(They are brothers, but will they share their onion rings?)
It's been awhile since we shared any freelance tips here, but for good reason: I recently spoke at the iBlog Conference in Perry, Iowa, and in addition to meeting some outstanding bloggers, I was able to share my thoughts on Competition and Collaboration in the social media space. If you missed it, here are my notes from the topic:Whether you're a blogger, app developer, media company, or marketer, it's important to know where you stand in the pack. With easy access to metrics and stats, it can be all too easy to focus on what the competition is doing – and work even harder to be better than them. But what would happen if you joined forces, and created a new side project with those that you rival? It's worked wonders for many, and you can use the same tactics to increase visibility, grow business, and create lasting strategic partnerships.
How Do You Know who Your True competition Is
- Don't be distracted by others in your niche who are you are NOT competing with. In addition to those you work with (other bloggers, for example), use "top lists" like Alltop, ranking metrics providers (Alexa) and sites like the Wise Bread Top 100 to find people to collaborate with.
- Other methods include using Google Analytics to find your key search terms, then Google to find top search results that point to other bloggers in your niche.
- Don't forget ad markets that you desire to join. These include the Clever 1000, Real Girls Media, BlogHer, FM, etc. Their lists of participating bloggers make great tools for finding collaborative partners.
- Browse Twitter for other bloggers in your niche, location, and that have approximately the same number of followers.
- Check current press releases from your favorite brands to see which bloggers and online personalities they are using as brand ambassadors.
- Keep on top of conference news to see who is speaking and presenting at your favorite conferences.
How do you reach out?
- Connect with them via the various ways you already connect with others. Follow what they are doing, and find common ground.
- Attend the same events online and in real life. (Examples could be online Twitter events, conferences, web calls, and other blogger outreach promotions.)
*Conference tip: Stay away from late, late night “socializing.” Get up early, meet people for coffee, and set the scene with the “go-getters.” These people have their junk together. (Quality business deals are rarely made after 11 p.m., especially when the deal makers are a bit tipsy.)
Here is a handy list of Do's and Dont's for collaborating with your "competition" (or "colleagues", as someone in the session so eloquently put it.)
- Build up the trust bank
- Offer your strengths
- Meet deadlines / promises
- Look ahead to next steps/projects
- Call in favors too quickly
- Be generic in your requests/efforts
- Feel the need to continue working with someone who doesn't pan out or feel like you ever have to work with difficult or damaging personalities
- Work with someone who has already spread themselves or their loyalties too thin
- Do what everyone else is doing
- Lose yourself in the project
Ideas for Collaborative Project you can start today:
- co-sponsor an event (online or in person): examples include suite parties at conferences, flashmobs, and meet-ups
- giveaway events (holiday gift guides, twitter parties, and facebook promotions)
- online seminars
- coaching/newsletters/expertise (have a dedicated email list for passing on knowledge)
- co-branded websites
- lists (top 5 in the industry, etc.)
- exchange in services, links, insider info, exposure, contacts
How do you measure the success?
- Metrics (followers, subscribers, hits, etc)
- Feedback from your audience
- Feedback from your collaborators (sometimes just being known as wonderful to work with is enough)
- Opportunities (brand ambassadorship, blogger events, new jobs, consulting, media)
This is the basic message that I covered at the iBlog conference. The audience offered some great feedback, and it was a real joy to speak to everyone. If you were at the conference and would like to ask additional questions about my tips or on putting them into practice, go ahead and email me. I'll respond as soon as possible!
If you weren't at the conference, be sure to check it out for next year!