Do you want to know the secret to writing great content?
Believe it or not, you don’t need to have years of writing experience up your sleeve. Nor do you have to pore over a thesaurus to know the best words out there.
While those two are great and can definitely give you an edge, this one thing is also incredibly important:
You need to know your readers very well. Inside and out.
See, who you’re writing to matters a bit more than how you write.
Of course, you should still have considerably good writing skills…
…but without a clear idea of who would be reading your content, your article becomes unfocused and generalized.
This is where a reader persona comes in. Ever heard of it?
A reader persona is a character created out of real data, needs, and pain points. It’s your ideal customer — described in a set of very specific characteristics and behavior.
Basically, it’s the person you’re going to have in mind while you create your content. It’s the key ingredient that can take your content from good… to great.
The purpose of a reader persona
Now that you know what a reader persona is, let’s get into why you need one. Or specifically, how exactly can it make your content from good to great?
I mean, you can just write something, hit publish, and wait for readers to come, right?
Well, you definitely can! But without a reader persona, your content creation is missing one crucial step that could maximize its full potential.
So here’s what a reader persona does:
1. It will help you attract the right audience.
You know how you have to have the right kind of bait to lure your preferred fish?
That’s pretty much how a reader persona works, too. It steers your content planning into the right direction because you know the exact kind of content that appeals to your audience.
So when you’ve written the right content, your target audience will come swarming in.
2. It makes your content relatable.
A reader persona lets you know how your audience think, speak, and feel. Because of this, you can personalize your content so that it connects to them on a more personal level.
And so when they come across your article, they’d most likely go, “Hey, I get that too! I definitely need to read this!”
3. It makes your content relevant.
In creating a reader persona (which we’ll get to in a bit), you’ll have to determine what pains them. What challenges they face, issues they need to solve.
And so by knowing these, you can align your content to be helpful by addressing these exact problems.
You know exactly what they’re struggling with and so you come prepared with solutions. You’d be a hero in their eyes!
4. It helps you achieve your content marketing goals.
So what happens next when you’ve attracted the right audience with relatable, relevant, and helpful content?
Well, for one, it has become easier for you to achieve your content marketing goals! Whether it’s to spread awareness, gain blog subscribers, or make a sale… you already got the reader hook, line, and sinker!
What information do you need?
By now, you’re hopefully convinced that you need a reader persona. It’s the key to great content, after all!
Now let’s briefly break down the data you need to create one:
These are the basic statistical data of your persona. It’ll include the following:
- Job Industry
Psychographics lets you in on your persona’s thoughts, values, and attitude. This would also include their hobbies, desires and goals, and fears.
These are the problems your persona is facing and the issues they’re struggling with.
Where to scout for information
Lucky for you, it’s fairly easy to do research for your reader persona. Here are some sources you can go to for accurate and reliable information:
- Analytical tools such as Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, etc.
- Existing users/customers who are following you on social media.
- Forums such as Quora, Reddit, etc.
All the data you collected can inform you on what and how to write a content.
That’s why it’s incredibly important that you get it right! But don’t worry — in the next section, we’ll take you step-by-step in researching for and creating a reader persona!
Action plan: How to Create a Reader Persona
Step 1: Research your customer demographics.
As a review, demographics are the basic statistical data of your persona. It’ll include the following:
- Job industry
Tip for VAs: You can also consult your client for ideas. Chances are they’ve already done some research about their target market. You can use it to get started on this task!
Your reader persona can start to take shape with these information. And you can easily find these data through the following options:
Option 1: Gather data from existing customers
Your existing customers basically personify your reader persona. So to know more about them, you have to take the time to either check out their profiles, engage with them, or do a survey.
Option 2: Use analytical tools
You can also refer to analytical tools such as Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics (depending on which platform you’re on). They easily give you a handful of data about your audience in just a few clicks!
Go to Twitter Analytics > Audiences
Each tab has a set of your audience’s information you can use!
Go to your page > Insights > People
Sidenote: Try out the HireBros Time Tracker to have better insight on your team’s work activity and productivity!
Step 2: Research your customer psychographics.
To recap, psychographics refers your customers’ psychological profiling based on their demographics. These would include:
- Desires and goals
So while the demographics refers to the basic information of the group, psychographics are more about how they think, feel, and talk.
To look for these information, it’s best to start with forums. Luckily, every hobby, job, and problem in existence has a forum dedicated to it!
