Understand These Important Truths About Your Readers
If you’ve been reading my work for a while, you’ve probably had a moment like this.
I described something you felt, but couldn’t articulate yourself.
Often, it feels like I’m reading your mind.
And even though my words reach millions each year, it feels like I’m literally talking to you.
It’s hard to replicate this effect in your own work though, isn’t it? You’re afraid people don’t want to hear what you have to say. You don’t think you’re smart enough or talented enough to persuade an audience.
So you stumble around, trying different strategies to write stories that fall flat. Either that or you don’t write anything at all because you’re so paralyzed inside of your own mind.
Your confidence keeps decreasing and the dream you’ll make it as a writer fades with each passing day. I’ve seen it make aspiring writers bitter and jaded. It’s sad. If you don’t change your strategy, you’ll face a similar fate.
I can fix you.
Instead of just helping you become a writer, I can help you become a leader who doesn’t just write words but moves people in a profound way.
If you want to develop this mind-reading effect and build a massive audience in the process, you must understand these important truths about your readers.
You Crave This (Even If You Don’t Think You Do)
People crave status.
If you can help them elevate their status, they’ll love you. If you make them feel like they’re losing status, they’ll reject you.
I know what you’re thinking…
You don’t care about status. You don’t want a Lamborghini, a mansion, or a million Instagram followers.
To understand status, you must expand your definition of it. Status is anything that makes you look better to the people you want to look better in front of.
- Parents drive mini-vans to increase their status as responsible, loving, and caring parents who care about the safety of their children
- Environmentalists are signaling to others that they care about the planet
- Buddhists and minimalists want the status of avoiding the status game
It’s all status.
Think of how you can make your audience look better in the eyes of the people they want to impress. Writers ultimately want to feel like real writers. I give them the tools to elevate their status as people who share important messages with the world.
Emotions > Logic
People are not rational.
We use emotion to make decisions, then use logic to justify those decisions.
It’s funny. People who love using data and statistics — the type who think they’re immune to irrationality — are the easiest to persuade because they come up with the best reasons for their emotional decisions.
The less stock I’ve taken in logic, the more persuasive I became.
The most intelligent people in the world aren’t academics, they’re copywriters, salespeople, storytellers, and those who understand how to tap into people’s emotions.
Instead of trying to logically convince people, tap into their emotions to help them come to a decision on their own.
Use This Framework to Captivate Readers
This framework has helped me tap into people’s emotions and move them.
Focus on these two aspects of human nature:
- People want to move away from their fears and frustrations
- People want to move toward their hopes and aspirations
I opened this post by using the problem, agitation, solutions (P.A.S.) framework:
- Spell out the problem your reader is having
- Talk about how their life will get worse if they don’t solve the problem
- Allude to a solution
I use this framework to write headlines:
- Step 1: Spell out the fear/frustration or hope/aspiration and write it from the “I” perspective — I can’t get people to read my work because I don’t know what they want to read
- Step 2: Describe a positive outcome that fixes the problem — I figured out simple frameworks for understanding my readers, which helped me build an audience
- Step 3: Turn the outcome into a headline – You Must Understand These Important Truths About Your Readers (If You Want to Build a Massive Audience)
Always Ask This Question
Readers don’t care about you or your story.
At least not right away.
They care about what you and your stories can do for them.
- If you’re giving advice, they want you to help them make a transformation.
- If you’re writing an essay, they want you to help them feel informed or see into their own lives through the lens of your story.
- Even if you’re writing a story about yourself, they want that story to entertain them in some way.
Every time I sit down to write a post, even if the post is a personal narrative essay, I ask myself the same question:
What’s in it for the reader?
I ask this question because it’s the question they ask themselves to decide whether or not they want to keep reading.
Be Careful With These Powers Once You Know How to Use Them
Have you ever been marketed to, know you’re being marketed to, know the exact techniques they’re using, and still allowed yourself to be persuaded anyway?
Companies have tried removing sales and discounts from their products and just lowering the price. It didn’t work. People want to feel like they’re getting a deal.
That corny infomercial tactic where they stack the offer with a bunch of bonus products and keep slashing the prices down ending with “you can have the whole system for just $19.99,” works like gangbusters.
Hell, you know that $19.99 is just a penny less than $20, but you like that it’s $19.99.
You can pull people’s psychological levers without their permission. Once you know how to do this, you must use this skill responsibly.
Use These Classic Persuasion Tools
Let’s take a look at some of the classic levers that work:
- Anchoring: If I first make a ridiculous offer you won’t accept, you’ll accept a lower offer that’s still high, but lower than the original outlandish number
- Commitment consistency: People want to be consistent with who they say they are. If you say you love local entertainment and go out all the time, you’d look like a fool not to buy a coupon book for local events.
- Social proof: I saw a video once where a woman walked into an elevator where everyone was facing the wrong direction. People kept walking in and facing the wrong way. Eventually, she caved and turn around even though it felt stupid.
- Reciprocity: If someone does you a favor, you’re inclined to return it. Be careful when the salesperson offers you water or coffee. You might buy a car out of guilt.
- Liking bias: Most people won’t listen to someone they dislike even if they make good points. The reverse is true as well.
- Authority bias: People want to be led and they defer to people with perceived authority and credibility.
Some great books to understand persuasion deeper are:
Our Deepest Desire
Human beings desperately crave acceptance.
They want to feel part of a tribe, a community, something larger than themselves.
You can see this at play in political parties, gangs, cults, churches, Crossfit, book clubs, and online audiences to follow tribe leaders.
Your job isn’t to “build an audience.” It’s to start a movement and form a tribe. You and your tribe are fighting for a mission, and standing against the forces in the world that opposes you.
My tribe is people who see themselves as professional writers or want to become one. We aim to inspire the world with our words. Our enemies are the people and the societal message that tells us we have to follow the rules and obey instead of carving our own path in life through words.
This is why it’s important to get specific about who you help:
- Don’t be a “self-improvement writer.” Help entrepreneurs make more money and save time by building better habits backed by science.
- Get real clear on what the people in your tribe really want. Writers, above all else, want to be heard.
- Find out where your potential tribe hangs out online — blogs, platforms, social media groups, forums
- Use the words they use. I copy and paste blog post comments and book reviews all the time. Then I use their exact phrases in my own blog posts and copy
- Build a community. I have a mastermind group for my students. Yes, we help each other grow as writers. But most importantly, our group keeps us from feeling like we’re all alone on this writing journey. The outside world thinks we’re crazy for wanting to make a full-time living writing. We keep each other sane
How to Use Your Story to Your Advantage and Build a Massive Audience in the Process
So where do you come in?
If you want to move people, you have to understand how your story intertwines with your readers.
Your mess is your message.
When you tell stories, talk about your ups and downs. Talk about the epiphanies you’ve had. Don’t just describe what happened. Describe how you felt in the process using feelings other people feel right now.
For writers, I’ve told the story over and over again about how I always knew I wanted to be a writer but struggled to start. I talk about what it felt like to have zero readers, money, and connections. How I felt delusional for thinking little old me could possibly achieve the same level of success as big-name writers.
I’m ahead of you in the journey and I shared how I transformed myself.
Do the same for your audience.
You have a ton of valuable life experiences. You’ve been through a lot. You have only one thing no other writer can copy. You have your mess.
The good news is that we all have a mess.
The most important thing to understand about readers is that they’re human beings just like you.
We’re all pretty similar creatures.
If you tap into the things we all have in common and communicate them in a captivating way, readers will love you.