Who Are You Writing For?

focus on who to write forIt’s amazing to think we’re into the third week of the year already.

By now you have probably posted at least one if not many posts to your blog. Have you stopped to consider the question, Who reads my blog? Does it have a clear focus?

Who are you writing for?

Whether you write for a blog or for a publication, how well do you know your readers?

If you’re like me, your readers include ladies in their nineties, twenty-year-olds, and anything in between. I have full-time writers, enthusiastic bloggers, and folk who have never written more than thank-you notes at Christmas. And I try to keep them all happy.

Early today, I was moving through my morning routine. As usual, I had my mp3 player hanging on a ribbon around my neck, my earbuds plugged in, and I was listening to a podcast.

I’m currently working through a series of amazing podcasts by Kat Lee. I’ll give you her link at the end of this post. I don’t want to give it to you now in case I lose you! On her blog, Kat shares testimonies by numerous bloggers telling how they blog, and periodically she gives a teaching herself.

Today I listened to her teaching, (#6) titled, The Most Important Blogging Question You Can Answer—the question I’ve just posed above. Kat discusses how to find and keep your target audience.

I write to inspire writers . . . you can see that from the title of this website. But at some point, I decided that was too specific and, seeing I do a lot of book reviews, I tried to change the emphasis to include readers.

Yet, my posts continued to target writers and I realised I was simply watering down my target audience. After all, all writers are readers, agreed? If readers who don’t write enjoy my website, they will continue to come. But they are not my target audience.

Narrow your blog focus to one person.

Kat suggests we get way more specific than even my “writers” focus. She used to work on radio, and they created a fictional character called Becky, and everything they produced on air had to be of interest for Becky. What a clever idea.

“Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person-a real person you know, or an imagined person-and write to that one.” – John Steinbeck

Create a character who represents your target audience and get to know her. Click To Tweet

We should explore all her likes and dislikes, her needs and her day-to-day challenges. We should know her age, whether she’s married and how many kids she has, if she has a career away from home or if she’s a stay-at-home mom. And of course she needs a name.

Crazy as it may sound, this is where I got hung up, trying to find a unique name that wouldn’t relate to someone I’m in contact with! Eventually I went with Carey.  

Who is Carey? She’s actually based on one of my characters, so I know her well. I can add more features as I go along which will help me fine-tune her as a fictional person as well as getting to better know my blog target audience. However, I have the basics to start.losing focus

Carey is obviously a writer, because that’s who I’m writing for. Like me, she is busy, takes on too many things, and often feels overwhelmed.

She struggles to find a balance between writing worthwhile material on her blog and continuing to work on her current book or writing project. She is a woman of faith who wants to be inspired to cover topics that will make a difference in people’s lives.

Set some goals for your focus person.

My goal for Carey is to help her balance her time; to produce posts, books, magazine articles or short stories that will make a difference in people’s lives, while still having a personal life. I’ve already worked out a number of her characteristics, but I can add to her bio as I move along.

One thing that bothered me about choosing this particular character was that my character Carey is unmarried and more than a generation younger than me.

“So change her,” someone may say. But if you write fiction, you will know that’s impossible. Carey is Carey, and where I can give her more talents or challenges, I cannot age her by thirty-odd years! Yet, I want to reach people in my own generation and tell them, as Tracey Weller says in her blog, “It’s Never Too Late to Write!

I came up with a solution.

I’ve given Carey a mother. (Not that she didn’t have one before. Most people do!) But my character originally had a mother who stayed vaguely in the background. I have changed that.

Carey’s mother is now an active woman who wants to use her retirement in a meaningful way. So if I want to write an article targeting older women, that’s fine. Carey wants to understand her mom and be there for her.

I can write on virtually any topic as long as I slant my article to my audience. Click To Tweet

Choose your topics with your focus person in mind.

Far from narrowing my options, I can see how focusing on one person can expand my possibilities.

For example, let’s say I’m thinking of getting another puppy. (I’m not!) Before listening to this podcast, I would have discussed this on Facebook perhaps, but I wouldn’t have thought to write an article on my blog about puppies. However, does Carey want a puppy?

dog focusI could write an article about how owning a pet  would impact a writer. Would he be a distraction? I could interview several pet-owners who are also writers.

I could debate the benefits of getting a young pup or going for an older dog, and how this will affect the writer’s productivity. What could she do when she’s out walking the pup? How could she record ideas that came to her during her walk?

Will the pup give her company and lift her spirits, which will in turn will help her to be more productive? And I’m going to stop there before I talk myself into getting another dog. You get the drift.

In other words, I can cover just about any topic as long as it’s something Carey will benefit from reading. Because I know if Carey will benefit from reading it,  so will all the other readers out there who have similar needs and challenges.

Carey doesn’t have children, but that’s okay. Many of my readers won’t have. I could certainly come up with an angle if I really wanted to, but would that take me away from my target audience? Perhaps.