Let’s say you have a shoe company. To find relevant forums, you’d just have to key in the word “forum” combined with some relevant keywords and voila:
Discussion threads give you info on personalities, common problems, and perceptions of certain brands.
User profiles of those who posted can also give you additional information on your customer demographics. This could include their age, location, and gender.
Note: Depending on the forum, you’ll probably first have to register as a user before you can read replies or browse user profiles.
Check out the first hit we got from our search using this method:
The first two posts already identify a problem, another user’s brand recommendation, and their sentiment. Then, with just a click on the original poster’s name (bachslunch), you’ll be sent to his/her user profile.
Tip: You can do more research on Reddit. It’s an online forum with one of the most active communities that discusses literally anything.
Step 3: Look for business competitors.
Competitor research is also a quick way to learn more about your reader persona. You can look up your competitors through the following options:
Option 1: Google research
First, what are you niche-specific keywords? These are words or phrases that are often used in your business.
Let’s go back to our shoe company example. The keywords you could use are “comfortable,” “arch-support,” and “eco-friendly,” along with the obvious “shoes.”
Tip for VAs: Check your client’s site and product reviews for keywords.
Key these in using varied combinations on Google and see what brands, businesses, or people come up.
Option 2: Amazon research
Alternatively, you can use the same keywords to run a search for products on Amazon. This method is a quicker way to find out who your direct competitors are.
And once you’ve identified your competitors, check out their pages and look for the following:
- How they interact with their audience — so you know how they talk and what words or phrases they commonly use. (You can use these to mimic their language in your content.)
- The types of questions/problems that come up often — so you know what problems you can address in your content.
- The types of content that get the most audience attention — so you know what kind of content they’re interested in.
If the competitor doesn’t have a site, you can just browse the product listing page itself. Just click on the item and scroll down until you get to the customer Q&As:
You can check out the reviews, too:
Step 4: Compile the data you gathered.
Now that you’ve gathered enough information from various sources, it’s time to put your reader persona together!
For a more professional look, you can try Canva and build your own. A Word document or a spreadsheet works great too.
Tip: With some customization, some of the Canva mindmap templates work well for Reader Persona presentations.
Here’s how you can create your reader persona in 4 simple steps:
Step 5.1: List your reader’s demographics and psychographics.
Step 5.2: Hash out your persona’s wants and their needs.
Step 5.3: Highlight problems they have and the solutions you can provide.
Step 5.4: Personify your persona with a photo and create a background story.
Humanize your reader persona by giving it a name and a face!
By doing so, you can easily visualize them especially during the conceptualizing and writing process.
Soloprenuer Sid, Copywriter Cathy, Mom-blogger Martha — get creative!
Lastly, use the data in the previous steps to build your persona’s background.
Utilizing a reader persona
Great! You already have a thorough and data-backed reader persona!
You might find yourself confused by the amount of information you now have on your hands. But don’t fret — here are exactly how you can use them in your content planning and creation!
1. Find opportunities
Your persona’s pain points are the problems you have to address in your content. Do they struggle with frizzy hair? Then how about “10 Ways to Tame Unruly Hair” as your next article?
So the next time you’re brainstorming for content ideas, just go back to your reader persona and read through their pain points!
2. Use their language
With an accurate reader persona, you’d get an idea of what words they usually use and what phrasing appeals to them.
What kind of humor appeals to them? …or does humor appeal to them at all?
Remember: there’s a stark difference between writing content for 14-year olds who are into handmade accessories… and middle-aged entrepreneurs looking to grow their biz.
3. Get personal
Psychographics especially can make your content even more personal. You can sprinkle in their specific thoughts, desires, or fears.
It lets you connect to them better… almost as if you can read their mind.
Indeed, the best way to write content is to know your reader. What do they want? What are their problems? How do they think?
A reader persona may sound basic, but it can greatly impact your content marketing. It levels up your content, makes you attracted the right audience, and lets you help them with their problems.
Sure, doing research isn’t the most enjoyable task but it’s crucial to your content marketing success. You can’t pull a persona out of thin air, anyway.
And besides, the results are so much worth it! Your writing process is streamlined, your content becomes focused, and achieving your blogging goals becomes easier!
How does your reader persona look like? Have anything to add? Connect with us on Twitter and share your thoughts!
Oh, and if you’re a virtual assistant, we’ve got loads other helpful content you can read over here.