The art of curating like a PRO, part 2

In part 1 we discussed the whats and whys behind curation in addition to the strategies we can adopt to take it to a decent level. Now we go deeper. Moreover, that is what curation is all about — going deeper and mastering the art.

So, how do we become master curators ourselves?

A few assumptions before we dive deep into this. I presume you:

  • Have a clear understanding that you will not become an overnight sensation. One builds trust over time. Not overnight.
  • Now know who your audience is — if not, you need to do know that before you go any further. Here’s why it is important: you will be during this every freaking day of your life. Why bother doing something that you don’t love or do something for others when clearly there aren’t many takers? Be purposeful.
  • Are not focusing on monetization but building an audience. If money is all that matters to you, don’t even bother—this isn’t for you. Curation is a long-term strategy; it’s a “practice” not just a random job. It will help you gain insights on the key innovations and happenings in and around your industry. Which automatically puts you ahead of your competition. Sharing what you know simply skyrockets the trust level with people who most likely will end up as your passionate follower.
  • Are committed to being consistent. It’s difficult I know, but curation is much easier than creating your content from scratch. The time investment required for identifying your topic, researching on it, outlining your thoughts for the blog post/article, developing the post, editing it and finally publishing quite a lot compared to discovering valuable content, organize them, adding comments and sharing with your audience. If that is challenging, reduce the number of times you will put out curated content. And stick with it. Doesn’t have to be every day. Every week should do. If that’s demanding as well, try every other week. Or perhaps once every month. Just make sure that the content you curate isn’t just good, but darn good!

Alright, let’s get into this already.

Based on the topic and the audience that you’re focusing on, picking just one or two subjects that you like. Don’t cover it all. Stay focused. Just one. Or two, but that should be it.

I think I read this somewhere, “when you market yourself as a content curator, you have the same challenges as a brand.” And you definitely would want people to label you as the “marketing guy” or the “white paper guy” or the “social media expert.” Tread carefully, stay ultra-focused. Don’t try to do it all.

  • Focus on quality — you have to make sure that the stuff that you share with people is literally, the “cream of the crop.” Your responsibility is to make sure that you act as their filter and give them pure and fresh content that is not easy. People should start to count on you for this type of content that you’re putting out on a regular basis.
  • Better the quality, the more they will share and recommend you to others. Quality can make or break you as a curator. Think about it; you would place the best works of local artists you have access to than your five-year old’s doodles. Would you? (And I’m sure your five-year-old would become a great artist someday. Mine surely would. Someday.)
  • Another jibe on consistency. Share content that is at your audience’s level of understanding. If your audience is small and medium businesses with a penchant for digital marketing, don’t share content that a CTO would relish. Likewise, don’t share content that talks about marketing challenges of a Fortune 500 when your audience is bootstrapping. Talk sense. And always curate for your audience. Just like you would write for them.
  • If possible, try to brand yourself as the content curator, not your company. I think Kevin Less said it the best, “Companies try to “humanize” but people don’t try to “corporatise.”

Here’s the challenge with viral content or the ones that rank higher on Business Insider or BuzzSumo — almost everyone would have read them. What makes you stand out is that you’re sharing content that nobody has ever seen! Think of how people position you in their minds just because you took the road less traveled? It’s priceless!

I think Gary Vaynerchuk describes this the best: you’re a content DJ sharing them what you think is the best. You’re always on a lookout for newer, cooler music nobody has ever heard. And you’re their go-to person to get entertained.

All this stuff about digging up great content — how do I find great content?

As a content curator, sharing valuable content that nobody has ever heard or seen positions, you like the trend finder, a trend analyst that people can trust.

The leading question, however, is how do I find great content? It’s not rocket science. It’s simple; you just need to use some of the free tools below and some logic and presence of mind.

1. Use RSS
Using spreadsheets to track your favorite websites is so-early-2000s! Not that I don’t use spreadsheets anymore for something like this… but it’s so much easier to organize data these days. I used Google Reader, before swapping it for (well, forced to… Google shut it off!) Feedly. The key is to organize all the sources that you follow for information and put them together in one place.

The best part about Feedly is that it shows a share count for content that is performing well across the web and socials. This share count makes finding viral content much easier. You have a clear view of what’s working and what’s not working. However, as I mentioned before sharing content that’s already doing well doesn’t stand out.

You need to plug-in your go-to sources that publish relevant content (some of the time if not all the time) and share it with your audience. That’s why they need you. And that’s how you stand out.

Remember the Pareto Principle? It applies to content curation too! 80% of your good stuff will come from 20% of your trusted sources. And yes, you will have to dig deep.

My recommendation will be to search for keywords like #marketing, #contentmarketing or #smallbusinesses in Feedly and add in whatever sources you can add. Once you have added sources, it is time to review the content the sources churn out. Observe what’s good out there and start the process of whittling down the sources. Keep only the ones that you think provide the most value. Chuck out the rest.

2. Explore the following sources:

BuzzSumo
Medium Collections. Log in and find out what’s waiting for you… for now check this site out
SlideShare
Alltop.com
Twitter Search
Google+ Communities
Quora
Youtube.com
BoingBoing.net

Want more? Here are another 17 sources (a big shout out to the folks at Buffer!):

http://blog.bufferapp.com/17-unique-places-to-find-great-content-to-share

Alright, I’ve got content. What’s next?

Don’t just share the content! Make it somewhat better! I hate it when most people just share content. Not that I haven’t done that myself but now that I know better, I do try to share my thoughts on the content that I’m sharing with people. I feel that’s my responsibility. Otherwise, it’s just ordinary content.

Adding context makes you a notch better than 80% of the content curators out there. Your audience will appreciate the time you’ve given to read the content and share your point of view with them. It’s what makes content more engaging. So, don’t just share stuff. Read them too! Moz’s Rand Fishkin does this regularly. He makes sure to add his flavor to the posts that he curates with intelligent and witty commentary that’s truly him! And that’s become his brand’s voice.

You can replicate this by just adding your personal touch to the content you’re curating.

Focus on value. Irrespective of your industry and trend everyone appreciates staying informed without investing a lot of time. And that’s where you come in the picture. If you can cut through the clutter and provide just the information people need — that’s creating value. And that’s how you build trust and a loyal fan base. Remember, Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Jab, jab, jab, right hook”? Give, give, give and then ask. The relationships that you build will always transcend the products that you create.

Newsletters. They’re back! And I just get the feeling that they’re here to stay. A newsletter is a powerful way to spread ideas quicker. It’s the smart curator’s strategy to explore subjects that the audience will resonate with while efficiently establishing a brand voice. My advice will be to keep it simple. Focus on content first. If you’re not providing them the best content out there, you’re wasting everyone’s time. So, content first. Design can wait. Check out Quartz Daily Brief and Redef for inspiration. They will blow you away!

That’s it for now! I’ll be back with Part 3 for cool tools and resources that you can check out to get rolling with curating content like a pro!

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