We aren’t always aware of it, but depending on the audience, our manner of communicating changes in subtle ways. We respond with candor to close friends, with professionalism to clients and employers, and casual friendliness to store clerks. Who we talk to determines how we talk. And just as we do this in real life, we must do it in our web content, too.

When you write for your blog or website, do you know who you’re talking to?

It may seem like an academic exercise, but answering that question will make writing far easier. Knowing your audience influences the style of your writing and the topics you may want to cover. It creates consistency on your site, improves the relevance of your content, and generates a sense of connection between you and your readers.

Obviously, you can’t personally know all your visitors, and they most likely will cover a wide age range with diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. But they will have a few interests and needs in common. If your site has been successful so far, you are already filling those needs. If not, here is a method to help you connect with your desired audience through your words.

Consider the type of person most likely to have an interest in the information you provide. Start with basics, such as gender, age range, and the main benefit you think they hope to find or problem they want to solve by visiting your site. Build a mental picture for yourself and add to your description of this fictitious reader as insights occur.

Giving your readers an identity helps you write better web content in a number of ways. First, you can write articles the same way you do when writing an email to an out-of-state friend, for instance, or to your mother. You’ll have an image in mind, which will influence your choice of words and compel you to focus on what matters to your audience. When you write on a personal level, you create emotional connection with your readers, which brings your words to life. The reader feels understood, which builds both the credibility of your website or blog as well as its relevance to your audience.

Where web content is concerned, writing to your audience is the key to success.