I have a confession to make: I don’t write for an audience. I write for me.
Someone asked me that the other day. “Tom, do you write for an audience?”
It was a fair question. I understand why it was asked. Every writing article ever has nailed home just how important writing for an audience is.
But you know who my target audience is? Me. If I write something that’s helpful to me, then I bet it would be helpful for somebody else.
Good thing my whole writing philosophy is built on the idea that writing is therapy and should be used to help the writer with their self-awareness.
If you do that, the “target audience” thing will take care of itself.
I Think Having A Target Audience Is A Great Idea, For The Record
Please don’t mistake my hard stance as arrogance. I believe writing for a target audience is a great thing. It works in marketing, and it works in blogging as well.
However, it’s insane just how little thought I give to it. If anyone says it’s absolutely crucial that you have a target audience, just know that they’re lying.
I have not given one ounce of thought to my “target audience” when writing a blog post. I don’t know who reads me.
Is it more men or women? Is it older age groups or younger age groups?
Part of me thinks all of that is irrelevant.
Why I Think “Target Audience” Doesn’t Always Matter So Much
First, writing isn’t a science.
When you write a good story, almost anybody will read it. I really believe that. I think worrying about a “target audience” can make you too preoccupied with things that don’t matter. You need to be thinking about emotion.
Emotion plays no matter what audience you’re writing for.
Second, the term “target audience” puts you in a box. If you say you’re going to write blog posts for freelancers in their 20’s, then every single blog post, to you, better be for freelancers in their 20's.
What if you want to write about a relationship you once had, though?
You can’t. You got to write to freelancers in their 20’s. It gives you no freedom to dabble, and that can get really draining as a writer.
Third, most folks only have three or four topics they really want to write about anyway. For me that’s travel, writing, life lessons, and relationships. These are my four topics. You’ll never read a cooking article from me. I don’t care about that.
If you free yourself from boundaries as a writer, you’ll arrive at your target audience organically. Who is my target audience? People like me, I suppose!
Fourth, too much emphasis on “target audience” can dehumanize you to your audience. What makes Shannon Ashley so endearing for me is the fact that she writes such personal sh*t.
That humanizes her. That makes me want to read her more, no matter what she decides to focus on, because I love her and want to support her.
If I just gave you more freelancing tips every blog post, that’s fine, but I’m not anything more than a teacher to my audience. By writing more personal stuff, I become something much more. I become not only helpful, but relatable. I become less of a teacher and more of a friend.
And who do you want to hang out with more? Your teacher or your friend?
“Target Audience” Is A Jail Cell
If you’re fine with that, then good. Some people thrive with boundaries, and I say that with the utmost respect.
However, I simply cannot. I write better sh*t when I am not concerning myself with a target audience.
That’s not to say that target audiences don’t work. My whole entire business wouldn’t work if I never thought about a target audience for my online courses.
However, my business would do so much better if all I wrote about was Medium all day long. I don’t. That gets boring to me. And yes, I lose money because I choose to write the occasional article about how crappy I am in relationships, but my heart feels better because of it. And to me, personal happiness trumps money any day.
So that’s my take on it.
I’ve sacrificed my own business because of my hard-headedness, I understand, but at the end of the day I am happier as a creative and enjoy the lack of boundaries.
Get a few free writing tips from me here.