Aware of your audience……REALLY???

audience

By Kenneth Justice

~ Yesterday a kind reader mentioned the importance of ‘knowing your audience’ in reference to job interviews and whenever you have to talk about yourself; if you go overboard with the wrong audience you can end up doing damage for your reputation but if you don’t go far enough with others you can end up making the same mistake.

Learning to know your audience is an important component of life; of maturity.

We often say things in confidence to those we feel closer to…..but if we say something intimate to the wrong person(s) it can end up wreaking havoc, especially if they take our statement out of context or repeat it to the wrong person.

I’ve been taken out of context so many times in my short life that I’ve long since lost count.

I’ve also had people out-and-out misinterpret me and even lie about what I’ve said.

In those instances it was very difficult for me and the headache’s that ensued took a long time to heal; in some of the cases, although I have forgiven the people who misrepresented me I will never forget the mischief they caused me…… and to this day I still don’t trust those particular people.

Knowing your audience is especially important for writers; if I’m not conscious of the people reading what I have to say….than I could easily end up writing for nobody. And as my fellow blogger Jen Denevan says, “Why write to nobody?” to which I wholeheartedly concur!

As those readers of mine who are fellow bloggers may know; blogging can be and is a very rewarding endeavor. Taking a sabbatical from counseling has ended up being one of the biggest joys of my life as it opened up the world of blogging to me.

Ten to twelve years ago blogging was virtually unknown. The field of bloggers was far fewer than it is now, men like Andrew Sullivan (now one of the most famous bloggers) and a few others were the lone writers in a new and unknown territory.

However, now after more than a decade of blogging, many people have made strong arguments that blogging is fast replacing journalism. In fact, as more and more journalism shifts toward an over-emphasis on Sports, Celebrity, and a whole lot of negative in-between……the blogging world has become a place where you can come to find fresh new voices, in-depth observations, and a far more diverse range of opinions than the typical ‘Conservative Versus Liberal’ dribble that permeates the majority of print and television media.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m attacking modern journalism. There are still a lot of great reporters out there; but in our day-and-age subjects like politics have become entirely two-sided and there is little room in journalism for people and ideas who think outside-of-the-box.

Turn on cable news and you typically will only hear one of two different viewpoints; liberal or conservative. Whether you live in Australia, the United States, Canada, or just about anywhere in Europe; fresh new ideas and views are rarely tolerated in professional news journalism.

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is that you don’t have to have a Master’s degree or PhD to be a blogger. I have a ton of diploma’s on my wall and let’s be honest; they don’t mean a hill-of-beans if I can’t articulate an intelligent opinion.

Another awesome element of blogging is that it connects people from all across the globe. I have been literally blown away at how many people I’ve met via blogging from all over the globe; Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia…..regular readers of my blog as well as I of many of theirs. Blogging connects us in a way that print journalism never could have in the past.

Not only has it connected us….it has connected our opinions and ideas. I’m able to write an article about most any topic and by the end of the night I get to know what someone from Australia or Europe thinks about the subject……how awesome is that!

Knowing our audience is an important element to blogging. Earlier in the year I posted a series of articles urging my fellow Christians to chill out on the gay marriage issue; I suggested that Christians stop bashing homosexuals and stop making anti-gay marriage a major platform in their religion……unfortunately, my little series of articles cost me a serious drop off in readership; more than 500 readers didn’t like what I had to say and ‘un-subscribed’ to The Culture Monk….

Was I guilty of not knowing that my audience would resent my articles on homosexuality? I don’t know…..but sometimes you’ve got to write what you’ve got write…..don’t you?

And if you know me at all you know that right now is time for me to have another cup of coffee,

Kenneth



Categories: Really???

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23 replies

  1. My point exactly! Blogging is about the freedom to write what you need to express. Opinions are many and varied, and are all equally valid. Everyone has an entitlement to disagree, and disagreeing with someone on an issue should not be the premise of dismal to follow. Clearly, your 500 readers all held similar views around homosexuality, and if following you represented some kind of evil idol worship, then it’s a good thing they dropped off. You know what I like to say? Let bygones be bygones.

    • Gina, i realize the issue is definitely a hot button topic, but I just don’t get why it becomes suCh a devisive issue…..I mean shouldn’t we all want to have a dialogue on subjects…especially when we disagree

    • If people can’t hold a discourse on a subject, then they are acting more out of fear and prejudice. For many people ‘fear’ controls their behavior and their thinking. More often than not, they place judgement on the very thing they advocate and preach such as ‘love’ between a man and a woman, but let hell break loose if it is otherwise. The thing they forget is that ‘love’ has no boundaries, no prejudice, no judgement etc. it is pure, it cannot be tarnished by man made beliefs. Hypocrisy is strong among the many.

