I had an epiphany last year.
As a small business owner, everyone is always telling you how important it is to define your target market. It’s the first thing they teach you at copywriting school (not really a thing, but kind of), and it’s the first thing I speak to my clients about.
But for so long, I didn’t know who mine was. I wanted to work with everyone. Not turn down any jobs. Learn as much as I could. Maybe, someday in the future when I’d worked with thousands of clients and became an “expert” I’d narrow it down.
So my job fucking sucked. I love writing, but stepping inside the mind of your client’s client is REALLY HARD when you don’t even understand your client (and then when your client doesn’t understand their client? No chance). I didn’t enjoy most of my work, it took forever, and I produced mediocre results. Yep, soul destroying.
So I took a little break, and went back to blogging, just for me. Whatever I wanted to write about, the issues I was pondering, the things I talked about with my friends. The things that brought the fire back to my soul.
Then. People finally starting telling me my writing was good. Amazing even. I began connecting with people on my wavelength. I started building a small but strong network of people that I wanted to work with – not only as clients but as collaborators and friends. They were feminists, they were nurturers, they were passionate and cynical and sweary and drank too much because they cared too much about too many things… they were just like me.
Finally, it clicked. It wasn’t about deciding I would only work with mothers aged 30 to 40 who hang out on Instagram. It was about connecting with people, and mutual understanding of the problems we need to solve – together.
Now, the writing comes easier. It flows, I enjoy it, and I don’t care if some people don’t like it, because I know those aren’t my people (or my clients’ people). I can finally think about branding and marketing without wanting to stick a fork in my eye because now it’s about finding my people, not pushing my service. And thank God, because the stakes are much higher since I left my day job.
So the moral of the story? Defining your target audience – like, really, really tightly – isn’t necessarily about making the sale. It’s about finding your flow and making your job easier and more fun.
Also, blogging can help you out figure who they are, and find them. And if you’re really struggling? Start with yourself.