By: Marilyn L. Davis
“. . .If the wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment.” ― Mary Gaitskill
Writing for Your Readers
We know that there are 1,999,999 other writers publishing on any given day. That means there’s a lot of competition for readers. Therefore, it becomes imperative that we spend time isolating our audience, and giving them our best. So what are ways to decide who is reading your blog besides your numbers? Sometimes, you work backwards, and ask yourself:
- Who is my audience for this topic?
- Why have I chosen this audience?
- What do I have in common with these readers?
- How will I write about this particular topic? Breadth or depth?
- Is this humorous, serious, judgmental, ironic or amusing?
- What will be my overall style, tone or mood for this piece?
- Is this personal but detached or passionate?
- Can I cover this well in 500 words?
- What aspect of this subject or topic do I intend to write about in 750-1000 words?
- Do I expand the post and write 2500 words?
Most importantly: Where will I find my audience? Are they on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus?
When you decide who you want to write for, then you have a better idea of how to frame your perspective, what research will add value to the post, and out-bound links that support your position. However, in our rush to publish helpful blogs about any subject, we sometimes mistakenly believe that we have to fully define and explore all the subtle nuances of the topic so we can engage all readers. We shouldn’t try to do this. Bloggers are not writing a white paper, research paper, book, or thesis. We’re giving readers short, easily read nuggets of information, entertaining essays, or simple how-to directions.
Spending time on the structure of the posts means that there is time to be creative within the confines of a solid format or outline. Structure is critical, because without a logical flow to the piece, readers get lost, disinterested or confused. When that happens, they will go elsewhere for the information.
Making any article cohesive takes planning – not inspiration, insight or creativity. Those come after the writer decides topic or has that brainstorm title.
We are often isolating a particular aspect of the subject and giving the reader our opinion or our experience specific to the topic. Granted, we may back it up with links to other like-minded individuals, or even present a contrasting viewpoint, but we do not attempt to present the whole. Our primary purpose in a blog or article is to present information in an appealing way or state the same information in an interesting, timely manner using our creativity to engage those we’ve selected as our target reader.
However, we can’t sacrifice facts in our non-fiction writing for the sake of creativity.
We also have to present our writing in an organized manner, so we don’t confuse our readers and ourselves with extraneous information. Without planning the pieces, it is easy to become disconnected, disjointed and disorganized. When you outline your topic, it is easier to define and isolate your main ideas. This way, you’re more likely to create a piece that includes the facts, but allows you to elaborate on them from your perspective. When your readers know you’re going to deliver helpful or interesting blogs, they’ll do their part – they’ll read it.
Content is Critical, Not Word Count
Our content still determines our outcomes – how we rank, what kind of following we have, and whether readers leave comments. Certain writers can make a case in 200 words; others need 2000. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. Some subjects are exhausted at 500 words while others need 2000 to increase reader awareness.
While Twitter is best known for restricting character length, most sites allow a minimum of 300 words and establish the maximum at 2500.
Just as we vary sentence and paragraph length, it’s okay for a writer to create a short piece.
Shorter, concise information is now a part of our culture; make it part of your unified writing.
But if you tend to write 500 words or less each time, try expanding on one aspect of your topic and see if you can’t produce a more in-depth article while still staying unified. All you have to do is look at one of your main ideas as it relates to your original topic and expand on that. After all, if you’ve identified your readers and they are coming to read your post, they’ll be interested in even the tangential aspects of the topic. And then you can focus less on those other 1,999,999 other posts and concentrate on your own.