Hello, my dear readers!
I hope you all are enjoying this beautiful Friday, though it’s a little cloudy here. A few days ago we survived a tornado (yes, a tornado in January!) and now it’s back to chilly temperatures here in the Southern United States. Sometimes I really do imagine living on a tropical island with perfect weather, but that probably doesn’t exist. We can all wish, can’t we? 🙂
It has been a while since we’ve done a post on our favorite subject of writing… So let’s get back into it! One of my last posts related to writing advice was titled “5 Tips To Improve Your Writing,” which you can check out here. So in a similar but not-so-similar situation, we’re going to discuss the topic of writing for your audience.
While writers tend to write for themselves (guilty as charged!), we must remember we are writing for others at the same time. Unless you’re Emily Dickinson, the famous poet whose works were published after her death, you’re probably sharing your materials with people, and this may only be a few trusted individuals, or maybe via a blog (special shoutout to bloggers!). Chances are some of you want to make it big, whether that’s becoming an up-and-coming novelist, poet, screenwriter, or storyteller. And chances are some of you don’t really care; you just want to write to inspire others and spread your words for those to hear.
What is the common denominator here? For a story to be told, there must be someone who receives it. (Even when you’re writing for yourself, you are your audience, so this still applies to the shyer writers out there!) So why don’t we highlight some points of interest when it comes to how to attract your audience and deliver quality material?
1. IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
For whom are you writing? Are your posts directed to a particular audience? Are your novels, short stories, poems, and screenplays tailored to a specific group of people? Now this may seem a bit exclusive, but I’m going to advise that you write with a particular audience in mind. Wait, why?
When you write something, you’re producing content that will resonate with someone out there. For example John Grisham is the king of the legal thriller. A John Grisham fan is probably going to have some interest in law… And, well, thrills. Someone who is more into chick lit may not have the most interest in a John Grisham book (but I still recommend John Grisham to everyone haha). So while John Grisham books are targeted to the mass market, it is true that not everyone out there is going to enjoy them.
Who is your audience then? When you write, are your stories catered to a particular genre of fiction, or are you floating between genres? And the honest truth is that genre-benders are writing for a particular audience too. What I’m trying to say is this: If you identify who your audience is, you become more aware of what they want. And when you identify what they want, you’re going to see an increase in views, sales, and interest. Of course you should not do this and lose all value in your own writing, but it is important to remember that if you want to see movement on your materials, you must know your audience and what they desire.
2. PRODUCE RELATABLE CONTENT
Relatable content? Come on, Katie. I’m just writing for fun, having a good time, and living my best life.
Well, dear audience: I applaud this idea, and this is something a writer should always remember. But if you take a step back and see what people enjoy, then you’re setting yourself up for success–and you may find a new love along the way.
When I first started Katie Kay three years ago (or was it two? I don’t even remember anymore!), I wrote nonsensical articles, posts that never saw the light of day. In my first year of blogging I saw less than fifty views. The next year, when I finally put effort into my audience and engaging with you all (more on this to follow), I saw a sharp increase in both viewership and legitimate interest in what I had to say. And one big thing that greeted me during this process was a newfound joy in poetry.
Before I started this blog, I hated poetry. But when I started to see the poet community on WordPress, things changed. Poems seemed to do really well on others’ sites, so I decided to challenge myself to a new method of writing. And guess what? I realized I love a good poem!
Now this blog is filled with poetry, and as a result I have come across tens (maybe even hundreds at this point!) of talented, humble poets who are challenging the status quo. No longer does one feel uncomfortable displaying their writing online. Nope! These poets have been fearless in sharing their thoughts.
So the moral of the story: When you produce relatable content, you may just receive relatable content in return. It’s a sort of karmic writing magic.
3. ENGAGE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
So, after you’ve identified your audience and figured out what content you’re going to write for them, it’s time to engage. Consider that you are proposing to that special person who will browse through your work. Do you want to give them a shiny, sparkling diamond of a story, or a dirty, washed out husk? This is a dramatic metaphor, but I’m serious, and it’s true. You’re asking your audience to take a risk on your skills, and they’ve got to be won over. They have to have a reason to give you a resounding, “Yes!”
And one way to do this is engaging with them. Every day, everywhere. This applies to bloggers, who have easy access to their community, and it just as well applies to a novelist in Montana or a screenwriter in Hollywood or a poet in India. When you engage with your audience, you’re learning what works best. You’re honing your skill, and you’re gaining new friends along the way.
In this age of social media and internet and easy access to the world, there are various mediums to accomplish this task of engaging with your audience. Consider starting a website like WordPress (although most of you probably are on here all ready hehe). Expand your website, and make it easy to read. Create social media accounts. If you’re like me and not big into social media, develop camaraderie with other writers (and your readers. Take pride in the fact that you are a writer!) through your website or local library or anywhere that has people interested in literature. You’ll find that it not only makes you a better writer, but you find friends all over the world. ❤
4. BE TRUE TO YOU
Another thing about writing for your audience is that they’ll tell when you’re writing with heart, or when you’re writing something because you think they’ll like it. Take a moment and think of your favorite book, movie, poem, author, etc. What is it about this author and his or her writing that resonates with you? What did this person write that left you in tears, or overjoyed, or ready to conquer the world?
They wrote for their audience. They wrote for you. But they also wrote from their hearts, from their innermost selves, where emotion and reasoning were unleashed. These writers were true to themselves, because they wrote something that not only came from their hearts–but ended up puncturing yours in the process.
Okay, yes, this may sound corny. I know I sound cheesy most of the time, but I want you to remember to always write from your soul. Write as you would write, because there is no other you out there. And while some may tell you otherwise, it’s the truth that we all need your voice to be heard, because you’re contributing to this world of writers whose passion and purpose in life is to create something from the imagination… And share it with those who are willing to go with you to a made up world. So write for your audience–and also write for yourself.
The overall point of this post is not to tell you what to write. In fact it’s kind of the opposite. I want you to be who you are, and to do so you must be willing to engage with your audience so that you can learn more about who you really are. For example, as a writer, my romance novels have far outsold my books of other genres. While romance books are not my favorite to write, I’ve found that there is more interest in this type of writing than others when it comes to what I’ve produced. So what does that mean? It means I’m going to write more romance books! Not only am I loving what I’m doing (writing), but I’m sharing with those who love that genre as well.
Maybe this isn’t the best argument for writing for your audience, but I hope you gathered something from it today. And if you didn’t, then take away this main point: Write what you want to write, but just remember to leave a little room for your audience too. 🙂
Until next time,