We’ve learned a great deal about the art and science of content curation from parts 1 and 2 of The Art of Curating like a PRO series. It’s time for the final part where we explore the possibilities with all the content you’ve gathered from your precious resources.
One of my favorite approaches to smartly curate content before distribution includes:
- Curating a weekly blog post
- Curating for an email newsletter
These are self-explanatory, so I won’t go into detail. Just keep these in mind while planning for email newsletters:
- Err on the side of simplicity. You may not need the bells and whistles offered by Email providers. Mailchimp or Aweber are my favorites. They’re simple to use. Also, you’re better off signing up for a 15 or 30-day trial before you start paying. Heck, you may not have to pay anything if you’re just starting out.
- Email marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. And all that start with choosing the right email service. I personally like Mailchimp for its ease of use and aesthetic look.
Alright, now let’s chat about what to do with all that content…
Read what you find!
Please don’t be that person who rants and raves about blog posts, books and seminar programs… without even reading or attending them! That will be the quickest way to tarnish your reputation.
If you’re wondering how you’d find time to read the hundreds and thousands of sources you’ve picked up during the past week… don’t worry. We’re on the same boat! I struggle to consistently find time to review the curated pieces myself. But it’s one aspect you cannot get away with.
Steven Pressfield wrote a small manifesto titled, “Do the work.” I won’t delve into details but just remember that title. It’s a good kick-in-the-butt when you start whining about all the reading you have to do. I never said this would be easy. It’s simple. Yes, but not easy.
Here are a few tips you can use to supercharge your reading:
- Use an app for all your feeds (I prefer Feedly, there are many others though). Organize these feeds by labeling them by categories. For example marketing, business, strategy, leadership, humor, philosophy etc.
- Use another app to save your favorite content from Feedly (or your favorite RSS reader). This shortlisting process has single-handedly saved thousands of hours for the best curators out there. Though there are half a dozen “read-it-later” apps out there, I prefer Pocket for its functionality (check out its distraction-free reading mode) and simplicity.
- Use a bookmark app like Delicious or StumbleUpon (two of the most popular, meaning they’re loading with content) to discover great content!
- Use an automated workflow app (IFTTT or Zapier) that’ll save important links that you find on Delicious or StumbleUpon to a Google spreadsheet or Buffer or even Evernote!
For the reading part of curation, that is it! Don’t overcomplicate this.
If you’re wondering about finding time to do all this, I honestly don’t have an answer. It’s a skill. I’m learning to come to grips on time management while juggling multiple projects myself! Nonetheless, there’s one tip I sure know works — timeboxing. The key is to guard your time and just focus on getting just one thing done at a time.
What gets measured, get’s done. In our case, this should be “what gets blocked, gets done.” (Sorry, if this sounds corny.)
Here’s what I learned from an article on Buffer:
- Schedule time for researching, reading, and collecting. You can’t research, read and collect all at the same time.
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: Research (3-5 hours)
- Friday and Saturday: Read and organize (shortlist your favorite articles to a read-it-later app or a spreadsheet via IFTTT or Zapier) (3-5 hours)
- Sunday: Shortlist or segment your collection further. Distribute/publish. (2 hours)
- If you bump into enticing content outside your research block (after or before Monday-Thursday), save those links on Evernote or perhaps email yourself. I find this better than saving to Pocket directly as it will get in the way of your batch times for reading and shortlisting. It’s a never ending process and can at times get a little too much. Keep this simple.
Supercharging your content
If you’re super competitive and want to give the best curators out there a run for their money (I’m kidding, alright?) the following tactics can help you make an impact.
- Curate from the curators. There are thousands of curators out there, but only the top 20% make a significant impact or have their voice that people respect. Your audience may or may not be aware of these people, which gives you an opportunity to introduce them to even more awesome content! (Remember, you’re their content DJ!)
- Go-to content sources. You must have a list of at least 20-25 content sources that are trustworthy and reliable. They don’t have to be ultra-popular or have millions of readers. Just focus on the credible information bit and take it easy. For example, the advertising and marketing section of the New York Times is a fantastic read! It doesn’t show up in SEO… at least not often and definitely not unless you type in the keywords “Marketing NYT.” I know, because that’s how I discovered this fantastic resource!
