Tough Crowd? How to Write Straight to Your Reader

Official #WrMatters Tweet Chat Logo#WrMatters debuted Thursday, April 5th on Twitter with a small but vocal group of participants, eager to discuss the challenges we encounter deciding who our readers are and how to write to them most effectively.

Audience forms one angle of the The Writer’s Triangle. In conjunction with the writer’s purpose the two provide a solid foundation for a document. Without a close relationship between audience and purpose, a message will waiver, and a reader will become easily disoriented.

Michelle Quillin, of New England Multimedia (@NEMultimedia), remembers a time when the concept of multiple audiences made her stomach flip over. Co-host Shakirah Dawud (@ShakirahDawud) realizes that whenever her audience becomes fuzzy, that she’s lost sight of her message and needs to simplify it. That often means restraining herself from adding “one more point.”

Whereas Shakirah focuses on content to streamline her message, Michelle Quillin uses niche marketing and branding. She starts with a specific purpose for a specific platform, then identifies the audience – first broadly, and then more specifically. That gives her the content she needs to keep her readers interested.

But rather than trust that they will find her, Michelle Quillin, goes out and finds them. And that seems to be the key to her marketing strategy. She says: “I don’t endeavor to be found. I do the finding. I seek out members of our audience on Twitter & Facebook,” a strategy that resonates with all of us, including Megan from @MWritesMedia. Megan tries to create conversations online by providing something valuable, taking part in debates and adding her expertise to the topic at hand.

Both Shakirah and Michelle Quillin sometimes find themselves writing to a collective, rather than an individual audience. And when that happens, it can be tempting to write to the lowest common denominator. Instead of succumbing to that temptation, they both try to find a “bridge,” or common ground between the two audiences, simultaneously appealing to the more knowledgeable reader and educating those who are less familiar with the marketplace.

And in yet another approach, I myself, the Corporate Writing Pro (@CorpWritingPro) create real life audience profiles. People that I’ve actually met become my imaginary audience for the different types of writing that I do. I have one audience profile for my blog, one for my academic writing, and one for my website. By writing to real people, I hope that my voice will stay personable, and that I don’t ever write in a vacuum.

We all felt that the hour went by far too quickly, and we’re looking forward to what we can learn in another session. #WrMatters will be held on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month, 4pm ET on Twitter. Use the hashtag #WrMatters to participate. I’ve found that offers a seamless experience. And if you have other tools you like, feel free to share. That’s why we’re here – to learn from one another.

We’ll continue the conversation on Thursday, April 19th at 4pm ET. Our topic will be announced here, on Keys to Easy Writing, Monday April 16th. Suggestions are welcome!

And remember – 8 Weeks to Writing with Clarity starts April 18th. If you’re interested in gaining clarity, focus, and insight into your writing process, be sure to join us. We’ll spend 8 weeks delving into the writing cycle, from brainstorming to arrangement, from crafting to revising, and so much more! You’ll discover your authentic voice, learn how to start in your right mind, get your feet dirty, tell your story, make your manuscript strange, and so much more! The first class is FREE, and you’re under no obligation to continue. Check it out!


  1. Michelle, thanks so much for the excellent dialogue yesterday about writing for your audience. It’s vital to always think about my purpose first. What do I want my readers to do while they’re on my website? If I want them to hire us, I’ve got to write for that audience — for our potential customers — and not for our peers.

    I see a lot of my peers writing for dialogue and debate around topics in our respective fields, and that’s fine, if that’s their purpose. My purpose is to keep the pipeline filled with paying projects. (Say that five times as fast as you can!)

    I liked your idea of writing for audience profiles. I have to think on that a bit! I can see how that would help tremendously!

  2. Deb Cooper says

    I am trying to gather my thoughts for scientific writing. Thank you for the guidelines.


  1. […] Chat: Shakirah wrote “Who To Write To When Everyone’s Reading,” and Michelle wrote “Tough Crowd? How to Write Straight to Your Reader.” Each post rounded up remarks from Chat participants, naming names and including links. Guess who […]

  2. […] Shakirah followed that conversation with summaries on our blogs. Be sure to check out our articles, Tough Crowd? How to Write Straight to Your Reader and Who to Write to When Everyone’s Reading, as well as a follow-up piece by Michelle Q – Help! […]

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