Hint: It’s not about what you want
Do you want your words to be read by the masses?
Or would you rather keep them to yourself?
Chances are if you’re reading this, you do want people to read and enjoy your stories, your blog posts, and your books.
To do that, you’ve got to remember one thing above all:
Your writing isn’t about you.
Well, what is my writing about, then?
So glad you asked.
It’s about your reader.
Since you’re smart, you guessed that already.
Your reader decides whether your writing is worth reading, sharing, and loving. They decide if it’s worth it to continue after the first paragraph. If they know you, they might give you longer to persuade them. If they’re a stranger to you, you’ve got as much chance as any other stranger to win them over.
In this post, we’ll talk about how to do that
Find out what they want.
Everyone wants something. Money. Health. A feeling of importance. But what’s something everyone wants?
It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
It’s simple because hope fills a void. There’s something missing in your life. If you could just get that special something, everything would be better.
The complicated part is how hope appears to everyone in your audience.
A car can solve your transportation problem. But what kind of car?
- For a mom, a van or an SUV might be the best way to move her growing family.
- To a young executive, a flashy sedan will impress clients and clinch the sale.
- For a college student, a decade old compact will move her from point A to point B.
Clearly, you have to know your audience. If you can meet someone in person who represents your ideal reader, take her out to lunch and get to know her better. Become friends if you can and participate in some of the same activities. You’ll accomplish two things. You’ll enlarge your social circle, and you’ll do some excellent research.
Just be honest about it, and don’t just use this person for your own personal gain.
Solve a problem.
If you can help someone get unstuck, you’ve struck creative gold.
People will pay good money for solutions. They want to learn new ways of doing things. I know I do. Every time I get birthday money, some inevitably goes to Amazon for books and related media.
But it’s not just nonfiction books that give us hope. Stories can, too. They’re especially powerful because they give us a character we can relate to, in a situation like our own. They’re probably facing a challenge like ours, maybe even bigger than we can imagine. Yet somehow, they find the strength to stand up and fight — and ultimately win.
Hope can inspire someone in the darkest pit of despair to stand up and fight once more.
When we see a better way, hope moves us forward.
Serve the reader, not yourself.
When you hear about building an audience for your books or other products, it’s easy to think it’s about you.
- “I’ve got to show up or people will forget me.”
- “I’ve got to run a fancy book launch or no one will hear about my book.”
- “I’ve got to make a living, and I’d like to do it with my writing.”
I’ve said and felt every one of those statements.
But think about this:
Who pays you to write?
It’s important to know who your customer is. If you’re traditionally published, you have to please your agent first. If you self-publish, it’s your reader. Meet their needs and they’ll meet yours.
You can write about whatever you want if your reader cares about it.
Ignore your reader and you’ll publish journal entries.
Writing for pay is a business. Figure out how to marry your passion to your marketplace. What are the rules of success in your game? How can you use them, break them, and manipulate them so you’ll be heard?
I’m not saying you can’t be yourself.
In the real world where you see people face to face, how do you make friends?
You start by greeting them.
“Hi! My name’s Frank. What’s yours?”
Then you’ll move to questions that show you care like: “How are you today?
What did you do this weekend? How do you like to spend your leisure time?”
If the conversation continues, you can probe deeper. “What kind of work do you do? How did you get into it? How long have you been at it?”
If you talk more, you can find out things like: “Where do you live? Did you grow up here or somewhere else? Do you have brothers or sisters? What’s your favorite vacation spot?”
Be prepared to share your answers if they ask you.
Did you see the theme in this conversation? You’ve made it all about them. When you do that, you’ll hear them say what a great conversationalist you are. Why? Because you’ve let them go on and on about themselves. And who doesn’t like that?
Make friends and you’ll make sales.
The marketplace is no different. If you want customers, focus on their needs. Make them feel important. Let them know you care, and that their happiness is your business.
And if you talk about yourself, make it about something they can relate to. Tell a story that will help them do what they want to do right now. Share a life hack that will remove the huge obstacle standing between them and what they hope for. Write a rant that confirms what they’ve been thinking and haven’t found the words to say.
If you want followers who care, be a friend they can come to again and again.
Give people what they want, and you can have what you want. Friends. Followers. Customers.
If you make your work for the people you serve, they’ll pay you to make more.
Now go do something that makes a difference.