There is no new idea under the sun, which makes setting yourself apart from the competition quite hard. I faced this problem when I became a travel blogger and content creator.
I launched my travel blog in February 2020 with big plans, but we all know how that turned out. The pandemic hit literary one month later. So, not only was I joining a highly competitive travel industry, but it was at the worst possible time.
You’d think I would have pivoted to an industry less dependent on travel, like lifestyle or beauty, but I didn’t. Three years down the line, and I’m still going strong. Although the vision has changed as I gain more clarity on where I’m taking my brand, my perseverance and authenticity have kept me going.
I still don’t have all the answers, but I’m learning and growing every day, and in this post, I’ll share my best tips on surviving and potentially thriving in the cut-throat world of content creation. However, before I do that, here’s how I’ve been able to reframe my perspective.
I see opportunity in competition
When entering a new market or industry, perception is everything. Building a brand as a travel blogger hasn’t been easy, especially at the beginning when it seemed like everyone was creating travel content, but instead of letting fear deter me from this path, I saw an opportunity.
1. Use it as a blueprint
When I started creating content, I used other travel creators as my blueprint. I was able to build on the foundation they had laid and improve on what was being created. Their content informed mine – showing me the type of content my potential audience enjoyed and also revealing gaps of information in the market.
As content creator Skylar Marshai said, when the market is competitive, “you skip the guesswork on whether a market is viable.” Based on the engagement creators in your chosen niche are getting, you can gauge if it’s either a fast-growing or dying industry.
2. Shift your mindset
With many creators in the travel industry, all of whom have varying numbers of followers, I am fortunate enough to be coming in at a time when micro and nano influencers are being recognized. This is because smaller creators who have come before me have fought to be taken seriously and paid fairly regardless of their following.
Engagement, style, brand alignment, and quality are now considered important criteria for brands working with travel creators – a person’s following is no longer the sole determinant of their worth. This has given me the confidence and audacity I need to survive in such a competitive industry.
It’s because of them I am able to charge upwards of $900 for a 15 to 60-second TikTok video with a following of 11,500. I don’t charge for the number of followers I have but the quality of content I create, my individuality and my engagement.
3. Become more innovative
When dealing with a lot of competition, you are pushed to be your best self – in it, you become a better creative, more innovative, and less complacent. The fear of getting drowned out by new creators in the market or having your work go unseen is enough to push you to constantly find ways to stand out.
How I am surviving and “possibly” thriving in a saturated market
1. I found my unique edge
There’s a lot of advice out there about carving out a niche. In the travel industry, this could mean creating content centered around budget, luxury, adventure, or solo travel. However, some of these niches evolve based on different phases of your life.
For example, in your early 20’s, your niche may be budget travel, but as you get older, you lean towards luxury travel. This transition may not resonate with the people who connected with your budget travel content and introducing a new type of content may be difficult. So I say, instead of finding a niche, find your unique edge – this helps set you apart and gives you the freedom to explore every niche there is.
Some people create content around traveling the world with a weak passport. I am trying to set myself apart and become known for my good storytelling – a traveler who goes off the beaten path while highlighting the lesser-known parts of a country and its culture.
I have seen what other travelers create, and I’m trying to get deeper with my content, make it less surface, and create deeper connections with my audience. I have only started implementing this, so the results are pending (lol).
2. I am trying to remain authentic and remember my ‘why’
Let’s talk about imposter syndrome and self-doubt.
All creators have felt this at some point in their content creation journey, and the feeling never fully goes away because there will always be people with larger followings or better engagement. This is something I struggle with, and I have been creating travel content for almost four years.
When I’m not traveling, and I run out of content, the desire to “try” a new niche is very strong, and it doesn’t get easier when I see the travel content published by other creators.
It makes me want to give up, but something that has kept me going is remembering my “why.” Why I started creating travel content, my goal, and who I am creating for. We can easily get distracted by metrics like views, likes, and followers, but staying true to your purpose and remaining authentic to your brand will be worth it in the long run.
In 2020, things were not moving fast enough for me. I had canceled many international trips and was tempted to pivot from travel to lifestyle content. However, I constantly reminded myself of my “why, ” which ensured I didn’t make any off-brand decisions.
One way I’ve remained authentic is by staying true to my style of content, vlog-style short-form videos, which I love creating and my audience loves consuming. I stopped listening to advice from experts predicting 5 to 10 second long videos as the future because now, storytelling videos are some of my highest-performing content.
3. I am offering as much value as I can
It doesn’t matter if one person or a million people watch my content – something I always keep in mind is that regardless of how well or poorly my content is performing, at least one person sees value in it. This perspective ensures I give my 100 percent each time because if my quality drops or I put very little effort into it, my one viewer will notice.
*The video above has 3,700 views but 86 saves, 28 shares, and 39 comments. It may not have done incredible numbers by Instagram standards, but people found value in it.
Video and content quality is the only thing I have control over on third-party platforms like TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram, so even when my engagement is low, I still need to be proud of the content I’ve put out.
As a creator, you must provide your audience with as much value as you can and give them a reason to keep coming back. This is how you cut through the noise.
4. I put myself out there
Let people know who you are! Think of yourself as a small business owner. If you had a business, would you be afraid to market it, or would you tell every new person you met about it? Probably the latter.
Then why is it so difficult to market yourself as a creator? It’s the exact same thing, except you’re selling yourself, your skills, and your expertise.
I am learning that there is nothing wrong with sharing my wins and giving myself as much visibility as possible. I have started pitching myself to brands I never dreamt of working with, but if other people are getting these opportunities, why not me? My content is just as good, so why won’t I be chosen?
I have gone the extra mile by joining affiliate and influencer platforms like Matador Creators, Travel Payouts, and Aspire, and within a month, I landed a partnership with a travel luggage brand that aligned with my audience.
5. I collaborate with other creators
The power of collaboration is amazing. There is value in viewing an industry as a community, not competition. It fosters healthy relationships and emphasizes that one person’s success is not another person’s loss.
The unfortunate timing of the launch of my travel blog meant I had no content. So, I prioritized domestic travel and went on several trips – daycations and staycations with other creators. They shared our trips on their personal pages, introducing me to their audience and, in turn, growing my following.
Travel content creation can be very lonely, especially for solo travelers like myself, so having a community of peers who value my work, speak my name in rooms I’m not in, and recommend me for paid opportunities is truly priceless.
Take this as your sign to reach out to creators you admire and want to work with, you really have nothing to lose.
6. I have set a standard for myself
After following the first five steps, the only thing left is to keep up the momentum. All the effort you have put into your brand and content will be wasted without consistency.
So, set a standard for yourself and create a content calendar that details the type of content you’ll create and how often the content will be published.
It’s not impossible to thrive in a competitive market
You have an unfair advantage entering a competitive market as a new creator. There is a clear content creation path mapped out, you know the gaps that need filling and you have countless data on what your target audience is looking for. A competitive market gives you the leg up you need to set yourself apart, to thrive, and not just survive.
So, use it wisely.