Awhile back I was having coffee with a fellow who I consider to be one of my writing and networking mentors. We were discussing this past year, my book, and the future of this blog. As we were sipping our lattes and talking about our latest projects, he noted that he admired how I’ve been able to really drill down to my target audience: women; of a certain age; who like to laugh and share their wisdom.
I agreed and noted how much I was enjoying this creative work. I shared that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how enthusiastically my readers comment and share their experiences.
“So,” he noted, “now it becomes easy–just focus your writing on subjects that your audience cares about. You know, like shopping… and kids…”
Oh, he most definitely saw my hackles go up.
“Now before you go all ‘I’m a Sexist Pig’ on me, I’m just saying, knowing your audience is a GOOD thing. You need to pay attention to topics and issues that they care about. If you write about sports, or beer brands, you are going to lose them.”
Oh, HELL NO, I thought.
After I simmered down a bit, I attempted to rationally consider his advice. Do women truly only care about “girly stuff?” I do take sincere and sage writing advice to heart–this was certainly not the first time I had heard the “know your audience” mantra. For example, here is a link to a very good article by Dan Blank, published by “Writer Unboxed,” that speaks to the importance of connecting with your audience: http://writerunboxed.com/2012/08/24/do-you-know-who-your-audience-is-no-really-do-you/
However, I became a little hung up on the idea that women could be pigeon-holed as a demographic that only cares about certain things, stereotypical things, such as make-up or weight loss. So, I decided to conduct a little experiment. And you were all participants…surprise!
I posted two blog entries: one focused on a topic that most would consider masculine–automobiles; and the other was more centric to traditionally feminine preferences–shopping. How did I select these topics? Pretty much ROMA (right out of my …). For the record, this whole experiment was about the least scientific you’ll ever come across, so don’t split hairs with me regarding my methods. I wasn’t going for a Nobel Prize in science here (I’ll leave that heavy lift to my brilliant son Jimmy).
- My blog post What’s Your Car Avatar? focused on our attachments to our automobiles. Now I know, I could have been much more intentional and focused on, for example, the mechanics of a combustible engine, but I had to keep the post at least within a reasonable radius of a topic I could actually write about. According to Google Analytics, when compared to the previous blog post (which had focused on spring cleaning) the visits to the blog had decreased by 20%. Whoa, I had to admit that’s a pretty hefty decline.
- Next, my post SHOP.DOT.KIMBA focused on online shopping–a topic I envisioned to be a more stereotypical interest for women. And, guess what, my blog visits decreased again! Down another 5%!!
What can I conclude from this experiment?–practically nothing. The following post, I Blinked, received visits equal to and almost surpassing those for both the two previous posts combined. Honestly, there are just too many variables to account for: quality of the writing of each column (ahem [clears throat]), where the various posts may have been shared, other news of the day that folks found more interesting–i.e. was it a slow news day?–etc.
What I do know is that I’ll continue to write with my audience–yes my female, middle-aged, wise-ass audience –in mind. However, I don’t want for us, as a demographic, to be predictable. Let’s challenge a few of those perceptions about us. Anyone want to join me on my next salmon fishing trip? No, how about NASCAR? Anyone, anyone?
Do you think women are only concerned about particular issues? Are we different from our male counterparts in terms of what we care about?