Who Is Your Audience in Writing

by Kellie McGann | 29 comments

If you haven't figured out your audience in writing, you're going to fail.

Who Is Your Audience in Writing

Is Stephen King's audience children?

Is the Los Angeles Times' audience people in rural China.

Is the Write Practice's audience ballerinas?

The principle of audience in writing stands for fiction and non-fiction writers alike.

And that's a good thing, because you will be writing in a way that better connects with the lives of your readers.

In other words, if you want to change the world with your writing, you need to figure out who your audience is.

4 Questions to Define Your Audience in Writing

How do you establish who your audience in your writing is? Start with these four questions:

Question One: Theme

Think about your stories, posts, tweets, emails, conversations, Facebook statuses, and Instagram pictures. What theme does your writing have in common?

As you look at your writing, you will hopefully see a theme. Any good writer has a very specific topic, niche, or theme that their posts, layout, tweets lend themselves to.

If you don't see a theme, you need to establish what you want to be about.

What do you want to write about daily?

Make sure it's something you're very passionate about, because you could be writing about it forever!

Question Two: Demographics

What demographic does your theme appeal to?

The theme that you've established will likely have a type of person it appeals to, and this type person can often be defined by demographics.

Demographics include a person's:

  • age
  • gender
  • marital status
  • income
  • location
  • language

Demographics can also be defined by specific hobbies or interests a person has, for example, writing, ballet, painting, hiking, or food.

Question Three: Daily Concerns

What are their daily concerns?

If you were able to answer the first two questions, you have almost established your audience (and can almost get back to writing!).

But now you need to know them on a deeper level. What are their daily preoccupations?

Do they struggle with writing? Are they overwhelmed with kids? Do they want to know how to eat healthier?

A great and simple way to find this out is to simply ask. Send out a survey to your email list. Find out what people want. Ask what they're interested in, and how their lives look.

To send out a survey you can use a service like Survey Monkey, Google Forms, or even just a simple email that you send to a reader.

Question Four: Your Part

Nonfiction writers: How can you help? Fiction writers: What kind of stories does your audience want or need to hear?

Here's where you come in. You've established who your audience will be, and now you're going to offer your experience and expertise.

This is where you are able to establish the relationship and build trust.

How can you help? How will you help?

You CAN Find an Audience in Writing

The reality is that when you know who you're talking to, your prose, vocabulary, and style will change. This is a good thing, because you're figuring out how to write in such a way that it has a deep and lasting impact on their lives.

Have you defined your audience in writing? Let us know in the comments below!

PRACTICE

Practice writing something for your audience. Take fifteen minutes and write a blog post, a short story, a chapter, or whatever you normally write! Just be specific to the audience you want to reach.

Post your practice in the comments below and let your fellow writers know what you think!

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Kellie McGann is the founder of Write a Better Book. She partners with leaders to help tell their stories in book form.

On the weekends, she writes poetry and prose.

She contributes to The Write Practice every other Wednesday.

29 Comments

    • Kellie McGann

      Robin, it’s a process. Just start thinking about these questions.
      You’ll get there!

  1. Ralph Hua

    Yo bro, still stuck in office?
    I was on way home and overheard this conversation on the bus.

    Man, “Bad day… long day…”

    Man B, “What happened?”

    Man, “I was in a meeting. You know, those where your boss just go on and on? I don’t know man, I dozed off. For a second or a minute. I don’t know man.”

    Man B, “Your boss caught you? Fucked you up?”

    Man, “Yeah, big time.”
    “Gave me a supernova lashing. I think you can hear him in the vacuum of the galaxy.”

    Man B, “Wow, in front of everybody?”

    Man, “Yes. In front of everybody.”
    “I was rushing through a project for the past two weeks. I hardly sleep. I was with the company for fifteen years. And to think that I got a tongue lashing over such a small incident. I really have nothing to say. I just want to have a break. Do something that I enjoy. Something that I can do with good health, good relationship, good feelings about myself.”

    Man B, “You can try writing!”

    Man, “Writing?”

    Man B, “Yeah?”

    Man, “But does it pay? How do you make a living just by ‘writing’?”

    Man B, “The act of writing is already paying itself. Enjoy the process and the rewards will follow. Check out https://www.thewritepractice.com

    Man, “Alright, I will check it out tonight.”

    Man B, “Do it now! Common, you have a smart phone don’t you?”

    Reply
    • Kellie McGann

      Ralph, this is great!
      But wait, did you really hear this conversation?? If so that’s so cool! If not, I still love how you wrote it!

