Guest Post by Alan R. Bechtold
The best way to create and publish anything worth sharing — whether you’re writing a book or yakking on the social networks — is to focus on your ideal audience. Someone you can relate to. Someone eager to hear what you have to share.
In marketing, everything begins with focusing on your target market. Publishers and authors often forget this, simply publishing what they figure people who will be interested in and hoping they find it, one way or the other.
Is THIS woman your target audience?
That’s a great way to be a starving artist, but if you also keep a marketing eye toward what you’re doing, you can easily turn every tweet, every Facebook post, every email and every blog post you put out into hard-edged highly effective marketing that pulls people toward you.
This is a central key in moving from the starving artist column over to the successful creative entrepreneur.
I suggested in my best-selling book, Will Work for Fun, that you make yourself your target audience. Focus on a niche that truly interests you. Better still, it should FASCINATE you to the point that you are as voracious about gathering data and information about the subject as anyone on the planet.
Do this correctly, follow the steps I outline in my book, and you can easily do all the marketing research you ever need by simply looking in the mirror now and then.
Your readers and followers will naturally need whatever it is you need, too.
Here’s another tactic that works equally well, ripped straight out of creating characters for fiction:
Find a photo…in a magazine or newspaper, or on a blog or Website…of someone who absolutely LOOKS the part of your ideal targeted reader or follower.
Give the person in your photo a name — preferably one that someone who reads your work or follows you WOULD have (note — children’s names run in historical cycles…Elmer isn’t so popular any more, Heather once was. What was popular for YOUR character when he or she was born?
The more authentic and real your character feels, the more effective this technique is.
Now list your character’s hobbies or interests OUTSIDE of your chosen niche — especially those that would be directly related. Make sure these interests match your target audience’s general tendencies for interests they would list in the "other" column, as well.
Next — stare at the photo a bit and imagine the typical life history and current life situation of your ideal audience member. Build out the background details about the person in your photo.
Use whatever data you can to fill in the details — personal experience, research results, conversations with your current readers — whatever it is you know about your target audience. The character you are creating for the person in the photo you’ve selected should be someone you honestly would enjoy being with and spending time with. You should find yourself wishing you had 10,000 more like him or her reading what you put together. 10 million would be ideal!
Then, before you write or start gathering materials to publish ANYTHING, sit down and stare at the photo for a few minutes. Five maximum. Get to know this person you’ve created — this character who matches your ideal audience so perfectly.
Run all the details about this person’s life and history through your mind while you look deeply into the picture. Imagine his or her wants, desires and needs RIGHT NOW.
Then — write or gather information that fulfills those needs.
You can even write whatever it is you have to say TO this fictional person. Address it like a letter to a very dear friend and SHARE like you would with someone you know and love.
This works very well even if you’re NOT deeply affiliate with the niche you’re reaching out to at the time. The photo with this post, for example — she could be ANYONE’s target audience, depending on the background and life you give her.
As you search for information to gather and bring to this person, keep in mind what he or she would want to know right now. Also remember what he or she would most definitely NOT want to hear at this point.
Then get writing or gathering.
In this age of social publishing, you’ll miss the boat more often than not if you just put your tweets and posts out there with no real clear-cut idea of who you’re trying to please.
When you focus on WHO you are writing to this way, your writing will shift totally way from the "me" focus we so often see in blogging today, to a "YOU" focus that targets exactly your ideal prospect. You’ll also find that writing directly to the person you created will make your writing more appealing.
You’ll definitely find yourself "delivering the goods" more often and you’ll grow a devout following that wants whatever it is you have to offer!
Alan R. Bechtold is the best-selling author of Will Work for Fun: 3 Simple Steps for Turning Any Hobby or Interest Into Cash from John Wiley and Sons books. He’s been successfully publishing and marketing for more than 35 years — more than 25 years online — and now shares all of his wisdom and guidance on Uncle Alan’s Info-Publishing and Marketing Portal.