If you happen to have a teenager, then you know how this feels: you have something important to share, you want to teach, and your intentions are pure and loving.
Even if you come off sounding like a self-righteous politician who’s just been caught with their knickers down. Because you know you’re right.
And still, the fruit of your loins looks back at you – or more likely, not – like they’d rather be having a root canal.
Your kid can’t click off. But your blog reader can.
Know your audience is a cliché, and like most clichés it reached that status for a reason – it’s an eternal truth. But if you put a small spin on it you get a valuable tool as you write your next blog…
… Visualize your audience.
That’s right, actually picture them sitting in front of a monitor reading your stuff. Or better, sitting right in front of you on the verge of rolling their eyes. Feel free to put them into a box, to stereotype them, and see how this might influence your tone and approach.
The rocket science of blogging preaches to clarify your message, to focus on problem solving, and to keep your agenda in the background. It’s all about the reader, not about you and what you’re selling. Fair enough.
But not all readers are alike, and you have one chance to make an impression. Use your impression of them to make it count.
Understand the demographic differences.
All blogs are selling something. It might be a specific solution or product, it might simply be advice or some slice of philosophical insight. A point of view (which makes it an editorial, which is fine, it’s your blog). Whatever.
The trick is to optimize your message, the pitch, for the reader. Or if you’re visualizing, for the listener. This subtle difference can make you a better blogger.
Because if you can get them leaning forward in their seat, you win. If you picture their eyes fogging – just like yours fog when someone is pitching you – you’ve lost them.
Readers of philosophical rhetoric respond best to a different writing voice than consumers of pop music and beer. Parents comprehend differently than students. Retirees tune in to different frequencies than swinging singles.
Write your blog on their contextual frequency, not yours, and they’ll stay tuned.
Speak their language.
Great blogs know what they are and what they’re driving toward. Great blogs also know the difference between their target reader and other demographic groups.
It’s a tone thing. A function of language. Your tools are slang, sentence fragments and pacing. The transformation of narrative into a one-sided dialogue whose only response is an agreeable nod.
Something that makes the reader think, hey, this writer gets me.
If you can picture them reading, you can imagine them talking back. Echo that dialogue in your blogging voice and you’ll remain on their wavelength.
And if you need to use words like dude or verisimilitude to do it, all the better.
Isolate their need.
As a blogger you need to be quick. To get right to the point. Because your readers are scanning. Give their scanner something to latch onto.
The best hook isn’t your solution, it’s their need. Show them you get it. Empathize. Be one of them. Then unveil options, one of which is what you’re promoting, however cleverly – a product, an attitude, a change, a world view.
So go ahead, get in their face. Just know that they’re looking back at you. Which demands that you answer the question, what face are you wearing today?
If they see themselves in you, you’re golden.
Photo credit: Adam Arroyo; www.adamarroyo.com