Building Relationships in Your Niche – People Matter

Building Relationships in Your NicheWhen you do the competition analysis of your niche, it’s easy to start thinking about how you can outrank the people already in your niche and forget that you should be spending just as much (or more) time thinking about how you can collaborate with the people already there.

The vast majority of people running blogs or podcasts are doing it because they love their niche.  They’re enthusiastic about talking to other passionate people and don’t really see them as some sort of threat.

Why Relationships With Your Peers Matter

So why go through the effort of making friends with your “competitors?”  (I actually prefer to call them peers.) There are many reasons, but here are a few:

  • Cross Promotion:  If you pump up their stuff to your audience and vice versa, then everyone gets more eyeballs on their content.  If you’re not competing directly with identical products, this is a win-win.
  • Backlinks:  Google loves good quality, relevant backlinks.  It’s probably the most important factor for Search Engine Optimization.  Part of the reason for this is that they’re hard to get.  Bloggers who know and like you are far more likely to give you a link.
  • Joint Ventures:  You can’t be expert at everything.  Why not collaborate with somebody else to create the perfect product?  Or maybe you can promote somebody else’s product as an affiliate.
  • Friendship:  Maybe this one should have been first.  Your spouse thinks you’re a bit nuts for what you’re doing online.  Your friends don’t really get it.  Your mother’s never heard of a blog.  Sometimes you need a peer to reach out to.  Who better than somebody in your own niche who understands the whole picture of what you’re trying to do and why?

How Do You Build Relationships With Other Bloggers?

It’s actually not that hard.  The easiest thing to do is to do them a favour.

It’s easiest to start with the up and comers.  In some niches you might get noticed by the big names, but in most you’ll be targeting people just like you or who’ve been blogging for a few years.

(You can use the Moz Bar to check domain authority to see how useful backlinks will be, but SEO isn’t everything.)

Here’s the patented Online Passive Income Journey blogger relationship building formula(TM):

  1. Read through the blog, make some comments, sign up for the mailing list, and follow them on social media.  A medium-sized blogger will probably already notice this sort of activity.
  2. Next, retweet or share some of their social media posts.  Maybe comment on their facebook page.  You can even direct message them a few times.  You’re warming them up for the big one:
  3. Link to their content on your blog and then tell them that you did it.  Just complement them on a great article and then say you linked to it and provide a link back to the article so they can check it out.

You’re being a genuinely nice person, but you’re also playing on two basic human traits: vanity and reciprocity.  They will want to check out what you said about them and they’ll feel like your favour should be returned.

That makes it sound a bit like manipulation, but you’re just doing good deeds for the people around you and trusting that the basic goodness of others will mean that good things will flow back to you.  And they will.

If you do enough random acts of kindness in your niche, you will be rewarded with camaraderie, tweets, and backlinks.

A Case Study

So let’s look at a concrete example.

I’ve been following a particular podcast for a couple of years.  I knew that sailing was related to it, though it wasn’t the direct topic, but I linked to the podcast in my resources page. I then emailed the podcaster and told him about the link and thanked him for all the great inspiration he’s given me over the years.

I was actually completely shocked when he wrote back and suggested he interview me for his podcast.  I may or may not have jumped out of bed and done a little dance!

So with this relationship success under my belt, I decided to try to leverage my new-found credibility as an interviewee for the podcast into more relationships.

The podcast is focused on families, so I wrote a post about sailing with kids to direct people to.  As part of the post, I highlighted three cruising families who have large blogs with large traffic.

I contacted each of the three bloggers and told them that I had been interviewed and was putting this post together to help promote family sailing.  I said that I wanted to feature their family as role models and asked for permission to use a photograph from their blog (with proper attribution).

All three responded enthusiastically, and when the blog went live I reached back out to them and they promoted the post on their social media accounts.

I played up the interaction on social media with them a bit by acting very star-struck (which I was) and thanking them for promoting the article.  This conversation was public, so it gave me great social proof and kept getting the article in front of my and their audiences.

The results?  That one post got nearly 1000 page views on its first day and I now have longstanding relationships with three of the biggest bloggers in the family sailing and cruising sub-niche.

Oh, and it was also really fun!


So next time you’re going to link to a post, why not email or direct message the author and see where it can take you?

What tips or stories do you have about making relationships with other bloggers online?  Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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