focusing on ONE aspect… but then I worry about being unique since there are already so many fashion blogs out there! It’s kinda intimidating and overwhelming trying to figure all this out…! Any suggestions?

    http://www.seppysmontreal.com

    Reply
  9. Ashley “Ashe” Robison

    “It can be glamorous and exciting chasing trends for a little bit, but after awhile it stops being fun. That’s when burnout happens. And if you’ve already developed an audience by then, you can start to feel trapped within your own content”

    Oh, lawd, does Point #4 resonate with me!! While I think overall that my audience is a good fit for me, I sometimes worry about their reactions to any changes that I would want to make with content as I’ve grown and changed…it’s a double edged sword, that’s for sure.

    (And welcome, Cora! So excited to see you here on IFB 🙂

    Reply
  10. Anxhela

    This post was really helpful. I always feel like I am playing catch up with my blog and other bloggers. I want to branch out and start doing outfit’s post but I always have in the back of my mind that I will be to busy to have time take photos, edit and upload I don’t know how the elite bloggers do this. Also good you do a post on how to host our own conferences or blogger meet ups what we need, like a how to plan,etc. Kind of like the Texas style council something one can do locally in their own city. I have looked all over online and haven’t been able to find anything helpful. Thanks and keep up the good work.

    Reply
  11. greenstilettosgirl

    Thanks for these tips. I certainly agree regarding a clear niche or vision, which for me is putting glam into green! Key learning point: “Wherever they are, GO TO them, don’t make them always come to you. Try new ways of interaction and see which one works best for you and your readers. If something isn’t working, don’t spend more time on it, move on. With social media now, the conversation won’t just stay on your blog, so you’ll have to go where it IS.”

    Reply
  12. Zebedeerox

    Hi, Cora – thanks for another great IFB article.

    I’ve no fashion for passion – indeed, if my wife knew I was commenting on a fashion blog, she’d laugh until her abdomen snapped – but the blogging advice is always technically sound, here. This article just another fine example.

    Content Marketing has become fashionable to blog about again this week (where did that come from?) and this article sits alongside so sweetly.

    It’s the specificity (great word) that’s got me intrigued. When you’re setting out blogging, any reader is like a starry diamond in the midnight sky. A comment a positive comet.

    When you start to build a galaxy of readers, it’s hard to differentiate between them from afar, without getting out your telescope and seeing if they just make the sky look pretty or whether you’re going to get a positive energy from them.

    It’s time to ditch the dwarves, suss the supernovae and decipher which sector’s going to hold the giants that make your blogging worth while. You could be lucky enough to maybe even nurture a nebula or two and shape their stellar growth.

    If, however, none of the stars shine brightly enough or the niche looks like it’s gonna turn into a black hole and suck everything in around it, including your spirit as you allude to, you’re right – it’s time to hit warp drive and find another solar system to blog in.

    And, no, I don’t know where the cosmic analogy suddenly came from, either; I certainly didn’t planet.

    On that note, Cora, I’m definitely off – cracking blog post, with poignant takeaway points – 5-star!

    Reply
  13. Juliana Bui

    This post has helped me so, so much. I just started a blog so now, this post made me realise that narrowing down my target audience is so important, and I’ll definitely be doing that as soon as I can. Thank you so much for sharing, Cora!

    – Juliana
    http://cocoandpicasso.blogspot.ca/

    Reply
  14. Bethany

    I’m more like Bust without the strong feminist views. What is a similar magazine that I can look at for inspiration?

    Reply
  15. FashionPeekaboo

    “There’s always room for another unique voice in fashion blogging. You just have to be confident enough to find it your own.” – thanks a lot for this inspiration. After a year of blogging i just started to calculate this point…Wish me good luck!)))

    Reply