On Finding Your Audience

Thoughts on finding your audience as an artist

Last week I wrote about finding your artist’s voice. This week, I’d like to touch on the importance of finding your audience, as an artist, and why I think it’s important to find and have an audience.

I believe that finding your voice, as an artist, helps you find your audience. As an artist, you should target a specific audience. When you work for a client, you have that client’s needs (and maybe audience) in mind. When you create your own work (also known as personal projects) you are the main member of your audience, and then those with similar interests, for example.

Finding your audience or, better said, figuring out who your audience is, is imperative. And also, it is important to understand and accept that you cannot create work that pleases everybody or that everybody agrees with. Hence, the necessity of having an audience.

Think about it this way. Even famous artists and authors have their specific audiences. After all, Steven King’s fans might not necessarily read Nora Roberts’ novels. Someone who loves spending his or her afternoon listening to Chopin might not choose to go to a Metallica concert.

But in order to find your audience, you first have to find your voice, as an artist, and figure out what subjects and stories appeal to you the most. That is, what categories of professional photography or writing for example are of most interest to you, and then you specialize in covering those particular subjects.

As the general advice goes, you should specialize in up to three main categories. But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t have an idea of how to approach other subjects or stories. For example, as a photographer, you might want to specialize in covering portraits, editorials, and weddings, but that doesn’t mean that you should have no idea how to capture a landscape or a street scene, for example.

And then admit and accept that there will always be subjects of no interest to you not so ever. And that’s okay, too.

Also, there will be subjects, stories, and causes considered unconventional and unpopular, and that nobody would want to cover for fear of becoming unpopular. Sometimes, some of these so-called unpopular subjects and stories might be your subjects and stories of interest. Do not be afraid to learn more about them and cover them if you feel strongly about them. You will become an expert. Not only that, but you’ll add that much-needed human touch, your human touch, to the story. That, in turn, won’t only define your artistic signature or voice, but it would attract and inspire a certain audience.

The Red Circle. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Handling Life. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved. [Note: I first thought to call this image “Handling (the circle of) Life” but I think that keeping it simple, “Handling Life” (the “circle” is only visually mentioned), would be a better idea. The backstory of this image: #tbt from Halloween Parade in the Village.]

For example, as a writer, I’ve always covered HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ. And, yes, I’ve worked on educational writing projects. Same goes for my photography work. With photography, I also have the chance to explore other subjects and stories of my interest, such as lava, rainbows, and Hawaii, for example.

People always ask me why I always cover HIV-and-AIDS- and LGBTQ-related stories.  There’s an old story about how I got interested in HIV/AIDS. I’ve mentioned it many times.

So, in summary, here’s my two cents on finding your audience:

  • become an expert in something you’re really passionate about, interested in, or intrigued by
  • don’t be afraid to tell the world about it, even when your subject of interest might fall off-off-off the proverbial beaten path and way outside of what’s considered ‘the norm’ or ‘nice’ or ‘acceptable’ or…

Learn about everything, and then specialize in something that means a lot to you and that will allow you to truly make a difference or in something that at least will make you feel that you can make a difference. Cover stories that help a cause that you’re interested in. Raise your voice through the artwork that you create. Try to make a difference and better people’s lives, and people, the right people, will notice you and your work. They will become your audience.

As always, thanks for stopping by,

Alina Oswald

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