I'm not talking about the entire online community that creates what you create, but those few selected artists or business owners that are working in the same medium, style, or have the same product.
As a jewelry designer when I am looking at what people are selling on Etsy I don't look at the jewelry category. One because it's just too large, and two because I don't consider everyone who makes jewelry as competition.
I only look at a couple of categories, artists who are making jewelry with hardware and industrial items. By doing this I can see what people are buying and the designs that are selling.
By keeping an eye on what's happening in my niche market, it's easier for me to make plans for my own business. I know the market is big enough for all of us, but by checking out my competition I know what I need to do to make my items stand out.
• Make a list of other artists or business leaders, who are working in the same niche, that you admire.
• Review their website, and check out their feedback.
•Create a list:
What do you admire about them or their work?
What tool are they using to promote their business? (newsletter, social media, etc...)
What are their policies? Customer service?
What makes them unique?
Now look over your list, do you notice any patterns? What are they doing you are not doing? Can in incorporate of those ideas into your business?
Checking out the competition on a regular basis should be part of your monthly or quarterly plan. The more you know the better your business will be, and that will guide you to become the business that everyone wants to admire.
How often do you look at your competition?