How would your business change if every person who touched your magazine or read your website became an instant subscriber? While unlikely in the real world, the example above illustrates exactly why growing your audience is so important. Regardless of how you plan to monetize this growth, you can’t argue that more readers/eyeballs are a bad thing.

Part 1 discussed how to learn more about your existing audience. This time around we’ll talk about how to determine your ideal reader. Here, in Part 2, we’ll define what “Ideal Readers” are, how to compile profiles, and most importantly how we can use these profiles during the writing, editing, and publishing process.

Ideal Reader

[ahy-deeuhl] [ree-der]

Noun

1. A fictional person who represents a specific age group, interest grouping, experiences, ethnicity, religious background, sexuality, or other identifying markers to which your content would most appeal.

 

Because you’re a media company, you’ll likely have more than one Ideal Reader profile for your brand. Build these profiles based around your current reader survey information along with your future plans for how you’d like to expand your reader base. Use the demographic markers from the description above to get started, but ultimately you want to get to “why”. Ask questions like:

  • Why would my readers want to read this?
  • Why would they share this with a friend?
  • Why will they spend more time on my website?
  • Why will they click on my article in search?

At a minimum, create a word document with a fake name, job title, interests list, answers to your “why questions”, and other key pieces of information. If you have the resources and desire to take this to the next step, add a profile picture, create pretend family details and personal information. Gung-ho about Ideal Readers? Take on the extra credit below.

Extra Credit: If you really want to go overboard, I’ve heard of companies who build out entire rooms, fill them with stuff their Ideal Reader/Consumer would be interested in. Anytime these readers or consumers are discussed, the team or individual spends time in the room set. Talk about putting yourself in your readers shoes!

Now, with your ideal readers in mind, go about the writing process with them in mind. Think about their interests and your “why” questions. Let’s break it down.

1) Pre-Writing – If you’re a fan of this step, use your ideal reader’s profile to choose a topic, define your ‘plot’ or key points, and themes. This step can help you downstream as well if you begin with the end in mind. Contemplate how your readers will consume your piece. In addition to general planning, I love making outlines before diving into an article to make sure I stay on task… Squirrel? … Squirrel!!

2) Focus – Even with the best planning, your article will likely evolve as you begin to put pen to paper. While the overall theme shouldn’t change dramatically, the details are likely to shift around. Work with your Ideal Reader in mind to make sure changes to your story’s details don’t become a detour. It goes without saying that after you’re done with an initial draft, plan to make a few edits.

3) Channel/Platform – After you’re all done writing/shooting your masterpiece make sure you choose the right channel/platform to deliver your content. Where does your Ideal Reader consume most of their content? Drill down deeper and delineate types of content and associated channels. From experience, Human Interest Articles have a much longer shelf life and are likely to perform better in your printed editions. Breaking News is better suited for email newsletters, twitter, or web optimized for search (think Google AMP).

Think you have your ideal reader in mind? Well let’s make sure it’s on paper. The button below will provide you a free template that we created that you can follow when you create your own Ideal Reader persona. We hope it helps in your discovery process.

Get in your readers heads, build content, and send it to them in a relevant way. This is the bread and butter of growing your audience. In Part 3, we’ll show you how you can determine your effectiveness across platforms by deploying A/B testing and analyzing analytics.

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