You have your topic, maybe even a title. You might have a list of points that you want to make. But before you start pounding away at the keyboard, what should you consider first?
Pinpointing your exact audience is the most important thing to do when planning your writing. It may be an obvious answer, such as when you are writing an email to one specific person, but it may be a little more difficult if you are writing for a magazine, the web, or an organization. Your audience might have a certain education level, certain interests, certain business needs.
Know this, though: your audience is NOT everyone.
Creative writers always consider their audience when they begin penning a book. We know the length of text the reader is expecting, the language, the characters, plot twists, etc. Someone writing for TV or the silver screen also thinks about their audience, knowing exactly when they need to laugh, cry, and cheer on their hero to love the show. Because we are usually so focused on selling what the person is reading or watching, those of us doing more creative works may already be focused on the consumer’s needs and desires. However, if you are not necessarily a writer by trade, you still have to consider who you are writing for.
You may be correct in assuming that anyone can stumble across your website, magazine article, or Facebook post, but is it truly for each of those people? A fantasy book isn’t for every reader. A cartoon isn’t for every television viewer. Likewise, those writing for business aren’t really trying to address every single person who happens upon their written work. Your audience is usually reading what you wrote for a very specific reason, and identifying that reason will help you keep your audience’s attention and hopefully garner some sales.
Before you start your writing, think about your ideal reader. Try answering these questions:
- Am I addressing people of a certain age group, sex, career path, health issue, etc.?
- Why did they seek my writing to begin with? Do they have a problem they want me to solve?
- What specific information are they looking for?
- What depth of explanation will they need? Is the reader a novice, who will need an explanation of basic terms? Or are they immersed in my discipline and want a more in-depth look?
- Why might they seek my business or expertise to help solve a problem?
- How can I best reach them and keep them engaged?
Knowing your audience and their needs will affect other parts of your writing. If your audience is people who are educated but would like to learn more about how to begin a blogging business, for example, then you will probably need to adopt a friendly, helpful tone. However, people who are at the top of the chain in business marketing may expect a more professional tone and be comfortable with trade-specific jargon.
Writing for your clients is different from writing for your colleagues or for those you hope to work with. Their needs are all different, as well as what they hope to get out of your communication, but whether you need to have those readers hooked for just a Tweet, an email, or an entire article, thinking about their needs is the best way to entice them to your call-to-action.
If you find yourself struggling, try searching online for your topic or something related to it. Who are the experts discussing this topic? Why are people following them? What do they want to know from that expert? Watch how the experts write. Mimic how they respond to people asking questions. Note how they engage people, cultivate conversation, and encourage readers to buy, click, or follow. As with any aspect of your business, whether you are a writer or involved in another passion of yours, studying the experts will help you improve.
What audience are you focusing on? What are their needs? Tell me in the comments! And let me know if you have suggestions for future topics!