10 Ways to Let Your Competition Be Your Guide

I’m always hesitant to use the word "competition" to describe other bloggers in my niche. I always like to look at them as colleagues in which to share ideas and community rather than the person whose traffic I should be stealing. For the purpose of today’s blog post, we’ll allow it just this one time.

If there’s one thing I learned with Freelance Writing Jobs is that if you have a popular blog, others will want to do the same exact thing. It used to frustrate me, but I decided to use this to my advantage. Rather get frustrated with all the other job listings blogs, I look to them to see how I can do things better or different.

Some of my network blogs are in competitive niches as well, my blogs on saving money or beauty tips certainly aren’t the only ones out there. How do I stand out among the rest?

Here are 10 ways I let my competition be my guide.

  1. I participate in their communities – It would be silly to expect no one else to have the same type of blog, wouldn’t it? My philosophy is, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  The great thing about the blogosphere is that there’s room for everyone. If I’m not going to be the only blog re-listing freelance writing jobs or offering tips for finding said jobs, I’m going to welcome the others into the neighborhood. By participating in the other blog communities I’m offering my insight, learning and gathering new ideas from others, and maybe even gaining a reader or two.
  2. I look to see what they’re missing – When I look at another blog like mine I wonder what they’re missing. What do their readers have questions about and what topics aren’t they discussing? Offer something your competition doesn’t have and people will respond.
  3. I define my niches. When I visit other blogs in the same niche I wonder how I can do things differently. For instance, with Freelance Writing Jobs I became more than a "relisting" blog. I began offering advice for finding and getting jobs. At this blog, Jennifer and I target bloggers who work for others rather than the usual make money online blogging blogs. At the List Maven, my beauty blog, I offer all tips and product reviews in list form, and at Simply Thrifty I offer stories from my youth and updates on home DIY projects. Even my celebrity blogs are different – I have one featuring celebrity role models and one featuring celebrity lists. Now when people visit me it won’t be the same old thing they see on other blogs.
  4. I continue to evolve – This holds hands with point number 3, by continuing to evolve I don’t get stuck in a rut. I don’t have to talk about or do the same things over and over. It’s ok to change your blog’s focus now and then to adapt to your readers’ tastes. Sometimes that’s by widening a narrow niche, other times it’s by changing a blog’s design.
  5. I look to see what my competitors do right – When I see other blogs in my niche, I want to know what they’re doing right. I’m not going to copy them, but I am going to use them for ideas for bettering myself and my blog.
  6. I investigate the most and least popular articles – What topics do their communities respond to most and least? This will give you a good indication of what your readers might like to learn about. Don’t copy, but do add your own point of view.
  7. I investigate their traffic – Knowing how the competition is faring can be a great kick in the ass. How many comments do they get? What is their Alexa, Technorati or Google ranking? Are they at the top of the search engines? Where does a lot of their traffic seem to be coming from? Do they get lots of track backs from other blogs?
  8. I investigate to see who is linking to them and why – Other other blogs and communities responding to my competitors’ posts? If so why? What makes one post more popular than another? Is controversy or negativity such a good thing? Knowing which posts get the backlinks might give you some good ideas of your own -and might also give you an idea of other communities to target.
  9. I offer to trade guest posts – By trading guest blogger posts with your competitors or fellow niche bloggers you’ll be sharing ideas and traffic.
  10. I keep them on my radar – Even the bloggers with the most popular blogs keep their competitors close. Even if you only visit the blogs or feeds once a week, know what others in your niche are talking about as well as the reaction of their readers. This way if they start to all of a sudden gain a lot of traffic or comments you’ll know why…and know what to do to use it to your advantage.

Comments

  1. Great stuff, Deb.

    I especially like points 3 and 4. Continuously defining and, as necessary, narrowing your niche is essential, as is finding new ways to add value to what you do.

    Good form!

  2. Very helpful post. Great tips to start practicing.

    Thanks!

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