Do you have an audience? If yes, do you know exactly who they are? Can you clearly define them? When you sit behind your laptop or your desk to write, whose picture do you hold in mind as the would-be reader? These are important questions any serious writer must be able to answer without stuttering. Let me explain why.

One of the commonest mistakes amateur writers make is writing without an audience in mind. I get it: you have something to say. It is burning in your heart: it’s making you go mad. You just want to get it out. But nobody cares if it doesn’t directly address them. Nobody will read it if they don’t think it will help them.

Readers don’t care about you. They have their own problems―loads of them. If you are not going to help solve those problems, then they are not interested in what you have to say. They care about how the words make them feel, not necessarily about who is saying them.

No matter how lovely or lofty your writing is, if it doesn’t promise to make my life better or at least easier, why should I pause to take a look? I mean I have more than enough to worry about already.

Dear writer, always remember your writing is not as much about you as it is about the would-be reader. Think of it this way. Companies don’t put out products and services because they feel like it. If they try that, they will most probably go under. They don’t put up products and services and hope customers will suddenly need them. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Companies produce stuff and offer services because they have identified a need. They seek to meet a need, to solve a problem. And they can’t do that if they don’t know their target―their customers. It’s the same thing with your writing.

In business, the say the customer is king. In writing, I say the audience/reader is key.

Before you protest that I should not compare your fine piece to a product, pause for a minute to think about it. If you want to be the sole reader of your piece, then you can write whatever you feel like writing. If not, then you have to decide who exactly your target audience is before you start bleeding on a blank page. Trust me, it’s in your best interest.

Writing with an audience in mind helps you focus your efforts. Writing without clearly defining your audience is like shooting randomly into the sky, hoping to hit a bird. Odds are that you’ll never make a hit. Really. The reason is simple: there is no focus.

Writing with a clearly defined audience, however, is like aiming at a particular target. You have a higher chance of not only making hits but also missing less. Read that last sentence again.

There’s more. When you write with the audience at the back of your mind, you can easily relate with them and reach them. You are able to use a register they are familiar with. You identify (with) their problems and pain points. This enables you to proffer customised solutions. You sound like an expert on the subject. The audience (would-be readers) can connect with you because you come off as one that knows and understands them.

When you know your audience and write with that knowledge, you are able to craft words that resonate with them. Think about it. Why do you like your favourite writers? Surely, the fact that it seems they are talking directly to you 90% of the time will be one of the reasons. Right?

The ultimate goal of writing is effectiveness. How you define that is based on what exactly you write. But it’s the truth. You want what you write to have an effect on the reader. The effect could be humour, motivation, education, a decision or even a change of behaviour.

The fact remains that you want your piece to do something―to be effective. And this can only be achieved when you know to whom you are addressing whatever it is you are writing. If you don’t write with a knowledge of your reader, your writing might not get in front of the reader, talk less achieve the intended purpose.

You might be wondering how you can write with an audience in mind. It’s actually easier than you think. The first step is to clearly define your audience just like a firm clearly defines its target market. Define them in simple clear terms, in the simplest of terms in fact.

This will probably be by categorisation. For example, “tech start-up owners,” “beginner bloggers,” “amateur freelance writers,” etc. The point here is to recognise a distinct group of people your writing is majorly addressing.

Now, here comes the best part. Narrow down the group you have identified to someone you know―someone about whom you have ample knowledge. You can easily hold the image of this person at the back of your mind when you write. Then write as if you are conversing with this particular person.

For instance, I’m writing this piece as if I’m having a conversation with a particular trainee of mine. This way, I know she can find this piece helpful, which is enough fulfilment for me. The best part is any other person in the same situation―and there are many like that―will find this helpful too. This is the goal after all.

Try it when next you write. It’s a small change that will bring great results.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section or let’s talk here. You can also sign up for updates to receive insights like this and other useful updates directly in your email.