How Should Bloggers ‘Read’ Their Audiences?

EXIT_2012_Audience_(1) (1)When blogging experts tell you to “write for your audience,” they’re presuming you already know the type of people who read your posts.

For the purposes of this particular post, I’m making the same presumption. But how do you actually write for those people? How do you know your words aren’t fluttering above their heads, just beyond their reach of comprehension?

One way is to run your post through The Readability Test Tool.


The Readability Test Tool

While this free tool’s slogan, “Let’s make the unreadable readable” is a bit too derisive for our tastes, The Readability Test Tool nevertheless is a worthwhile writing companion that tests the readability of a post (or a passage from a post) based on syllable, word and sentence counts. It then gives your text a score based on popular readability indicators such as the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease, the Flesch Kincaid Grade Level, the Gunning Fog Score, the Coleman Liau Index and the Automated Readability Index while also interpreting those scores graphically.

Other sites will do the trick, too, including the Text Readability Consensus Calculator and (which has a premium component). We achieved similar results using multiple tools. Some blogging platforms also allow for plugins that will check the readability of your content.


When Not to Use a Readability Test

Granted, while based in science, these tools don’t guarantee your success or your readers’ comprehension. Grammar, style and message all play critical roles in a post’s success. Plus, sometimes common sense and gut instinct trump the results of a readability test.

The point here is to make sure you stay true to what your readers have come to expect from you. While you should never insult them, you also want to make sure they understand your points. Writing a blog for musicians requires a different mindset than one for meteorologists. Give your audience what it wants, and readers will keep coming back.

Special thanks to Sandra Riehl at Saris Web Design for introducing us to The Readability Test Tool.

(Photo by Marko Ercegovic/EXIT Festival)

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