I have one simple rule when it comes to identifying my audience. And that is to picture me as part of my audience. Doing this makes things a lot easier. No matter the type of content you’re writing, identifying and crafting content that directly speaks to them is important.
However, identifying a target audience can be tough for authors. In this article, we’ll explore how to identify your audience in writing so that no matter what kind of material you’re working on, it will be well-received by those reading it.
PS: These personas are fictional and generalized examples of typical readers within each fiction niche. To develop accurate reader personas for your target audience, conduct thorough research and gather data, as I have explained in the above steps.
Types of Audience Table
|ID||Title 1||Title 2||Sample #1||Row 1, Content 1||Row 1, Content 2||Sample #2||Row 2, Content 1||Row 2, Content 2||Sample #3||Row 3, Content 1||Row 3, Content 2|
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What Is Audience In Writing?
Your audience is the people that you are addressing with your content. Most times, these people are a specific sub-group or the general public. To know your audience, you should be able to define your audience avatar. What particular attributes can you say your audience possesses?
For instance, I could write about homebrewing knowing that my primary audience would be homebrewers or aspiring homebrewers. You can also think of it as who you’re talking to when you speak. You can be talking to a friend or giving a presentation at school.
Before deciding who your target audience is, ask these questions:
- Who am I writing for?
- What do they already know about the topic?
- How much information should I include?
- What kind of words should I use?
- What tone of voice would be appropriate?
- What type of language will resonate with them and make them understand?
Once you’ve noted these down, then it’s time to start researching who your audience is. But before then, let’s understand the why. Why do you need to identify your audience?
Why Do You Need To Identify Your Audience?
You need to identify your audience because it’s the foundation that helps you create targeted and relatable content. The goal is to make your audience understand and connect with your writing. And to do this, you must understand their needs, desires, challenges, pain points, and more.
And you can’t know these without deep-seated research. And that is why we are going to cover the steps to take to identify your audience shortly.
Below are 7 reasons why you need to identify your target audience for your writing project or book idea:
- It helps you create content that connects, is relatable, and hence helpful
- It brings better feedback, especially with regard to book launches or product launches.
- Identifying your audience helps you provide targeted solutions for their problems and pain points
- It helps provide you with deeper insights that invariably help with brand-building and awareness
- Identifying your audience will enable you to use the right tone, voice, and words for your writing.
- It becomes easier to track your success, especially with an established audience
- It improves engagement and click-through for your services and products
Having said that, we can see that identifying your audience is a crucial step in writing and content marketing as a whole.
So let’s proceed to learn how to truly identify your audience exactly the way I do it. This is a proven method I’ve used over and over again and it has brought me success in every niche and genre I tested.
And I’ve tested:
- Business and Finance
- Diet niche
- Children niche
- Health and Fitness
- Fiction (Horror Thriller, Mystery)
- Travel, and more
So, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to identify your audience:
How To Identify Your Audience In Writing
Here are some tips you can use to identify your audience when writing:
1. Identify the purpose of your writing
I know you must have heard the term “purposeful writing”. Well, every writer has a purpose for every writing. In fact, writing without a purpose is like driving without a destination.
The purpose of your writing is what it aims to achieve. Is it to inform? Educate? Entertain? Or persuade? Once you understand the purpose behind your writing, then it’s easier to figure out who the potential audience might be.
Let’s say, your purpose is to inform; then we can generally expect a more formal tone and writing. If it’s to entertain, a more casual audience is expected.
But it doesn’t stop there. It shows down further to the background, demography, interests, passions, culture, etc. If you have no idea what your writing purpose is, then I recommend asking yourself the following questions
- What do I want my readers to get from this writing?”
- What value am I providing in my writing?
- In what positive (or negative) way will my wring impact my readers?
- Do I feel relatable to the people who might read my piece?
If you can probe and do some soul-searching while answering these questions, you’ve almost surmounted the first roadblock to discovering your audience.
Let’s assume we want to write a book titled “How to Brew Beer” – my purpose would be to “educate,” “teach,” or “instruct.” Certainly, it’s not going to be for entertainment.
So, this gives me a clue that my potential audience is people who want to learn how to homebrew – which could include novice brewers, seasoned homebrewers, or individuals who aspire to become homebrewers.
2. Research the topic you want to write about
The next step is to research your topic. Research is everything. If you understand the power of data and analysis, then you’d appreciate the importance of research, especially data-driven research.
The first step is the begin your research online. It can be from blogs, websites, search engines, or social media; there’s really no particular order. But you need each to reduce bias and give you more insight to confirm your idea.
i. Begin with a Google search
This is perhaps the easiest step to identify your audience in writing. Start your online research on the Google search engine.
