reader_personaIn the last post I talked about how creating user personas can increase affiliate sales by helping you better define and understand your users, and thus better help them solve problems and find relevant products.

In this post I’ll walk you through an example of how to create a hypothetical reader persona. For this post, I’ll pretend we’re working with a site geared towards SEO tactics and techniques.

Identify a Backstory

The first step to creating a sample user profile is to give that user a backstory. I usually come up with an easy name, a job position, and company.

  • Example 1: John runs a small accounting firm in Chicago. He currently has a small website that outlines his services and pricing, and is looking for ways to increase traffic to his website to get more customer leads.
  • Example 2: Sara is a senior marketing consultant for fortune 500 companies. She is usually hired to develop comprehensive marketing plans with sizable budgets. She has a lot of autonomy when she creates her plan, but needs to outline potential risks and estimate a probable ROI for any activity she recommends.
  • Example 3: Bob is a professional blogger. He works on a per-article basis for multiple website and small business owners. His clients often ask him about SEO, so he needs to stay up to date with best practices and upcoming/recent algorithm changes.

Notice how each of these examples provides a specific story for different user backgrounds. The next step is to figure out why that user is coming to your site.

Identify Individual Objectives

In order to determine the why part of a user profile, you need to consider their individual objectives. That is, what information are they looking for?

  • John probably has very minimal experience working with SEO. He is looking for general, background information on what might work for his company.
  • Sara is probably a more sophisticated marketer. She gets the basics and is looking to find executable action that she can prove will work.
  • Bob probably has intermediate knowledge of SEO. He does not need to be an expert SEO consultant. He simply needs to keep up to date so that he can sound professional if a client asks him more specific questions, but it is not his job to make SEO recommendations.

Identify Problems and Solutions

Now the we have a better grasp of what the objectives are of each individual, we can start to identify and solve problems.

  • John doesn’t really want to get into the details of SEO. He is probably looking for a product or service that will make his life easier. For example, he might want automated SEO software or a professional consultant to update his site.
  • Sara is looking for hard data. She has a budget and is probably be willing to pay for professional reporting and trend data. Backing up any claims with solid, statistical evidence is most important.
  • Bob may simply need an introductory SEO course. He gets the basics, but needs to take his knowledge to the next level. Since he views this as a part of his blogging business, there may be a small budget to invest in his education.

What do you think? What problems and solutions can you think of when you’re creating hypothetical user profiles? To brainstorm more problems and solutions, read more on how to help users solve problems.