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How to Answer the Questions Your Audience Is Asking

A series of double blind studies conducted by CEO and author Janie Smith found that 90% of businesses don’t know understand what their customers value or know what they really want. Writers can frequently find themselves in this same position when writing their articles unless they consider:

What are the questions my audience is asking?

A great example is to study the juxtaposition of two different articles that were published by Huffington Post within two days of each other. The first article was entitled, “Why You’re Not Married”. It instantly went viral and accumulated over 54,000 Facebook shares and over 20,000 email shares.

Two days before this, Huff Post published an article entitled, “Mubarak Resigns as Egypt’s President; Armed Forces to Take Control.” Theoretically, this piece is much more news-worthy and affects millions of people’s well being, but it only gained 44,000 Facebook shares and 85 email shares (that’s 235 times fewer emails).

Why the difference in popularity? Demographics are a key factor. Most Americans are not directly affected or entirely concerned with foreign politics. On the other hand, many Americans are single and question their relationship status on a daily basis. To better understand what your audience is curious about, check out forum websites such as:

  • Quora
  • Yahoo! Answers
  • Reddit

You can punch in key words relevant to your proposed subject matter to see what people are currently thinking about it or want to know. See what questions are being frequently asked and consider adjusting your piece so that can help answer them.

Research: What do people want to know about this topic?

Brainstorm questions. Sit down and put yourself in your audience’s perspective. Start to jot down any and every question you can think of regarding this topic, no matter how absurd, and then try to address the best ones in your writing.

Keep in mind that according to researchers Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks, you are better at creative brainstorming and free association when you are not the most focused. So if you find yourself with a case of writer’s block while working on your article, take a few minutes to think about the topic from your reader’s POV and brainstorm the burning questions they want to know. By addressing the questions both you and your readers have about your subject matter, you are bound to create a highly sought-after piece of writing.

Rochelle is a Senior Editor & Content Producer at Intuit.