Amy Lynn Simon, host of The Purposeful Pen podcast, invited me as a guest on her podcast this week to talk about my “Journey to Clarity”—how I found clarity about the message of my writing and the audience for whom I write.
Our conversation touched on many wonderful topics related to writing for God’s glory, including:
- how I started writing,
- why I don’t write about the trauma our family experienced,
- how I build my platform without social media, and
- the joys and challenges of having a two-fold audience.
If you desire to write for God’s glory by serving your readers well, I encourage you to listen to the podcast. Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts. Here’s a taste of what we talked about.
Can a writer have more than one audience?
Yes! However, it’s important to be clear about who each audience is and what your message to each audience is. I have a two-fold audience: (1) Women who want to learn to love God’s Word and live it out, and (2) aspiring Christian writers who want to write for God’s glory. My main message is that the Bible is relevant to each of us in every aspect of our lives, including writing. It has everything we need to live and write for God’s glory.
My main message applies to both audiences, but for my audience of Christian writers, I get more specific, emphasizing what the Bible has to say to us as writers and how the Bible answers the questions Christian writers often ask. So my main message applies to both audiences, but the content I write for my audience of writers has less relevance to my broader audience of women who want to learn to study the Bible and apply it to their lives.
Having a dual audience works well for me because there is commonality between them and my main message applies to both. For a writer with very different audiences and messages that don’t overlap, it would be more difficult to write effectively on a single platform.
What is the benefit of a clearly defined message and audience?
We think the broader our audience or the broader our message, the more ideas we have, but the opposite is true. The more specific my message and audience, the easier it is to think of what to write about. Clearly knowing my message and my audience resulted in an exponential increase of inspiration and direction for writing topics. It’s counterintuitive.
I love writing about a topic in a broad sense, then writing follow-up content that dives deeper into various aspects of the original. The narrower my topic, the deeper I can go. For example, I can write a basic overview of how to study the Bible for yourself. That article is valuable on its own. Then I can go deeper into each key area I address in that original post—an article about context, an article about word studies, an article about free Bible study resources, etc.
Another advantage of clarity in my message is that my audience knows what to expect from my writing. If everything I write serves a specific audience, then everything I write will appeal to that audience. Whereas, if I wrote on a variety of topics without clearly defining who I’m writing for, few readers would be motivated to stick around to read more.
What challenges do you face in having more than one audience?
The biggest challenge in having a dual audience is that some of my audience receives content from me that’s not always what they’re looking for. Sadly, this leads to lost subscribers.
An effective solution to this issue is email segmentation—a feature of email subscription that allows my subscribers to choose which types of content they want to receive from me. I plan to implement this eventually, but it doubles the cost of my email service, and—full disclosure—I’m not ready for the additional expense yet.
It’s also tempting to slide down rabbit trails or get distracted from my purpose for each audience. I forget that creating a certain type or piece of content for one audience doesn’t mean I must do the same for the other audience.
Recognizing that each audience connects with me in different ways helps me to stay focused on serving them most effectively. My writing audience prefers the teaching, live workshops, and mentorship I offer, while my broader audience enjoys reading my blog posts. Technically, I write for both audiences, but my writing audience experiences my writing more through my teaching and mentorship than by reading.
How can you grow your audience without social media?
I’m not active on social media. While I do have social media accounts on which I used to be active, I no longer use them. I’ve chosen instead to concentrate my efforts on creating more content for my own website and my email subscribers.
There are many ways to grow an audience without social media. I do this in a variety of ways, including:
- Teaching—speaking at ministry events, teaching writing workshops in person and online, providing mentorship to other writers
- Online writing communities—like Writers’ Bloc and GCD Writers’ Guild
- Guest writing opportunities—guest blog posts or article submissions to publications
- Podcast interviews—like this one!
- In-person networking and community—church family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.
Redefining success with regard to platform-building is crucial. We must ask ourselves what we’re really trying to accomplish. The common assumption is that a writer is successful when they publish a book, especially with a traditional publisher. While I’d love to experience that someday, what’s most important to me is that my work produces some sort of transformation in the lives of my audience. Because of that, I focus more on connection, on building relationships—because it’s in the context of relationships that real discipleship happens.
This kind of community growth takes longer than growing a social media platform, but the quality of the connection is immediately deeper. Most of my loyal followers are truly engaged because we’ve actually connected face-to-face through my teaching or in an actual community of some sort. That’s incredibly valuable to me and makes my work so rewarding.
The process of building a platform—whatever that looks like—is valuable regardless of how it ends (book publishing or not). It’s ministry—serving God and serving your reader.
Listen to The Purposeful Pen Podcast
Listen to the podcast to hear the entire interview. After listening to today’s episode, browse past episodes and save a few to listen to later. If you desire to write for God’s glory and effectively serve your readers, Amy’s practical and relatable content is for you. Check it out!