Let’s Talk About How to Start Curating Content

One of the great things about my particular community, I’ve discovered, is that people aren’t afraid to ask me questions. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been writing a lot about curating content online both here and at 12most.com. Martina McGowan tweeted me and said, “This all sounds great. How do I get started though?”

That’s a pretty good question, and in fact, Martina’s question sparked the idea not just for this post but also for the entire “Let’s Talk About” series. So thanks, Martina!

How I got started curating content

I’ve said it before, and I’ll very probably say it again, but I feel curating content is very much like generating content in that everyone needs to find their own way to do it. If you look at one of Ingrid Abboud’s post round-ups they are very different from those that Jason Sokol does. Both of them curate differently than I do. No way is right or wrong, and I’m sure we all got started in different ways, too. So, I’m just going to tell you what I know, which is how I got started curating content.

The fact is, I started gathering posts because I felt like I was really slacking when it came to reading peoples’ blogs. When I first started doing this “social media stuff,” I started blogging and tweeting at the same time. I figured if I was going to tweet, I should have a way to prove I can talk in more than 140-character phrases, and I figured if I was going to blog, I should have a way to promote what I was doing. What I quickly discovered, however, was that just promoting my own content was not all that exciting for me or for my followers. I needed to pass along information that was interesting to other people.

At first, I tried to go the newsy route. I would go to sites like BtoBonline.com or Mashable. The thing is, everybody goes to those sites. There are Twitter accounts that already flash their headlines out. I wasn’t really performing a great service for anybody, and I wasn’t supporting the bloggers I was getting to know, either. So, I started reading blogs, but then I found that I just kept going to the same sites over and over. That wasn’t good either.

At my wit’s end, I decided to start something I called “30 Thursday.” My goal was to read enough posts so that I could promote my 30 favorites every Thursday. If you think that’s a lot of reading, you’re absolutely right, but here’s the little trick I tried that helped out a lot. When I first started curating content, I didn’t just choose posts I liked. I also asked people to let me know what they were reading that they liked. A lot of people took advantage of this opportunity, and when I did my round-ups I would credit those people by saying, “Xyz brought this post to my attention…” This helps you build your community on a lot of different levels, it exposes you to content you might not otherwise have seen, and you get to network with the new bloggers, too. It worked out pretty well for me in terms of teaching me the ropes of the online world.

My advice to you

If you want to get started curating some content, there are lots of different paths you could set your feet on. The most important thing is to make sure you keep it manageable. Like most facets of the online world, curating content can very quickly begin to eat your life. So here is what I would try:

1. Set up a plan: If you visit a lot of content curators, you’ll see that they do a post on the same day of every week. There’s a reason for that. You know that you need to have that post ready to go at the same time every week, you can work towards that goal throughout the week, and your readers will also come to expect it. Now, you certainly don’t have to post just once a week – maybe you want to curate posts on 3 different topics on 3 different days. Do it however you want, but plan first, and base that plan on how long it usually takes you to read and really absorb a blog post.

2. Find ways to meet new bloggers: When you first get started, visiting your friends’ blog sites is fine, but after awhile, people will just start going to the websites you recommend every time. To add value, and to keep it fun for yourself, try to introduce at least one new blogger into your mix every week.

3. Promote posts that aren’t by “the big names:” We all know that the big names are big because they know how to put out some great content. A lot of us go to those sites on our own. Now, if you really like a post by one of those folks it’s of course fine to curate their content, but you can really make a person’s day if it’s their first time appearing in a list. People get really excited about that.

4. Gather content you’re interested in: If you are really interested in a certain topic, go after blog posts that are about that very subject. Your passion can show through a curation of content just as much as it can show through generating your own content. Not only that, but you get to meet people who have similar interests.

5. Ask questions: A lot of times, we have questions that we have to go research anyway. The next time you have a question, look for really good blog posts that answer that question and put them all together in a post on your site. You’ll learn a lot while also presenting a great resource to your community.

Now it’s your turn. These are my thoughts, and I hope they help, but what is your answer to Martina’s question? How would you suggest getting started with curating content? Let’s talk about it!

1st Image by sanja gjenero. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/lusi

2nd Image by Raja R. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/raja4u

16 comments
Harry_Jerry
Harry_Jerry

You have got to try out this tool I use to curate content (my favorite YouTube videos and Flickr photos) off the web. It lets you create Wires which speak your mind - http://liveoncampus.com 

BethKanter
BethKanter

Margie: I love curating content, perhaps even better than writing and blogging. However, I have to watch i though - or else I fall into the trap of being content fried. It is a new form of information overload. Anyway, while there are technical chops or skills for curating -- there are some important soft skills. Here's a few : http://www.bethkanter.org/distraction-focus/

Nancy Shields
Nancy Shields

Sometimes reading so many blog posts everyday gets overwhelming! I feel that there needs to be a balance in life. I own a social media website for women that has an inspirational flair - MakeGirlfriends.com - I create inspirational, encouraging blogs and have guest bloggers from time to time. I get my ideas from everyday living and talking to people in the outside world. Hearing their concerns, their fears, and their pains - their joys and what fulfills their lives.