  2. Reagan Colbert

    This is my biggest problem. I have never been able to determine any specific audience, because I write on so many different topics.
    My novel is a romance between a 21 and 28 year old, and is set in a hospital.
    My screenplay is about a 35 year old pastor.
    My latest short story is a parable of sorts, using the story of a criminal sentenced to death, to illustrate salvation.
    My poetry centers mainly on soldiers (although I’ve never known one),
    and I just wrote an article about self-image for a women’s magazine.

    All that being said, the only common theme is that it’s all Christian, and all about the Lord. Other than that, age, challenges, circumstances, I don’t know any of it. Every time I write something, it’s for a completely different audience than the last piece.

    Does anyone else have this problem? How can I determine my audience?

    “Whatsoever ye do, do unto the glory of God”,
    Reagan
    http://www.fiction4hisglory.com

    Reply
    • Kellie McGann

      Reagan, I have had this problem for a while!
      I think depending on where you want your writing to go, you eventually have to narrow it down a little.
      One thing you might look into is ghostwriting. I do some of that and it gives me the opportunity to write for a lot of people about a lot of different things.

    • Reagan Colbert

      I’ve heard about ghostwriting, but I have no clue where I should start. How do you know when a company is reliable, and is it for poetry, screenplays, etc., or is it just for books?
      Thanks for the tip…I might look into that further!

  3. Vincent Harding

    Great advice, truly. For those of us just starting out this can be often overlooked during the writing process, and unfortunately is supremely crucial to both being successful in creative execution, and marketing yourself properly resulting in better sales. Figure this out before it’s too late, and definitely before you approach a publisher with your MS and they inquire about your demographic. Take a hint from someone who has worked in publishing – never answer with “everyone.”

    Reply
    • Kellie McGann

      Vincent, great advice!
      Early on I was so tempted to answer with “everyone” because what writer doesn’t think their work should be read by “everyone?” Haha!

  4. Ruth

    Excellent blog. Thank you. I also write on many subjects but will take the time to analyze it and question my readers about their needs.

    Reply
    • Kellie McGann

      Glad the blog helped Ruth! Excited to see what you come up with!

  5. Gary G Little

    My audience? Us. We who attempt to create words from letters on a string. Write them you read them, read them you can hear them. It harkens back to something I tried here before, and is strictly tongue in cheek.

    **The Big Blink**

    “What’cha got Frank?”

    “Oh, hi Joe. Dunno for sure. Guy’s been here for quite a while.”

    “Really. Who found him?”

    “Concierge. Said the guy paid for 3 months.”

    “He been here that long?”

    “Looks like it. Not many people on the floor and this apartment is down the hall. Kind’a isolated.”

    “Yeah, but the smell.”

    “Building’s got great ventilation. Door seals. The works. Probably couldn’t smell anything even outside the door.”

    “Weird.”

    “You got that right.”

    “Anything on him.”

    “Just his wallet. Herman Klein. 67, five feet seven, 250, grey hair. Had blue eyes and moustache.”

    “Yeah. Looks like him. A little thinner. ‘stache is still there. Writer you said?”

    “Yeah. What the concierge said. Said the guy showed up looking for a room, mumbling something about killing the anti-muse once and for all.”

    “Anti-muse?”

    “What the guy with the concierge said. Anti-muse. Know what a muse is, but never heard any anti-muse.”

    “What’s on the monitor there?”

    “Just a blinking cursor.”

    Reply
    • Reagan Colbert

      This is great… I’m not one for this kind of scene, but It wasn’t too descriptive (which I’m glad for). unique way to illustrate the writer’s dilemma. Don’t let the anti-muse kill you!

    • Kellie McGann

      Great job Gary! Thanks for writing for the fellow writers!

    • marimed

      Nice work, really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Carrie Lynn Lewis

    Great post, Kellie. Very helpful.

    I recently identified my target audience for my art blog… people who want to learn how to use colored pencils or oil paints better.

    The target audience for the writing blog I co-author is similar. People who want to learn to write better stories.

    So the common theme is teaching and that’s reflected in the non-fiction books I’ve published or am currently writing.

    Where I have difficulty is discovering who the target audience for fiction. According to your article, I should have a similar theme for fiction. Am I understanding correctly?

    Reply
    • Kellie McGann

      Carrie, Thanks for the encouragement. I love that you write about writing and art, very cool!
      As far as the fiction goes, I’m no expert, but I like to dig deeper. I think fiction carries weight and you can really move people with the story you tell. I think you identify more with the last question in this post. What do you want to inspire your readers with?

