Who Are You Talking To?

Do you know your audience as a writer? Who are the readers you’re trying to reach? And do you write mostly for them or do you write in the hopes of attracting others unlike you?

It takes a lot of time for a blogger to get to know their audience. But for game bloggers the experience usually starts off as a passion for a particular game and, in a way, you immediately know who your audience is. So there are bloggers who got started writing about World of Warcraft and anyone who plays that game might be interested in what they’re writing. Players from Wildstar or Star Wars might find it interesting too, but the target audience is clearly players who like the same games as you do.

This is the same with social justice, though it seems to be poorly understood. I can’t count how many times I’ve had readers wonder who I’m writing for. Well …for you. The person who read it.

I think over the years I’ve come to know my audience pretty well. I know what riles up my readers and what makes them feel good about themselves. I know what they might find amusing or the kinds of games they might play. In a way, bloggers even come to know things about our readers that are a little …intimate. For example, some bloggers know what makes their readers uncomfortable. That might be why they know which issues to avoid and which issues will net them more page views than usual. Writers get to know their audience and their own writing. For those who have been at it for a few years, you know exactly the kind of response (or lack thereof) to any given topic you publish.

And the audience knows their writers much of the time too.

Almost every one I’ve come to know through blogging who has heard me speak for the first time has been surprised. Because of the intensity of my writing at times, a lot of people imagine I speak more loudly than I actually do. Because of the tenor of my writing some have come to think I’m a talker, but those of you who’ve talked to me have learned that’s not the case either. So in a sense, blogging gives the reader and writer this weird space to imagine who the person really is, but also to invent the person behind the monitor completely.

I speak softly. I speak rarely. But I have a lot I want to say. One could argue that blogging gave me a voice in a way I’ve never had. I feel very comfortable blogging in ways that I’d never feel about talking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shy or afraid to speak or anything like that. But …well some things from our childhoods stick with us in my case. Talking wasn’t the way I learned to communicate most effectively and in a way I still feel inadequate when I speak. Words feel clumsy in my mouth.

Here’s a an exercise: who did you imagine your audience/favorite authors to be before you had the opportunity to interact with them? Did they meet your expectations?

How do your various personalities come together? There’s the gamer Doone. Then there’s the community carebear Doone. There’s daddy Doone. Mr. D. Doony. There’s the NBI Doone (the pest who just won’t stop bothering you about getting involved). There’s Doone the friend and Doone the social justice warrior. There’s many Doones, but the truth is that most of you only know blogger Doone. You only know the highly opinionated, analytical, unyielding game critic, the guy who challenges everything even when he agrees with it. I’d ask who your favorite Doone is, but I probably don’t really want to know. Much more fun to imagine.

Know your audience. Unlike when I first started writing, I’ve got a pretty clear picture of who I’m talking to when I write and I think every veteran blogger knows what I mean. Over time you just get a really good feel for who your audience is. For new bloggers, you’re not alone if you still aren’t entirely sure who you’re writing for.  You’re still developing your audience and over time that picture will become a bit more clear to you.

3 thoughts on “Who Are You Talking To?

    • Comments and dialog definitely go a long way, but mostly referrals (the sites readers come from and go to), demographics (like which country, best days to publish, etc), traffic patterns (high hit content vs. low hit), popular categories, etc. Over time I can see the trends and learn what my audience likes to read, when they like to read it. For example, when I began writing here at XP, my audience changed by 13% – I get more referrals from social media than game forums/reddit/etc. That is, I get 13% fewer hits from game sites than I do from news sites than I did a year ago. I expected that to be a much larger decrease, because gamers, on the whole, just want to talk about games, not game culture (unless it’s about consumerism like game swag, collectibles, etc). But that loss is filled and then some by the number of gamers coming from non-game sites who are more interested in the culture. That’s been a very pleasant surprise. Gamers definitely care about the culture.

      As another example, the most popularly visited tag on this site is Sexism and most popular page is the game guides. Visitors those tags usually come from other gaming sites and leave for another gaming site – so I can assume that’s a gamer, not some political pundit fishing for critiques on sexism. That’s a pretty dramatic difference in content, serving two distinct audiences. On Red Skies the data was similar: Guides were most popular, followed by the ethics content (the More on That category). It was this information that let me know that XP Chronicles would have an interested readership.

      Comments from readers is the easiest and fastest way to know a particular subset of your of audience, those who like to comment. But most readers don’t comment, even on their favorite news sites/blogs. My content in particular isn’t the kind suited to comments sections.

  1. Pingback: Knowing Your Audience - Contains Moderate Peril

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