By: Marilyn L. Davis
Attracting the Right Reader
“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
Anytime we write, we hope that people will read it and enjoy it. Sometimes we write to educate; other times to entertain, counsel, or share tips and tricks. Depending on our niche writing, we may even gain loyal fans and followers who faithfully read our latest posts. However, we need to keep those readers in mind with each post we write and not write boring, redundant, or a post full of typos. If they are a loyal reader, it’s because you’ve done an excellent job as a writer, and they will come back each time you post.
Review Your Statistics
Statistics are one of the best indicators for which types of posts your readers enjoy. At Two Drops of Ink, we offer poetry, prose, and problem-solving for the writer and blogger. I know that in the latest poll, readers wanted problem-solving and poetry. I took those results and put out a call to action for guest submissions specific to those two categories.
Readers want to know that we consider their opinions about our writing. When a reader does their part and comments, shares, likes, or participates in a poll, it’s our job as the writer to respond to them.
Comments Let Us Know Our Readers
However, it’s more than positive comments that we need to pay attention to; it’s critiquing, too. I know there’s a natural inclination to get defensive and start justifying why the writing wasn’t up to par that day, and some of the reasons may seem legitimate on the surface. How often have you found yourself:
- Busy and missed that incorrect paragraph formatting.
- Didn’t even run it through a simple spell check and let “there” get through instead of “here.”
- Didn’t have time to find better images.
- Needed to meet the deadline, so didn’t revise.
- Knew the sentence was clunky, but the intent was there.
Have You Isolated Your Target Reader?
We write for many reasons, and each of us has a target reader in mind, or at least we should because, without that imagined reader, we’re just writing without purpose.
In my niches, I’m writing to the addicted population or other writers. However, the common thread is that both of these populations want to improve something, and I think that I can offer the readers ways to improve their lives or writing.
Does that read egotistical? I would hope not, as a good portion of my motive is still about educating in the sense that “Hey, here’s what I did, and life or my writing improved. Maybe it will work for you.”
Knowing Your Readers
I understand my readers. And yes, I mean plural; however, when I’m writing, I try to think of one person; it makes my writing more conversational. I’m sure there are some out there who envision themselves writing as if they’re giving a Ted Talk to a crowded room. That fills me with stress and anxiety – what would I wear, would the microphone work, would there be any laughter? Oh, I digress, and sometimes, when we write for that big audience, instead of writing for one, we get off track and can sometimes get pretentious.
Granted, there are pretentious readers, too. Some want to comment and critique and put me in my place. I got criticized for giving what one reader considered a weak link. His links certainly addressed the topic, but the language was arcane and better suited to a white paper or journal submission. That link would not have been beneficial to my readers. However, I took the time to read all of his links and decided that it was good information for his readers.
I know my place, sharing what works for me. Period. If it was good enough for Kurt Vonnegut, it’s good enough for me: “Find a subject you care about and think others should care about.” All the rules say you don’t end a sentence with a preposition. However, we all understand the intent and his reasoning. His readers understand, too.
Writers and Readers Are On Social Media
So, where do you find your readers? If you’ve isolated your niche, then you can find them through pages on Facebook, by subject on Twitter, and groups on Linkedin.
Venturing into discussions on any of those sites familiarizes you with what people are looking for to improve their lives, writing, or simply connecting with like-minded individuals.
It’s the connections that our words create that give us readers.
Ask Your Readers for Help
Readers also engage by adding additional information to your post. I wrote a post about Swoopers and Bashers. A reader on Facebook gave the NaNoWriMo equivalent in her comment, referencing Pantser and Planners. I thanked her for adding value to the thread by listing other terms and phrases to describe the link’s writing process. Was I offended that she didn’t like my terms? Not in the least. NaNo is newer than my inspiration for the post. Judging by her avatar, she’s younger than me by decades, so the examples were appropriate to our respective ages.
Our Readers are All Ages, Races, and Genders
There are generational differences to consider in our readers, which is another way to isolate and find your right reader. I won’t ever be young again. Fact. When I’m writing about addiction, I know that young people are struggling with addictions or have questions about recovery, and I try to use language that will at least meet them halfway. However, I’m not going to try and write about addiction and recovery as if I’m twenty. It would be hard to claim 32 years in recovery and then write as if I weren’t even that old.
Each of us will use language that’s familiar to us. If our readers comprehend it, they might return if we’ve given them information presented from a different perspective, added insight, or helped them with a life issue – and improving our writing is a life issue if that’s what we’re doing for a significant portion of our day.
Pay Attention to Where Your Readers Reside
I’m always amazed when I review the stats that there’s a significant number coming from non-English speaking countries. While I don’t speak any other language, I’m hopeful that my words translate okay. Knowing that Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate are read in different time zones means I need to share using a scheduled approach on Buffer to get posts out there while I’m sleeping. Consider this if you’re still trying to find your right readers.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate available on Amazon.
Have you considered expanding your platform? Then a guest post at Two Drops of Ink can do that for you. Send your poetry, prose, or problem-solving article for consideration. Here are the submission guidelines.