Be A Better Writer By Learning About Your Readers

Be A Better Writer

If you want to be a better writer, and who doesn’t, you can find lots of great advice online.

Almost everything I read on the topic is true. Yes, improving your grammar knowledge, developing your writing voice, and honing your writing skills are all vital.

But here’s a big tip for you. Most articles I read on improving your writing miss one of the most critical pieces of advice.

It’s understanding who your readers are. Visualizing your readers can help your perspective and approach to writing because you know who you are writing for.

Great, everyone loves my writing

My first foray into writing and publishing was in the last century.

I’m showing my age a bit, but that’s okay.

I was in the printing industry at the time, and my boss let me print my book at night in lieu of my overtime wages.

It was, now with the benefit of hindsight, an exercise in printing an awful book of poetry.

But guess what? Everyone I gave a copy to loved it. My family and friends all told me it was wonderful, fantastic, and a great achievement.

Did they read it? I doubt it because most of my family and friends at the time loved football and cricket and had absolutely zero interest in poetry.

They might have thumbed through the pages, but that was probably about it.

My late mother said she was so proud of me, but I doubt even she read more than a few lines.

It was a total failure, yes. However, it was also an extremely valuable lesson early in my writing career.

Know who you are writing for because it’s impossible to write for everyone.


Who am I writing for?

how to be a better writer - Who am I writing for

It took me a long time as a writer to get around to asking myself this question.

In retrospect, it was the biggest writing mistake I ever made.

I wrote blog posts, articles, poetry, and novels for years.

But I wrote what I wanted to write and gave little regard to who was reading it.

Quite by chance, though, and with a measure of good luck, I managed to write a couple of books that sold reasonably well.

My personal blog seemed to have a bunch of loyal readers.

But over time, I decided to get serious about blogging because it became my favorite form of writing, and I wanted to improve my writing skills in the process.

After a few months, or maybe a little more, I stumbled upon a discovery that changed my writing forever.

Because I’m no spring chicken, I assumed that my readers were probably around the same age as me.

But guess what? I was 100% wrong.

My readers were much, much younger than I had thought.

It was a long time coming, but that’s when I learned about the most important factor in writing.

Understand who you are writing for.


Discovering your readers

If you want to improve your writing skills, the best thing you can do is find out who is attracted to your writing.

When you can visualize your readers and understand their motivation for reading your writing, you stand a much better chance of writing for them.

When I started this blog, I had some preconceived notions. It wasn’t until I started noticing my readers that I discovered I was wrong. Here are some of my incorrect assumptions.


1. The majority of my readers are men


Readers by gender graph

How I adapted my writing.

Because my readership is 50-50, I avoid using gender-specific areas of interest, and I modify my grammar a little.

It only takes a slight adjustment to my grammar to use less of he and she where possible.

I read his book but wasn’t impressed with his long narrative passages.

I read the book but wasn’t impressed with the long narrative passages.

My doctor is always running late, but he always apologizes.

Doctors are always running late, but mine always apologizes.


2. Most of my readers are of a mature age


Readers by age

How I adapted my writing.

I was totally surprised when I saw this graph for the first time and became aware of how young my readers are.

It prompted me to rethink how I presented my advice articles, and I started focusing more on trying to help younger writers.

But it’s a balancing act to write advice articles that cover the basics for a new writer yet are still informative for more experienced writers.


3. Most of my readers live in the United States

Not quite wrong.

Readers by country

Yes, the US makes up 45% of my readers. But that leaves the majority of 55% who are not.

How I adapted my writing.

Appealing to an international readership is not always easy.

But I began concentrating on themes, topics, advice, and solutions that can work for writers and authors in any country.


4. Most of my readers are English-speaking


Readers by language

Yes, around 85% of my readers are English-speaking. But that leaves 15% who use English as a second language.

How I adapted my writing.

I certainly didn’t want to lower the reading level or grade of my writing based on this information.

But where possible, I try to simplify some parts of a text to make it easier for all my readers.

As a rule of thumb, I usually aim for a Flesch reading ease score of around 75 for my articles.


5. Most of my Facebook followers are in the US


Facebook countries

This was a complete surprise.

How I adapted my writing.

I only made one small change due to this data.

When referring to English-speaking countries in some of my articles, I try to include South Africa along with the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.


6. My Facebook followers are of a mature age


Facebook demographics

I honestly thought that Facebook had become much less popular with younger people and presumed that they used Instagram or TikTok.

