How to Write Content That Isn’t Ignored

How to write content that doesn't get ignored

Writing for anyone and everyone will often ensure that it resonates with nobody and no one.

You probably struggle with this, just as I do, every time you sit down to write. It’s not fun— it may even be painful for you.

Or maybe you’ve been ignoring it altogether. We tend to avoid things that bring us pain, don’t we?

But it has to be done.

What has to be done?

Before writing a single word on a page, you need to first know who you’re writing to. No, not a demographic, not a target audience, not a niche audience, not even a niche audience segment.

You need to know the exact person you’re writing for.

The Challenge We Face

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found when speaking with writers, bloggers, business owners and entrepreneurs is defining who it is they’re trying to reach. They tend to want to reach as many people as possible and can’t bring themselves to narrow down who it is they’re really after.

This is a huge problem.

Defining a target audience (or a target market) is one of the most important steps in building a strong brand. I usually won’t even take a branding job most of the time unless there is a strong sense of who the brand’s target audience is.

If you want to reach people with your message, you have to know exactly who you’re talking to. If you don’t know exactly who you’re talking to, your message will come off as generic and detached.

And what’s the result of creating generic and detached content? People stop listening. And then you’re sunk.

As creative people, nothing is more deflating than putting something out there in the world and having nobody care.

As I sit here, right now, typing this post, that fear sits in the back of my mind. You have it too, right?

But here’s the truth— if you want people to care, you must create a story that resonates.

A Story That Resonates

When we’re speaking with people we know, we tend to craft our communication in a way that we know will speak to them directly. This makes our messages hit them in a more personal way.

Think about how you talk in front of a crowd of people. The words you choose, the tone of your voice— probably not the same as when you talk to a close friend, right?

michael scott making a speech

I expect not.

When speaking to a close friend, you can easily bring up situations, scenarios and past shared experiences to bring your stories to life in a way that they resonate with.

This excerpt from an article by Chase Reeves says it brilliantly in a way only Chase Reeves could:

“…when your friend is feeling $%*#!&, when someone you love needs something and you can help them with it, you’re thinking at the scale of a human.

My theory is when we think at that scale, at the level of one human we care about, it pulls out better ideas. We see immediately how we can get involved and help out.”

If you catch nothing else, catch this one thing Chase says:

By telling your stories in a way that hits people in a personal way, resonating with them on a real level, the stories become much more powerful.

Do this often, and before long you’ll create a fellowship of readers— people who have connected to what you have to say and can’t get enough.

That’s why whenever I sit down to write a blog post I stop and think about the one person I’m writing it for. This helps me form my concepts and language in a way that resonates with the reader and keeps them hooked.

And there’s another lesson in this— a great way to generate ideas for blog posts is to use the questions people are asking you.

Some Questions to Ask Yourself

When you sit down to write for this one person, here are some questions you can use to help focus your message and make sure it resonates with your intended reader:

  • What problem am I solving for her?
  • How does she feel when she faces this problem?
  • Why does this problem exist for her?
  • What is keeping her from overcoming this challenge?
  • What does she need to hear that only I can tell her?
  • What will her end result be if she follows what I say?
  • Where is she at when she faces this challenge?

Notice how I used a personal pronoun in all the questions above. It helps.

Don’t make the questions you’re asking generic or the answers you come up with will be generic too.

To Sum Up…

inigo montoya let me sum up

I think Kurt Vonnegut said it best when he said:

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

Pin this Quote

Don’t let your stories get pneumonia. Know who you’re writing for and write specifically for that one person.

Stop writing for everyone, and start writing for someone.

Dustin W. Stout Avatar

23 responses to “How to Write Content That Isn’t Ignored”

  1. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    You’re welcome Bailey! Glad you found it helpful.

  2. Bailey Mills Avatar

    Bookmarked this for a quick read before I begin any new articles 🙂 thanks!

  3. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Glad to hear this Donna! I think it’s pounded into us throughout school (especially college) that we need to write a certain way and sound as proper as is necessary for academic papers. Sometimes that takes some unlearning to get past. lol

  4. Donna Avatar

    I am happy I stumbled on this article today. Just this morning I was asking myself who is it exactly that you are writing to/for? I tend to try to sound professional when really I am just an average person trying to bless others with my experience and knowledge in a particular area. I feel fake if I try to sound too professional rather than just passing info on to a friend. So I am thankful for your blog that has helped me decide I what I already knew!

  5. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Hi Lynne! I’m glad you liked the post. I think it’s fine to change the person you’re writing to on a post-by-post basis. As long as it still fits in the grand scheme of your blog. For example– if I’m creating content for beginner bloggers I wouldn’t write a bunch of articles for those people I know are beginner bloggers and then write one specific post for Chris Brogan.

    Make sense?

