Early on the genesis of The Pulse, we realized that we had a challenge: knowing what our readers would like to read in our blog requires knowing who our readers are.
To meet this challenge, a marketing expert asked us to create a fictional character representing the ideal The Pulse reader, including details like location and education, aptitude and ambitions, hobbies and habits.
Sometimes, developing that profile is straightforward, as in this “typical customer” developed by a successful menswear producer:
- Gender: Male
- Age: 30
- Income: $70,000
- Location: Chicago
- Education level: University of Chicago
- Occupation: Client services, Public Relations firm
Another example is the cynical profile of the typical New York Times reader excerpted from a recent National Review piece by Kyle Smith:
“Times readers are center-lefty gentry progressives… if a child showed up at any of their kids’ playgrounds wearing a MAGA cap, they’d file an FBI hate-crime report in the few seconds before they fainted. Times readers like living in a bubble. They say it in the comments sections of Times stories every day. If they could, they’d put a Plexiglass shield over the entire Upper West Side with a giant sign reading “No bullies, racists, or members of the Federalist Society.”
Does the usual The Pulse reader fit inside a similar stereotypical neat little box?
Some may say “yes.” After all, The Pulse is a niche online publication for English-reading pregnant women and mothers of young children. Niche blogs geared towards kindergarten teachers, game developers, tropical island vacationers, or tennis players naturally target very distinct demographic groups. In the same vein, at some basic level, The Pulse readers constitute a homogeneous group, in the sense that they all harbor very similar hopes, fears, and dreams.
However, our readers’ lifestyles -the nuances of their physical and emotional landscapes- can be worlds apart. Our readers encompass a spectrum of ages, income brackets, locations, education levels, religions, and exposure to the media.
And while big issues are an important glue in any blog, those nuances, the tiny little details that make us different, are crucial in building a blog that truly resonates with our readers.
So, who is the representative The Pulse reader? Is it even possible to build the profile?
I think most blog writers have a permanent audience of one in mind as they write their posts, a specific person they are trying to reach. Some of us might, on the other hand, see a panel of readers, or even a crowd, in our mind. Or, we might read and reread our work, imagining a different type of reader each time. But, even if it’s true that some of our writers have crystallized that perfect representative reader, they would each pick such diverse targets that we still wouldn’t arrive at the marketer’s dream profile.
What are we left with? A frustrated strategist maybe but, hopefully, also a blog that is as rich and varied as the readership it serves. In a sense, that’s the beauty and challenge of being a blogger. The constant struggle to remain relevant to, and reflective of, a swath of people who share common interests, even as they vary in so many significant spheres.
For tips on how to write your own pregnancy blog, read here.