Whether you're breaking into a saturated niche, or if someone has decided to create a blog on a similar topic, competition will shape your experience as a blogger. There are several ways to look at this. You can get mad, complain, maybe even give up, or you learn from the competition to improve. Competition can be positive, it exists in every industry, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would not be as great innovators as they were without the competition they gave each other. They might have hated each other for a while, or tried to tear each other down, but in the end, their competition made them better.
We don't have to hate our competitors. Being nice doesn't mean we're not competitive, and it doesn't mean we give up when something appearing to be bigger and better comes along.
Competition is a gift
A few years ago, when I started the IFB Conference, a company I was in partnership talks with saw the success of my conference, started their own confernece in direct competition. I'm not going to lie, it hurt. I felt betrayed. But something inside said, “Let's just try to do it better.” It turned out that the next conference I did, was better, in fact it made my career. If it wasn't for the other company encroaching on my space, I may not have been pushed to do something greater. In two seasons that company stopped doing conferences, and sure other companies are popping up and hosting their own fashion blogger conferences during NYFW, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give up. They're just pushing me to evolve.
The same goes for blogs, whether it's a blog with amazing photography, or extraordinarily eloquent writing, a stellar design or a kick-ass social media strategy, they're pushing the boundaries of what we call quality content. Back in 2007, most bloggers (including Susie Bubble) took outfits in the mirror with a digi-cam (although she stepped it up by collaging them on fashion spreads). Today, the standard is much, much higher with professional grade photography, and even in the case of From Me To You, innovating technology and inventing new forms of photography like the cinemagraph. It doesn't mean that the rest of us should stop blogging, but it does mean that if we're going to aim for the stars, we're going to have to improve our skill sets, or hone in our unique talents. All of us.
Competition does not mean comparing
While it's good to look at the competition to see what's going on, to be inspired by their successes and to learn from their mistakes. Competing doesn't mean comparing. Comparing is when you're using language like, “I don't have a professional photographer boyfriend taking my outfit shots like so-and-so.” Competing is when you're acknowledging someone's success, “So-and-so has gorgeous photos and my photos are kind of blurry, so I need to learn how to properly take photos.” Competing is taking actions to improve, comparing is looking at what others have or don't have. Competing will make you a better blogger, comparing will make you a bitter blogger.
Look at competition to set goals
If you're one of those people who wants to reach for the stars getting yourself familiar with the stars is a good place to start. Find your heroes. Heroes may be at the top, or they may be someone admirable, they really could be anyone having the kind of success you desire. When I started blogging, I looked at the blogs I loved, and they were my heroes, and in a way a mentors only they didn't know who I was. Some of the things that helped me to quantify what I wanted to achieve as a blogger was to assess what made compelling content, and analyze the the quality of their posts. Then I aimed to get my content's quality to that level in my own unique way. Other things that are helpful is looking at heroes and note how much interaction, comments, tweets on their posts as a way to set goals. Observing how other bloggers do their business will give you inspiration as to how to build your own. Just keep in mind when setting goals, to break them down into achievable benchmarks. That way it's easier to map progress and, pretty soon you might find that you're accomplishing things you never thought possible.
Never stop competing
There's an old saying, “If you're coasting, that means you're going downhill.” While it's important to take breaks to avoid burn out. Even if you're content where you are, in order to stay fresh, it's important to be aware of what's happening in your niche, and keep your skills current. What's more, being the standard in an over-saturated niche may not be enough get to the top. Do what you can to stand out, because your competition will push you to keep trying.
Image by Yuri Arcurs via Shutterstock.com