12 Survey Questions to REALLY Get to Know Your Audience

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I'm sitting behind a computer screen writing this blog post so that, in a few days, you can sit behind your computer screen and read it. Then you close out of my blog and open yours, and you start typing behind your screen because that's the way our generation trades ideas. Our words are currency. We send them bouncing across invisible spaces in search of someone who will read them and say, "Me too." We do all this in search of connection.

Which is why it's a shame that this whole process of creating content is becoming so clinical and stale. You carefully place your SEO keywords, you create an image for Pinterest, you optimize your social sharing, and you forget why you started this in the first place.

You started it for your readers, remember? You wanted to help them, encourage them, connect with them, make friends with them, build a solid community from nothing more than a heap of consonants and vowels.

You, blogger, are here to serve your readers. But you can't do that unless you know who they are. So let's get to know them, shall we?

Yes, I know, you check your Google Analytics faithfully each week. But analytics can only take you so far. You need to go past the numbers and see the person behind the computer screen. You need to connect.

How to use a survey to get to know your readers.

Surveys are one of the best ways to find out more about your readers. It gives them a chance to tell you exactly what they need from you. They can point to the map of their lives and say "This is what frustrates me," "This is where I get stuck," "This is what makes me wake up crying."

As useful as surveys can be, even that word survey sounds like you're a government census taker. When you read these survey questions, don't think of them as fill-in-the-blanks, or as data you're gathering up to pore over with a magnifying glass later, searching for clues.

Think of them as conversation starters. These are questions that will take you deeper than multiple choice: age, gender, number of children.

These questions will show you fears and joys and failures and dreams. These questions will introduce you to your readers. Treat it like the privilege it is.

Don't hurl them like grenades, all flung together into one giant survey that no one has time to answer. Offer them up gradually, asked in blog comments and emails and on Twitter and Facebook. Ask them like you care, because you do.

Slip them into the mix, and respond in kind. After all, it's not about the income or the ad space or the product sales: it's about the connection.

1. Tell me about the most stressful thing that happened to you last week.

This helps you identify your readers' pain points. Sometimes we think we know what our ideal readers' problems are, but we're actually off the mark. Other times we do know our ideal readers' problems, but our content has drifted away from what they need.

2. What's one thing you've been struggling with for months but can't seem to find a solution for?

You could be the perfect person to provide the solution your readers need . . . if only you knew they were looking for it! Sometimes this question backfires because readers don't know what they're looking for until they see it. Still, it's worth asking---it might lead to you writing a blog post or ebook that makes a huge impact on your readers!

3. If you could take over any business/blog, which one would you want?

This doesn't just tell you which blogs your readers enjoy, it tells you which bloggers and biz owners they admire. This is the blog/business your reader would love to build for herself. How can you use your content to support her along the way?

4. Who's the blogger who feels like your best friend, even if you've never met?

We feel like friends with certain bloggers because we connect with their writing voice and their authenticity. Visit these blogs and evaluate their writing style. You don't need to copycat other bloggers to create good content, but it doesn't hurt to see what your readers are connecting with.

5. What's one thing that always makes you feel confident and on top of the world?

You want your content to bring confidence and encouragement to your readers. What better place to start than by finding out what already makes them feel that way? What can you write about to bring your readers more of this "on-top-of-the-world" feeling?

6. What's your biggest goal in life right now?

This one is obvious: if you know your readers' big goal, you can brainstorm ways to help her get there.

7. Describe your perfect day.

How can you contribute to making this ideal day a reality? This is a great chance to get creative! You could create a helpful printable, give a quick shoutout on social media, introduce two readers who would get along splendidly, start an online community where your readers can hang out and swap ideas . . . the options are limitless!

8. What's one thing you wish you had more time for?

Most of us would say we don't have enough time in a day---especially when it comes to passion projects or "extras" like reading and being creative. What can you do to help your reader make time for things that matter?

9. If you met your hero tomorrow and could only ask them one question, what would you ask?

This question gives so much insight into the things your readers wonder about, as well as the people they look up to. What content can you offer that answers their question or that inspires them in the same way their hero does?

10. What's one thing that always makes you feel appreciated?

You don't have readers for the sole purpose of selling to them. (Or maybe you do, in which case this blog isn't for you.) Use your blog posts, videos, and social media accounts to make your readers feel loved and appreciated!

11. If you could only read one blog for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

This shows you what your readers are looking for in a blog. Once again, it's not about copycatting this blogger, it's about analyzing their magic sauce. What do they offer that your readers love so much? How can you use your unique perspective to do something similar?

12. How did you find out about my blog?

This question may not seem like it gets at the depths of your reader's heart, but it can actually reveal a lot. If your readers don't remember how they found you, it means many of them have been hanging out with you for a long time---which means you're doing something right! It can also tell you which social media your readers like to hang out on, or that they value a friend's blog recommendation more than a promoted Facebook post.

Use these answers to narrow your efforts when you promote your content. A little focus goes a long way!

Ready to meet your readers?

Don't be afraid to tailor these questions to your readers! Take what you already know about them and tweak these questions to get even more insight into where they're at and what they need from you. Remember, it's not about knowing people as customers or clients, it's about knowing them as people. (Trust me, they can tell the difference.)

If you're looking for even more tips for getting to know your audience, check out my free mini-course, The Content Creator's Guide to Delighting Readers. You'll get three lessons, including videos and worksheets, that walk you through exactly how to make your content connect with your reader, every time. You'll also receive weekly content prompts in your email each Tuesday. (But don't worry, you can unsubscribe if that's not your cup of tea.) Sign up in the box below!

What are your favorite ways to get to know your readers?