I write and speak a lot about not comparing yourself to others, and that everyone's success looks different, but the reality is that to be successful in business AND in life, you have to constantly be learning and adapting. One very good (and essential) way to do this is by being aware of what your COMPETITION is doing and trying to learn from it.
I don't mean constantly comparing yourself and obsessively checking all of the fashion blogs everyday; I simply mean selecting a few blogs that are similar to yours and checking in with them to see how they can help YOU can be better at what YOU do.
Easier said than done sometimes, and of course, we can all fall in to that trap of endless comparison, jealousy, and being overwhelmed that we haven't achieved as much as we perceive other bloggers to have achieved. I've been there, done that, and written about it, but truthfully, it's impossible to be in business for yourself (and be successful) without engaging in competitive analysis. The key here is analysis, and being able to look at other blogs with an objective eye towards learning instead of comparing.
1st | Identify your Competition
It's easy to say that as fashion bloggers, we're ALL competitors in some way, but we're really not. If you've narrowed down your niche, identify other blogs in that niche to focus on. Then, maybe narrow them down a bit more; consider how long they've been blogging, what platform they use, who they work with, and make a list of the blogs that are generally in the same place you are now – and some that are where you WANT to be. There's your competition.
2nd | Study your Competition
Once a month or so spend a couple of hours going through the blogs of your competitors and look at them with an analysts eye – be objective, observe the types of posts that get the most interaction (try to determine why), take a look at their social accounts and other activities around the web. If you're going to learn anything, you have to start with what you think your competition does BETTER than you, and try to learn from it. Maybe their blog design is simpler, more clean, or their images “prettier.” Perhaps they have more genuine interaction on their blog; really study those elements (do they respond to every comment? what kind of equipment does she use? did she hire a blog designer?) and see how you can do better at those things on your own blog.
Also, ASK FOR HELP. That's why you're here at IFB presumably – you're interested in learning how to be the best fashion blogger you can be – but I'd also encourage you to ask for advice from a blogger who might be a competitor of yours. I've helped other bloggers who are “technically” competitors, and didn't think twice about it. Reach out to another blogger and say that you've noticed she has a very vibrant community on her blog and you're working on creating one on yours – can she give you some tips for how she did it? Just because we're competitors doesn't mean we can't be mentors; the more of us who are successful, the better. For all of us.
3rd | Create Action Items
After you've studied your competition, set goals, and create some action items to work on during the coming month (before you do your analysis again). If you want to implement a simpler design, make a list of what you'll need to to get there, and do them! If you think you can do better at building community on your blog, name 5 things you should do in the next month, and do them. Creating goals and action items is the most important step here, otherwise, you're just getting stuck in that endless loop of comparison and analysis – the WORK is where the magic is. Without the work and specific tasks to accomplish, you'll get discouraged faster and may be tempted to give up.
4th | Let it go
Once you've created your action items and are working on them, LET GO. Put your head down and do the work you need to do for you blog, don't check back in with your competition every second to see what they're doing, because again, you'll get stuck in that trap. Let go of the need to constantly be comparing yourself and measuring your blog against others; you've done the competitive analysis, now it's time to do the work. Figure out what success looks like to you, and aim for it, using what you've learned from other bloggers to get there.
Competition makes all of us do better & work harder. Without it, we'd just do what we always do, never trying to improve, grow, or learn; we'd get too comfortable and set in our ways. I know, I've been there. I've tried to ignore competition, and then I've gone the other way and became obsessed with it. As with anything, it's important to find a balance, and the place where you can learn and grow as a blogger without losing yourself or getting lost in comparison after comparison.
[Image Credit: Shutterstock.com]