Writing for Others: Your go-to Guide to Finding your Audience
Picture this: you’re a writer who loves writing, and you have a pretty good understanding why you write. I recently covered some of the motivations behind my writing and why it’s important to consider why we write. But have you sat down and really considered who you write for?
This can be a common struggle for many writers. So let’s dive in, and work on building your ideal audience. Shall we?
Why you need to write towards an audience
1. Your Audience Aligns with your Content Creation Goals
What’s the goal of your content? Is it something you do for fun, or strive to make a living off of? Either way, it’s best to work with an audience in mind. An audience can become important motivators behind your content creation efforts. What does your content do for your readers?
There’s usually two main reasons:
Does your content strive to save someone or help them with something that troubles them? Take for instance, a tutorial or guide. Or do you simply want distract and entertain them? Short story or video skits are great examples. Knowing your motivation is important for pinpointing your audience.
Inherently, the point of the writing we share publicity is to reach and connect with other people. If the work you produce doesn’t resonate with readers, what’s the point? People tend to not read what doesn’t appeal to their emotions or interests. Certainly, writing for an audience isn’t the point of all we write, and these points simply don’t apply for all forms of writing, like journaling, for example.
However, I do firmly believe that almost all creative writing (fiction, poetry, playwriting, etc.), and digital content (blog posts, white pages, videos, etc.) need to have and appeal to a specific target audience.
You and your content need to reach, engage with, and empathize with the right group of people.
2. An Audience helps with Content Ideation
Do you struggle with content ideas? I know I do. However, what helps me is thinking about the audience I write for. Simply, these blogs are a combination of what I want to write and what my readers (hopefully haha) want to read. When you can’t come up with what you want to write about next, consider your audience.
Ask yourself these questions:
· What challenges your reader?
· What other forms of content are they consuming?
· How do they problem solve?
· What does your piece of content do for your reader?
Blogs, for instance, depend on engagement from their respective audiences. If the blog doesn’t do anything for their readers, they’re useless.
That’s why it’s important to explore and understand the mindset of your targeted audience. Get into their shoes and put yourself where they are. Look for questions they’re searching for on Google and Quora, and join them on online communities like Reddit and other forums.
Or in the real world, visit places that matter to them. Like restaurants, stores, and landmarks. Be an active participant of their world. This way, you can create content that resonates with them and fulfills their needs.
Sometimes, when we write with no one in mind, the work can end up being unfocused. Unfocused work typically isn’t good work. And we should always strive for the very best. 😊
Remember this: Always write and solve for your reader. They come first.
Determining your audience
Two things helped me determine my audience. I majored in creative writing in college, with a focus on fictional short story. We all had to write an introductory essay to accompany our final portfolios, where we discussed the motivations behind our writing and who we write for. Until then, quite frankly, I was writing for my professors to fulfill their assignments. I never really considered the significance of writing for a wider audience.
After a lot of consideration, I ended up with this: “I write for the outsider”. I maintain this today. This was the start of me building my ideal audience and motivations behind my writing.
HubSpot Academy’s Content Marketing Certification course mentioned the creation your “Buyer Persona”. This also helped me. They have a handy dandy blog about creating your own Buyer Persona here. Their advice, while primarily focused upon businesses and their customers, can be used to help create an audience for creative works as well.
1. Pinpoint your Content’s Intent
First, as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to have a clear motivation, or reason why you write. What do you plan to write about? What’s your niche or industry? Who is consuming content of said industry? There can be a very broad range of people here. What does your ideal reader look like?
Me, thinking about my audience
2. Shape your audience
There's a lot to think about here. Here are some places for you to get started.
Consider these factors:
· Why your content matters to them
· …And many others!
How old are your readers? Children, teens, adults? Are they in school? Do they hold degrees? Will your content have strong language? What kind of vernacular and word choices will you be using? Formal and academic? Or casual?
Maybe you write for fellow women or your content targets men. This could be an important factor in empathizing with your audience. Or maybe this plays no factor at all.
Where are your readers from? Will their location affect the references you make and the languages you use? How many people around the world do you expect your content to reach? Do your readers have certain morals or beliefs you want to appeal to?
What does audience do when they’re struggling? How do they get information? Does social media play heavily in their content consumption? What are their goals and how do they achieve them? Can your content help them? Or perhaps, comfort them when they’re upset?
Why your content matters to them
This might be the most important thing to consider. What does your content strive to do for your audience? What are they going to take away from it? Again, usually we seek out content that will either teach us something, or entertain us. These are important distinctions.
You can narrow your focus as much as you like, or you can keep things relatively loose. And you can change your audience and its scope with each project you undertake! Don’t hold yourself back and confine your content. Rather, use the audience you target as a tool to expand the reach of your content.
Are there people you don’t want to attract?
If determining your ideal audience is difficult, it might be best to start here and work backwards. For example, I don’t want closeminded people engaging with my content, since they won’t be able to take very much away from it. Or, I doubt STEM researchers will benefit from my writing blog.
Now, let’s use this very blog as an example.
The goals of and motivations behind my blog are plentiful. I wanted to explore content writing and SEO. I wanted a space to for writing beyond creating fiction. And I wanted to connect with, explore advice for, and learn from fellow writers all around the world.
So what kind of audience would I be targeting?
I started very broad and narrowed my scope. I write about writing, for writers.
I primarily strive to create content for fellow creative writers, although fellow bloggers and content creators can benefit from these tips as well. I want this blog to reach writers who are active learners and are always seeking to better their craft. As for education, I anticipate that most of my readers have high school diplomas, are currently in college, or already hold a degree. It’s a bit of a rarity for writers to hold creative writing degrees (Since a degree isn’t a requirement to be a writer), so this is something I don’t count on. It’s difficult for me to narrow down the age range, because writers looking for advice come in all ages and levels of education. I anticipate high school and beyond. Therefore, I tend to keep my audience largely open.
At the end of the day, I want to appeal to writers looking to think more critically about the work they produce. I look for keywords about writing topics and through my personal experiences, try to provide helpful content about written content creation.
Now, what about you? Try to write down the intent of your content and who you want to benefit from it.
· Take the time to consider your audience
· Keep your audience and their needs in mind when writing new content
· Keep the scope of your ideal audience as wide or narrow as you need
· You can create different audiences for different pieces of content
· Look to your audience for content ideas
I hope these tips can help you start thinking more critically about and narrowing down your audience. Who do you write for?