I am creating an ecourse right now on WordPress tech. What of my competition? Actually, all things considered, I shouldn’t even bother to create the course as there are a ton of courses out there in that sphere. Who am I to add to the volume or even think my voice and take on the subject is worthy of someone’s cash?
You see, there’s barely a day when my inner voice / critic doesn’t surface raising these issues. And this is not an uncommon feeling among solo- and infopreneurs. How many of you feel eaten up by jealousy that someone has a super slick ecourse or product out there bagging, apparently, a six-figure income. They roll it out again, this time there’s an urgency about it as there’s only X hours left to sign up for some super bonus offer and only X nr of limited places on their twice a year course. They must be on to something, you think. But how are you ever going to come close to their success?
That feeling of defeat before you’ve even sniffed victory, before your service or product is even named let alone seen by a few clients is all too familiar. But, take heart, because the fact that you’ve competition is actually a good thing if you just learn to manage your gut reactions and don’t follow your inner critic for once.
You need to put your competition to work – to work for you. I’ve analyzed how I manage my so-called competition and come up with a five-point plan of what to do when you’re spending those hours beginning and end day snooping around their sales pages and signing up for any free opt-ins going.
1. It’s how you view the competition’s grass, not how green is it
First, don’t get stressed by the back stories. While most people are genuinely honest and give you volumes of real back story to back up their rags to riches claims, you need to remember that this crafting of a good back story is to sell their service and products to people other than you. You need to cut through the sales’ funnel crescendo and analyse their methods rather than get upset by the sense of the scripting. You are not about to do their course but you do need to know how the strategies they use to pitch it.
For instance, many of the names selling ecourses about how to create an ‘awesome online course’, say that when they started out they knew nothing about ecourses and were fumbling around with everything from technology to learning methodologies and sales pages. Their pressure tactics is time. You don’t want to waste time trying to find out all by yourself. They will hand hold you through their now slick process of how to create ‘x’. Tempting isn’t it?
The take out from this is that if they started with zilch experience but grew fab courses, then you can too. So, take your own product and service and jot down what your own path to creating it was. It was born of hard graft. A hobby-passion that’s now capable of being a business. You took action to create it after a friend you were such a good teacher?
You are bound to have your own strong back story spelling out why you are able to offer your service and products confidently to others. Don’t do yourself down. Be as confident as your competition and come up with around 3 to 5 points about your learning curve and how you are the go-to for whatever it is you’re thinking of offering.
2. Strategic snooping
Of course we all need to look at and listen to the competition. I expect, like me, you’ve a good many ‘competitors’ in your various social feeds. But instead of feeling inadequacy when they create an amazing viral post on Instagram or get retweeted zillions of times, take a long hard look at what makes their voice so successful and also at what you dislike or makes you cringe.
Limit the times you do go to suss them out. Set aside a half hour on Monday mornings or Sunday evenings. Jot down what aspects make their business and social feeds successful and also what you could improve on. They are bound to have Achilles heels. Remember, you are not aiming to mimic them but to assess their sound business strengths and weaknesses.
For example, you might find that they run an ace Instagram feed with consistency in posting, in voice and in style. You might see how they use Instagram to market – taking a softly, softly approach of posting about their own business offer only every fourth post. And linking strategically from their bio to a specific sales funnel page. Your job is to assess what works and how, and understand how it might apply to your own sales strategy, for example.
3. There’s someone for everyone
Just because someone is in your sphere doesn’t mean you won’t find your own tribe. The fact that they are making cash in your field means you can too. It’s the old proof of concept thing. I hedge this with ‘can’, because you will need to work hard and market harder. In fact, market before you even finish your product or service to perfection.
I can’t even begin to count the number of WordPress courses and blogs out there but that won’t deter me. It did in the past, but now, in 2016, I am damned if I am not going to add to the cacophony! How do I know I have a latent tribe out there? I don’t know for certain but I do know that if my competitors started not knowing – and, according to their back stories, they just got their courses out there come what may. So I am going to give it my best shot. I won’t be the sole person in my space but if I get marketing where my potential tribe hangs out – be it via posts on Medium, Instagram, hanging out in relevant Facebook groups and strategic Tweeting – I have as much chance as the competition did when starting out.
Remember, there are horses for courses and you will appeal to some, not all. Don’t panic if you get subscribers who then drop away. All the better that you are marketing to people who are genuinely interested. They are more likely to be your advocates later on than the half-hearted who may feel sold something they didn’t want. If you create an honest business offer, and don’t flinch in giving value over and above expectations, you will find a loyal tribe. A good policy is to give away exceptional quality for free. Fans will be bowled over by your free stuff and be left in no doubt that your paid-for offer will be even more valuable.
If you’ve competitors, then that means there’s cash on the table right now out there that you’re not taking. Simply because you’re not a player out there yet. Get your skates on as every day passing is cash in someone else’s pocket, not yours!
4. Define your own niche and voice
Don’t try to adopt even one iota of your competition’s style. By this I mean don’t use words, colours, graphics or other icons in your blog, site, social media and so on that you simply don’t say, like or use naturally. I once tried to write a sales page using words like ‘awesome’. I’d seen how this word was used liberally in my sphere and seemed to be the ‘in’ thing to coin. But, and a big but, I just don’t go around saying ‘awesome’! I use British English, and I am not a millennial! I just can’t get the word to sit with who I am. It was a hard lesson, but I’ve ditched any vocab, colours, tone and everything else that competitors use but which just aren’t me.
I am purposely not saying the glib ‘be unique’, as we’ve all heard that one. Being unique in your field simply means being yourself. We’re naturally unique if we stick to being just us – using the language we usually use, writing how we usually write. Of course, adopt tactics but find your own voice first.
5. Live your life fully
A strange point this one? Think about it – while you’re eaten up with envy you’re stopping your feel-good endorphins from getting to work positively for you.
Feelings of reproach, jealousy and defeat only play into the hands of so-called competition. Don’t give in to these. Just be your honest, genuine self in all your dealings online. Clients will be savvy enough to sort the wheat from the chaff and you’ll have your tribe, come what may. Playing out your battles online and broadcasting them to your community will only alienate as you will force your customers and fans to ‘take sides’. No one wins in this situation.
I hope these points have raised issues and given some food for thought on the question of how to carve your own path in an inevitably, highly competitive online world. The solo infopreneur has more than a fair share of these issues to tackle. A last word: be true to yourself; no one can fault you for that!