Who Am I Writing For?

Having a discussion with someone and the concept of who (not what) I’m writing for came to mind.

This personal blog is easy: I’m writing purely for myself, and anyone that cares to pay attention is welcome to do so. Similarly, everyone else that cares to ignore it is also more than welcome to do that, too.

No, this is more about my professional writing efforts over at Ask Leo!.

This comes about because a statement was made that writing “for the web” was different than … well, different than other forms of writing.

That struck me as incorrect but I couldn’t articulate why until mid-shower last night.

I don’t write for the web. I write for my readers. I publish on the web, and in books, and in newsletters, and in email, and probably a few other places I can’t think of. But where I publish is secondary to what I publish, how I write, and who I write for.

Not long ago I came to the conclusion that not only have I transitioned into being a writer, but more specifically an educator. That means my goals are to:

  • educate
  • inform (a slightly different nuance than educate)
  • entertain (as a way of making the education and information more easily consumable)

And typically all within the guise of answering a question.

In fact, I have stated before that I try to “answer questions while sneaking in some education without being noticed”. I also had an assistant tell me that I “subversively teach people to think”, which I take as high praise.

I see those goals as being what drives my writing in terms of not only content, but form and style as well, regardless of where it might be published.

Part of the “writing for the web” reaction, I think, comes from the concept of content marketing – writing content for the web with the specific goal of getting traffic (presumably leading to sales).

I can’t say that it doesn’t factor in – it does. Ask Leo! exists only because it can be found, and many content marketing techniques do apply. I stay abreast of the current “state of the art”, if you will, so as to improve Ask Leo!’s reach, findability and audience.

Many of those techniques are about readability, accessibility, and consume-ability. Making content easier to read and consume makes it more likely to be found and shared, and also applies to my primary goals. But to the extent that the techniques are not about making my writing more readily consumable, they remain secondary goals, and even then only when they doesn’t come into conflict with those primary goals.

As always, everything’s an experiment – a work in progress.

I’m grateful to be in a position to even have the luxury of thinking about it all, and having an audience to care about.