Who cares about what we’re writing?
Answering this is essential when we write almost anything. It is the “who” – the audience – that will determine what and how we write.
“I write what I want people to know,” is the attitude many writers take. How do we determine that’s what people want?
Very few readers, especially in the age of electronic media, have the time or patience to read anything that doesn’t immediately interest them or that includes information they don’t really need. As a result, we must look at who will care about what we write.
Ask the Questions
How do we go about doing that? The first thing is to consider some essential questions:
- What does our audience already know?
- What are the audience characteristics?
- What does the audience need or want to get out of the information we’re giving them?
- How might our audience use the information?
- How can we package our content to meet the readers’ needs?
Paint a Picture
Answering these questions is important, but we need to start somewhere. One thing that is helpful is to come up with a reader persona. Sit down and create a character to write for. For instance, it may be Sylvia who is a middle-aged, married, professional woman with teenaged children. Or it could be Jamal, a thirty-something owner of a small accounting firm in a medium-sized Midwestern city.
These two different characters will have different needs as well as background that we, as writers, need to keep in mind.
Mine the Internet
Getting background information on our potential readers is getting easier and easier because of the Internet. I have a business friend who has encouraged me to delve into GoggleAnalytics. It is positively fascinating some of the information I can mine from that!
There are other ways to get information. Go up on Twitter or Tumblr to find out what is trending. If you’re writing marketing copy, check out the business’s customer demographics. Business writers should determine if the readers are executives, employees, regulators, or customers. Fiction authors can cruise fan pages – theirs and other writers’.
Once we know who we’re writing for, it makes it much easier to come up with the what and how of our content. We’ll know how to package it to make it more attractive to our readers. That, in turn, will make our writing that much more successful.
Next week: Headlines Matter.