How To Write to an Audience of One Reader
As I sat sipping my vanilla latte with a good friend in our favorite coffee shop, I nervously watched her facial expressions as she read my article. As soon as she looked up, I quickly asked, “Well, what did you think?” Instead of answering directly, she gently responded with a question of her own: “Who were you writing to?”
My first instinct was to say something general about my blog readers or Instagram followers, but it didn’t take me long to realize I didn’t actually know. As a result, my writing was vague, unfocused, and I knew I missed an opportunity to meet a need.
The idea of “felt needs” is important when we write, but we can only meet those needs if we know our audience. A wise preacher once said he writes his sermons with a single person in mind. The same strategy applies to us. Our writing becomes stronger and more targeted when we write to an audience of one.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your audience of one before you start writing:
What problems or challenges is he/she currently facing?
Take some time to think about problems this person is facing. Look at their external circumstances and inward struggles to identify different layers to address. Keep in mind challenges can be emotional, physical, mental and/or spiritual.
What questions does he/she have that I can help answer?
Once you’ve identified specific challenges, the next step is discerning the questions this challenge might create and working to provide answers. A wise writer will draw from Scripture first and life experiences second. We should always work to point our readers to the Truth of the Word.
Remember, not every felt need or identified problem will have an answer. Sometimes, meeting the need simply involves providing encouragement, support and Truth.
What should he/she take away?
Lastly, it’s important to start with the end in mind. What should your reader do with the information they read? As you write, include clear, actionable steps directed at your reader. This may be a list of tips, a single call to action, or a truth to meditate on or cling to.
Philippians 4:8 says this: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV).
Is your reader taking away truths and actions that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and/or worthy of praise? This is a good measure to use!
After spending time with my friend in the coffee shop that day, I went home and rewrote my article — this time with just one person in mind.
As writers, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to meet the needs of our readers, and this starts with meeting the needs of just one person. Don’t write aimlessly; instead spend the time it takes to identify felt needs. This honors God, strengthens our writing and leaves our readers feeling seen, heard and encouraged.
Who are you writing to? Take some time to identify your “audience of one,” and share his/her felt needs with us!
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