Have you ever felt the need to leverage your competition? I believe this is something everyone is “forced” to do sooner or later, especially if entering a particularly tough niche.
Now, let me explain something for the sake of this article…
The term competition is a tricky one, especially when it comes to blogging. Sure, you would rather be the one on the first page of Google, or the one with more quality followers (as opposed to being someone else).
That being said, leveraging them involves getting closer and, ironically, this turns you into allies later down the road.
Let’s discuss how you can bond with your competitor while still remaining, well, competitive.
Learn from Them
No matter how good of a blogger you are, there is always someone who’s more experienced.
Other times the learning curve is less steep, as you could model little things like their blog design or their writing style. Maybe you’re still using walls of text instead of breaking things down into short paragraphs, for example.
Paying attention to detail is the easiest way to leverage your competition, as it’s not a crime to inspect their virtual property. And although you should never downright copy their methods, there is no harm in adapting certain aspects while adding your own spin.
Observe their Shortcomings
Even the very best bloggers tend to make a mistake or two (it’s simply human nature). This provides you with an excellent opportunity to step above your competitors.
Are others too inconsistent about posting on the blog and/or social media? Are you subscribed to their newsletter and notice a lack of communication? Have you emailed them only to be ignored?
Improving upon the smallest, most mundane things can be just as important as implementing bigger and more noticeable changes.
Start Forming a Relationship
Leveraging your competition is not only done covertly. You want to let them know of your existence, even if they become aware that you are competing in the same niche.
You have probably heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating: Visit their blog often, subscribe to their mailing list, provide valuable insight, and give them the impression that you’re just not a casual reader with some time to kill.
They will eventually start to like you and expect your presence, which will be incredibly helpful down the road (more on this later).
Speaking of interacting, joining their social accounts is a crucial way to leverage your competition. Comment on (some of) their updates, re-share them, let them know you care.
Furthermore, some of their social media followers will gradually notice you and start following you as well. I tend to see an increased following whenever I’m more active on my social accounts and those of fellow bloggers. Trust me, this works.
You can also visit your competition’s followers directly and send them a friend request. This is especially easy on the likes of Twitter.
Time for the Interview
No, I don’t necessarily mean a formal interview where you actually call the other person…
Once you have built a strong enough relationship, shoot them a quick message asking if they’d like to answer a few Q&A questions over email.
The key here is to keep it short (the amount of questions is subjective, but I never exceed ten).
There’s something magical about conducting interviews: You give your readers an intriguing story while your competitor is exposed to said audience.
Just imagine a headline on your blog such as, “This Guy Made $10,000 in His First Year Blogging.” Now that’s mutually beneficial!
Finally, the best way to leverage your competition in the long-run is to form a limited partnership.
Is he selling a specific product or service that your audience could benefit from? Maybe he can sell it to you at a major discount while giving you private label rights (so that your name and his will be listed on said product).
You can then sell it to your audience at a reduced, special price. Now your followers benefit from the discount, he enjoys the additional exposure, and you two make a small profit.
The sky is the limit when it comes to joint ventures. Get creative.
In many cases, competitors are merely allies waiting to happen. What have you been doing to leverage your competition?