With whom am I speaking?

Illustration of stick figure holding a paper with "Meow meow meow" written on it, showing it to a cat and saying "I wrote this for you!"

You’re sitting down to write your latest, greatest health content. You’ve got a topic and a message, and “plain language” is practically your middle name. So, are you good to go? Not quite yet — you need to know your audience, too.

You wouldn’t talk to your best friend the way you’d speak to your insurance broker or your grandmother. And of course, dear readers, the same logic applies to health content.

Take some time at the start of your project to sort out your audience. Ask yourself about their age, race and ethnicity, cultural background, and reading level (and write down your answers so you can refer to them as you write). Also think about other factors that might influence how they approach your content, like gender or health status.

Then tailor your content so it specifically speaks to your audience:

  • Choose examples that are familiar to your audience. If you’re including a sample recipe in your content, be sure it has ingredients your audience already knows about.
  • Make suggestions that are realistic for your audience. If you know that cost is a barrier to healthy eating, include tips for food shopping on a budget.
  • Choose stock photos your audience can identify with. You may have a great picture on hand of an African American family sitting down to a turkey dinner, but if you’re trying to reach East Asian teenagers, save it for another time.

Finally, don’t forget to test a draft with members of your target audience.

The bottom line: Readers are more likely to act on your health content when it’s relatable.