Knowing your audience inside out is a critical part of blog success. If you do not know who your reader is and what they need, how can you possibly delight them? Your blog has to be for your reader first and you second.
Yes, before anyone comments, there are notable successes with huge audiences who largely ignore their readers. These people are the exceptions. If you want to go that route, good luck to you. You will find in most cases that only works so long.
So how do you get to know your reader? I have spoken before a few times about things like surveys and creating a pen portrait.
Unlike many people I have an advantage, I have clients and I have a forum. Clients tell me everything as part of working with them, and my forum is a rich source of information too. I didn’t create my forum only for this reason but I have a wonderful resource in the form of the “introduce yourself” thread. No guessing involved for me, my audience tells me, sometimes in detail, who they are, what they do and where they want to be with their online activities. Through the discussions we get to know each other (a really nice bunch of people too!).
There will almost always be a forum or discussion list for your niche. Join up and take note. Who is the typical member? Who are most motivated, willing to read and learn, experiment? You don’t really want those who want to sit back and have everything spoon fed, go for the enthusiastic, energetic and open minded people.
As your audience grows, get to know them. Email, chat, IM, Twitter and speak to your readers. Encourage them to talk to you, to ask you questions. Make it clear you are open to communication.
The secret of course is being interested in your reader …