Monday, January 21, 2008

Whom Are You Writing For?

One of the key issues when crafting any piece of writing is who your audience is. If you’re writing for a newspaper or magazine, you’ll probably be able to find some statistics about your readership profile. Most publications rely on advertising to keep them going, and in order to get the best ads, they need to know who their readers are so that advertisers know where their dollars will be spent. The information available might include:
  • The average age of readers
  • whether they are male or female
  • What kind of education they have had
  • What kind of job sector they are in
  • What they earn
Many publications also undertake more in depth reader surveys to find out about their readers’ special interests. So how does that help writers? It’s simple. Knowing who your readers are helps you to create content that they want to read.

When researching an article on cars recently, I came across two versions of the same website, owned by the same company. One was intended for men, and contained lots of technical details about the cars’ performance. The other was meant for women, and had a lot more information about accessories. They may have been stereotyping, but they were also writing for their readers.

If you’re blogging, then it’s even easier to find out what readers like, provided you get some traffic. You can tell when your audience responds to a particular post because there will be comments and links that show that people thought that your content was worth reading.

I find that a good technique for deciding on new content is to look at what readers’ interests are and write articles that cater for those interests. When blogging, I look for posts that got a good response, as well as for the questions that readers have asked. These provide a good starting point for thinking of new material.

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