Many Bloggers Don’t Write for a Target Audience
I normally have a target audience in mind when I write. I used to think every writer did. I was surprised to learn that’s not true. One of the writers on Persona Paper took an informal poll of writers on that site. Seven people responded. Out of those seven, only four were thinking of a target audience when they wrote their posts.
Here’s an example: When I wrote my blog post “Review: Two New Social Blogging Sites” I was targeting readers who might be trying to decide whether they should join Literacy Base, BlogBourne, or both. I wrote all the information I wished I’d known before I joined those sites. I wanted to give people answers to what I thought were their questions so they could make informed decisions.
Things I see or experience often inspire my posts. When I believe I have learned something important, I want to share it with others whom it may help. For example, when I wrote “What To Expect When You Go to the Emergency Room with Chest Pain,” I imagined I was writing to those who might be wondering what would happen to them if they thought they were having a heart attack and they decided to go to the emergency room. I explained my hesitancy about whether my symptoms were bad enough to need to go, why I decided to go, and everything that happened when I got there. That is one of my best posts on HubPages because there are a lot of people looking for that information. They were my target audience.
My inspiration for my most popular post on the now defunct Bubblews site came when one writer made disparaging comments about some of my friends on the site. These friends were sharing their worlds in the required number of characters. Bubblews owners encouraged that. Many of my friends were refugees from myLot, and we had all migrated at about the same time so we could still get paid for talking to each other and staying in touch. We were already friends when we got to Bubblews.
Most of these Bubblers had no desire to be professional freelancers. They joined Bubblews because they wanted to communicate in writing with people they meet online and earn some cash doing it. The person who was criticizing them implied only “real” writers should be allowed to write on Bubblews. I wrote my post to defend my friends’ right to be there. I stated that other readers should be the judges of whom they want to read and exercise their judgement by reading what interests them. As long as all rules were being followed, my friends should be as welcome as anyone else. My target audience consisted of the person making the unkind elitist remarks and the people who took her side. I could see them in my mind’s eye as I was writing, just as I could see those whom they had attacked. People on both sides of the issue were emotional, and the post did well because everyone wanted to comment on it. That post actually had two targeted audiences –those who were critical and those who had been criticized.
Why Target Specific Readers?
Pretend you’re a tour guide and your readers are the tourists. What do you want to show them?
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.
Having a target audience makes it easier for me to focus my writing. Sometimes I do see actual faces in my mind as I write. Sometimes I pretend I’m a tour guide talking to a group visiting a place I’m excited about. Sometimes I picture the face of a friend who has a problem, or someone who is discouraged. If you think I’m writing to you, maybe I am. Right now I’m talking to those who don’t target their writing or don’t see a need to. Of course, if that’s not you, I’m still glad you’re eavesdropping.
Many writers have advised other writers to write what they are passionate about. Most of the time I do that. I aim my writing at those passionate about the same things or at those who hate what I love. I am most likely to write with passion when I see a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. If one writes with no passion and no target audience, it’s easy not to care that much about what you write, and, chances are, no one else will care either. You may get some readers because they want you to read them in return, but if you want to really connect with your readers, you’ve got to write something they will care about and believe will be valuable to them.
Do You Write to Communicate Something of Value to Your Readers?
Writing is a form of communication, so it should connect one person to another, the writer to the reader and the reader to the writer. That’s why when we talk in person, we look at each other so we can discern if we are actually connecting and not just talking to hear ourselves talk. We can see if the other person is with us or not. We don’t have the same kind of feedback in written communication, so we have to imagine how the people who read our words may be reacting to them. We need to try to understand what questions they may want answers to.
To do that, we need to imagine the sort of people we are writing to. How old are they? What do they love or hate? How do they spend their free time? Where do they like to shop? Where might they like go on vacation? Are they single, married, in a relationship, or unable to form good relationships? Are they widowed, divorced or bereaved? Do they have children? If so, what are their ages?
Do they like to cook? Do they like to eat out a lot? Are they on a strict budget, or are they well off enough so they don’t have to have to think much about what they spend? Do they have pets? Cats, dogs, hamsters, canaries or something exotic like a snake? What are their hobbies? Do they have a religion that’s important to them? Are they politically active or opinionated? Do they like to read, watch movies at home, go to concerts or to the theater? Do they have a special jargon they use that others might not understand?
Of course you’ll never know all that about the people who will actually read your posts. You will have use your imagination to construct the person in your target audience, and then aim your writing at them. It’s easier for me to target someone I know in the real world whom I do know a lot about. I might even target a group — the people in my church or political action group, or maybe cyclists who break the law and make things hard on motorists who are behind them.
I write a gardening blog. My target audience is others like me who garden at home because we enjoy it. They are not professional gardeners and most don’t have anyone doing their landscaping for them. They live under drought conditions like I do and may have to modify their gardens accordingly because of water rationing. They live on the central coast of California, but they live mostly in tract homes or on rural properties. They are middle class and have a budget. They grow their favorite flowers and vegetables for their families, or they may just want their front and back yards to look nice. They are interested in gardening tips and learning about new plants or varieties to try in their gardens. They enjoy seeing photos of what other home gardeners have done with their gardens. They often get ideas from those photos. They also are in awe of their Creator as they garden and believe that gardening brings them closer to Him.
Some Posts Will Bring in Readers Not Part of Your Target Audience
I write my gardening blog for the audience I described above. Of course, some people in other climates may read my blog and learn something. Maybe they just like to compare what we can grow here with what they can grow in their own climate zones. Maybe some people with no flower beds or yard like to dream about having a garden of their own someday. Anyone can dream. Maybe an atheist who just wants to see photos of my different sage varieties will pop in from Google and still get information he finds valuable.
Writing online is somewhat like a huge party. There are clusters of people everywhere who have found something in common to talk about. There is usually one person in each of those groups aiming his conversation at the kind of people he hopes will stick around — his target audience. He knows the others will eventually drift away toward another group they feel more at home with. No one group or blog will appeal to everyone. We want to aim our posts carefully toward the readers we most want to attract and give them what they want. Speak their language. Use their jargon. Make them feel at home. If they are in the niche you are writing for, they will probably read more of your posts. If they aren’t, they will find a writer who is better at meeting their needs.
It’s been said that if you aim at nothing, that’s what you will hit. (Paraphrase of Zig Ziglar.) That’s why I’m encouraging those of you who have no specific target audience to start targeting. If your writing is personal, imagine you’re talking to a friend and aim the writing at that friend. What would he or she want to know about your day, for example. If you are discussing something that happened at work, do you want to aim it at a co-worker, your boss, a friend, or a family member? What you write might be different in each case. When you write a joke, are you aiming at your drinking buddies or your family? Are you aiming your recipes at your daughter-in-law, dieters, or people who only have fifteen minutes to get dinner on the table? That should be obvious in your introduction.
In Public Domain Courtesy of Pixabay
Define a target audience before writing your next post. Then get those arrows out and start aiming them. You just might hit a bullseye.
Photo in Public Domain Courtesy of Pixabay.