When most people start writing an essay, they think of what they are writing about–the subject of the essay, the way it will transition, how they will introduce it, etc. What these people normally forget though is who they are writing for, which in most cases is actually more important than what they are writing about. You may be thinking, “How is that so? An essay is nothing without a subject.” This may be true, but an essay is just as unsuccessful if your professor doesn’t want to read it. Thinking about your audience is a crucial part for the writing process, and you can’t truly be a good essay writer without that consideration.
The term “audience” seems pretty self-explanatory since it’s just the group of people who will read an essay. But an audience is also a flexible group that you can mold to your liking. Your professor may not be flexible in this regard, but everyone else will be if you plan on publishing your essay at some point in time. Believe it or not, you have the power to choose who you want to read your essay. You can actually write in a way that will encourage certain people to read and discourage others. Granted, there is no guarantee that someone from another demographic won’t read your essay, but if you adjust your style enough you can at least guarantee that someone from the audience you are seeking will read your essay.
So how do you go about choosing the right audience? And better yet, what kind of adjustments do you have to make to fit each audience? Well the easiest thing to do is think about what your essay is about and who you want to reach with it. For instance, if you are writing an essay about problems in public schools, then your target audience is probably members of the school board and parents of school age children. This means that the language within the essay would need to sound more formal than if you were writing an essay geared towards teenage girls. By simply changing the tone of your words, you can reach a completely different group of people.
What’s great about making those subtle changes in the language of your writing is that you can rewrite the exact same essay to reach a different demographic. You could write an essay about investments that encourages teens to take a stake in the economy and change the language to make it persuade seniors to invest their retirement wisely. Both essays could be about investing in the economy, but the language of each could reach out to a different audience. If you are having trouble figuring out who you are writing for, just try changing the formality of the writing and see what kind of reaction it brings. The audience that reacts the strongest is probably the one that you should focus on.
Writing for a specific audience isn’t hard. It’s all a matter of molding your writing style to fit the personalities of your readers. Best rule to think about is that the older or smarter your audience is, the more formal your language needs to be. If you are trying to reach a wide range of people, then keep your style as generic and universal as possible. As long as you think about your readers through every step of the writing process, you will have very successful essays.