The importance of knowing who you are writing to.
You may not know it, but you need one. Successful bloggers will tell you it’s the first important key to your blogging success.
What is it?
Just what is an avatar? Why is it important for a blogger to have one? How can you find yours?
These are just a few of the questions we will cover today.
Why Do You Blog?
When you write, who do you write for?
Some bloggers write for themselves, as a way to destress or to work things out in their head.
Other bloggers write with a purpose. Their goal is to teach you to do something or to sell you something.
Still other bloggers write for pure entertainment value. They enjoy writing and hope you will be entertained by their words.
Just as there are many different types of bloggers, there are even more types of blog readers. How do you determine how to write for your readers?
The answer is an avatar.
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What Is an Avatar?
The short answer to “what is an avatar?” is that an avatar is your audience.
Your readers may be very different individuals, though. The first instinct might be to try to write in such a way as to appeal to each and every one. In the process, you may find yourself floundering a bit along the way.
An avatar gives you the solution. Rather than write for everyone, instead, write to just one person. Your avatar represents your ideal reader.
Picking an avatar might take some time. It could be a real person you are writing to, or it could be an entirely fictional character.
Writing to an avatar, though, will help keep you on track and keep your posts and content consistent.
Do You Need an Avatar?
To be honest, for a long time, I didn’t think so. I’ve been blogging for a little over a year, and my audience is growing. That led me to believe that an avatar wasn’t really unnecessary.
However, over and over again, the most successful bloggers I follow have each mentioned their own avatars. Every one of them has commented on how important having an avatar is to their blogging success.
In addition, I am currently working through Elite Blog Academy 4.0. One of the first lessons is all about finding and developing your avatar.
If you’ve never heard of EBA, it is a seven-figure company that has grown over the years after starting from one simple blog. I’ll talk about EBA and the course in more detail in a future post.
What I want to say at this point is how valuable the course information is and how much I am learning as a result.
When I purchased the course, and it was a bit of an investment, I made a promise to myself that I would complete each and every lesson. That means that finally, after a year of blogging, I have created an avatar.
How Do You Find Your Avatar?
For some people, creating their avatar is a fairly simple process. They have a clear vision of what they want to write and who their ideal reader should be.
For others, myself included, it’s a bit of a struggle.
When creating your avatar, you want it to be as complete of an individual as possible. That’s easy if you are using a real person but can be challenging otherwise.
When it comes to your avatar, you should know almost all the details about them. What is their gender, marital status, eye color, height, weight? What do they do for work? Do they have children? What are their goals? What things are they afraid of?
Sounds like a lot, right? Honestly, I found it more than a little overwhelming.
That said, I know my voice. I know what I want to say, and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what my readers like to read. Still, defining my avatar was one of the toughest things I have done when it comes to my blog.
One of the best things about joining EBA is getting to be part of their members’ only communities. Since EBA only opens it’s doors a couple of times a year, many new bloggers signed up when I did earlier this year. That means that many of us are at the same point in developing our blogs.
Needless to say, there has been a lot of conversation about what is an avatar and how to create one. I found great relief in learning that I was not alone in my struggle of defining mine.
But then an experienced blogger mentioned something that helped her. After much thought, she realized that her avatar was actually her, only five years earlier.
Reading that comment, a light bulb went off in my head. I started Speaking Bipolar specifically to help people learn to live openly with mental and chronic illness and to not feel alone along the way. That’s exactly what I was looking for a couple of years ago.
My avatar could be me. Wow.
An Avatar Is Born – Meet Dakota
My personal history became the foundation of my avatar. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what I needed to know about my avatar, and hence, my blog.
Here’s what I wrote as part of the avatar lesson:
Dakota is 40 years old and as lost as he has ever been.
For several years he has dealt with frequent cases of sickness, though all his doctors have been telling him that nothing is wrong with him. He deals with depression on a daily basis but fights to keep a smile on his face and to help others.
