In almost any venture, whether it be business, sports, blogging or trying out for the school musical – if you're putting yourself to the test, you're going to want to analyze the competition. Sizing up them and you is important.
In marketing, they've got a whole matrix designed for exactly this, called SWOT analysis. Once you've identified an objective or a goal, you can use these four topics to figure out the factors (helpful and harmful, internal and external) that will impact your ability to achieve your goal.
- S is for Strengths (internal and helpful)
- W is for Weaknesses (internal and harmful)
- O is for Opportunities (external and helpful)
- T is for Threats (external and harmful)
The matrix looks like this:
So what does this mean for fashion bloggers? You can use this matrix to help you understand and maximize your blog business, especially as it relates to your network – those who might be “in competition” with you, and those who can help you. What brands do you want to work with? Which bloggers have careers you aspire to? Even personally, you can use SWOT analysis to take advantage of your talents and abilities and develop a strong direction for your career.
My suggestion is to actually fill out a matrix, and to get started, try asking and answering some questions related to each factor:
- What advantages to do I have as a blogger, as a person?
- What do I do well — better than anyone else?
- What unique resources do I have?
- What is my unique selling point, or niche?
- What could I improve about myself or my blog?
- What is the most difficult part of this business for me?
- What improvements could my business use?
- What do people in my industry perceive as weaknesses?
- Who do I know that could be helpful or inspiring to me?
- What trends am I aware of in this industry?
- Are there changes or developments in the industry I can capitalize on?
- What is missing in my peers' content or business that I can do better?
- What obstacles are in my way?
- Who is my competition in the industry?
- What is my competition doing that I am not?
From your asked and answered questions, you should be able to see your next steps in front of you. Now that you can see (visualize!) what you're good at and what needs work, as well as who your allies and your competitors are, what tools you may require like that time and billing software, you can begin to take action. Take notes on what your peers do well and look for shortcomings. Email contacts, friends and peers to set up meetings and coffee dates. Sign up for educational workshops to hone your skills. Keep your SWOT matrix somewhere you work, and check off successes seized opportunities – and cross out eliminated weaknesses and threats!