“When you’re writing, don’t forget to keep your favorite audience in mind–you.” – Lori Lesko

So from now on, my posts need to appeal to my ideal target reader. Thank you Kat Lee! Click on the link below to visit her site, but only after sharing your thoughts on this post.

How about you?

Do you have a clear picture of who you are writing for? I challenge you to come up with a name (good luck on that!) and figure out the ideal character that represents who you are writing for.  What can you tell us about her . . . or him? Please share in the comment box below.

Visit Kat Lee at How They Blog and listen to her podcasts, or download them and listen to them as you work around the house, take your dog for a walk, or hang the washing.

18 comments on “Who Are You Writing For?

  1. What an incredible post, Shirley. Super idea. I’m going to find my character and start writing with her in mind. Amazing key you just gave us.

  2. This blog post is a good read and has made me realise I need to think more about my readers. Thank you, Shirl.

    Your goals for Carey work well for me, although I also totally relate to Carey’s mom as we are at the same place in our lives.

    • Yes Ruth, I am close to Carey’s mom’s mom’s age too, but the thing is I’m not specifically writing for that age group. I’m writing for the Careys of the world who have so many things going they easily get overwhelmed. Regardless of age they want to write and write with a purpose. Thanks for your visit!

  3. I am definitely writing and making videos for my readers!!! I always make sure to HAVE A POINT to each post so people don’t simply come to my blog and feel like they left with nothing. Even if it’s just a laugh 😉

    • Thanks for the visit Silly Mommy. 🙂 It’s certainly made a difference to my approach. I’m busy redesigning my website – and I keep thinking, “What would work for Carey?” Have a great day!

  4. I rarely click through on Twitter (can hardly get through the first twenty tweets as it is) but Kate Spencer’s tweet with the title of this piece intrigued me. I often feel hung up about blogging. For a long time I thought I had to just address writing in my posts. Ho hum. Some days I don’t feel like writing about writing! But you’ve broadened the opportunities with this tip. Just love the idea of visualizing a specific reader, and then angling so many topics of interest to the shared concern of writing. Thank you. Will stop in again. And will definitely check out Kat Lee.

    • Welcome Jeanne! Like you, I find Twitter overwhelming, so I’m really glad you followed my link. I have tended to go for catchy, often puzzling, titles and then the other day I read somewhere, “I only follow links if I know what I’m going to read!” Goodbye clever headlines – hello ones that tell you what to expect! Thank you for telling me it worked this time round!

  5. I write for me, but the me that I was ten years ago. Stuck in a rut, afraid to try anything new or chase after dreams. Someone pushed and prodded me out of that rut and I want to do the same for other women.

    • Hi Jennifer. Thanks for the visit. Ooh yes, I like that idea too. As long as you know who you’re writing for and can get to know the person well. I guess you can’t help but know your younger you. Clever.

    • Thanks for your visit Jeanne. I’m so delighted to hear you followed the link from Twitter. Like you, I struggle to keep up with all the tweets, especially on a Monday (#MondayBlogs). I’ve often wondered if it’s worth it. But you’re the second person to come here from Twitter in a week (different posts) so I’m encouraged.

      I’m also delighted the name caught your attention. I’ve tended to go for “mysterious” catchy names – then the other day something someone else said gave me a jolt. “I’ll never follow a link if I don’t know what it’s going to tell me.” Hah! We keep learning, right?

  6. This is wonderful advice. When you’re writing for a specific reader it keeps you focused on offering content that will be useful. Mine is someone I know, like me a grandmother with a great appreciation of art and a hectic life. I think it was really clever to add Carey’s mother to the mix to expand your writing topics.

    • Thanks Tamuria. I also thought it was great advice. I’m also a grandmother, but my blog is not geared for grannies – but for busy, stressed, women who write. 🙂 Glad you liked the idea of Cary’s mother. I need to come up with a name for her.

  7. Hi Shirley,
    First, thank you so much for the mention!
    Second, I really do have my target audience in mind and she’s still somewhere out there, not writing because she believes it’s too late and life has overwhelmed her. She subscribes to the blog, but she never visits. I’m not even sure if she ever opens my emails.
    I feel sad for her every time she comes to mind, and I hope that one day I see her make a comment on one of my posts … that she finally knows she can do it and she’s ready to try.
    (Yes, this is a real person, so I won’t use her name. She’s someone I used to work with, over a decade ago, when I was living the cubicle life. When she found my blog, didn’t even want to subscribe using the form and asked me to add her email address for her. She was so happy for me, that I was finally “doing it”, even as I saw a touch of sadness in her eyes.)

    • How great that you have a target audience so clearly pictured for you, although as you say it is sad that she hasn’t yet taken the plunge. I have tried for too long to be “all things to all people”. I thought I knew who my audience was, but I kept spreading the net wider instead of pulling it in narrower! Strange, as that only applies to this website. My other one is clearly for a woman touched with cancer, and my book Strength Renewed was written with “one woman” in mind.

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