What are authoritative sites saying about the topic? What are blogs saying? What are users saying? Niche enthusiasts and professionals, what are they all saying? Research all the information you can and see if you draw a pattern.
You can also do this for YouTube if a Google search is unsatisfactory.
iI. Search YouTube
YouTube is great for certain niches and audiences- doesn’t work for all niches so do not use this source as the only substantiated one. You can use this in addition to google or Etsy and Amazon.
Simply type in your query at the search bar. Check the results that show up. What kind of companies are advertising for your search keyword? What kind of videos is showing up? What about the reviews and the engagement?
More reviews mean more engagement, and creators producing shorts and shorter videos is a great sign of younger demography, especially gen z, in search of shorter entertaining content. Longer videos are more for middle age, more productive-minded folks or those searching for educative content.
You can also use hashtags to find information on your topic on Instagram and Twitter. Once you get this down, move to retail sites, especially if your topic is more product focused.
III. Research retail sites
If the niche is product-centric, it makes sense to research retail sites. Check Amazon, eBay, and Etsy and find out what’s trending, the number of products, product categorization, customer engagement (reviews), and more.
My favorite is Amazon since it’s the largest marketplace, and it’s already something I’m used to, but sometimes I also use Etsy. Etsy is a large POD platform where you can sell anything from digital products to custom, handmade items.
One thing I like about Etsy is that it gives you clues about how emotionally attached customers are to the products or designs in that niche. Most other online retail shoppers give clues that are highly underrated. In fact, the review sections of product detail pages are a goldmine.
Check what customers are saying, what kind of customers they are, what demography (you can get a hint, even though not explicitly stated), their wants and desires, their frustrations, and more.
Once you have retail sites figured out, the pattern should be clearer.
3. Research the kind of people reading and consuming the topic.
You need to research the people consuming content on your topic. Find out who is reading and learning about your topic.
To do this, go to the comments section of blogs and websites. Blogs are sources from which they get information, so if you see user comments, it means they are engaging. Try to look for patterns in the comments. Analyze the comments. I bet you’d see patterns with fears, excitement, desires, frustrations, etc.
Once you get that locked down, it’s time to check if there are other topics they might be searching for that is related to your main topic. You can skip this step, but it’s needed if your main topic is in an obscure or less popular niche.
4. Research Your Competitors
Research your competition for even more clues. I do this a lot as it gives me more information than what I already have. Research your competitors and ask yourself questions like:
- What kind of language do your competitors use?
- Who are their customers?
- What topics do they cover in their content?
We often neglect how powerful additional insights gained from competitor research can be. Don’t be afraid to explore your competitors’ work and see what you can learn from them.
I’ve had cases where I’d look at competitor content and get great ideas on the kind of audience I intend to deal with. You can also check out their social media accounts and see who’s interacting with them. This will also give you an indication of the type of content you can create for better targeting.
You should note, however, that copying your competitor’s strategy or style is not a good idea and may hurt your credibility.
PS: You’ve probably noticed I have featured a FEMALE brewer on my book cover. I bet you’d be surprised I chose it despite this niche’s male-dominated nature and topic.
Well, this is what I call the CAP strategy (which stands for “Contrarian Approach to Promotion.”
I have intentionally gone against the popular trend (homebrewing dominated by men) by using a female image on the book cover. This contrarian approach works all the time (well, depending on how it’s applied with copywriting!) as it places your product in the spotlight and all eyeballs on it! It practically differentiates your book from competitors and can potentially appeal to a broader audience.
I’ll discuss more of this in the book marketing category, but for now, this is all it is.
5. Check to see if there are related topics they are learning about
Next is to look for other related topics they are interested in that are related to your main topic. This is very important if your topic has fairly low popularity, is an emerging trend, or is too niched. Ask yourself:
- Is there anything relevant and related topic they are also learning about?
- Are there other sites they visit?
- What else are they interested in?
- Are there any other sources or sites they frequent?
One great thing about deep research is that, as you do it, it often leads you into rabbit holes of related ideas. Using the same example topic of Homebrewing. Your potential audience could also be interested in the following:
- Cider and mead making
- Kombucha, and other fermented drinks
- Cooking with beer
- Home distilling spirits and liqueurs
- Cold coffee and tea brewing
- Wild foraging (for Food and Drink Ingredients)
- Home cheese making, etc.
These topics are not directly related to homebrewing, but it helps builds your audience’s avatar.
