You’ve probably heard that comparison is the thief of joy. We think it’s the key to your next breakthrough.
Hear us out. Whether you’re just starting your blogging journey, or you’ve spent a decade navigating the world of food media, one of the most important tools to sustainable growth is research. And more research. We’re not talking about mindlessly scrolling Instagram, falling victim to comparing yourself to bloggers in your category who are churning out highly engaged, curated content while you feel like you’ve hit a plateau.
When we say research, we mean a strategic analysis of the blogs, websites, people, and products (magazines, podcasts, etc.) that are working in direct competition with you. This is your marketplace, and knowing your marketplace is key to your growth and evolution.
Finding your place on the web, that corner of the marketplace that only you can fill, is all about understanding what’s unique about you.
How to Create Your Competitive Set
The process of creating a strong brand gets its start with a researched and considered understanding of your marketplace. From there, you can narrow your view and create a list that focuses on your specific category. As an example, your marketplace might be “cooking” and your category might be “baking.”
What we call your “competitive set” is category-specific. In other words, it’s those brands that align with your content and audience. When you study your list, you’re looking to understand the big picture, while also zeroing in on those brands that most resemble you.
Your focus should be on the brands, both big and small, who are thinking differently, serving their audience well, and generating buzz. Take note of the similarities and differences between your brand and theirs, along with strengths and weaknesses.
The Opportunity Gap
So how does this research help you? It helps you see a specific “gap” in the marketplace, and it helps you understand how you — your expertise, your perspective, your story — can fill that gap.
Consider that gap a window of opportunity. Use it to help you zero in on what’s unique about your brand — how it makes you different and at the same time makes the most of everything you bring to the work you do. That knowledge becomes the DNA that structures your brand and, at the same time, makes it unique among all the others out there.
Food blogging is a crowded space. Finding your place on the web, that corner of the marketplace that only you can fill, is all about understanding what’s unique about you, and how to turn that quality into great content — the kind of content that your reader really needs.
Establishing your competitive set is the first step in this process and, like we said at the beginning, the key to your next and most important breakthrough.