Developing your travel blog brand isn’t exactly a smash and grab job. Gone are the days when simply being a digital nomad was enough for people to take notice. Now there are thousands of people out there with the same idea: become a travel blogger and live a life of freedom and travel. How do you cut through all the noise? How do you make your travel blog stand out in an ever deeper digital sea of competitors?
Last month, Christa Thompson talked about finding your niche as a travel blogger and how to target potential partners in the tourism industry. Let’s take it one step further today and see how we can use audience personas to masterfully hone in on our über-awesome niche.
What is an Audience Persona?
Call it what you will—audience persona, reader profile, or buyer persona—it all boils down to the same thing: an audience persona is a highly-targeted profile of the reader (or buyer) you are trying to reach out to.
It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, that’s where many bloggers go wrong. They don’t dig deep enough. They merely scrape the surface, focusing on superficial factors like age, gender and hobbies (they have to be travellers, right?), but ignore the deep-seated desires and emotions that push their readers towards a call-to-action. Effective audience personas contain both elements and can spell the difference between a brand that sizzles and a brand that fizzles out.
Developing an Effective Audience Persona
Let’s start with the most obvious element in an audience persona: demographics.
If our audience was an orange, demographics would be the peel, the thin layer holding all of the good stuff in. Demographics include those unsexy stats governments love collecting so much:
- marital status
- …and so on
To develop your audience persona, start by choosing 1-2 of these factors as your primary demographic markers. Try to choose markers that you feel are most important in defining your audience and brand. These will likely be the demographic targets that are immediately evident within seconds of landing on your homepage.
For example, if you write mainly about budget or luxury travel, income might be a primary marker, or if you write about gap-year travel, education levels and age will be most important. Be as specific as possible.
Next, choose another 1-2 factors that will serve as secondary demographic markers. These will be factors that are slightly less important in defining audience, but can smooth out the “peel” of your audience persona.
For instance, if you mainly write about couples travel and choose marital status as your primary factor, round out your audience persona using age (younger or older couples) or income (budget, midrange or luxury travel) as a secondary marker. Although these secondary demographic markers might be targeted more implicitly, they’ll help guide your content creation to more effectively find readers within your target group.
Now to the meaty stuff…
Too often bloggers stop right here. But demographics aren’t enough! You need to go deeper and find what drives your audience. Time to get a little Freudian…
Psychographics are the lifeblood of audience personas, reaching far beyond what simple demographics tell us and digging into the recesses of your readers’ minds. Sound a little creepy? Let’s take a look anyway.
To start building a psychographic profile for our audience persona we need to consider factors like:
Start by asking yourself some questions:
- What makes my target audience tick?
- What drives my readers to keep reading?
- What would my readers being doing instead of cruising around my website?
- How would my audience react in different situations?
- What do my readers hold dear and true to their hearts?
Your answers may surprise you.
Let’s say you’ve started a blog for young solo female travellers. Adding psychographics into the mix, instead of simply targeting 18-24 year-old women who aspire to travel alone, you might write for women who are:
- aged 18-24
- native English speakers from the United States, Canada or the British Isles
- confident, adventurous, willing to take risks and socially-conscious
- driven by a desire for change and personal growth
- eager to learn new skills and try new hobbies
- independent and free-spirited
The difference is striking: one target audience is broad, the other is laser-focused. And focus is good. Here’s why:
- You’ll gain readers who align with your brand and your own personality. Loyalty and raving mad fans soon follow. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
- You’ll get to know your readers more intimately. Use it to create better content and offer products and services that fulfill their needs. More conversions will result.
- You’ll know exactly who you’re writing for. Write every piece of content with that one reader in mind and get personal.
- You’ll attract readers who don’t align with your values. People love controversy and love to express their opinions. Let them. It’ll be a blast.
- You’ll have no problem setting up an editorial calendar. You know your audience and know what content they want. Get out there and plan it.
- Travel brands love bloggers with a specific focus. You’ll write better pitches. You’ll get more work. Enough said.
Always remember: if you try to target everyone, you target no one. Create a detailed audience persona and I promise you, that will never be a problem again.