Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Layers of Felt Need as You're Writing

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

I heard that phrase so much at writers’ conferences. “Know the felt need of your target audience, and write about it.” Great advice. But the phrase “felt need” seemed fuzzy in my brain. What exactly is it, and how do we discover what felt need our audience has? Better yet, what are the many layers of felt need they are facing?

Identifying Felt Needs

Ask yourself the following questions to identify your audience’s felt need, whether it’s for your blog, a book, or an article. Make a list for each question, and you are not likely to run out of material for a while. 
  • What needs does my audience have that my writing can address?
  • What problems are they facing?
  • What challenges do they encounter every day?
  • What questions do they have that I can answer based on Scripture and my life experiences?
The answers to these questions will greatly depend on the demographics and circumstances of your audience. If you are writing to moms with young children, they will need some refreshment in the middle of a busy routine, along with insightful parenting advice. If you are writing to empty nesters, they may need some advice on how to transition to a quieter house. People who are hurting need to know how to heal a heart wound, overcome a loss, or persevere through a storm. People who want to understand the Bible better need a vibrant explanation and application of God’s Word.

So who are you writing to, and what do they need? Have you considered their layers of felt need? 
  • What physical needs do they have because of their circumstances? How can you point them to God who provides and cares for His children?
  • What emotional needs do they have because of the challenges they face? How can you share Scripture and stories so that their hearts find the hope, joy, or peace they need? What motivations can you give them for doing the right thing even when it’s not easy? 
  • What mental battles do they constantly encounter? What truths do they need to know and practice?
  • What spiritual need for God and His Word do they have? What can you share about God that helped you when you faced something similar to what they may be going through? What promises from Scripture helped you that may help them too?
Often we need to put ourselves in our readers’ shoes to empathize with what they are facing. Also, we need to remember our own struggles and how God helped us through those challenges. 

We appeal to our readers’ hearts and felt needs when we approach them as a friend through our writing and help them to know:
  • I’ve been there too.
  • This is what God’s Word says.
  • This is how God has been there for me.
  • This is how He can be there for you.
When you write, do you tend to focus on one “layer” of felt need? Does it tend to be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual? Tell us in the comments whether you focus on one aspect of felt need or include more than one in your writing. Join the conversation now!


Katy Kauffman finds herself writing about life’s spiritual battles more than anything else. As an award-winning author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies, she has the privilege of working with writers and the Lighthouse team to create Bible study compilations and magazine issues. She recently started a monthly newsletter for writers called The Lighthouse Connection, and she contributes to three blogs on writing. Connect with Katy at her blog, Winning the Victory, and on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. I write Biblical meditations. That is, I use scripture to reach out to people based upon the "felt needs" that I have. However, this may only reach people like me. I can see this will require research to learn the felt needs of other types of people. Thank you for this suggestion.

    1. Hi, Tbscott! Maybe you can research where people who are share the felt needs you have, hang out online and promote your blog posts there. With guest posts or posts in Facebook groups, etc. And definitely, it requires some researching. I find that what we've been through is the easiest to write about. We write about it from the heart too. So you could be on the right track. God's blessings as you right!

  2. Wonderful counsel ma'am. As always, thank you and God's blessings.

  3. Katy, thanks for this insightful article. As I refine my target market for my novel, these questions are the logical next step - except I never would have logically thought of them myself. Lol. Thanks - great timing! :)

    1. Hello, Chris, I am glad you found this helpful. Happy writing!

  4. I tend to focus on emotional needs, but your post helps me consider layers of need. Thank you for insights that I'm sure will improve my connections with readers.

    1. I'm with you, Jeannie. I tend to focus on emotional needs that stem from spiritual battles. I want to remember what the audience needs to know in addition to what they need to feel. The emotional focus could be - surrounded by God's love, stilled with His peace, and energized by His grace. Promises, spiritual realities, and strategies would come under what they need to know or do.

  5. This helps me stop and think deeper about finding out the needs of the audience. These insightful questions will stay on a list before me. Thank you, Katy!

    1. Yay, I am glad you liked this, Barbara! Thank you for your comment.

  6. This is a great article as I do write with many of these layers in mind but haven't fully understood it. A great tool for me as I complete my novel series. thank you.