Whether you are starting a new food blog or have been doing this for a while, knowing your ideal reader is a huge factor in being able to grow your food blog. Here are some questions to answer to grasp who your ideal reader is and how you can connect with them to grow your blog!
Can’t listen to the episode? Read on for the transcript!
I just want to get started by saying, please don’t hate me for what I’m about to tell you.
This is a lesson that people do not like to learn, but it’s something that is honestly so important to learn.
It will completely change your business when you shift the way that you think about what I’m about to share with you.
If you are running your food blog as a business or you want it to be a business someday, I have some hard news for you to hear: your blog is not about you.
I know this is so hard to hear because our blogs are like our babies. We take care of them. We grow them. We nurture them. We just want them to succeed, right? But at the end of the day, if we were doing our blogs for ourselves, they would look so different.
Last week, when we talked about building a strategic blog, one of the things I talked about was strategic branding, how strategic branding really thinks about your ideal audience – what it is that they are attracted to and what resonates with them.
That in itself shows that when you’re trying to think about your business strategically, you have to think about who your audience is.
I first heard it said this way at the Everything Food Conference in 2019 in Salt Lake City at a presentation by Phil Pallen. In his presentation, the very first thing he taught about branding was that it’s not about you, it’s about your customer, your audience, your reader.
When you start to grasp this, it will radically change the way that you plan for your food blog, the way you run your food blog, everything about it.
Let’s think about this. You’re a food blogger. You love cooking or at least you love good food. You love sharing that good food. There are just some things that you know in the back of your mind about cooking, about preparing food that you don’t have to sit there and think about, you know how to chop an onion or how to sauté garlic. All of these sorts of things just come naturally to you.
But let’s say that your reader is someone who’s just starting to cook. They aren’t going to know these things, and if you don’t write your content with them in mind, you are going to miss vital information that they need in order to be successful in executing your recipe.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn in my own food blog, and to be honest, I didn’t even really realize that I was doing it for a long time. When I first started my blog called A Joyfully Mad Kitchen, I wanted it to be a place that helped people find joy in cooking.
I wanted to help the people who were just afraid of getting in the kitchen because they were so afraid to fail. I wanted to help them with easy recipes and to share tips and tricks that would help them build confidence.
That all sounded great in theory until I lost sight of who my ideal audience was. I started creating recipes for my site that we were making at home, things that we were enjoying eating. And I thought that this was okay for a while because to be honest, I was my ideal reader a few years back.
When I first started cooking, I was afraid to get in the kitchen and fail. I didn’t have confidence, so I knew I was writing to a previous version of myself, but I lost sight of really talking to that person and knowing the ins and outs of the things that she was struggling with while I was planning content for my food blog.
It honestly took me a couple of years to realize why my content wasn’t really resonating with the right people and I wasn’t building the audience that I wanted to.
It was because I had lost sight of the fact that my food blog was not for me. It was for that person that I was trying to attract. That person that was afraid of getting in the kitchen. The person who was afraid to just try out a new recipe even if that meant she would fail.
Defining Your Ideal Reader
When you are planning for your food blog, I want you to think about who that ideal reader is.
If you don’t know who that is, that’s okay. We’re going to get to that in a minute. Even if you do know who it is, take out a piece of scrap paper and write down everything you can think about this person.
I know it’s sometimes really hard to get through some of the questions that you might see on a branding questionnaire that asks about your ideal audience, what their name is, what their occupation is, what their age is.
I know it’s hard not to get stuck on those questions, but here’s what I want you to do if you get stuck: just pick something.
Think about whether or not somebody is 30 years old or 40 years old really matters for the recipes that you’re sharing.
If it does, then you absolutely need to make a decision.
But more often than not, these things just stop us from defining our ideal audience is. I want you to push through it and just choose something. You can always go back and change it.
When you’re thinking about who your ideal reader is, you can think about some things like are they working full time or are they staying at home? Those two things alone will completely change the way that they approach cooking.
- Are they coming home after a long day of work and having to prepare a meal for their family?
- Are they at home and can prep for dinner during some free time during the day?
- Are they married?
- Do they have a large family?
- Are they serving food to friends and family that come over often?
All of these sorts of questions will help you figure out the best content that you can share with your audience that is going to meet them where they’re at.
The other thing I really want you to think about is what is this person struggling with, because I think when you really think about it, you’ll realize that they’re not really struggling to find a recipe to make for dinner.
We always ask that question of what’s for dinner, but the reality is in our day and age, there are thousands of recipes online that are available anytime. What are they really struggling with?
In the example I gave earlier from my food blog, the issue that I was really helping my audience with, or that I should have been helping my audience with was confidence.
I should have been giving them tips and tricks along the way of how to cook so that they could build up that confidence to be able to effortlessly get in the kitchen and just try something new.
