How To Understand Readers’ Needs and Attract Raving Fans

While our focus is often on our audience for platform building, our writing focuses on one person. Begin your writing with that one person in mind and meet their felt needs with your words …

Recently, getting my first paragraph on paper has taken longer than any other part of my writing process. I didn’t understand why until I shared my struggle with a wise writer friend. As we discussed my dilemma, I realized anxiety over gaining the maximum number of eyeballs exhausts my creativity, making my words sound stale and impersonal. My problem is common among writers, even the most seasoned. Can you relate?

 While it’s true that the first sentence is the most crucial in our writing, we need clarity on our audience. Otherwise the vagueness of our writing will be a stumbling block that keeps us from making a heart-to-heart connection with our readers. In a 1975 interview with The Paris Review, John Steinbeck — author, Nobelist and Pulitzer Prize winner — shared his perspective for fellow writers:

“Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death, and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know or an imagined person and write to that one.”

As much as we’d like to cast a wide net in hopes of growing our social media platforms, if we attempt to write for everyone, our words risk the likelihood of connecting with no one. 

Our most creative and impactful work as Christian writers comes when we focus on God — writing for one person, offering His solution for their felt need. If you write from experience, look at this as an opportunity to be the person you needed when in their emotional shoes. What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time?

Before beginning to write, establish your purpose so it’s reflected in how you write. For example, are you looking to inform, inspire, entertain, explain, persuade, etc.? It also helps to give your reader a name and persona that conjures a vivid mental image. Consider their age, gender, occupation, interests and other relevant factors that might impact their perspective. Use this information to create a detailed profile of your ideal reader, including their likes, dislikes and common pain points. 

Use the reader’s demographics and persona to tailor your language, tone and content to suit their preferences. Use easy-to-understand and relatable language, and choose examples and anecdotes that resonate with them. Address any concerns or questions they may have, and be sure to provide relevant and actionable solutions. By writing for an audience of one, you can create a more personalized and engaging experience for your reader. Understanding their needs and interests will help you connect with them on a deeper level and increase the likelihood of them becoming loyal readers and advocates for your content.

Above all, we must remember we are Christ’s ambassadors; people will form their opinions of Him through what they see in our writing. That’s why Paul admonishes us to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23, ESV). When we regard our writing as an act of worship and service to God, our work will reflect a contagious passion that will inspire our audience to seek His purposes and plan for their lives too!

Kelly Kirby Worley

 How do you tailor your writing to resonate with your intended audience? I’d love to know your thoughts. Please share them in the comments.

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Kelly is a marketing-savvy Christian communicator, writer and artist passionate about encouraging and empowering women to trust God and know who they are in Christ. She serves as a volunteer leader for a COMPEL Critique Group and is a member of the COMPEL Training blog writing team. You can follow Kelly's writing on Instagram @kellykirbyworley or connect through her website: www.kellykirbyworley.com.

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  1. Compel training is awesome,I always leave inspired, and ready to write! Thank God for each, and every one of you who work so hard to teach us what you know. May God richly bless you all!! 🙏🏽✝️😊