Written by Karyn Keene
Now that you’ve learned about the different social media outlets, it’s time to meet who exactly you’ll be talking to. It’s time to find your audience.
Finding an audience can seem overwhelming. Tons of people are out there, so how can we know who will like our stories? First you’ll want to narrow your focus to find the particular sliver of humanity that will be excited to find what you have to offer. Then, once you’ve decided who you want to talk to, we’ll look at how to find them.
Who are you talking to?
The primary considerations for defining your audience are age group, gender, and sub-culture. Stories for 12-year-old girls who like adventure look very different than a story for a 53-year-old man who is into sci-fi nostalgia.
Age groups can be assembled many ways, but I find the following categorizations to work quite well: 5-12, 13-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-55, 55-64, 65+ (Consequently, this is also how Google tracks age demographics.)
Typically, you’ll target one age group but still make it accessible for the demographic above and below. This gives you the best shot at gaining as many fans as possible. Most artists tend to attract the age demographic that they are in. So if you aren’t sure who will like your work, the best guess is your peers.
For example, StoryForge’s review show Critical Hit targets the 18-24 age demographic (mostly college students). They choose films to review and conversation styles that would be appealing to people in that age group. However, the show also finds a decent following from the 13-17 (middle/high school) and the 25-34 (young adults starting their careers) demographics as well.
Be careful when dealing with gender as a classification for your work. It’s easy to trap your art into a gender-driven stereotype because you want either girls or guys to like it. I have been surprised again and again by audience preferences; some girls adore gory stop-motion and guys can get practically giddy about fairy tales.
With that warning, be aware of who will be more interested in your work. Gender classification can be especially helpful to observe after you’ve started promoting your work. Keep an eye out if more men or women are responding, and figure out what they are responding to. If you’d like to cater more in one direction or the other, give them more of what they like!
Marketing to sub-cultures is the best way to secure your niche and discover your audience. At the end of the day, people like what they like no matter their age or gender. Just look at “My Little Pony.” This show is clearly marketed for young girls—but then the bronies happened (don’t know what a brony is? Click here) People will defy every age and gender stereotype for what they love.
When looking for your audience, keep special interest groups in mind. Some popular sub-cultures are: fantasy/sci-fi, crafting, sports, healthy lifestyles, religion, goth, comedy, etc. Find an overarching category, then explore potential niches within that sub-culture. For example, StoryForge’s comic House on Writer’s Block is targeted at the fantasy sub-culture, but particularly those who are storytellers and writers. They can relate to the comic’s jokes and struggles, and are more likely to become dedicated fans.
Again, tell stories about your passions. If you’re having difficulty finding your niche, list your activities and loves. Odds are that your work already reflects them, so keep your eyes open and follow that trail of crumbs.
Next, we’ll take a look at how to find and engage your chosen audience. Have any thoughts about or questions about how to nail down your audience? Leave them in the comments below!