Who Is Your Ideal Reader?
I finally crystalized my ideal reader, and his name is Mike.
Today is a wondrous occasion. So remarkable, I even bought a Shutterstock image for it because I couldn’t find the perfect one on Unsplash! For the last two years and ten months, I’ve been struggling with the idea that I have to define a person who will read my work.
Why do I need to do that? I mean, it hasn’t stopped me from seeing some measure of success with my writing so far.
That was my reasoning for a long while. Especially because I focused on my financial issues. I wasn’t willing to see that something about my writing was missing.
I was getting lovely comments on Facebook; I was getting subscribers; I was getting curated. But still, it felt like impostor syndrome.
I felt good when it worked, but I felt confused when it didn’t. I had no idea what I had done wrong.
Now I know.
I Wasn’t Writing To My Ideal Reader
Do you know how sometimes when talking to a friend, you have those personal nuances? Like, you know that person, so you allow yourself to make the conversation more fun or private. You’re not talking to a crowd. You’re talking to your friend.
That is what I wasn’t doing. I was writing as if I was in a room full of people, and they all listened to what I have to say.
That strategy works but feels less impersonal than talking to your ideal reader.
The only thing you know about these people is that they have a passing interest in the topic of your writing.
For example, when you explain how social media works, you know the ideal demographic for that is people who are looking for more followers and engagement. But do you know these people? Nope.
Writing is inherently subjective. You will resonate with people sometimes even if they are not who you intended to read your words. That’s the nature of Writing. It could also go the other way around where people will completely disagree with what you want to say.
For me, Mike solved that problem the moment I imaginarily met and shook hands with him.
I Figured Out My Ideal Reader — Mike
Mike is a thirty-year-old man. He identifies as a gamer, and he used to be obese or overweight. Today Mike is fit(ter) and knows that he must invest in his body. Mike doesn’t like his body yet even though some days he is muscular. He still hadn’t made the mental shift that this is it. Mike only has one body. He knows he should be making an effort, but it slips away.
He is an artist at heart. By that, I mean he writes or draws. He has notebooks littering his desk and drawers filled with words or drawings that he made.
He loves fantasy and sci-fi books, TV shows, and games. Specifically anything Brandon Sanderson writes, Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, the late Frank Herbert’s Dune books, and many others. He loves Marvel movies. He will watch the DC movies too, but he is a hardcore MCU lover.
Mike is single. He could get the woman (or man) of his life if he only made an effort. But Mike is full of doubts. Some days he knows what he wants; other days, he is back to square one.
His mind is chaotic, and he has so many ideas that sometimes he has to write them all down. But only a handful make the transition from concept to reality because Mike’s mind is overwhelming. Because of this chaotic nature, Mike finds himself sometimes procrastinating and losing precious time he could have used to advance the progress of one of his many dreams.
Mike loves Hamburgers, Pasta, Cakes. Give him anything as long as it’s not some inner part of the cow, like lungs or brain, and he will enjoy it. Mike eats junk food at night in front of the computer or TV. That’s the primary source of his overweight belly. He still hadn’t got rid of that fat even though he has some workout efforts going on.
Mike is always open to learning new things and is a sucker for emotional shit that makes him cry like death scenes in books or when lovers confide in each other. The relationship between Kahlan and Richard in Terry Goodkind’s books is an excellent example of what triggers those feels for him.
Mike’s profession is something that requires analytical thinking. He is most likely a software engineer or mathematician or something like that.
He loves progress and apps, and gadgets. Although Mike is probably in colossal student debt that casts a long shadow over everything in his life, he would still find himself buying the new iPhone — berating himself later that he shouldn’t have done it.
Mike is my new ideal reader.
Who is yours? Take a moment to flash out a person who you’ll be exclusively writing for and addressing your stories and blog posts. Who is this person? Try to fill in as much detail as you can. I added a lot more information, but still, Mike is a person, and I’m yet to find out everything about him. Just like any friendship, if I keep investing time with Mike — I’ll get to know him better.
Celebrate This Moment — You Earned It
Getting to know your ideal reader is a cause for celebration. You no longer shoot aimlessly in the dark, hoping that something will strike a chord.
You write specifically for that person from now on. That means some people won’t connect with it. If you invested the time and energy so that your ideal reader will love this piece to the roof, that’s ok. I will write my posts for Mike; I will write my social media updates as if Mike is on the other side.
I will verify that anything I publish online that has to do with my writing business, is something Mike will resonate with and would like to read or comment on or like.
And you know what else? Mike was mostly based on me a few years ago. But, Mike is a person, and people are constantly shifting and growing. As Mike changes and grows older and wiser — so will the writing I do for him.
Mike is the type of person to enjoy what I write about fantasy, video games, and so on. But aside from that, those are the topics I already like to write about! It doesn’t feel like a chore to write for Mike.
That is why you should celebrate this moment. Not only do you know who you’re writing for, but you also write from a positive and fun position of liking the topics of your writing.
A win-win if you ask me, and gamers are fond of winning.
Oren Cohen is a Software Development Engineer, Gamer, Geek, and Writer. He is writing in all sorts of topics on Medium, though his passion lies with Fantasy and Video Games.