- Know what’s trending. One of the key reasons why I love Feedly is because of its Index view (preferences >> sidebar) which gives sight of the number of shares for each post that you see. Look out for the numbers in orange… they’re trending. So, if you’re short on time. Go for it!
Some of my favorite strategies
Curation is a highly personalized strategy, if you’re in the game for the long run, for both an individual marketer and mar-tech/mar-com companies. Here are some of my favorite approaches to content curation:
- Expert roundup post. One of the easiest posts to create. You simply gather original responses from influencers (across social media on a specific topic/question or even a pain point) and present them within a single post. For maximum effectiveness, I would focus on a burning question and tag all the major influencers out there. (Or perhaps just DM them.)
I record their responses gather, organize them, add my own flavor and/or insights on the results and present it to my audience. Don’t be afraid to mix original and curated content. For what it’s worth, the final content will be truly unique and shareable.
Best saved for topics that are asked quite frequently. Here’s a cool example that you can follow.
- Resource list. If you’re passionate about learning or self-development in general, it’s a great idea to create a repository of resources that people can refer to. Great examples include Tim Ferriss’ Book Club, James Clear’s Recommendations, and Tony Gentilcore’s Resource Library. There are many out there, but these are my favorite go-to resources.
Notice how Tim, James, and Tony handpick their best resources and organize them in a way that’s so useful for the reader to follow.
While researching for this series, I also bumped into CreativeBloq, a blog dedicated to art and design, that’s got a cool list of top online courses on learning to code.
- Broaden your scope. Instead of focusing on a narrow scope while creating content (because you need to go in great depth), curating content calls for broadening the scope. Why? Because curation does not require you to create anything, thus allowing you to capitalize on the time and giving you the freedom to not just go deep, but also wide.
- Find a unique angle. There’s a ton of content out there. Particularly in the topic, you are keen to curate. You ought to figure out a way to stand out from all that noise. And I think there are only two ways to go about that:
- Think outside your scope — dare to go far and beyond anyone can think or do. That’s a massive risk, I know, but who would have thought of the Ultimate Guide to Link Building if taking the risk wasn’t an option.
- Think bigger! — Use more case studies, white papers, and infographics. Guess what do the CXOs out there read? Not your tweets, but case studies and white papers that are game changers. Go create some and see what happens! You’ll thank me for this.
- Think different — The best way to stand out from an overly saturated market of Digital Marketing will be to niche it down to the specifics. Just this morning I was listening to a podcast where a Dentist shares how she organizes workshops on Facebook Marketing for Dentists! Now, that’s what I call different!
Expanding your influence
There are no shortcuts to increasing your influence. It doesn’t happen overnight but over time (I know, I know… it’s become sort of a soundbite… but sure it sticks! No?). The quickest way to increase influence is to go out there and share valuable information that people care about. Simple.
And don’t get lazy when it comes to presenting your content (created or curated) professionally. You’ve already invested a lot of time in researching, organizing and adding insights to your content. It’s worth the extra time to design it professionally.
Someone said, “If you want readers to think of your content as a BIG DEAL, make it look like one.”
That said, you really don’t have to hire a designer to visualize your content. Simple text would do. Just ensure that it’s formatted correctly. Check out Paul Jarvis’ newsletter to know what I’m talking about.
Finally, you need to choose your medium wisely. Don’t try to present and distribute to all the 713 social networks out there. Just focus on the top three to five networks that you want to focus on (less is more) and take it from there.
Your blog will be your home base, so ensure that you route all content distribution through it. Why even bother? More content on your site. Your editorial calendar will be happy. More readers. Improved post rankings in search engines. Intelligent curation just puts you out there! That said, don’t try to be just post curated content. Google will sniff you out and throw you in the corner somewhere… never to be found again. Use your brain. And don’t overthink.
For starters, I would personally go for a weekly curated newsletter and perhaps a couple of curated posts every month. The rest of the content will be original. I’m focusing on building my email list, LinkedIn presence, and my blog.
The most important aspect to remember is value creation. There are no other alternatives. If you’re not creating value, you’re creating clutter. And wasting everyone’s time.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite curators and sources that I draw inspiration from, and I hope you will too! A fitting conclusion to this epic series on the art and science of curation.
- Ann Friedman
- Make Change
- Inside’s Daily Brief
- Rand Fishkin, Moz
- Hiten Shah
- Brain Pickings
- Jason Kottke
- John Guber