Instead, I was trying to create recipes and again, this was something I didn’t really know I was doing, but now looking back, I can see. I was creating recipes to stretch their confidence. To kind of push the boundaries of what they were comfortable with doing.
But honestly what that did is they just didn’t try. The recipes on my site didn’t look like they were easy or confidence building or something that anyone, any level of cook could handle.
Earlier this year, I decided to try to figure out who the audience was that I had following on my blog. And one of the ways that I did that is I created a quiz. And in this quiz, I was basically trying to test someone’s confidence level.
My hope was that people would score low saying that they had a low confidence when it came to being in the kitchen and that then I could provide them some of the recipes on my site that would help them to build confidence.
But what happened is I kept getting results of people who were already super confident in the kitchen. And obviously, there is nothing wrong with this. That’s not a bad thing. But for me, for my ideal audience, that was bad. That meant that I was attracting the wrong type of person on my blog.
I wasn’t attracting the people that needed help in the kitchen like I wanted to. All of that came down to not knowing who my ideal audience was and really checking to make sure that everything I did on my site from that blog post that I was sharing to the freebies that I was giving away, even to my email newsletter content, all of those things were helping that ideal audience.
Figuring Out Your Ideal Reader As A Food Blogger
If you’re not sure who your ideal audience is, here are some questions that you can ask yourself. I want you to remember when you’re answering these questions to really think about whether or not the answer to this question matters. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the answer to this question is super important and will give you such good insight into who this person is and the struggles that they are having outside of just needing another recipe to make.
- Is your ideal reader married or single?
- Do they have kids?
- Are they working full-time?
- Are they busy with extracurricular activities like sports or church or volunteer opportunities? Basically think through what kind of a lifestyle are they living because this is really going to tell you so much about their ability to make your recipes.
- Do they have time for the complex recipes that you’re sharing or do they really just need something simple?
- Do they know their way around the kitchen?
- Do they have knife skills?
- Do they know the basics of how to chop an onion and sauté garlic?
- Do they know what mirepoix is?
I always like to think about whether somebody really enjoys cooking or whether they’re cooking for survival, because those two types of people are so different and they really need different types of recipes. Think about their experience with cooking.
Those kinds of questions are really going to help you know not only what kind of content to create, but as you’re writing your recipes, how much to explain.
It’s one thing for you to be able to follow your own recipe or for you to be able to read your blog post and make your recipe correctly, but it’s an entirely different thing to make sure that your audience can make your recipe right every time.
What if your ideal and current audience don’t match up?
As you’re doing this exercise, if you start to feel like your ideal audience and the audience that you actually have are not matching up, there’s a few things that you can do.
Update some of your old content
One thing that you can do is go back and update some of your old content with relevant information that would help that ideal audience, especially if this is content that is performing well. This is going to help that ideal audience resonate with your content, and you’ll start to build that more of an audience of those ideal people.
Change your ideal audience
The other thing that you can do, and this I think is a more extreme option, is you can change who your ideal audience is, and it’s all going to depend on your intuition here. If you have hundreds of blog posts that have been written with a different person in mind, rewriting all of those blog posts is not going to make a lot of sense.
However, you could update your top content or you could just start writing your content for this ideal person in mind. It’s really going to depend on how much of a discrepancy there is between your existing audience and your ideal audience. This becomes even more important as you start to expand your blog beyond just blog posts.
Why your audience matters beyond just your recipes
When you start to create products, when you start to use email marketing, whenever you stop simply posting new recipes on your blog and promoting them on social media, it’s going to be more and more important that you really can grasp who this ideal person is for you.
It’s going to go back to those struggles that they have and how the blog posts, the products, the emails that you’re sending out all help them solve their struggles.
When I realized this about my audience and that I was having a discrepancy between my ideal audience and the actual audience that I had, I wrote down three questions to ask myself about every blog post idea that I had. I wrote these questions down to give myself something to reference every time I had an idea to make sure that the new content I was writing was going to resonate with my ideal audience.
As you figure out who your ideal audience is, you can craft a few questions to ask yourself every time you think about posting something new on social media, in your emails or as a blog post.
Make sure these questions are detailed and they specifically ask if this content is going to resonate with that ideal person.
As we wrap up this episode, I just want to remind you guys, your business is not about you, but that’s actually a good thing.
Really tapping into your ideal audience and being able to craft content specifically for that person is going to take your blog to the next level.
It’s really going to help you to have so much confidence in knowing that the content that you’re putting out there is perfect for your ideal reader.
If you have any questions as you’re going through the exercises or you want just someone to look over kind of your thoughts and who you are thinking your ideal audience might be, I would absolutely love to take a look.
You can just send me a message over on Instagram at @graceandvine and let me know what you’ve discovered about your ideal audience.