Determining an Audience for your Essay

What is an Audience?

An audience is anyone who will read your essay. A target audience is the person or group of people you’d like to read your essay.

Why do I Need to Determine an Audience for my Essay?

You might think to yourself, “Only my parents will read this,” or “My teacher will be the only one who ever looks at this.” Why should you care about identifying an audience? Whether or not you’ve consciously thought about it, you’ve always been speaking and writing for a specific group of people.

Think about this: would you talk the same way in an interview as you would in a text message? Do you speak to your teachers differently from how you’d talk to your siblings? Are you going to speak differently when giving a public speech from just chatting with a neighbor? Chances are, the answer is “yes.” But, what’s the difference?

It’s the audience. Who you’re speaking to matters, as well as when you’re writing. However, not every piece of writing can be written for everyone. By nailing down a target audience, you can figure out what kind of purpose, format, and tone would be most appropriate.

Audience: Once Upon a Time...

Where Should I Start?

To narrow down your target audience, use the following questions to help you out:


Is this writing for…

  • … young children?
  • … peers?
  • … adults?
  • … males?
  • … females?

Am I creating an argument…

  • … for or against something?
  • … on the same side as my audience?
  • … on the opposing side of my audience?

Is this writing for…

  • … friends and family?
  • … experts?
  • … a person with authority?
  • … someone with no knowledge of the topic?

Do I need to start with an introduction?

  • Could I start with a personal story?
  • Does my opening need to be more formal?
  • Should my text be in first-person or third-person point of view?

What do my targeted readers have in common?

  • Do they have any common interests?
  • What political, social, or religious backgrounds might affect how they perceive my writing?
  • Do they have similar backgrounds?
  • What does my audience know of technical terms I plan to use?
  • Will the audience need explanation or definitions in order to understand my writing?

What kind of format should I use?

  • Essay?
  • Article?
  • Report?
  • Journal?
  • Letter?
  • Email?

Does my writing need…Audience: "Write Like it Matters and It Will."

  • a table of contents?
  • a references page?
  • a title page?
  • page numbers?
  • headings?
  • graphs, charts, or illustrations?

Is this writing for a grade?

  • Have I reviewed the rubric to ensure I know the requirements?
  • Do I completely understand the prompt? Or do I need clarifications on anything?
  • Are any phrases or words too conversational for an academic tone?

Can I have More than One Audience?

It’s completely possible to have more than one audience for the same piece of writing. As you identify them, keep a running list. That way, they are always in front of you as write.

The Finished Product

Once you’ve finished your essay, you may worry that it’s not tailored perfectly for your audience. To check, reread your essay as a reader, not a writer. That way, you can get a little better insight into how effective your essay is. But, how can you read something as someone other than yourself, though?

  1. Try taking a break. By getting some space and time between you and your essay, you can come back to it with a fresh eye for things.
  2. Create a reverse outline. To start, look over your essay, and create an outline based on what you’ve written. Next, ask yourself if the pieces of your essay give the message you were hoping for and if everything is in a logical order.
  3. Read it out loud. That’s right! Don’t be afraid to sound foolish. Reading your essay out loud will let you hear all those awkward phrases, incomplete thoughts, and places where the word choice just isn’t right.

These techniques can help you craft your essay and writing style perfectly to just about any audience you can think of. Think about it this way: the more work you do, the less your audience will have to. That means you’ll have one happy professor on your hands!




Written by Stephanie Constantino

Mrs. C is a teacher, writer, and stay-at-home mommy extraordinaire. She loves pushing students to the boundaries of their writing potential through using a fun and encouraging teaching style.  If you’d like the opportunity to work with Mrs. Constantino, or any of the amazing Write from the Heart coachescheck out our classes here, or contact us.




Expository Essay Thesis Builder

A thesis is perhaps the most important sentence in an entire essay. It introduces the topic, gives your stance, and briefly previews the main topics in an essay. Using the following checklist, you can create the perfect thesis every time:

  • Does it answer the question posed by the writing prompt?
  • Does it introduce your topic?
  • Does it preview your three main points?
  • Does the point preview match the order of the body paragraphs?
  • If you looked at it by itself (with no other writing around it), does it still make sense?

Be sure to ask yourself these questions as you write your thesis. Here is a guide to help you create a perfect thesis for your expository paper:


Prompt: Everyone, at some point in life, will experience stress. Stress can actually have a negative effect on your health, so it’s important to manage it effectively. What are three ways to reduce stress in a person’s life?

Topic: Reducing Stress in Your Life

Time to build our thesis! But, where do we start?

First, introduce the topic in a way that answers the prompt: Three ways to reduce stress in a person’s life are…


Next, create your three main points.

This is where your brainstorming skills will come in handy. Come up with a number of ideas, and choose your best three!

  1. Meditating
  2. Reading
  3. Exercising
  4. Going on vacation
  5. Playing a game
  6. Talking about the problem
  7. Listening to music.
  8. Asking someone for help.


Finally, we’ll connect the dots between the response to the prompt and your top three ideas. To do this, combine it all into one sentence:

Three ways to reduce stress in a person’s life are meditating, exercising, and talking about the problem.


Let’s double-check our list of questions to make sure we’re on track with this thesis.

  • Does the thesis answer the question in the prompt? Yes!
  • Does it introduce the topic? Yes!
  • Does it preview the three main points? Yes!
  • When writing the essay, the first paragraph will be about meditating, the second will be about exercising, and the third will be about talking about the problem.
  • Does it make sense by itself? Yes!

Excellent! Our thesis is right on target.


It’s Your Turn to Create a Thesis!