  2. A truer story was never told!
    Blogging evolved from journaling and we all know that what we write in our journal is going to be our perceived reality and how it makes us feel. As it has grown in popularity, blogging allows the masses access to the voice of the “common man” instead of just the perceptions of media outlets who are owned by companies that aren’t as interested in informing us as they are with profiting from us. I am delighted that we have this tool to connect us. The world is going to hell and we won’t be able to do a damn thing about it unless we can band together and blogging is definitely a way to do that.

    • On the one hand, I’m glad that journalism is a private endeavor; countries where journalism is completely owned by the government tend to annoy me……on the other hand, as you pointed out, because journalism tends to be run by large conglomerates, there tends to be misguided ideals that drives much of it

  3. You did the right thing and the 500 who left were no big loss. It’s just a block of people who are intolerant and don’t understand what freedom and love is all about. If you would have written the opposite, 500 people would have left as well. So you either have to try and write bland unoffensive things to try and please everyone or you have to put your money where your mouth is and stand up for what you believe in.

  4. So over 500 readers preferred Leviticus to your blog – I don’t know what to make of that.

    • Rod, there seems to be a strong current within north American Christianity which says; ‘only read things you agree with, only associate with those you agree with’. There is little out-of-the-box thinking and dialogue that occurs within it

  5. I am against gay marriage. I mean it may be fine to announce before a judge that they will be a couple, so that they can solve the legal issues with common property and inheritance, but after that it can go down a dangerous road. But I am still here!

    • Vassilis,

      You and I probably agree more so on the subject then we disagree…..it’s not that I’m for or against gay marriage…..I just believe the government needs to get there tentacles out of the issue and let each individual decide for themselves…..

      I don’t know what it’s like in Greece, but in the U.S., the conservative Christians have set-up camp on the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage and pretty much want to have a war over it…maybe not a war with violence, but a war nonetheless…….

      Thus, it’s very troubling to me that my fellow Christians here in america are making such a huge issue out of the subject when I believe there are much more important and pressing needs that should be addressed.

  6. I think you’re better off without 500 readers who don’t really share your tolerance on issues that are important to you. It’s a pity, but they’re entitled to their opinion. In the meantime, I’m happy to keep reading a blog as thoughtful and open as yours. I’d rather read someone who believes in our essential goodness and love than someone who spews intolerance all day long.

    • Well, it’s a catch-22, because I enjoy connecting with people that don’t agree with me. I’m always a bit bummed when people withdraw and are uninterested in having positive dialogue over things we don’t agree on

    • I am the same way. But I realised a while ago that my very desire to be open and discuss uncomfortable subjects can often make people feel attacked, or uncomfortable, especially if they’re insecure in their stand, and I don’t want that either. So I move on to someone who won’t take it the wrong way and hope to meet others who will be happy to join me briefly as we talk things over through this journey we call life. I can’t be everything to everyone, so if me being me makes you feel bad, then it’s probably best we part ways.

  7. Hey Kenneth… I think it is dangerous ground to write for an audience… I think people should write for themselves and then they don’t need to conform their views to that of others. I lose and pick up followers on a daily basis…when I lose followers I am of the mind that my brand of writing is not for them and they are better off, as I am if they don’t read it… some people will do anything to gain an audience including one blogger who recently faked his own suicide… I was one of his followers, now I will never read another word he writes since he has resurrected himself from the dead six weeks later acting like nothing happened.

    • TJ, I think a lot of the issue is connected to what we are writing about and why. If I’m writing a poem or something more along the lines of what we might refer to as ‘artistic’, then I would largely agree with you; we should stay true to what we are trying to create.

      But this particular blog I write has a couple different dimensions, and one of the main dimensions is to connect my personal observations with a larger audience; I want to hear people disagree with me, I want to build upon the dialogue so that there is an evolution and maturation in the dialogue. Thus, for those reasons it is important for me to be aware of my audience.

      Also, my blog is very ‘culture-specific’; I’m writing about cultural observations so if I’m not connecting with my audience then it might suggest I’m not in tune with the culture at all.

    • I can see where you are coming from…and dialogue is important…I don’t mind opinions that differ from my own and I allow them in my own comments although until today they have remained positive comments for the most part… I think the point I was trying to make is being aware of ones audience could lead to pandering to them…I don’t think you pander in anyway though… I don’t always agree with everything in your articles but they do always make me think and I like that… so you probably know something that I don’t…

  8. For each of those 500 people that didn’t like what you wrote there are another 500 that do.

    As a performer, I confront this issue every time I play – do I play what others want, or what I want? I would like an audience of fans that appreciate what I value. After all,that is why I play.
    And what is the goal here anyway? Numbers, or content?

    Write what YOU feel – that is why I am following you. In fact, if I like what you write, I am more tempted to tell others.

