Before you begin in your quest to create content, there is one thing you need to consider before everything: your audience.
Without an audience in place, you cannot tailor your content to their specific needs and expectations. You are left in the wilderness, which makes breaking down those artificial boundaries and speaking directly to the reader virtually impossible. And the most effective content is the type that is adapted in tone and voice to suit the audience it is intended for.
Yet one of the biggest problems people encounter when it comes to this is that they don’t know how to identify their audience. So to get a better understanding of your audience, ponder these questions:
What are the demographics of your audience? What are their interests, gender, age range, education level, social status, background?
- How big is the audience that you're targeting?
- Do they already have knowledge about the topic? If they do, how much?
With that said, let me explore those points in more detail and why you should be answering those questions:
To better refine your content writing and know what the best topics to cover are, learning the demographics of your audience is vital.
When you consider such traits like gender, age, career status, level of education and so on, you can define your audience to such a degree where you can produce content that is specifically created for them. For example, your writing would take on a much different tone and style if your audience consisted of 16-year-olds rather than an older age demographic.
Most audiences tend to have an interest in content that is relatable to their motivations, interests, goals and needs. Demographic research can give an insight into such aspects, allowing for you to produce audience-centered content and, ultimately, making your business more effective as a communicator.
The size of the audience
The general rule of thumb is that the bigger the audience, the more formal your writing style ends up being. This is because it is difficult to reach out to each reader more personally when you are supplying content to a large audience, so a more sterile and broad approach is seen as the more popular choice – with the demographics being considered in the editorial perspective and not necessarily in the language. But even in that case, you have to make sure that your style is consistent.
Yet if your audience is more niche and smaller in numbers, an informal style can be applied. By going this route, you can give off the impression that you are speaking to each individual of the audience – mainly because you have a greater knowledge of the specific audience demographics.
Catering your content to the audience
Once you have an understanding about the size of the audience and what general demographics they fall under, it is all about creating content with that in mind. Your research should dictate the way you go with your content, as it should point out how much of an understanding your audience has about the topic you are writing about.
The more your audience know about the subject, the less you have to explain the basics and you can delve right in with the juicier aspects of the matter. But if your audience does not have any great familiarity with the topic of choice, it means you are going to have to go with an approach that is simpler in style and one that better explains the foundations of the subject. This is something that many marketers and even teachers often forget. Just because you understand all of the detailed aspects of something, as well as references to key words or terms, it doesn't mean that your audience will.
The language difference between those who are beginners to something to those that are at the expert level is often extreme and your content needs to appreciate that.
So for example, if you are running a marketing blog and writing about email conversion techniques, little explanation about the basics of email marketing will be required because your general readership will be well versed in such a topic. But if the same theme was explored on, say, a blog about wholesaling, an overall description of email marketing would be recommended.
Finding Your Voice When Writing Content
Content writing is a great way to market your business and get the word out about the products and services you offer. But producing content that will sell your business effectively is down to you being able to find your voice and integrate that into your writing style.
Admittedly, there’s no problem with being a ‘safe’ writer and sticking to a general structure for each article you write. Yet when competition is so cut-throat in content marketing, whether it is competing on the search engines or trying to secure subscribers, being safe doesn’t stand out. In this oversaturated market, you have to go with a writing style that is unique to you and allows your content to catch the eye of prospective readers.
You see, although it takes plenty of time and effort, developing a distinct tone of voice is a key element when it comes to a business becoming an established brand. This is because a tone of voice helps express personality and individuality. Along with standing out from the crowd, going in this direction also develops trust with the intended audience.
So how do you go about finding your voice? Well let me run through some of the aspects you need to contemplate:
Know your audience
First things first, you need to know exactly what audience you are targeting. With every piece of content you produce, from articles to videos, the audience should be firmly in your mind from the start. By doing this you are gaining a better understanding as to what content they seek and, as a result, you can alter your content marketing to match their needs.
The success of this is down to how much you know about your target audience. Studying your audience and engaging with them in every way possible will help decipher all you need to know about your target audience.
