If you’ve followed me for any period of time, you probably already know that I spent 13 years teaching in an elementary classroom. All of those years were spent in a Title I (low income) school, and I learned quickly that every child comes to the classroom with his or her own special needs (whether identified or not).
The same is true for adults. As adult learners, we have our own life experiences that we bring to the classroom (or course module or group or coaching session). We learn at different speeds, have different motivations for learning and have different background knowledge.
While these differences made teaching in the public school system difficult, it makes teaching in this online business world fun and interesting–and a little bit challenging too.
Whether you know it or not, if you’re creating content for an audience, you’re a teacher. The content you create helps to educate readers and viewers so they can.
Good writing is subjective
When you’re working in the public school system, every piece of writing is graded with a rubric. This is a scale that allows students to score well on one area of writing (voice, for example) while scoring poorly on another area of writing (let’s say, grammar) without impacting the grade too much. This helps teachers keep their opinions out of the students’ writing grades because it forces us to look at every piece of writing under the same microscope.
Think about a book you have strong feelings about. For me, that book is Twilight. I hated it. But many of my (younger) friends loved it. Our opinions drive our thoughts about writing, just like in art or nearly any other aspect of our lives–food, cars, neighborhoods, etc.
And that’s okay. That’s what makes each of us unique, and it’s what helps you stand out from your competition.
Pro Tip: So take a step back and don’t worry about your writing being perfectly crafted. Perfection is for the birds. Write as your imperfect self and let your readers take it from there.
Knowing different audiences matters
Every business owner (and student) is creating content for a different audience and the type of content you’re creating could very well be for a different audience. For example, your blog post is for one group of people while your Instagram post is for someone else entirely.
That’s the way it works online. Different people spend time in different places. You need to know who you’re writing for so you can craft your message for that group of people.
When I was in the classroom, I struggled with getting my students to think outside the box. When we talked about “audience,” their audience was always me, the teacher. And while that may have been true, when I tried to get them to write with another audience in mind they struggled. Most of this struggle came from knowing that I was going to grade their writing, but I also think many students didn’t think writing was a real skill that they’d need in many situations outside of school. The result? Stilted writing that didn’t have any personality or direction.
Pro Tip: Know who you’re writing to and what time of content converts best on different platforms. If you’re unsure, ask your audience!
If one content method doesn’t work, try another
There’s more than one way to teach and to learn. Though in the public education setting, teachers are told to teach a certain way (and even get scripts to use while teaching). I mean, really!?
But the reality is that many kids and adults don’t learn through traditional sit-in-your-seat methods. Instead, they need hands-on experience. They need to both read and listen to the content at the same time. They need illustrations, infographics and videos to be able to absorb the content.
Pro Tip: If you’re creating content for an audience and it doesn’t seem to be hitting home, try another way. Find another platform to deliver the content so your audience sees and hears what you’re saying.
At the end of the day, just worry about getting the information out to your audience. It doesn’t have to be perfect every time; it simply needs to get published. As you grow your business and your audience, you’ll start to learn what your followers want and how they want it delivered. You can start to tweak and shift from there as your comfort level grows. And I promise–no one is grading your content with a rubric, so be yourself!