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Defining Your Audience Persona

Who are you producing content for?

Think of some of the most well-known digital publishing brands - Gary Vaynerchuck, Wired, Buzzfeed, Inc., and more. You can immediately picture in your mind who their readers, viewers, and listeners are, right? Their content consistently maps back to these personas.

Defining your audience persona is an essential step in running a digital publication or professional blog (or any business, quite frankly).

What is an Audience Persona?

An audience persona is simply a visualization of a "person" who represents your core audience.

How is it different from the target market you likely already have in your marketing plan? Your target market is probably much broader than your audience persona will be. When working on a target market, you're thinking in terms of a (typically) large group of people that share a set of demographics and behaviors.

When thinking of our audience persona, you're honing in on a singular view of a person, their demographics, behaviors, goals, challenges, interests and more.

Creating an audience persona will help you to:

1. Develop Better Content

Your audience persona is your "north star" for developing content and will help you stay focused. You can reference your persona regularly when brainstorming new topics. Ask yourself "would this person resonate with this content?" You'll know how to move forward or adjust your ideas to fit your audience better.

2. Monetize

When you know your audience, you can determine how best to monetize your online presence. If you're considering working with brand partners on sponsored content or other promotions, you can identify which brands are a good fit and what types of content you can develop with that brand that will resonate with your audience.

Alternatively, if affiliate links, e-commerce, or selling your digital products are your strategy, these all need to map back to your audience persona. You'll have a better gauge of what will be most effective with your audience.

How to Create a Persona

Creating your audience persona can be a simple or as detailed as you need. It's not something that you should feel immense pressure to "get right." It's a tool for you to use and reference in moving your online strategy forward.

So, don't stress about it! The exercise of thinking through this will help provide clarity, and you can always make adjustments along the way.

Here's a small framework to help you get started.

We recommend starting with a whiteboard or blank sheet of paper. Just start brainstorming!

Start with the Demographics

Make a bulleted list to include age, gender, income level, education, family status, and location.

Behaviors, Challenges, and Needs

Think through your audiences challenges, goals, values, habits, other media they consume and anything else you know or believe to be true about this "person."

Write Out a Story

In software development, product teams create user stories to help them understand the needs of their customers and how to build features to suit those needs.

It's equally applicable when we're talking about creating content and online experiences for our audience.

Start with

"As a < type of person >, I want < some goal > so that < some reason >."

Giving your audience persona a story will help you deep dive into how they think and what their real needs are. You can gain some advantage by providing valuable content to your audience that is differentiated from other content their consuming. Your brand and publication can become a destination for them - they'll be more likely to visit often, subscribe, and engage.

Moreover, when you've got an engaged audience, monetizing your efforts becomes a whole lot easier!

Here's an example of an audience persona for a local event and entertainment site called Billings365.com. You can make yours as detailed as you like!


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