    If I may use a little more e-space, here is a short post from Derek Sivers, creator of CDBaby:
    http://sivers.org/proudly-exclude-most

    Proudly say what you’re NOT: “If you like Celine Dion, you’ll hate us.” …and people who hate Celine Dion will love you, or at least give you a chance.

    You can’t please everyone in this world. Recklessly exclude people.

    Almost like you’re the doorman at an exclusive club that plays only your music. Maybe you wouldn’t let in anyone wearing a suit. Maybe you wouldn’t let in anyone without a suit!

    But know who you are, and have the confidence that somewhere out there, there’s a little niche of people that would like your kind of music. They may only be 1% of the population. But 1% of the world is 65 million people!

    Loudly leave out 99% of the world. When someone in your target 1% hears you excluding the part of the population they already feel alienated from, they’ll be drawn to you.

    Write down a list of artists who you don’t like, and whose fans probably wouldn’t like you. Use that.

  9. For each of those 500 people that didn’t like what you wrote there are another 500 that do.

    As a performer, I confront this issue every time I play – do I play what others want, or what I want? I would like an audience of fans that appreciate what I value. After all,that is why I play.
    And what is the goal here anyway? Numbers, or content?

    Write what YOU feel – that is why I am following you. In fact, if I like what you write, I am more tempted to tell others.

    If I may use a little more e-space, here is a short post from Derek Sivers, creator of CDBaby:
    http://sivers.org/proudly-exclude-most

    Proudly say what you’re NOT: “If you like Celine Dion, you’ll hate us.” …and people who hate Celine Dion will love you, or at least give you a chance.

    You can’t please everyone in this world. Recklessly exclude people.

    Almost like you’re the doorman at an exclusive club that plays only your music. Maybe you wouldn’t let in anyone wearing a suit. Maybe you wouldn’t let in anyone without a suit!

    But know who you are, and have the confidence that somewhere out there, there’s a little niche of people that would like your kind of music. They may only be 1% of the population. But 1% of the world is 65 million people!

    Loudly leave out 99% of the world. When someone in your target 1% hears you excluding the part of the population they already feel alienated from, they’ll be drawn to you.

    Write down a list of artists who you don’t like, and whose fans probably wouldn’t like you. Use that.

  10. What worries me are the ones who un-followed you because of your opinion on one issue. If blogging becomes nothing more than accumulating an audience that already thinks like we do, then its value is minimal. How can there be a discussion of the biblical and Christian beliefs regarding homosexuality if the two sides only follow themselves and never listen to anyone from the “other side” (there might well be more than two positions on the matter)? A country that is that polarized is a country that is doomed.
    For me, I never expected to have many people interested in what I was doing. But even the few followers I do have, I do not know. I have only had one person un-follow (this is a legitimate verb?) me when he read a second post, but the others are silent followers. I trust they are more or less satisfied with what I write, but it is better to discuss things. You are doing a good job here and you seem to be doing more than just preaching to the choir.

    • Carroll,

      We are definitely on the same page here; it worries me when I observe firsthand my fellow Christians stubbornly refuseing to have dialogue on issues. I believe it’s important to debate and discuss and to keep the dialogue going……..if I only read things that I agree with it wouldn’t say very much for my character……in fact, I’ve had a sneaky suspicion for years that one of things that people find attractive about me is that I’m open to a very diverse range of issues and dialogue.

  11. wow never expected to be quoted lol thanks! i’m so flattered. that said – obviously from my professional stand point, it couldn’t be more important than to know your readers. in journalism you need to know what their preferences are but that doesn’t mean you write to please them… at least not exactly. you just need to write about things that will keep them coming back even if they disagree or disapprove of the style, etc. i agree and understand when bloggers say to write for yourself. it’s your blog – do as you please. my argument, just to be clear, is that i like having readers and getting comments because it’s easier to know if my writing is getting better if i get feedback. without it, im just treading water and never getting anywhere. the other point was also – if my writing isn’t being read then i may as well just handwrite my thoughts down in a regular journal. i’m blogging because, even if people don’t agree with me, that i converse with them. i want to engage with others and get different viewpoints on various matters. that’s my goal. i don’t want readers so i have to abide by what they want – it is my blog and i immediately put it in my about me page that it will likely be all over the place – that’s just how i roll haha. on the other hand, it is always nice to hear something positive about my writing or at least get constructive criticism so that perhaps my style and voice improve and also to hopefully see the world through a few different sets of eyes and maybe learn things that i might not otherwise learn. thanks again for the vote of confidence kenneth!

  12. Yes! Knowing your audience is everything. About a year ago when I was living in Peru, I went to a Jamiroqaui concert and although the band sounded great, their set list didn’t speak to the crowd. Out of the dozen or so songs they performed, only 3 or 4 were making the audience excited. You must, must, must speak to your audience. If not, like you said, you will lose them! Literally and figuratively.

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