Every person who views content online has their own reasons for it. A lot of times, your readers will have a problem they’re trying to solve. You might be helping them more than you know. Here’s how you can do this with more effectiveness, and confidence, too.
There are only a few reasons people view online content
The best way to ignore your audience’s needs is to give them content that doesn’t help them. To understand that, you have to first understand why people view content online, whether it be reading blogs or magazines or other websites, watching videos, listening to audio, viewing photos, etc.
People often want to be entertained. Or they want to read something they can relate to (which is why BuzzFeed has nailed those listicles so well). Or they have a question or a problem, and they’re on the hunt for a useful, actionable answer or solution, whether that be in the form of information or straightforward advice, with step-by-step instructions (preferably in bullet points or bolded subheadings, so they don’t have to read the whole article. Not bitter or anything).
What you have to say actually matters
At times it can feel like you write a lot of general how-tos and the like, which can’t possibly help every single person the same way. It feels like what you’re writing really doesn’t matter that much. But to the readers who are served or reassured or entertained, it might mean the world.
They need you. Maybe not you, specifically, but the advice you have to give. You may not be an expert, but if you’re writing about it, you must know something. That’s good enough for them. They just need someone to understand them, to put into words what they’re thinking. Someone to offer a solution they haven’t heard before, or to reinforce what they’ve already been told but maybe aren’t quite sure they believe.
Here’s the best way to be helpful
You don’t know the majority of the people that will stumble upon your work. You don’t know their specific circumstances nor can you give anything other than general advice to your entire audience as a whole (in most cases). So how in the world are you supposed to be helpful, knowing these things?
You have to close your eyes and picture the person who might click on the piece you’re writing. What do they need to hear? What, deep down, are they truly hoping to learn or what truth do they need to have reinforced? Or do they just need to get away from it all for a little while, with a good old-fashioned distraction? The kind of content you put out will determine, in general, what need you will usually expect to fulfill.
Picture that one person and use that to guide you. This means you won’t be able to cater to everyone’s specific situation individually, but that’s to be expected. They’ll get more specific in a comment if they want to, and that’s totally valid. A lot of times, it’s up to you to bring up the subject, to give your audience something to work with. It’s okay if they take it into their own hands and build off of it, in a good way. You want that. It means you’re doing something helpful, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
Even if you only ever help one person, it’s worth it. Don’t you think?
Image courtesy of clin-edge.com.