I made a slight adjustment because of this: I am a little more selective about what I share on Facebook.


How to use the information

Okay, you can’t know your readers individually. However, the data above can help you focus when you write.

In my case, I try to imagine I am talking to a man and a woman between 25 and 45, looking for answers to questions.

They are keen to learn how to self-publish their first book or how to write better articles that will engage more readers.

Because my readers are younger than I had thought, they are also more tech-savvy and quickly adapt to new tools and technology.

So, I don’t write long, complicated instructions on how to use a new online tool because it would be boring for them.

I honestly believe that learning as much as possible about your readers can help you write more effectively.


How can you access your readers’ demographics?

Google Analytics is the best free tool you can use to discover more about your readers.

But you probably think that it’s only for WordPress blogs.

It’s not. You can use Google Analytics with any free blogging platform or site builder you use for your writing blog.

All you need to do is a Google search for:

How to set up Google Analytics for (insert your platform)

Searching for Tumblr will lead you to instructions to add Google Analytics to your Tumblr account.

It doesn’t matter if you use Blogger, Wix, Free WordPress, or Weebly to promote your writing or books. You can use Analytics to discover more about your visitors.

It’s a great tool to have because you can find out so much and adapt your writing to cater to or attract the right type of readers.

If you are an author publishing teen romance, you want to attract young female readers.

For an author of military history, perhaps you want to see that your audience is mostly older males.

Contemporary romance appeals to a broader age range, but it is most likely to be a majority of women.

The more you know, the more you can make subtle changes to your writing to engage more with the right readers.


Other ways to learn about your readers

Whenever I get a comment or a contact message from my blog, I try to imagine the person.

One easy way is to look at the avatar or gravatar in the comments, as people often use photos on their profiles.

The other is to take a moment to analyze the comment or question and try to get a mental picture.

Where are they from, what are they interested in, or what problem do they want to solve?

It doesn’t matter if you are a blogger, content marketer, author, or poet.

For authors, take note of your book reviews and see if there are any hints about each reviewer’s profile.

Discovering as much as possible about your readers will always help you.


Does it work?

I have to say that for me, yes, it does.

In 2016, I averaged around 300 visitor sessions per day.

Daily visitor session traffic 2016

Today, the average is about 4,000 visitors per day, which is about a fifteenfold increase.

Daily visitor session traffic 2022

I honestly believe that paying careful attention to my readers is one of the primary reasons for the steady increase.



Yes, as a writer, you collect lots of tips and advice along the way.

And you should use them all.

But learning about, understanding, and discovering who my readers are is still at the top of my list.

Knowing who is interested and who wants to read your writing will help improve your writing in more ways than you can imagine.

So that’s my one big tip from this long article.

Take the time to get to know your readers, and you’ll become a much better writer.


Related reading: How To Write A First Sentence To Hook A Reader’s Attention

2 thoughts on “Be A Better Writer By Learning About Your Readers”

  1. Mr. Haines, my name is errol brumm. I am extremely pleased with what I read from your help for beginners…
    I have a question regarding my book I do so want to write before it’s time for me to meet my maker. If you would offer your opinion, I would be extremely pleased. So with no Further ado I’ll let you know enough to evaluate your answer. Only fair. I am a 79 year old, Retired after over 25 years service in the US Army. Have combat experience and am 90% disabled. Family I did have but no longer. That should do.
    Now the question. My book is going to cover family from my age of 6 years centering on my life and then the life of my young wife while I was in the service.. Had 2 boys who I haven’t heard from in a long time. My 1st wife after 36 years of wonderful togetherness fighting several different challenges I passed away in 2001 from Leukemia. After her passing I decided to take on the VA Veteran’s Administration in many battles. Seems Duplicity at it’s best. Constant innuendo, lies, and many just true incompetency of the raters and Medical Personnel offering information in the answers offered to affect my ratings.
    Here’s the question. How would I encompass all three in the book Framing? I could actually write 3 books but want it in the 1 . only. My time could be short.
    No I’m not going to try to bring Hell Fire and Brimstone upon the VA. The book and everything written in it is documented well. It is mostly information and the significance of Duplicity.
    Thank you stay well

    1. You have a few choices, Errol.

      Three books might work if you publish ebooks. But if you are writing your book for posterity, publishing one print book could be an option.

      Alternatively, you could try to find a literary agent or publisher.

      The only difficulty could be that memoirs and biographies are quite challenging to sell. So you would need to have realistic expectations.

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