  6. Lynne Hunter Avatar
    Lynne Hunter

    Thanks so much for clarifying this point I’ve read so much about yet never totally understood it. It’s always sounded vague, ambiguous and seriously hard to understand. This is most likely due to my misunderstanding rather than anything else.

    However, there is one tiny point that I now need to understand, so my question is: “Do you write always to the same person in your mind?” – Or can you change things around a little with each post you write?

    I hope that’s clear and you understand what I mean.

    Thanks so much for your constant help.

  7. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Hey Dylan! Don’t know how I had missed your comment. And it seems Mecyll has clarified who I’m writing this specific blog post to– the person who hasn’t yet defined their audience.

    I didn’t talk specifically about my audience in this post, because this isn’t a post about them, it’s a post to them. Typically though, I write for bloggers who are early in their journey but know enough to know that they need to go to the next level. Specifically, to assist the language I use and the way I explain things, I write as if it is only for my wife.

  8. Mecyll Jamila Avatar
    Mecyll Jamila

    Hi, Dylan! He’s actually dedicating this post who write blog posts with no idea about his audience. The lean meat of this post is a CTA (call to action) to start writing blog posts for that someone who’s having the same issue. Hope this clarified your inquiry.

  9. Anjali Prabhanjanan Avatar
    Anjali Prabhanjanan

    I totally agree with your post Dustin. Its quite important to write for the one person for whom you have started writing the blog post on the first place because this makes the reader feel special about himself and this will eventually you get to connect with many people.

  10. Dylan Robertson Avatar
    Dylan Robertson

    Hi Dustin,

    Who is your target audience and how would you describe the persona you write for? I wasn’t able to find where you actually explain this in detail.

  11. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Thanks Chris! Cheers!

  12. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    That’s also a great technique– especially if your target audience is very much like yourself! When I first started blogging, I wrote like that often because most of the time I was writing in order to remember something for myself. 😀

  13. Chris Webb Avatar
    Chris Webb

    Great advice Dustin, thanks for sharing and have a great 2016!

  14. Toni Slate Avatar
    Toni Slate

    Your post is very helpful Dustin! Luckily for me, when I write, I’m talking to my self so it’s a no-brainer. 😉

    Keep up the great work! Your efforts are much appreciated.

  15. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Awesome to hear Brent! And glad you like my GIFage. It makes me happy– I figured it would make others happy too.

  16. Brent Jones Avatar
    Brent Jones

    Happy New Year, Dustin!

    Yup, you nailed it.

    I spent 2014-15 writing for… everyone and anyone. Whoever would listen. Bloggers, email marketers, social media junkies…

    The end result?

    Sure, I got some readers. Added 1,000+ folks to my mailing list. All that jazz.

    But push comes to shove? I have no idea who I was writing for, and no clue as to whether or not I really helped anyone.

    In the next few weeks, my blog will be re-launched with one purpose in 2016 — to help as many people as possible quit their corporate jobs to start freelancing.

    That’s it. No other objective.

    It’s funny how many times I’ve had this same conversation with clients.

    Me: Who is your target market?
    Them: Everyone.
    Me: Everyone?
    Them: Yes, everyone will love this product.
    Me: …marketing doesn’t work like that.

    Yet somehow, I failed to follow my own advice with my blog.

    Nice post, my friend! Always a fan of your animated GIFs, too.


  17. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    I appreciate you stopping by Jon! Hope all is well with you my friend!

  18. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Happy new year David! I’m so glad you found it useful. 😀

  19. David I. Adeleke Avatar

    The main lessons I picked from this article:

    1. I need to stop writing without having a particular person in mind. Now, I must write, imagining myself having a conversation with the person while taking a walk, or sitting down with them and trying to share some great stories.

    2. I also learned that I need to listen to people more and be more attentive to the questions they ask.

    Thank you for this post, Dustin. Happy new year ☺

  20. Jon Stolpe Avatar

    Fantastic advice, Dustin. This is such an easy “formula” that is too often overlooked. I appreciate this post as I head into the new year with hopes of growing my audience, writing excellent content, and making a difference in the world. Thank you!

  21. Ahmad Imran Avatar

    Cheers, makes sense. Thanks Dustin.

  22. Dustin W. Stout Avatar

    Happy New Year Ahmad!

    I think it’s really up to you. Since I’m specifically talking about my personal blog in this case, I only need to narrow down to one person– an actual, real-life person I know– to create a blog post. So, there’s really not a need for me to go through all the work of a persona as it would make my message less personal. But for business blogs, personas are very important.

  23. Ahmad Imran Avatar

    Dustin, a nice article and a happy New Year to you.

    A valid point and a backbone advice for bloggers and writers. I am trying to bring this style of writing where I have a clear picture of my target audience in my mind and I write specifically for that audience.

    It is not easy though. It is a general tendency to serve as many people with your offering as possible.

    Would you agree that to create “blog audience personas” is important and helps you to achieve this objective? Or can it all be in your head?


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