Differentiate from the competition
Now this is obviously easier said than done, but making sure your business and its content differentiates from the competition is important.
To do this, you can look at what your competition is doing with their content creation. Then it is a case of analyzing how you can alter your content to stand out from what they are producing. Yet this doesn’t mean you have to go completely against the grain in an effort to differentiate; it can simply be a case of:
- Add a relevant story from your perspective
- Go all-out with visuals like images, infographics, screenshots, graphs etc.
- Write controversially/sarcastically/honestly/humorously
- Find a niche within a niche that you can specialize in
- Create content relevant to and including the latest news
- Take an existing, accepted report and go in a different light to the status quo
Going with a distinct tone of voice
Formal or informal, that is the question.
To come up with the answer to this, you have to decide which style of writing your audience will respond to better. The way in which you speak to your audience is very important when it comes to engagement. So the more tailored and suited your writing is to match your audience, the better the level of engagement will be.
But that doesn’t mean you should try and manufacture a style that is unnatural…
Stay true to who you are
There’s no point in trying to be something that you are not and attempting to put on a voice that you are not comfortable with.
When it comes to creating and developing a tone of voice for your writing, try and keep it as natural as possible. If you are naturally laid back and tend to express that in your content creation, don’t try and manufacture some sort of formal style with your writing. And vice versa, if you have a formal frame of mind with your writing, do not attempt to fake a casual approach with your content. Those reading will see right through it.
Simply put, be yourself. As long as you have selected an appropriate audience, you can still be who you are while marketing with your content successfully.
How to Develop Your Writing for Maximum Readability
If you want to speak to your audience in the best way possible – whilst also standing out from the competition – it is a necessity that you fully develop your content. There are many things to consider when it comes to this, but placing a particular emphasis on your writing and how this can be developed is a great starting point.
For that maximum readability, I have broken down a number of the finer details that you need to contemplate for making your writing clear and precise:
Plan out what you want to write
One of the mistakes you want to avoid when crafting content is to go with an improvised, winging it-style of writing. By doing this, you are running the risk of your writing becoming repetitive and disjointed in terms of structure.
The solution to this is simple: plan out what you want to write about.
You should have an end goal predetermined before you write anything, with that goal being focused on what the audience should take away from the content you are producing. If you don’t actually know what the audience is going to get from reading your content, it is time to take a step back and reassess. Once you know what the aim is with the content, you can begin to plan out the framework and flesh it out with your writing.
For that maximum level of readability, the last thing you want to do is pad out your content with fluff just to meet a set word quota.
Writing in a concise manner, where your sentences are short yet to the point, is the best way to engage with your audience. After all, there is no reason to describe something with three or more words when just the one word will do.
Don’t delay; get your point across straight away.
When you are creating your content, the best way to go about it is by being direct with the message you are trying to deliver. By presenting the main idea of your content at the beginning, it gives the reader a clear idea as to what the writing comprises of before delving into the bulk of the content. And when the reader knows what they are getting from the start, they are more likely to further explore the rest of the content.
Along with going for clarity, try and avoid going for superfluous-type words. Readers don’t want to have to bring out a dictionary to gain an understanding on a certain word when more suitable alternatives are available. It is an easy way to alienate your audience by trying to be too ‘fancy’.
Also make sure that your content is only focusing on one main issue. It is not wise to go off on a tangent and start talking about something else. Not only does this become confusing for the reader, but it also means you don’t give the main point of discussion the attention that it deserves.
Use sources and quotes
One of the best and easiest ways to add substance to your content is by including sources and quotes.
When you grab a quote or source that supports the argument of your writing, it adds validity to the point you are making. Along with that, it brings an added level of engagement with your audience because, when you highlight a quote or a statistic, it draws eyes to that piece of contents.
Review your work
When you go over your work and read it back to yourself, you can pick up on any potential mistakes that may have cropped up during your first draft. Is that sentence disjointed? Are those additional paragraphs really necessary? Is the article flowing seamlessly? Is the grammar 100% correct? Am I getting my point across in a clear manner? These are the type of questions you can answer by simply reviewing your work.