Who Are We Writing For? OR For Whom are We Writing?
(I can’t decide which title is grammatically correct)
Who am I writing for? That is the most important question to answer before writing for publication. The final answer, though, is nuanced and complex.
A taxidermy article might seem straightforward, a piece for people interested in taxidermy. Not so fast. What is your audience? Professionals, hobbyists, or general interest readers? Or all three? Each choice demands a different orientation. And that point of view may not be your own choice. First and foremost, you are writing for your editor.
Your contract determines your word count and what is expected of your writing. If you are writing on spec, you have to do your best to conform to the style of the publication you hope to get into. If the editor approves the piece in either situation you will go through a round of revisions before the material gets out the door. To make clear, the end reader still hasn’t seen your work. You first write for your editor.
Perhaps you are selling writing online. Maybe your company sells articles on various subjects to taxidermy websites. That editor will want it to meet the requirements of any potential buyer. Modifications and revisions will ensue after submission between writer and editor. Let’s go over net writing more closely.
Internet writing must satisfy your boss or editor, the client, the client’s customers, and The Bots, the mysterious algorithms that determine placement and prominence on the web. This is your audience, those are your readers. In the internet age, few real people may read your online writing. Maybe only Google. Still, quality writing on every page provides good content for a website and offers a chance that the client’s website will ultimately show higher in search results.
How you fare with any reader beyond your editor is often out of your control. I’m fortunate to work with an internet company that develops websites with ranking in mind. Quality writing is extremely important, especially with the corporate websites we produce. But there are many, many other things, that go beyond writing to get that writing well ranked.
I am not normally concerned in my writing and editing with what is called search engine optimization or SEO. Some of my work, however, is along these lines. One current research task requires six open browser windows and three monitors. My desk no longer has room for my cat.
I can’t write about what we do but the point to remember is that a writer’s audience today is varied and not always a person. Writing for a machine may seem unworldly but that reader is here and now and on your page. Better get to know him.
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