Knowing your audience is one of the most critical aspects of good writing. If you don’t know who you’re writing to, then you aren’t as likely to engage your readers. Additionally, you may miss out on opportunities to take a more unique angle on a common topic. However, selecting a good target audience isn’t always easy, which is why you might want to take a look at the following five tips for ensuring that your article reaches the right people.
1. Identify whether location is important
Sometimes the topic of your article might necessitate an audience from a particular region. For example, say you write a piece on what to expect after being charged with a DUI. While the blood alcohol level limit is set at .08% nationwide, the consequences vary from state to state. For example, in Arizona and Tennessee, you face mandatory jail time, even if it’s your first DUI. In some states your vehicle might be confiscated on your first offense, whereas other states might only confiscate your vehicle on the second, third, or fourth offense. When writing a law article, you might find it useful to hone in on a specific state, province, or region.
2. Determine the level of information you will provide
If you are planning on writing a highly technical piece on a specialized instrument, targeting a general audience isn’t the best choice. However, if you address an audience of experienced workers and then provide them with basic information, your article likely falls short of high use value.
So, how can you tell whether the content of your article is more likely to interest a DIYer or professional? The distinction isn’t always easy to make, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the industry yourself. However, in cases where you want to address industry professionals, ensure that you offer them new information. How do you do this? By thoroughly researching tips for making their job easier or discussing new technologies that could have an impact in their field. For general, non-professional audiences, keep information basic enough for the average online reader to grasp and find value in.
3. Hone in on a specific target audience
You’ve probably heard this tip before, but a specific audience can really make the difference between a 3 star and 5 star article. As blogger Garrett Moon says, “Less audience is a better audience.”
For example, suppose you are writing an article for parents on choosing the right school for their child. How could you make that audience more specific? Well, in this case, it doesn’t matter so much who the parent is; what matters is who their child is. So, to make this article more specific and focused, you could address parents with kids on the autism spectrum and help each find a school that fits their child’s unique needs.
Here’s another example: let’s say you’re writing a piece on protecting your business from personal injury claims. If you address all business owners, you aren’t likely to provide the sort of in-depth content that merits high regard from readers or editors. Different businesses are more prone to different risks for customers. For example, a restaurant owner needs to be aware of cross-contamination and should post allergy warning signs to avoid being held responsible for a customer’s allergic reaction. On the other hand, a supermarket manager needs to train their employees to respond quickly to messes so a customer doesn’t trip in a cluttered aisle.
The next time you decide to target your article to business owners, go beyond addressing large or small business owners and choose a specific industry. Then you can start researching how that specific industry is uniquely affected by your topic.
4. Write in second person
According to blogger Melissa Tydell, you should write in second person because it allows you to draw your readers in. When you address your readers directly, you form a more personal relationship between your article and your audience. For example, consider the difference between these two passages:
“Most people don’t like chain link fences because they’re ugly. However, for people looking for an affordable yet attractive fencing option, chain link fences may still be a good choice. Chain link fences can be easily and inexpensively dressed up in the following ways:”
“If you think chain link fences are ugly, but their low cost is appealing to you, know that you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for affordability. You can easily and inexpensively dress up a chain-link fence in the following ways:”
The second passage is more engaging because it speaks to the reader personally and then reassures them. The first passage, on the other hand, comes across as awkward and detached.
5. Ask yourself whether the information could be applied to another audience
Even if you choose a super-specific audience and write in second person, your article may still have audience issues.
For example, say your topic is “Six Tips for Apartment Living with Dogs.” Now, this article could go either way on the useful or not-so-useful meter. If you choose tips like “prepare for house training,” “stop noisy barking,” and “take your dog for walks often,” your piece isn’t very engaging. These same principles apply to dog owners living in bigger houses as well. However, if you suggest things like choosing a small, low-energy breed and looking for an apartment located near an off-leash park, your readers likely appreciate the specificity.
Now start applying these tips to your own writing. Ask yourself whether your article might be more interesting or useful if you picked a particular demographic. While some niche topics interest a wide audience, you improve general topics by choosing a narrow audience.