Fear Of Competition Is Bullshit (or Why Competition Is Your Friend)


“Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie

I get a lot of e-mails asking if particular niches are good. Usually it goes something like: “Should I launch a Web site/blog/product in a competitive niche? Isn’t it too difficult if there are tons of competitors?”

Competition doesn’t matter. In many cases, the more competition the better. The fear of competition is all in your head.

Get out of your head and take massive action.

Let’s say you wanted to start a new blog in the simplicity niche.

How many blogs are already in that niche? Too many to count.

How many are successful? Quite a few.

Let’s start at the top: ZenHabits.net. Leo Babauta has 170k+ subscribers! And a print book. And eBooks. And a blog coaching program. And 2 other successful blogs! Leo has created a massive movement. That’s scary competition, right?

Or maybe not.

When you find a “competitor” who seems like they have a stranglehold of the marketplace that’s a good thing. It means the niche is thriving and you have a better chance of getting a piece of the pie.

Know this: The pie is not finite!

The pie grows to support new thought leaders. It will feed as many mouths as is necessary. If you provide the new ingredients, it will take care of the rest. Bigger pans, bigger window sills (for cooling, duh!).

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Your Biggest Competitors

The people at the top aren’t usually evil. (And if some of them are, who cares?) The more success more people have in a niche, the more the pie grows and the more everybody succeeds. Again, the pie is not finite.

Successful people understand the abundance mindset. They know the pie is not finite, and they’re happy to share ideas to make the pie bigger.

More than likely if you talk to some of the top dogs in your chosen niche they will be happy to provide you with some advice. That doesn’t mean you should abuse this ability to connect with them. But a short, succinct, e-mail (short e-mail = very important) asking for a bit of specific advice (also very important) will usually be met with kindness.

I’ve e-mailed some people who I never thought would e-mail me back. Much less with quality suggestions/ideas/tips instead of a simple “cool, keep doing what you’re doing!” or whatever.

Destroy Your Fear Of Competition In The Next 7 Minutes

This is what you need to do:

1) Choose your 3 biggest “competitors.” It doesn’t matter who they are, how famous they are, or how much you look up to them. Get out of your head! As the guys from The Ren Men Show (<– amazing) would say: “Get off the bench!” Meaning, play the game!

2) Come up with a very succinct question that you need help with.

3) Send each a personalized e-mail. Your whole e-mail should be no more thanĀ 5 sentences. No long diatribes. Brevity is key.

I think you’ll be happily surprised with what happens. :)

Do you still fear competition?


  1. Well put Karol. I think it’s easy to try and “compete.” I think you’re probably in the wrong mindset to begin with if you’re looking at “competitors.” More likely, you can look at these sites as potential allies in your niche, there to pull you up to the top, rather than to keep you on the bottom.

    • Thanks William. I had a lot of info about allies that I deleted. Wanted to just cut to the chase. :) But you’re right on, it’s all about looking at others in your niche as allies.

  2. This post is a good one. There may be a lot of competition in a given area, but you know, everyone is different. Everyone has a slightly (or not so slightly) different take on things that will certainly register with like mindsets.

    I used to read Leo’s blog and then I saw Karol’s guest post about hmmm… doing the laundry thing, can’t remember what it was called. The variety of topics here is greater and that captures my interest. Now I come here EVERY day and pop over to ZenHabits every now and then.

    I don’t know, if you got something to say, say it; you got something you want to do, do it. Like that semi-colon a few words back. I don’t even know if I used it correctly, but sometimes it feels good to just try.
    Happy Earth Day, people!

    • Thank you Glenn, I appreciate that! Writing about such a variety of topics is actually a bad idea, but if I don’t there is no way I would actually enjoy doing what I’m doing. And I love writing this blog.

      I don’t know if you used that semi-colon correctly, but kudos for doing it anyway! ;)

      “you got something you want to do, do it.” <– Yes!

  3. Reframing your perspective of ‘competition’ is key to finding your individual voice, as Glenn mentioned. Everyone is different; they excel at different points, have different attributes, etc. Besides, it’s the underdogs’ consistent pressure in any field that keeps the quality good. If the big guys slack off, the readers will seek out what else is out there. Competition in this respect is beneficial to the whole movement/topic/niche.

  4. Nah, don’t worry about post length. I just went ridiculously overboard and posted over five THOUSAND words in one post, and it’s generating more comments already than most other posts. Don’t cut back on good content!! ;)

    Great thoughts by the way – I’ve been getting in touch with my “competitors” (or allies as mentioned above) and am surprised to see that they are very very glad to get in touch with me when I thought they’d never even reply. Always worth it for the sake of an e-mail!

    • Thanks Benny. I don’t worry about post length so much as I just like short articles. I don’t usually read long-winded diatribes and minimalism, in and of itself, is about brevity. That said, my longest posts also have the most comments/traffic. Self sabotage? :) hehe

  5. Hey Karol—

    This comment is mainly for your other readers as you know my story Karol….

    I did this exact thing. I am proof.

    Leo Babauta is huge. I have tried to emulate much of his simplistic ways and shared my ideas (as you well know). And this is what I’ve gotten…

    I sent Leo a link to one of my early articles….He retweeted it. I started to gain some subscribers and kept the ball rolling. I started offering an ebook. Then I wrote a paid ebook. Leo continued to mention a few of my articles and then my paid ebook. My site continued to take off. After developing this relationship, I decided to ask Leo if I could submit a specific article to ZenHabits. He accepted and I woke this morning to HUGE traffic and a great new following. Leo posted my guest post at ZenHabits and today has been the greatest day in my blogging career.

    To all you RE readers. I am not trying to brag. I am trying to show you that if you put time and effort in, you can be a part of any niche. Competition is awesome.

    David Damron
    The Minimalist Path

  6. karol, you are always one of the first bloggers i read when something new pops up on the feed. i love your approach and attitude and sometimes i think you are me if i were a guy in my mid-20’s (snicker). seriously, though, the world is a big, big place and constantly refreshing itself as people die and people grow up, writers and readers alike. no two of us are exactly the same, and no one of us has all the answers for another. peace.

  7. Re “Writing about such a variety of topics is actually a bad idea”. If you say so, I won’t argue, but I will echo Glenn. I enjoy the variety–and you’re never dull. Maybe the search engines won’t like you as much, but we do. :-)
    This post echo’s a believe I’ve held for a long time, but it’s certainly not a few held by all. Not sure what else you could have said without widening the topic.

    Here’s to greater and greater abundance,

    • Hi Pat,

      Thank you. I mean from a niche marketing/targeting perspective it’s a bad idea to write about a variety of topics. That said, everything I write about has the core theme of Freedom, and that’s what this site is about.


  8. As always, kick ass post.
    Some of the best advice I’ve received was from top-dog architect/developers that I was intimidated by. Brief, to the point email questions were almost always emailed with helpful advice. Don’t be scared to ask questions from those doing what you want to do!

    • Thanks for your example Adam! I hope it pushes others to actually take action and contact the people they’re “afraid” of. :)

  9. Hey Karol

    Great article and site overall. I’ve never really made comments but just watched your video on paying bloggers so (bowing my head in shame) thought it’s about time to start!

    Keep up the good work – I always feel more motivated aafter reading your posts



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