Why You Aren’t Writing to Your Audience
This is a guest post by Martyn Chamberlin. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Has it happened to you?
You start a blog and try to get people to read your stuff. You spend oodles of time customizing your theme. You chew posts over your keyboard. You sit back and wait to be discovered. But instead of being discovered, you discover something:
Nobody gives a rip who you are.
Folks are busy. They only care about themselves. The only way to get their attention is to cater to their needs. You have to deliver hand-tailored goods crafted for them.
You have to write on target.
You are not writing to your audience as effectively as you think
Back when you first started blogging, you wrote for yourself whether you realized it or not. You tried to make it appealing to others but you did not do it effectively. Don’t feel bad; today’s seasoned writers made this mistake in their early days like you – they wrote for themselves.
Now to be fair, it is perfectly okay to write for yourself, just don’t be surprised nobody reads you. There are very few people who can attract a following through self-interest. When you are writing for yourself, you are the audience. There is nothing in it for other readers, and consequently you have just one regular subscriber – you.
If you want to build an audience, you must make others your audience, not yourself. Doubtless you already knew this, but I fear you are not doing this as effectively as you think.
Perhaps the best metric to judge your effectiveness is the number of comments you get. When you publish an article, you are inviting your audience to a dialog. Their reception will determine your effectiveness.
Have you ever written a post that attracted very few comments and said, “Well, I guess this just is not a comment-friendly post, but it is still creating value for my audience”? If so, then to a great degree you are still writing for yourself.
There is no such thing as a great article that is simply not “comment-friendly.” There is no such thing as a niche or topic that is not “comment-friendly.” There is only good writing and bad writing. The good writing gets a response, and the bad does not.
Look at you. You consider yourself a copywriter – you wordsmith articles to elicit a response. If you cannot convince readers to provide a response, you have failed the basics of copywriting. You have failed to write to anyone but yourself.
How can you write to your target audience?
Good copywriting begins with good listening.
It begins with analysis and research. It begins with careful examinations of what ticks your reader’s clocks.
Pay close attention to every word you hear from your target audience. Read their tweets, emails, and blog posts. Study their problems. Observe what is bothering them.
Do not write what you feel like writing at the moment, or else you will be writing to yourself. That is not copywriting. That is journaling.
Rather, deliver answers. Teach in such a way that they must read and respond. Be interesting.
Sometimes your audience does not know what it wants, which means you must innovate. Think twice, write once. Someone once said that the artist gives you what you did not know you needed. Learn to be this artist.
Nobody said effective writing was easy, but it can be achieved.
The call to action is not at the end of the post – it is the post
Every sentence of traditional copywriting has one purpose in view – to persuade the reader. If your post does not have a specific mission throughout, it is rambling, not copywriting.
You cannot throw a pile of paragraphs together with a two-sentence call to action at the end and expect results. That is foolishness. You have to be coherent.
Just as a salesman begins securing the sale the moment he starts pitching, you must determine your goal and weave it into the very fibre of your writing. This will never come across as spam to your readers since you are providing useful content throughout. They profit from your writing whether they respond or not; and the more they profit the more likely they are to respond.
Nobody loses in good writing.
This is where the money is, literally
Back in the days of the Cluetrain Manifesto you could post pictures of your dog and strangers would enjoy them. You could talk about yesterday’s breakfast disaster and a community would gather. But that was over a decade ago, and the Internet is much more saturated.
In order to build a money-making list, you have to work harder at writing to your audience. There is so much talk about this sort of thing, but sadly few writers truly “get it” and apply it to their writing. Most writers succeed half way but stop short.
We do not need more bloggers. We need more copybloggers.
Those who argue that making a full-time living from blogging only happens to “lucky” writers are assuming that you are primarily writing for yourself. If you make this assumption, the conclusion is absolutely correct.
But if you write for others, you will assuredly succeed. Despite the online saturation, there is always a demand for solutions.
The art of persuasion will never die.
Who are you writing for?
Martyn Chamberlin is a full-time web guy who blogs about the importance of web design and builds web sites that enhance great blogging, at TwoHourBloger.com. Visit his site to learn what it takes to succeed online and join the growing number of passionate writers becoming better bloggers.
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14 Responses to “Why You Aren’t Writing to Your Audience”
A wonderful insight you bring to blogging Martyn. Your advice about writing for your audience is a concept that many do not understand and I believe takes time to understand. It took me many months to understand how not to talk at my audience.
To keep your blog current, adding content on a weekly basis is required. I believe this is one reason why many fall into writers block. It’s one thing that you become inspired by something you read from your client or recent visitor, but to continue to be inspired twice a week or more, can be a hurdle that needs to be navigated.
Your insight, advice and tips are going to be very helpful for many folks out there and I will be happy to share with my fans, followers and clients.
That’s some real solid advice there Martyn! I haven’t read any posts on DBT for as long as on this one for the past few weeks!
The best thing I learned from your information is that good copywriters research what their targeted audience wants to read. Thanks.
PS: The hyperlink in your bio is spelled wrong.
Thanks Harrison! Research is important and definitely worth the effort.
And as long as the actual link is correct, I’m not overly concerned with the anchor text. 😀
Great post Martyn, really was brilliant and highlights just how important it is to target your audience.
You made a great point that a lot of people end up blogging for themselves, that’s the problem, we forget that other people are actually reading our blogs
It caught my attention immediately and I was thinking “this is a great post, I wonder who wrote it”, and at the end, I see your name… hahaha, you are great, Martyn! Thanks for all your advice, it has helped me a lot. Now I’m being very careful to write for MY AUDIENCE, not for me, and yes, when you do it, people comment!! Thank you very much!!
Beautiful copy writing… Looks like copy writing is an art that we bloggers should learn sooner or later. Or maybe its the art of saying the same thing in a different but convincing way? 🙂
Great advice Martyn. You got a little harsh there, not Jon Morrow harsh, but just a little bit. But yeah, the truth needs to be said. That’s what I’m trying to hone with my writing, I try to read what people are saying around me, as well as in social networks, and find out if we have a common question, or a problem, then I try to teach the answers in a way that they still fall under the niche.
Great post, this is the essence of post writing, solving people’s problems.
Some good points. It’s not just about writing for others. There are plenty of sites out there that have great content and deserve to have an audience. One of the problems is their is just way too much information out there. Great content for your audience is one factor, the other is having the right marketing plan in place. No one can read your great content if they don’t know it exists.
Ritesh @ TechSpacia
nice post… we often forget what what people want to read.
Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
Thanks for the important reminders about creating value for my audience!
Shared on FaceBook and Twitter/LinkedIn for you too ….
Great Point Martyn but I think this is just a tiny factor to be successful in the blogging industry. No matter how great the content, it doesn’t matter if readers has no access to it!
Absolutely I agree. I think sometimes we get caught up in what we want to say that we forget we are not writing for us to read, we are writing to attract an audience who want our stuff. It’s a great idea to just visit other websites that is relevant to your niche and find out what they are asking or commenting on. This has been helpful to me in determining what I should talk about and what others want to hear about or will respond to. I also agree with one the comment from Tim about marketing your content. Excellent article and timely…
That still fine with those blogger take their own as audience. Why i said so? There are lot of peoples take Google Search Engine as their audience. That the worst thing .
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