If you read any of my other blogs or guest blog posts, you’ll know how I feel about the competition. Or rather, that I don’t believe in competition. The way I see it, the people who blog about the same or similar things are colleagues and collaborators. “Competitor” almost has a negative connotation and I prefer to keep my relationships positive as much as I possibly can. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to look at successful “competitors” to see what they’re doing right and what I’m doing wrong. By studying those who dominate my niche, I’m learning about why they’re so successful and how I can become successful too.
I give you:
10 Tips for Using Your Competition to Become a Better Blogger
Just a side note: By “using” I don’t mean using as in that “get what I can from you then never hear from me again” way. My meaning is to see what methods competitors use to achieve success and determining how you can apply those same methods to your own blogging. I also mean collaborating with the folks you deem “competitors” in order to cross promote each other and build up a rocking relationship.
1. Read their content
The main reason certain bloggers are so popular are because they have killer content. People dig their writing style, tone and voice. They also have something to say and something to share. Take time to read a good representation of their blog posts to see which ones are the most popular, which received the most votes or comments and what it is about their style that makes them so engaging.
2. Read their comments
What is your competitor’s community saying? How do they treat each other and the blogger(s)? A community that respects each other even in disagreement will continue to grow. When it becomes a negative free for all, people tend to stay away. Comments are a good indication not only of how a community feels about their blogger, but also they can give you ideas for posts of your own.
3. Participate in their comments
It’s not enough to read the comments. Participate. Enjoy the company and the discussion. This serves several purposes: You’re part of an active discussion, you’re communicating with others in your niche and helps to establish your expertise. When you comment on other blogs, folks from other communities might follow you back to your own.
4. Offer to guest blog… Or better yet…Offer to trade guest blog posts
Competing bloggers are just as interested in promotion as you are. Many of them aren’t opposed to having you come on and guest post –which serves two purposes. The first is that you’ll get links back to your own blog and put your name out there, and the other is that the other blogger will gain traffic when you promote the post. You might even propose a swap and guest post on each others’ blogs. This can lead to future, more profitable collaborations.
5. Who is linking to your competitors and why?
The highest ranking blogs receive plenty of back links. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out who is linking to your competitors and why. Maybe you can try a new slant on their most linked to posts or write an opposing view to keep the discussion going. Also, once you learn who is linking to competing bloggers, do what you can to participate in those other communities as well.
6. How are they using social media to expand their communities?
Do the popular bloggers in your niche have Facebook fan pages? Do they use Twitter to talk with like-minded people? Are they uploading videos to YouTube or ? Blogging isn’t a “set it and forget it” kind of deal. You have to promote and converse. People won’t come if they have no idea you exist. Plus, you can’t count on RSS alone to offer updates. Today’s readers use social networks, newsletters and other methods to receive their updates.
7. What do they have on their blogs beyond content?
How are other bloggers attracting readers? Contests? Courses? Video? Games? Cartoons? What can you do that is interesting to your community – besides writing posts?
8. How are your competitors networking?
Popular bloggers are networking both online and off. They’re online at the social networks and offline at meetups, tweetups and conferences. Engage beyond your blog.
9. Who do they hang out with?
You don’t have to travel in the same circles as the other bloggers in your niche, but it doesn’t hurt to hang out in some of the same spots. Learn where the popular online forums and communities are. Don’t just look for the influencers, either. Influeners don’t all hang out int he same spot and they’re usually too busy for forums and online groups. It’s the people who want to learn and share who you need to make friends with the most.
10. Don’t try and be the same
It’s one thing to learn about competitors in order to learn about yourself or your blog. It’s an entirely different matter to copy them outright. No one wants to visit a clone. Learn what others do right – and wrong – and put your own personality and unique slant on the topic. If you’re a copycat people will stay away. If you’re fun and engaging and honest with your readers, they’ll come. It may take a while at first, but it won’t be long until you have a loyal community of your own.
And here’s a bonus: If you spend a lot of time in another blogger’s community don’t discard them or forget about them once your own community takes off. There are different kinds of using – make sure you choose the right one.
What are some of the things you’re learning from your competitors?