"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I learned From Casing the Competition!



Don’t be fooled.
Though Blogging, by nature, is a very inclusive, interactive, informal genre of writing that has been known to provide friendly alliances and the occasional “warm and fuzzy feeling”, it is indeed competitive.

In my opinion, these days, as much as professional sports!
Don’t believe me?
No matter what your niche, Google its category, and you’re bound to render results in the thousands. Sometimes millions.

Like it or not, this means that you’re “competing” for readership. You’re competing for the limited time of today’s busy reader faced with an abundance of choices and a finite number of hours in each day. You’re competing to be “heard” amidst a sea of many voices. Some are virtuosos!
You’re competing for potential clients, advertisers, and even positioning.

Which is why “sizing up” your competition is crucial to create win-win situations for you and your readers.

How Competition Can Increase Competence

It goes without saying that we should all be on top of our game when we Blog, whether it’s professionally or as a form of artistic expression. Being at our best helps us to challenge ourselves, create “brand loyalty”, become a credible resource, and “win friends and influence people”.

But sometimes there’s a bonus. You get recognized in the process.
Which brings me to the genesis of this post…

A little while ago, I received an announcement regarding a Blogging contest. Write to Done was holding their 6th annual “Top 10 Blogs for Writing Contest.”
As with many Bloggers, Pen and Prosper is a labor of love for me. I dedicate many hours to this endeavor without compensation or expectation.

But, a contest? I saw it as a different type of reward. I thought that it would be fun and would minimally provide a little exposure for me and my little spot. So I threw my hat in the ring.

And let’s just say it’s been a very eye-opening experience ever since.
Being pit against such tough competition has made me realize my strengths and my weaknesses. I must admit, when it comes to good reading on writing, there’s a virtual “smorgasbord”, folks.

When I did a little comparative analysis with other sites, I felt that my design wasn't as strong. So I went in and did a little tweaking. I opted for a cleaner, leaner appearance. Additionally, I added more info about my guest posting experiences. I even edited some of my articles.

In your efforts to Blog better, and reach new heights in the new year, you might want to engage in a similar undertaking.

How do you stand up against the competition? Are your posts original? Is your voice unique? Do you give readers take-away value to take away? Why should anyone other than family or friends want to read your work? These are things to consider.
You’ll never be your best, if you refuse to look at what you could do better.

What I learned About Competition at This Stage of the Game…

1. Contrary to popular belief, competition doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Like money, it all depends on how we view it and how we use it. Think of the camaraderie of the contestants on the popular reality show, Dancing With the Stars. Whether we’re comfortable with it or not, competition will always be a part of our culture, our work place, and even our family dynamics. Use it to be clever, not cut throat.

2. Being a successful Blogger takes much more than disseminating information.
In viewing some of the other contenders‘ sites, what stood out was the sense of commitment, the creativity, and the passion that was evident in many of the readers’ “favorites”. Heck, I even signed up for a few of the "competition's" newsletters and updates myself!

3. Regardless as to the outcome, I’m still a winner.
I took a chance. I took a risk. I gave it my best. And if nothing else, I know more than I did before. Armed with this knowledge, I am more resolute in going the distance and making a difference.

As they say, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”

Thoughts?
How do you feel about competition? Does it leave you bitter or better?

Side note: A special thanks for those of you who took the time to vote and make a difference. The deadline is December 10th for those who are interested.

Image Stock Photo

12 comments:

  1. Following your advice, get better not bitter :)

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  2. Good to hear, Linda. Wishing you much continued success!

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  3. When my kids were young, I did a lot of thinking about competition - as in, should they play sports, what attitude do I want them to approach it with, and how should I teach them to view it, etc. Can't say I am a fan of cutthroat competition, but I think there is such a thing as healthy competition. It helps us to improve and polish our skills and work. I agree, if it pushes us in a balanced way to get better, then it is a good thing. Wishing you all the best with the competition!

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  4. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 28, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    Well spoken, Karen. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  5. Funny that
    you mention Competition,

    It reminds me about a Funny occurance some years ago when I worked in Sales for a Company I worked for, I was working in Sales focussing on just simply enjoying the process of having nice
    Sales Conversations.

    'In the Process I also left
    a Trace of Pretty Amazing
    Sales Results...,'


    Than at one point I got some admiring aspiring collegues reporting me about some of the lower Sales Results of some of my Collegues, expecting me to closely keep track on the results of those others.

    While in reality I really wasn't occupied by what results others where having at all, I really was only focussing on having fun with my Sales Conversations, and they didn't believe me and thought I was just bragging about it.

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  6. Jennifer Brown BanksNovember 29, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    Hp van Duuren,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to add to the mix here!

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  7. Jennifer:
    I have always shied away from competition. Maybe that's why I feel shy about the publishing process-the sending out, the waiting, the REJECTION. A publishing house had a copy of one of my Christmas plays for nine months and then told me they had no place for it. The marketing guide said their decision process was about 1/3 of that time.

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  8. Jennifer Brown BanksDecember 1, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    quietspirit,

    I can totally understand. But don't let the fear of rejection keep you from forging foreward! The rewards are greater than the risks. :-)

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  9. Possibly for what - Rejection - is concerned my Sales Experience can help because I might be somewhat of a Rejection Expert because of it :)

    So, maybe I can give you a little perspective on this kind of 'Not Getting Results' seen from a Sales Perspective.(Btw. I do think that eventually getting published has a lot to do with being able to 'Sell' your writing.)

    In Sales Rejection is a given, there will be people out there that simply don't want what you sell, or don't need what you sell etc. etc.

    So when you start with - for example -
    saying something like:

    'To be Successful on Project - x -
    I need to have about 50 Rejections...,'


    Than when a Sales doesn't go through, you don't have to be sad that it didn't work out for three reasons, because:

    1) Now you 'Only' need to have
    49 more Rejections.

    2) You might have got interesting Feedback from your previous Rejection that can help you make the next Sale succeed.

    (a little like Edison that discoverd about 1000 way's how - Not - to make a Lamp, before he discoverd a way how to actually make a Lamp.)

    3) They might not want it in the way
    you offered it, or they might not want it now.

    I do think that such an approach can make Rejection a lot less depressing.

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  10. Good points, HP--Very enlightening. I appreciate this.

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  11. Thanks you are welcome,

    I almost forgot the thing that I think might be one of the most important things that I learned with the Sales Process and that is to 'Be In the Now' with it.

    So don't be Pre-Occupied with how good or how bad your sales where yesterday, or how frustraded you would be (in the near future) when you don't make a sale.

    Or to give it a little 'Christmas Spirit'-angle, don't bother about the 'Ghost of the Past' or the 'Ghost of the Future' just - the Now - :)

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  12. Hp,

    I like the "Ghost references". Thanks. :-)

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