Dakota is a giver and loves people, though he rarely feels that love in return. He would do anything, go anywhere, for anyone else, but there is no one in his life who would do the same for him.
Dakota often feels beat down by life but still holds on to hope. His gut tells him there will be a time, hopefully in the near future, where things will improve. He will find love, better health, and a support system to keep him stable.
Dakota Hasn’t Lost Hope
Dakota wants to be in a relationship but isn’t actively pursuing one. He understands that his own life is a bit of a “train-wreck” and is determined to improve himself before he adds anyone new to his life.
There’s a daily struggle to fight the voices that mental illness forces on him. In addition, coping with chronic illness keeps him tired and weighed down.
Despite everything, Dakota is an optimist. He believes that things will get better if he keeps working and moving forward. Most important, Dakota believes he can help others if he could just find the courage to share his voice with the world.
To him, we are all connected and thus have a responsibility to help make the world a better place.
Dakota sounds like a pretty decent guy, and I would like to meet him. Now, I just need to write to him.
Can Your Avatar Change?
The best news about blogging is that everything can be changed. Everything. Posts can be rewritten or even deleted. Graphics can be redesigned. Even blog names and taglines can be altered.
As you grow as a blogger, likely your voice and your avatar will change. That’s okay. That’s part of growth.
In addition, your readers will change. Those who stick with you will evolve with you. That will make your ideal reader change as well and then require some tweaks to your avatar.
On the other hand, you may find in the coming weeks and months that your current writing style isn’t resonating with your audience. That’s okay too. Since, for most of you, your avatar will be fictional, you can change them as you need to or even create a new one.
Why Do You Need an Avatar?
Why do you need an avatar?
In a word – consistency.
Your readers will stick with you and follow your blogging journey because of your unique voice. That said, they will also expect a certain level of consistency.
What does that mean?
Here’s an example. Suppose you are a food blogger. You love to blog about recipes and great places to eat. Most of your readers are foodies.
Suddenly, though, you decide that you want to start blogging about raising goats.
I don’t know why goats. It was just the first thing that popped into my mind, and my mind can be a strange place.
How many of your readers do you think will stick around if you suddenly change your focus to blogging about goats? Some may, but most will not.
Flip it around. Suppose you have developed a faithful following by blogging about raising goats. Believe it or not, there are successful blogs on that subject. Check out Weed ’em & Reap if you don’t believe me.
Anyway, you have been blogging about goats and suddenly you want to switch to blogging about Nascar. Yep, no idea where that came from either, but bear with me.
Now chances are good that some of your goat-herding readers will also be Nascar fans, but what do you think it will do to your overall readership if you suddenly switch from goats to race cars?
Something to think about, and having an avatar will help.
Does That Mean You Have To Blog About Only One Topic?
If you want to blog about raising goats, does that mean you can only blog about raising goats? Not at all.
Your readers and followers will expect some variation to your blog. After all, you as the blogger have more than just one interest. For the most part, though, you will want complimentary subjects.
For instance, things that might go with goats are gardening, making goat-milk soap, country living, raising other animals, etc.
Now you might be thinking that it’s a little hypocritical for me to be talking about staying on a subject when I have a blog about mental and chronic illness and here I am blogging about blogging.
Yes, the two subjects are very different.
However, my avatar, good ole Dakota, is interested in blogging. In fact, in his struggle to cope with his own illness, he has decided that he wants to share his story with others. The thing is, Dakota doesn’t know anything about blogging.
Enter Speaking Bipolar.
I got you, Dakota, and I’m here to help you along the way.
If you are a blogger, do you have an avatar? If not, I challenge you to create one. Then, once you have one clearly in mind, write each new post as if you were writing to just that one person.
Having an avatar is new to me, but I’m excited to see how my blog develops as a result. I’d also love to hear your stories.
What helped you to create your avatar? How has your blog improved by having one? Please share your comments below.
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