So, whatever else they’re learning that is tangentially related to your main idea can be used as a hint for the type of avatar your ideal audience should be. You can also use this information to tailor your content to speak directly to them.
Tip: Learn as much as you can about these tangential topics as you would for your main topic idea. Aside from helping make your content more bespoke and relatable, it will come in handy when its time to market your book
6. Find out where they hang out (social media, forums, communities, groups, etc.)
You should have a fairly good idea of your potential audience by now. Now, it’s time to find out where they’re hanging out. Using your base idea/date from steps 1 and 2, you should be able to locate them.
Where do your audience meet? They meet where they have an interest. So, what interests them? This brings us back to the earlier research. Learning about your topic and the related topics is their interest – so they will converge in places where this is the primary focus.
Go there and find them.
You can check social media. Check Facebook groups, subreddits, online communities, etc. Check what they’re discussing and how they interact, then try to see if there’s a common pattern.
On Facebook, I discovered a large community of people interested in Homebrewing. One group alone has over 60k members and a lot of engagement – sharing, discussing, and posting. I often find that joining online communities or discussion boards is one of the most underrated ways of identifying one’s audience.
You cannot beat the reach of social media when it comes to engaging real people. I’d say, it is probably the most invaluable tool in our hands for understanding our target audience. It gives us a window into their lives and lets us see what they are talking about, sharing, and their friends, activities, and interests.
7. Identify Key Trends On Your Topic
Find out what’s trending about your topic. What’s the new buzz? What’s got people actively talking and engaging? Common trends you can watch out for are slang words, cliches, popular phrases, and even jokes related to the topic.
Identifying trends can give causes to the type of audience and gives you more leverage to create better, more relatable content.
8. Analyze the kind of language your potential audience use
Find out their lingo, slang, cliches, and common phrases. Oftentimes, the kind of lingo gives clues to the kind of audience, demography, or background of your audience.
Homebrewers tend to be more traditional and professional and often use technical terms when they discuss in most enthusiast communities. So, it’s not uncommon to hear words like: “Sparge,” “ABV,” “IBU,” “Hot break,” “Cold break,” “Wort,” “Mash,” and “Brew day,” amongst others.
I know that Pop culture fans and Gen Z will use different language and words like ‘bae’ or ‘lit’. A more professional audience may use terms like ‘data,’ ‘evidence,’ or ‘research.’ Even terms like ‘yolo’ or ‘salty’ can give us a clue as to the type of people we are dealing with.
Back in 2015, the popular phrase “Netflix and chill” trended and was used by people who wanted to hang out with someone they found attractive. The phrase is no longer as popular now, but back then, it really resonated with the younger age group.
This tells you how important understanding your audience’s lingo is. It goes a long way in properly identifying and classifying your idea audience avatar.
9. Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Putting yourself in your potential audience’s shoes makes you understand their desires and pain points. And from here, you can really understand why they do what they do, and why think the way they think. It helps you understand their needs, desires, fears, challenges, and frustrations.
For example, for the homebrewing topic, try to think and ask yourself questions like:
- What are the brewing challenges they’re facing?
- What equipment do they need to get started?
- How can they make better-tasting beer?
- What ingredients should they avoid?
- What are some popular recipes they could follow?
It’s easier to identify your audience if you’re part of it. So, even if you aren’t a part, pretend like you are and put yourself in their shoes.
10. Use Demographics To Identify Your Audience
Demographics such as age, gender, and location can give you a better idea of who your target audience is. Analyze and collect data from surveys or focus groups to determine the demographic profile of your target customers.
You can use several analytic tools to determine this. For example, Facebook’s Audience Insights tool provides valuable demographic information about your target audience.
Other tools such as Google Analytics, SurveyMonkey, and Sprout Social can also provide valuable insights into the demographics of your target audience.
11. Conduct Surveys or Focus Groups
One of the best ways to get to know your audience is to ask them directly. Conducting surveys or focus groups can help you understand the needs and interests of your target audience.
The feedback you get can help you figure out what types of content they prefer, which topics they care about, and what kind of language resonates with them.
Knowing your target audience is important for creating good marketing plans and making products or content they like. To find your audience, you should study your current customers, learn about trends in your industry, and look at what your competitors are doing. Make profiles of your perfect customers, think about what makes your product special, and use data from surveys and social media to learn more about what your customers want.
Understanding your audience helps you make things they will like and be loyal to. Learning about your audience might take time and effort, but it will help your business do well. Keep changing your plans as you learn more about your customers and the market to make sure your marketing and products stay interesting and helpful to them.