  7. Veronica Gilkes

    Hi my name is Veronica, and I have been a member here for a while but I have not participated except for now, please forgive me. I still do not know who my audience is and it is frustrating I do not want to fail as a writer I want to get better, that is one of the main reasons why I joined this group, I know that you are all a friendly lot and will tell me the truth about my writing, but finding an audience especially when you are quite new is frustrating and worrisome, so I would say I need help, I am not sure what my niche is either, and I don’t have an e-mail list because I have nothing to give for free if someone signs up to my e-mail list if I had one. So I suppose I am in dire straits. Is there anyone in the group willing to give me some advice and help. I will write here more often and read what other members have to say. Thanks for listeaning Veronica.

    Reply
    • Kellie McGann

      Veronica! We have an online group that is great for accountability and encouragement. It’s called Becoming Writer, check out more info here!
      https://thewritepractice.com/members/about/

    • marimed

      How to determine your audience when you have just started out? I’ve always been afraid of writing “in public”, for some reason I can’t really determine I’ve only showed the very few things I wrote to the closest person to me, may be thinking they wouldn’t judge me or criticize my work? Outside of this community which I’m still discovering, I’ve never posted online. I really want to become a writer but can’t overcome this fear. I keep asking myself whether I can really write or not? Is my writing any good? Does deserve to be read? Or should I just give up this so unrealistic dream of becoming a writer?

  8. marimed

    How can you determine your audience when you have just started out? I’ve always been afraid of writing “in public”, for some reason I can’t really determine I’ve only showed the very few things I wrote to the closest person to me, may be thinking they wouldn’t judge me or criticize my work? Outside of this community which I’m still discovering, I’ve never posted online. I really want to become a writer but can’t overcome this fear. I keep asking myself whether I can really write or not? Is my writing any good? Does deserve to be read? Or should I just give up this so unrealistic dream of becoming a writer?

    Reply
  9. Jason Bougger

    This is so true. My novel has a different target audience than my short stories. My blog has a different target audience than both of those. It’s all about making sure that we remember who our audience is so we can get ourselves and our stories in front of them.

    Reply
    • Susan W A

      yup … “remember who our audience is” … so important, and yes, “get ourselves and our stories in front of them”!

  10. Azure Darkness Yugi

    This post made her realize what my audience is with out even knowing it. I looked over my stories, and most of them are about lesbians.

    Reply
    • Susan W A

      Interesting process towards insight!

  11. George McNeese

    I haven’t found an audience yet. Though most of my stories have relationships in them, they’re scattered, at best. They range from romantic to family, friendships to co-workers. There are some relationships where characters have chance encounters. Though I don’t think that would qualify as relationships. Onw Common thing about these relationships is the characters involved. The parties are varied. One story, I have a younger man who has a conversation with an older woman. Another, which is important to me, explores the dynamics of an interracial romance. Those are the kind of stories I want to write.

    Reply
  12. Luthman Wanda

    I’ve been working on this.I’m a children’s author, so my target audience is two fold. I believe my target buying audience is female, in her 50’s, has grandchildren, is married, she enjoys reading and wants to share her love with her grandchildren, and loves animals, knitting/crocheting, and crafts. My reading audience is between the ages of 6-8 and is mostly female, loves cute animals and fantasy, and has just begun reading chapter books.

    Reply
    • Susan W A

      Fabulous! I got a vivid picture from your description, and I am ready to read your books! Great genre in which to be an author. Have you published some books? What are the titles? Best of luck to you.

  13. Susan W A

    Hi, Kellie. Thanks for the post!! Makes one think!

    Here’s my audience — when I want to support a friend or send a birthday greeting or celebrate a marriage or birth or honor a loved one who has passed, my first thought is to write a poem for them. I’m a writer of what I call “raw poetry”, mostly about things to reflect on and to celebrate the big and small of life.

    Two weeks ago, the son of a co-worker was born, so I wrote a poem for him. Within that following week, two more babies were born within my sphere, so I got to change the name in the poem and share it with them.

    I love that first baby’s name, but will change it in this poem just for privacy. Here’s my poem.

    Helen Parker
    Welcomed to this world May 3, 2017

    The world is a sweeter place
    Now that Helen’s here.

    Hearts melt with a glimpse of that face
    When Helen’s near.

    Swaddled in blankets and love
    Is Helen dear.

    What matters? There’s nothing above
    Helen, it’s clear.

    Dear World,

    Now is the moment to get your act together because this precious being deserves to grow up in an environment where love holds your hand and hugs your heart, where joy sends out giggles on butterfly wings, where pride holds you aloft for all to see, where acceptance welcomes a different face, where “reach for the stars” is what we breathe. Not sure how to accomplish all that? Just look to Helen’s mom and dad as an example.

    Love,
    Ancestral Mothers

    Reply

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