Audience… Define Your Audience

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I suggested last post that I was going to go for three posts a week…  Monday, Wednesday and Friday seem to be an appropriate schedule, let’s go with that.  That is not the first thing I’m going to focus on (consistency and a goal), but it’s what I’m focusing on right now.

The first thing I’m going to focus on is something I should already have done.  I suggest you do this as a first step going forward.  Define your audience.  It was something that was continuously impressed on me when I was at Vanderbilt as an English Major.  Define who you are writing towards.  Often that was the professor, often it was the Vanderbilt student body itself.  Regardless, knowing who the writing is meant for makes a difference in the outcome of the writing itself.

I could go into detail but I think it would contain sentences similar to this: Some professors expected quality over thought-process, others did not, I wrote to the professor.  Instead, let me suggest that this isn’t just about online content and potential sales but about life and other work as well.  Knowing your audience before you send your emails, tell a specific joke, or discuss sensitive business topics is a valuable lesson.  It’s something I have taught both my boys as they entered their pre-teens.  “You can say things to your friends that you should never say in front of your Mom…”

For this blog, I’m too late.  I started the blog, with a goal, and I haven’t solidified who I’m even writing to…  That makes this a journal, not a directed blog.  I’m obviously going to revisit this and define the audience I’m trying to reach for one simple reason:

  1. When a decision about a direction that the blog needs to take comes up the audience will give you the answer…

I’m not suggesting that you ask your readers/consumers what path you should take on any given decision.  “Should my podcasts be 30 or 45 minutes long?”  Although, if you get a following that is responsive to you, you might take that approach.  I’m suggesting that you determine the ideal person for your media and define aspects of that person’s life.  Once determined, answers to questions for your content will be readily available with little thought.  What would my audience do?

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As an example, I’m going to be writing a cookbook soon.  I have a passion for cooking and a passion for writing (and getting published).  But what kind of cookbook?  I need to define my audience.  Let’s go through two potential audiences.

  1. Newly graduated college student.
    • Renting their first place
    • Owns a microwave, has a stove to store the cookie sheets for the oven
    • Owns an all in one kitchen set (two pots, two pans)
    • Doesn’t own a dishwasher
    • Has four actual plates but uses plastic dinnerware mostly
    • Eats out with friends as often as possible because they never learned how to cook or depended on cafeterias and Mom.
    • Really likes microwaveable ready meals, tube cookies and hot dogs.
    • Spends most of their money on student loans, furntiure and their pets
  2. Newly divorced Dad.
    • Moved into a condo unit
    • Owns a microwave, stove, oven and grill
    • Never had to cook because his ex-wife cooked everything
      • Although he does like to grill
    • Owns a dishwasher
    • Has actual plates and bowls and can afford kitchen utensils
    • Eats out often, especially when he has the kids over
    • Eats microwave ready meals and hot dogs often, but would rather have home cooked meals
    • Spends most of his money on his kids, alimony, child support and his condo
      • Still has plenty of money left over

These are pretty specific audiences…  I could flesh them out even more if necessary and the more I podcast or write the more i would.  A cookbook for a recently divorced Dad would be MUCH different than one for a recently graduated college student.  That should be pretty obvious.  As I begin looking into what a book like that would be (and I’m thinking I might blog the writing of that book with a defined audience of new writers), I’m easily able to answer some of the questions that immediately arise.

  1. Should I include “basics of cooking”?
    • The answer for both is a yes
  2. Should I include a section for cooking for kids?
    • For the college grad, no…  But for the dad, yes…

Having defined the audience will help to determine what content needs to be discussed/created as well.  As you plan your content you have to ask yourself WWMAW; “What Would My Audience Want?”

As a caution for going this route, other’s might have had the same idea as you.  For example:

Divorced Dad’s Cookbook“>Divorced Dad’s Cookbook

Don’t worry about this at all…  You have your own personality, your own thoughts and your own specific audience.  All that means is that someone else has already identified a viable source of money.  Read the reviews on their products and determine how you can make yours better…

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