When I started writing I was semi-clueless about the craft especially when it came to producing content for an audience. All I knew is that I enjoyed writing, strike that, I had a passion for writing.
The first writing project I dedicated my time and efforts to was writing my autobiography. I had envisioned a best seller. An epic story that helped the masses discover the treasures that are hidden in the tragic events that are common experiences for the majority of us.
After two years of pecking away at the keys on my keyboard I got up the courage to reach out to a writing coach for some professional feedback.
Brandon, read the first few pages and then he asked me a question that I hadn’t anticipated. “Who is your intended audience or your target market?” He inquired.
I revealed my almost pearly whites and said. “Anybody and everybody that might benefit from the positive things I have learned from the tragic events of my life.”
“That’ a pretty broad net you are casting.” Brandon smiled, and asked. “Do you fish?”
I scratched my head and responded.“I love to fish but what’s that got to do with my writing?”
“Any good fisherman will tell you no matter how large a net you cast, you won’t catch any fish in an empty lake.” Brandon observed the perplexed look on my face and then he inquired.“What’s the message you want to get out?”
Ouch… I shook my head and looked across the table at Brandon, thinking that I had wasted two years of my life. If he couldn’t grasp the message I had worked so hard to convey the first few pages I had written must have sucked.
After ten or so minutes listening to me ramble on about my message Brandon took a few minutes to express his thoughts about the few pages he had read of my manuscript. I was happy when he said I had captured his imagination as well as his heart. When he finished sharing his encouraging words, he suggested that we meet again the next week. After I had the opportunity to do some soul searching and some research to define my intended audience.
Even though my first coaching session didn’t go the way I expected I learned a valuable lesson. When you are writing it is as crucial to know who you are writing for, as it is to know the message, or thought you wish to convey.
It’s been about five years since my first coaching session, since then I have become a writing coach and volunteer mentor for writers myself. The first thing I share with my writing clients is the importance of clarity. Not only clarity of their message, but clarity as to who their audience is.
Do you know who your target audience is?
Before you sit down to write, it is a good idea to determine who you are writing for. Do the research and write in a style that will appeal to that audience. Recent study’s conducted by several organizations including the National Center for Educational Statistics or NCES have revealed that the average Adult in the United States reads at a ninth grade level. Further more it has been determined that the average reader would rather read at a level two years below their skill level for entertainment purposes. That said most likely the members of your target audience prefer reading stuff that has been written at a seventh grade reading level. So much for “five dollar” words… I am not saying don’t use them, but consider this. Would you enjoy reading something if you had to google every other word in order to understand what it is the author is trying to say?
Do you have clarity about who you are writing for?
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I appreciate you and am grateful for your taking the time to do so. With luck you found some of the information useful.