Owning a niche website always involves checking out the competition. Perhaps you're just seeing how much competition there is, or how strong it is. Maybe you're spying on them to see what is and isn't working. I doubt that many days go by without needing to think about them in some form or other.
The internet is a big old place, and there should be room for everyone, but alas, Google gets us all competing for those tops slots in the search result pages. Sometimes screaming for attention and trying to outdo competitors puts off our users to the point that they never come back.
Is our competition REALLY competition though?
Just last week I was on a Skype call with someone who in the past I would have considered competition. I've also been spending a lot of time getting to know others in my particular area of expertise (building and ranking niche websites), and instead of viewing them as my competition, I'm viewing them as my peers.
This is a pretty powerful concept, and something that most people get wrong! I'll admit it took me over a year to start thinking this way too.
Working with your competition is not so much a case of “If you can't beat them, join them.” It's more a case of “I like what you've got going on, let's have lunch”.
It's the same concept as guest blogging, blog commenting, and other outreach programs. You shouldn't really be doing it for the sake of the backlink. Sure, a nice backlink from one of your competitors' site will help you get a bit more credibility with Google, but the real value lies in having a reputable website say to its users “Hey, this guy has a reputable site too”.
What Happened To Me
I'll put this into some context for you with my own personal experiences. About a month ago I had a comment on one my posts from Justin of EmpireFlippers fame. I was very familiar with their site, and considered them “sort of” competition. We weren't working in exactly the same space, but we had some overlaps and they were big authorities on subjects that I wanted to be an authority on.
Justin's comment was very complimentary and made me feel like I was starting to get some progress towards my own authority and reputation. Of course, he was also commenting to grow his own empire and get traffic to his own site, but that's not really my point.
After bouncing a few comments round on each others' sites, I decided to email Justin and see if there might be anything we could do together. He had previously said that he “digged” what I was doing, and that my sites might be a good option for some of his audience, so I wasn't exactly approaching him out of the blue.
Long story short, Justin and Joe (his EmpireFlippers partner) decided to include Human Proof Designs as one of their recommended resources and recently gave me a shoutout in their latest podcast.
This is what happens when you stop viewing competition as competition.
It Gets Better
Being able to tap into the brain of someone who has been there and done that in your niche is great. They have a wealth of insight, and can give you their thoughts. Justin game me some great advice about my products, why they appeal to him, why he thinks they appeal to many others, and what I can do to improve them for myself and my customers.
That kind of information is priceless.
Where the real gem came though was when he suggested I reach out to others in my niche and see if we can work together too. I hadn't realized it, but not all of the others in the “niche sites” space offer sites like I do. We could fit together perfectly.
Do you see the possibilities of working with your competition instead of trying to beat them? [Tweet This]
Applying This To Your Own Site
Now I know some of you might just be affiliate marketers, and your competition is promoting exactly the same products as you. How can you possibly work together?
It's true, it's easier when you've got your own product!
Here are some ideas for how you can befriend and work with your competition in all situations:
- Reach out to them via blog comments and mentioning them on your blog. They'll probably return the favor.
- Share their work on twitter and Google+, compliment them when they make excellent posts. Again, they'll probably return the favor. (Even if they don't, you'll still look like an authority and a sharer, rather than someone just promoting their own stuff).
- Offer to guest post for them, or let them guest post on your site. There are plenty of benefits to either.
- If you have a good relationship, you could even suggest making an eBook together or coming up with better ways of serving your combined audiences (this isn't something you can approach them with out of the blue though).
- Rinse and repeat for others in your niche!
At the end of the day, the more people see you are active in your niche and engaging with others, rather than just shouting about how good your own site/product/affiliate link is, the better it is for you.
If you really get creative, the possibilities are endless! Don't view others in your niche as people that need to be beaten. [Tweet This]