Every writer needs to know who they’re writing for before they begin drafting a new piece. Your message may stay the same at its core, but how you craft your story will change depending on your audience and their needs. It’s important to anticipate how your reader thinks, their current view on the topic, their hopes and fears, their dreams for the future, and how they best receive information.
“I really value people, I love to know their hopes, their dreams, their fears . . . I learned how to ask the right question.” — Author and activist Terence Lester
There are infinite possibilities for crafting your message. When you identify your audience and anticipate their needs, these facts will guide your approach. If you’re not sure how to structure your story, the following four methods offer a solid place to start. Choose the one that serves your audience best.
Is your reader looking for a guide through a difficult situation? Do they need a gentle leader to help them find their way? If so, your reader may need you to take them on a journey. They may want to know how you moved from point A to point B and the obstacles you met along the way.
When you share your struggles and how you overcame them to reach your final destination, you give your reader hope that they can make it through a similar situation too.
Perhaps your reader needs to know how to do something, and you are knowledgeable about that particular topic. If so, you can be the teacher who gives your readers the why, the how, and the steps required to complete a task or expand their knowledge of a particular subject.
This writing style may require research or outside data as well as personal experience. Consider what your reader needs and how they can learn from your research and expertise.
Some audiences want a storyteller they can relate to — one who comes alongside them in the posture of a friend. These readers want to recognize themselves in your story and feel like they’re not alone in their life experiences.
How can you befriend this reader with your piece? Think about how a friend would share the story in person and how you can translate that camaraderie to the page.
Does your reader need a mentor to urge them to take action? These readers need a writer who can inform them while also inspiring them to make a change in their lives or the lives of others. Readers in this category may need a gentle or strong approach, but either way, they need someone with more experience to lead them toward a course of action. This writing style may also require research so you can offer your audience an informed opinion.
Mentors help readers take their next step. Write in such a way that your audience feels both informed and equipped.
If you’re not sure which of the above methods suits your audience best, ask them questions to determine their needs. When you understand your reader, you’ll know how to move forward with your writing in a way that preserves your message and serves both you and your audience.
Still not sure which approach will serve your readers best? A hope*writers Certified Coach can help you define who your ideal reader is and discern the best way to reach them. Find out if coaching is the next right step for you here.