The Simple System to Help You Define Your Target Audience

Define Target Audience New Leaf Writing

You know you’re supposed to define a target audience.

Just one problem: We don’t want to serve a single audience, because that feels all confine-y. Like the work version of a straightjacket. We must be free!

Seriously, though, as creative individuals, we love to do many things. It’s a rare artist that can’t dabble in multiple media. Musicians can also write. Writers often make a living in journalism or copywriting, but long to produce fiction.

Being a Renaissance man or woman is all well and good, but unfortunately, people don’t care about your many skills, passions, hobbies, interests and thoughts.

You have to know what they need.

You Have to Know What Your Target Audience Needs

Because your target audience is coming to you for one thing. That one thing you’re good at.

That one thing you do better than everyone else.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing. You don’t always have to stick to it. But you have to know what it is. And to do that you need to know your niche. Or more specifically, your target audience.

Of course, if you only care about pursuing your creative dream as a hobby, you don’t care so much about this. But most people with a burning desire to make something happen don’t want a hobby, so this is highly relevant.

Target Audience Case Study

My target audience used to read something like: Anyone looking for illustration, web design or writing, come on down!

That’s not going to cut it. People look at that and say, “I bet I can find someone better.”

And they’re right. Anyone purporting to be awesome at three gargantuan, unspecified categories is a liar. They will always lose out to the expert who specializes in just one, or better yet, a small subset of one.

Niche it down.

After a bunch of tedious work and soul-searching, my niche now reads: I write creative copy and content for young creatives, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

I only do three main kinds of writing – email newsletters, blog posts and web copy, and ads. I also limit my audience, because typically people can’t pay my rates when they’re younger than 25 (at a minimum), and those who are older than 65 are usually super out-of-touch with digital, which is my main medium.

Now I can define my niche with the following parameters:

  • Age group (youngish, but not too young)
  • Type (few to no big businesses)
  • Ethic (small and personal)
  • Services (copywriting and content marketing)

So I now have a much better idea of who I’m looking for, and will have a much easier time getting inside their heads because of it.

Can Your Target Audience Pay?

This is an important question.

To answer it, I like Ramit Sethi’s Pay Certainty Technique, a very simple metric for whether or not your idea has value. Answer two questions about your ideal client:

  • Do they have the ability to pay?
  • Do they have the willingness to pay?

In my case, I believe the answer to both questions is yes. My ideal client is already established, so they can afford me. They are also willing to pay, because they care about eloquence and clarity, and want to present their own goods and services to the world as beautifully as possible.


There are, however, less saleable ideas. At first look, for instance, you might think it’s a great idea to give personal finance lessons to inner-city children. There’s a decent chance they don’t get a lot of that in their home and school environments, and it could make a huge difference in their lives.

But here’s where the Pay Certainty Technique comes in: Even if they or their parents had the willingness to pay for lessons that could prove truly valuable, there’s a good chance they can’t afford them. You’re better off offering these services on a volunteer basis and looking for your bread ‘n’ butter elsewhere.

It can go the other way as well. Just the other day, someone asked me if I needed editing services, and I was like … why would anyone even ask me that? I’m a professional writer and I have been for years. Obviously I a) don’t need one at all, or b) have found an editor already. (The answer happens to be b.)

Sure, I could pay the editor who solicited me. But I’m not going to. I lack the willingness because it’s not a service I am in need of right now. Editors are better off seeking audiences outside the writing world, because those people much less capable themselves and much more likely to need the service.

So before you launch, scrutinize your intended product:

  • Does it withstand the Pay Certainty test?
  • Do people actually want it?
  • Have you niched it down?
  • Will you be happy providing this product for the foreseeable near future?
  • Does it represent you to your core?

Exercises: You Are What You Offer

The following questions will help you dig deep to find that perfect target audience.

Ask yourself:

  1. Have you seen this product somewhere else? (If so, that’s actually a good sign.)
  2. Have you seen this product everywhere else? (If so, that might be a bad sign, unless you do it really, really well.)
  3. Has anyone already in your audience mentioned wanting this product?
  4. What have people you know mentioned wanting?
  5. Are your products priced relatively similarly to other products in your niche?
  6. Will you be able to scale this product or service once your business is bigger? In other words, if your business explodes, can you see making this product a thousand at a time rather than two at a time? Or offering this service to a point where you are doing it full time?
  7. If not, what could you do to make scaling your business easier later?
  8. What extras can you offer along with your product to help it sell? (A cute bookmark, an exclusive Facebook community, a discount code)
  9. Are you willing to work hard to market your product in your niche? (If you are too shy or lazy, I’m sorry, but it just won’t do well, so save yourself the heartache.)
  10. DO YOU KNOW WHAT PROBLEM THIS PRODUCT SOLVES? (This is the most important question of all, because whether you sell a good or a service, you need to be able to tell people WHY they want it. Spend extra time making sure you know this answer.)

Wasn’t that fun??

Now that you’ve thought through your target audience a bit more, you can begin to tailor your services to meet the needs of these people in future. Plus, having wrapped your brain around these specifics, hopefully you now have a better idea of how to create new offerings and samples in your business.

Like what you read here? It’s from my book Get the Hell Over It: How to Let Go of Fear and Realize Your Creative Dream (Weenie-Proofing the Artistic Brain). Feel free to check it out!

Need a little more help identifying your audience instead? The Free Resource Library has you covered … just click that handy pic below and get access to dozens of resources right away!

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