Use this blank template to help create the perfect thesis for your next essay.




First, introduce the topic in a way that answers the prompt:


Next, create your three main points:

Finally, combine it all into one sentence:


Does it answer the question in the prompt?

Does it introduce the topic?

Does it preview the three main points?

When writing the essay, the first body paragraph will be about ______________, the second paragraph will be about _____________, and the third will be about ___________________.

Does it make sense by itself?





Written by Stephanie Constantino
Mrs. C is a teacher, writer, and stay-at-home mommy extraordinaire. She loves pushing students to the boundaries of their writing potential through using a fun and encouraging teaching style.  If you’d like the opportunity to work with Mrs. Constantino, or any of the amazing Write from the Heart coachescheck out our classes here, or contact us.

Coach Interview: Jenny Cowan

Write from the Heart has an amazing staff of coaches who work with the students.  All the coaches are degreed professionals passionate about working with homeschoolers.  Coaches do a lot more at Write from the Heart than grade papers—they’re available daily to help students, discuss homework, facilitate literature discussions, and encourage each student individually through the writing process.  Write from the Heart is an interactive class, and a big part of that is the wonderful coaches.  In this series, we hope that you can get to know our staff even better.

Our next coach in the lineup is the wonderful Mrs. Jenny Cowan. Jenny graduated in 2007 from Cedarville University with a degree in English. In 2014, Jenny began her journey with Write from the Heart as an Intermediate Composition coach, working mostly with 7th and 8th graders. Jenny’s ambition led her to write the curriculum for the Thesis and Expository Essay course offered in our Summer Institute. She now teaches two sessions of this course every summer. Want to know how to write a knockout thesis? She’s your girl!

Currently, Jenny lives in New Jersey with her husband and three beautiful children.


Why were you interested in teaching writing?


I have loved writing ever since I was a young child, and I always knew that someday I wanted to pursue professional writing. Along the way, there were teachers who recognized and encouraged my love of writing, and it helped me believe in myself and gave me the confidence to pursue writing as I got older.

One teacher, in particular, stands out to me, even twenty years later. My family had moved during the middle of my seventh-grade year, and I started a brand new school. My favorite class was with Mrs. Geesey, who taught reading and writing. One of my first assignments was to write a short story. I was very shy and was having a hard time adjusting to my new school, but I loved writing. Mrs. Geesey noticed my love of writing right away and encouraged me to follow my imagination and use writing to get through this tough time. She helped me figure out the plot line, develop the characters, and refine my story until it was exactly what I wanted. Afterwards, she created a special award, complete with a gold nameplate with my name on it, as having the best short story in the class.

I will never forget the confidence that she gave me, and the extra time she spent with me. Even more, I wanted to teach writing so that I could pass that same encouragement to another student.  I love nothing more than to help my students become the absolute best writers that they can be and to have confidence in their creativity, voice, and ability.


What is your favorite part about coaching?

My favorite part of coaching is helping a student to find his or her unique voice as a writer. I especially love working with those students who start off the year thinking, “I’m not a good writer.” Even students who doubt their writing abilities have a distinct, one-of-a-kind perspective on life that no one else has, and I enjoy helping them to discover that perspective and put it into their writing.

One student, in particular, told me he would much prefer being outside on his ranch driving his ATV, to sitting inside and writing for class. I encouraged him to write about what he loved best: his ranch, the outdoors, and his many adventures. Together, we worked on improving his grammar and his writing process so that he could put down his thoughts more logically, and find places to include his creativity in each assignment. He wrote some unforgettable pieces during that school year, and I could almost imagine myself living the ranch life because of how his writing jumped off the page.

After the class ended, I received an email from him, thanking me for all of my help and telling me how much more he now enjoyed writing. It is so rewarding to help a student unlock their own creative voice and learn how to channel that into their writing.


What piece of personal writing are you most proud of?

About three years after deciding to be a stay at home mom, I missed the challenge of working in the professional world. I saw a wanted ad in my local newspaper for a reporter to cover local municipal meetings. It was just a few hours a month, and I thought “why not?” I sent in my writing samples, and the editor asked me to also cover the monthly human interest feature. Through this, I got to meet a number of amazing local citizens doing some extraordinary things. This story is one that I wrote early in my newspaper tenure, but it is one that I am most proud of! I received many, many notes of thanks from the people involved with this story after writing it. It’s amazing how

the written word can touch the hearts and lives of so many people.


What do you like about teaching online?

When my oldest was born, I made the decision to leave my full-time job and stay at home with her. I never regretted that decision, and yet I found that I also missed working outside the home. Teaching online has given me a way to keep my skills sharp, invest in the lives of students, and yet not sacrifice too much time away from my own children. I like that the schedule of online teaching allows me to work around my responsibilities as a mom.

What do you do with your family that you enjoy the most?

I have three kids, a girl age 6, and two boys ages 4 and 9 months old. My husband and I love doing things outdoors with our kids, but it can be challenging to find activities that work for all of their different ages. This summer we have been doing a lot of bike rides since everyone can participate in that. We have a special bike seat for the baby and a bike trailer my four-year-old. The area where we live has miles and miles of paved bike trails that go through the woods and along the river. We have a lot of fun together!

In a few weeks, we will also be heading to the beach for a family vacation, which is one of our favorite places to go. Our youngest, the baby, has never been to the beach before, and I am curious as to what he will think of it! I suspect he will be putting quite a few fistfuls of sand in his mouth…


If you’d like the opportunity to work with Mrs. Cowan, or any of the amazing Write from the Heart coachescheck out our classes here, or contact us.