You created something people will love — you just don’t know who.
That’s a problem.
Because if you can’t identify your ideal audience, it’s impossible to find and connect with them.
Following are five ways to hone in on who’s most likely to love your creations…
1. Your Ideal Audience Is A Previous Version Of You
The things you create are informed by the experiences you’ve had.
Whether you aim to teach people something, solve their problems, or simply entertain them, your ability to do so is rooted in your own experience with similar situations.
Your ideal audience is often the person you used to be.
To identify who your ideal audience may be, consider what your life was like in the recent (or not-so-recent) past and the challenges you faced that inspired your recent creations.
Once you identify where you were at in your life then, you can go find people who are in a similar place now and feel confident your work will resonate with them.
Many of my consulting clients hire me to help them figure out how to build independent businesses and monetize their creations.
They’re part of my ideal audience because they’re essentially a previous version of me.
A few years ago when I first became a full-time independent consultant I was trying to figure out the same things — how to build an independent business and monetize my creations.
This same approach is also true for artistic creations.
For example, a songwriter’s lyrics are influenced by what happened to them in the past and therefore likely to resonate with an audience who’s in the place they used to be emotionally.
Once you identify the version of yourself that inspired your creations, it becomes much easier to figure out the audience likely to enjoy them.
2. Play Demographic-Psychographic Matchmaker
No matter how confused you may be, you’re certainly not clueless about who your ideal audience may be.
The real issue is probably that your notion of who they are is too broad or vague to be of use to you.
For example, let’s say you’re a mom blogger.
You know your target audience is moms and maybe you even know it’s mothers of kids in elementary school.
That’s a good start, but your audience demographic is only half the ideal audience equation — you also need to identify your audience psychographic.
While audience demographics refer to who a person is (age, gender, occupation, etc.), psychographics are based on a person’s emotions — what they value, believe, desire, fear, etc.
When you combine demographic and psychographic traits, you get a clear picture of who your ideal audience may be.
Back to our mom blogger example.
Take your ideal demographic audience (moms of elementary school kids) and filter it based on the psychographics of who you think may be most likely to resonate with your creations.
Are your blog posts aimed at moms who worry they’re not good parents?
Are they designed to help moms who feel guilty about putting their kids in day care?
Are they for moms who want to be seen as more than “just a mom?”
There’s no right or wrong answer when pairing your demographic and psychographic targets, but the goal is to use them to get clarity on who your work is really for…and just as importantly, who it’s NOT for.
3. What Pisses You Off?
Even if you’re the most positive, optimistic person in the universe, on some level your creations are a reaction to the things that frustrate you.
And your ideal audience is frustrated by similar things.
Make a list of what angers you and consider how your creations may be a reaction (or solution) to those frustrations.
Then consider who else may share similar frustration — those people are likely your ideal audience (or at least a part of it).
For example, my ideal audience is creators who want to take control of their own careers and create their own opportunities as opposed to people who just aim to please the gatekeepers of their industry.
I have a frustration at traditional systems and organizations who wield their power to decide who or what gets the “opportunity” to have a career or share their art with the world and believe that gatekeeper system is no longer the only way to build a creative career.
My ideal audience is creators who share that frustration and believe they can succeed on their own.
But not every creator fits that description.
There’s nothing wrong with being the kind of creator who wants to work within the system — get signed by a record label, get venture capital money to launch a startup, or land a job at a big corporation — but those people don’t share the same frustrations I do and therefore aren’t my ideal audience.
The people pissed about the same things you are?
They’re your ideal audience.
4. Play Target Audience “Survivor”
A confession: I’ve never watched the popular reality show Survivor.
But, its “vote-you-off-the-island” concept is a great way to identify your ideal audience if you’re not yet ready to commit to a specific niche.
You may be hesitant to focus on a specific narrow audience (more on that in a second), but this exercise allows you to slowly dip your toes in the water.
Rather than choose a single ideal audience, choose up to 12 of them.
Once you have your potential audiences, go create whatever you want and share it with the world — as long as each creation is designed to appeal to at least one of those audiences.
This exercise allows you to test the waters of various target audiences without fully committing or feeling too restricted in your approach.
It also gives you data and the ability to sample various audiences to get a clear sense of what you enjoy and what works for you before honing in on a specific audience.
Now, let’s play Survivor.
At the end of each month, vote one of your ideal audiences “off the island” and abandon it as you move forward.
This means in month two you’ll have narrowed your ideal audiences down to 11, by month three it will be down to 10, and by the end of the year you’ll be down to one last audience standing.
And it will be your ideal one.
5. Your Ideal Audience Isn’t Your ONLY Audience
This last one is really more of a mindset than an exercise.
When it comes to identifying a single ideal audience for your work, you’re going to hesitate because you don’t want to exclude anyone who may enjoy what you create.
That will lead you to choose an ideal audience that’s too broad.
To combat that instinct, reframe how you think about what an ideal audience actually is.
Your ideal audience aren’t the ONLY people who will consume or purchase what you make, they’re the ones MOST LIKELY to do so.
No matter how narrow an ideal audience you choose to target, your work will still get seen by others outside that niche, they’ll still dig it, and still become a part of your audience.
So you don’t have to worry about going too narrow.
The point of identifying an ideal audience is to ensure the time you spend promoting your creations and positioning yourself in an industry is tailored toward the people MOST LIKELY to love it.
They’re out there.