The Reader Journey Map

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Ok, you’ve now setup the foundation of your blog, which culminated in your about page. I hope the writing went well; I know it’s not an easy thing to write, but it matters a lot.

Now we’re heading into the second module of this course, starting the seven step process of writing content that earns true fans.

Content ideas are fuel for your blog. It’s what your blog runs on. It’s what you feed your blog to make it grow an audience.

The popularity and stickiness of your blog will largely depend on your ability to develop a constant flow of compelling ideas for blog posts, and on your ability to execute on turning those ideas into great articles.

But we don’t just sit around and wait for amazing content ideas to hit us over the head — we’ve got to do work to pull those ideas out of us.

I think this is a common misconception — that as a blogger you just get inspired and write whenever you feel like it. No, great content ideas actually come from doing some research and exercises just like the ones I’m going to teach you in this lesson and the next.

The Reader Journey Map

In this lesson we’re going to create a reader journey map. A reader journey map helps us understand the steps someone takes to get through any given transformation.

Imagine a reader who is brand new to your topic. She finds your blog and decides to trust you for guidance. Where will you lead her? What are the important milestones? What do you want her to know or have accomplished in the next month, three months, or a year from now?

Here’s an example. Your blog might help people make better coffee at home.

Let’s say our reader is right at the beginning, they don’t make coffee at home yet, but they want to.

So, we’re going to create a map of the journey from not making coffee at home (our start state) to confidently making delicious coffee at home (our end state).

A journey map shows the journey from the start state to the end state. In this example: from not making coffee at home to confidently making delicous coffee at home.

Now it would be easy to say: the first step is to get good coffee, then to make it, and now you know how.

But that’s not correct, there are way more steps than that:

  • Maybe a first step is googling “how to make coffee at home.”
  • Or talking to a friend about how they make coffee.
  • Then looking on google maps for a fancy coffee shop that sells beans nearby.
  • Then it’s driving to that coffee shop.
  • Then maybe it’s waiting in line at the coffee shop.
  • Then you notice the different coffee bean bags, as you try to discern the difference between them.
  • Then you talk to the barista about which beans you should get.
  • Then you ask them if they can grind the coffee for you
  • They ask what kind of coffee maker you use.
  • Uh oh, I forgot about that, learning about and choosing the coffee making method happens before this maybe.

By the way, even if you’re bad at drawing, like me, sketching on these can help other ideas happen.

I don’t need to finish it all the way for you to see what a journey map is. It’s a map of the journey someone takes from a starting point to a finishing point.

A reader journey map is so helpful for us because several points in this journey would make for great blog posts.

Maybe this one, this one, and definitely this one.

Example journey map

It’s really the thinking about every single one of these little details and steps that makes this process so helpful.

What I want you to do is make your own reader journey map. The instructions for how to do so are below, but the gist is this: you think about your ideal reader and ask where are they now. That’s the starting state. And where do they want to be? That’s the end state. Now simply ask “what happens next” from the start state and keep track of each step until you reach the end state.

You can go as long or as short as you want on this, you could draw little graphics for each step, or do it on post it notes so you can move them around, or use any application you like.

What’s important is that you take some time, really think about this and zoom in and see every little step, because you’ll never know which steps might lead to excellent blog post ideas.

Follow the instructions below to create your own reader journey map. When you’re finished I’ll see you in the next lesson where we’ll do the second exercise for great content ideas.

Action for This Lesson

It’s time to create your reader journey map.

First, define the start and end state for a reader. Refer to the coffee at home example above for an idea of what we mean.

Now, consider your starting state, and ask “what happens next?”

Try to zoom in and think about as many small details as possible (like “driving to coffee shop”, “waiting in line”, etc.).

Really put yourself in the shoes of your reader. Try to remember what it was like to be where they are now.

You can use anything you’d like. Post it notes, google docs, sketches on paper, whatever works best for you. Chase says to tell you to sketch it if you can, because sketching gets you thinking differently.

Create your reader journey map now.

There is no right answer, just do your best.

When you’re done, I’ll see you in the next lesson.