A while back, I posted a business plan template for bloggers. It was well received by many people, but Mindi from Moms Need to Know was really offended that the first page included identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your competition and that the rest of the plan included words like “strategic partnership”, “threats”, etc.
Now, let me start by saying that I actually agree with her concerns about the order of the template. In my mind, I was creating a business plan for a new blog, and evaluating what’s currently available and lacking in your niche is an important way to start (it’s hard to stand out from the crowd if you’re just doing what everybody else is doing). I have a degree in business administration, and that’s the way I was taught to think about business, especially a new or expanding business.
But for established bloggers, starting with an evaluation of your competition instead of yourself does seem a little cutthroat. In fact, I’ve updated the template to switch those elements around.
But the bigger question I want to address from Mindi’s comments is this idea that blogging is about community, and therefore should not be about competition.
I absolutely love the community of the blogosphere. I’ve made a lot of friends and collaborated with a ton of different bloggers, and I really enjoy the opportunity to send traffic to other sites. If you’ve been a reader of Life Your Way for very long, I think that’s obvious by the number of link posts I do and the number of posts I share in my Tumblr.
That said, I do think that we’re competing for the attention of readers who have limited time and attention to give. That competition pushes me to look for ways to stand out, to get more creative, etc.
It’s about doing better myself, not about tearing down or stepping on my “competition”.
The question it raises is whether we can blog for business and still consider ourselves part of the community. I think we can. As Amy from The Finer Things in Life put it in the comments on that same post, “I can’t continue to invest as much time as I do (in my blog) without a monetary result.”
That means evaluating the number of subscribers and traffic stats. It means looking for ways to stand out. It means being strategic in the way you partner and collaborate with other bloggers. But I don’t think it means sacrificing the community and relationships that can be built along the way.
What do you think? Can community and competition peacefully coexist? Does wanting to grow your blog or evaluating what other people are doing make you a cutthroat blogger?