Blog your passions or your audience’s interests?

“How do I balance my passions vs. the interests of my target audience when I write for my blog?” This was a question from one of my readers.

Passion vs. audience: an easy answer

The easy answer? Blog at the intersection of your passions and the interests of your target audience. You’ll find it easiest and most enjoyable to blog when you’re passionate about your topic.  When your passion shows, you’ll attract more readers. When your passions overlap with the topics that your target audience cares about, you’ll find yourself in a sweet spot of blogging.

However, your passions and your target’s interests aren’t always identical. What can you do?

A case against emphasizing audience over passion

The example of marketer Mark W. Schaefer suggests why you shouldn’t ignore your passions.

“…let me tell you the biggest blogging mistake I ever made — I wrote for an audience!” says Schaefer in “Improve your blog. Stop writing for an audience!” Schaefer says got he bored writing to a content plan focused on target audience, personas, and keywords. So he ditched his plan and started writing about things that interested him. The result? “Pretty quickly my blog had a small band of very engaged and loyal readers.”

When you write with passion, you’ll win better engagement from your readers.

Another benefit of playing to your passions? You’re more likely to stick to a blogging schedule. Based on the many abandoned blogs that I’ve seen, keeping up with a blog is a big challenge. In fact, an entire chapter of my financial blogging book is devoted to “Sticking to a blogging schedule.”

Identifying your audience’s interests

You probably have a good idea of where your passions lie. But how about the passions of your current or ideal audience?

Some tools to help you understand your current audience include:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • “Open” and “click” statistics for blog posts that you send via e-newsletter software
  • Surveys that you run on your blog or elsewhere using technology like SurveyMonkey. For example, you can bounce a list of potential topics off your readers, or you can ask an open-ended question, such as “What do you want to read about?” or “What’s the biggest challenge that you face in terms of…?”

If members of your target audience aren’t visiting your blog yet, then it’s time to do research. Read other people’s research about your target audience. Read the publications that your ideal audience members read. Set up Google Alerts for content related to your ideal readers.

Questions for you

Bloggers, please answer two questions:

  1. Are you blogging about your passions, your audience’s interests, or the intersection of the two?
  2. What tips do you have for bloggers struggling with the issue of whether to blog about their interests or their target audience’s interests?