So my content comes from both the online and offline worlds - a combination of both!

In gratitude for your post,
Nancy

Lynne Gibb
Lynne Gibb

What a down-to-earth and useful blog! I am just starting out on this journey and your ideas have come at the right time for me. My wordpress blog was set up for the EpCOPMOOC and through that auspice, I discovered Scoop.it which brought me to your door! How glad I am that I came a -knocking! At present, no-one will want to visit my blog until I sort out what I am using it for as it is just a heap of pontificating reflections (if there are such things!) Self-indulgent rubbish I call them! Now, however, I am starting to get an idea of what I can do to make it a useful place for people to want to visit. Some really good ideas on how to discipline yourself to blogging on a particular day each week. So simple- so effective! Thank you!

Rachel Strella
Rachel Strella

What a unique perspective! I love that you actually take the time to read other content, absorb it, and use it as a resource for others. So many are still talking the same talk..... but no one is listening!

Emma
Emma

In your experience, can curating content for larger name bloggers - although you caution against this - sometimes provide high traffic from the blogger in question toward your own site or content? I'm just wondering if and when you think breaking the cardinal rule of not over-promoting much-curated content is prudent, in order to further your own visibility in your chosen community.

Christina Pappas
Christina Pappas

At my last company I did a post every Friday called the weekly roundup. I started kind of all over the place at first. As I read stuff throughout the week (found on both my fav sites and results delivered via google alert) I put the link with my thoughts in a word doc. I started a new one every Monday and by the time Friday came, my post was done. I didn't notice a lot of traction so I started to put things in buckets and provided content under a theme (I did a bunch of stuff on groupon specifically one Friday for example) and I started getting more clicks and shares.

When you think about content curation you really have to consider what you audience will like and sometimes those tastes won't match your own. I'm a marketer at a b2b company but my audience is not b2b marketers so I always ask mention 'is this interesting to me as a marketer or will my audience find this useful?'

Martina
Martina

Thanks, Margie. I appreciate the post, and agree with Patricia. The most important aspect is to find meaningful ways to give back and bring some value and benefit to others. Thanks again.

Patricia
Patricia

This is a very helpful post Margie and saving4someday's tweet brought it to my attention. I very much want to do this in my niche but could not organize a manageable system that did not overwhelm me. I always look forward to curated content for their very obvious digested value and because they are great for reading the pulse of the community. I am going to get started. Best of all, it would allow me to give back in a meaningful way since I can't teach about marketing social media.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Well hi there! Thank you for telling me how you found me - we bloggers don't get that information very often and it's nice to be able to thank the right people for referrals!

I seriously doubt anyone would regret going to visit your blog, but getting started can be very overwhelming. Hang in there, and if you have any questions or need any help, just pop by here and ask :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

You're quick to the draw, my friend.

I've been thinking for quite some time that the path less traveled in the online world - that of gathering content rather than generating content - is the path to choose. While everyone has their own perspective and their own voice, there's only so much one can say about how to make the most out of Twitter. Good advice is good advice. Gathering that advice so other people can read it is something else entirely :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Great question, Emma, and sadly, my answer is "It depends."

Especially when I first got started, a lot of the posts I was linking to were from the really big sites just because that was who I knew. I didn't link to them for traffic, it was just my universe of reading. I don't think I ever got any reaction from those super-huge sites. I know Copyblogger and ProBlogger never have responded to any curation posts, but then if you look at trackbacks on their sites, you can see that they get hundreds of track-backs a day sometimes. So, you can't really blame them for not replying.

It's sort of a catch-22. As I developed a community around my curating, people started to value being mentioned more because they came to see my posts as something that was really a high compliment. I've gotten very very kind comments from some of the bigger names in the industry, and at times they did retweet the post, but that was after working on my curating over a several-month period. You have to establish that you're not linking to big sites just for the traffic, and once you have no desire to link to them for that reason...you have a better chance of it happening. Aint that always how it goes?

Does that help?

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Excellent points all the way around. I tried to do curation around subject matter for awhile . I wanted to try to gather subjects based on chats for that night, so for example, I wanted to have a Sunday post with lots of great blogging posts so that #blogchat folks could use the post as a resource. It was amazing - suddenly all of the blogging posts disappeared on me and all I could find was marketing posts. The next day I tried to do a marketing post with lots of links to tie into #mmchat - they all disappeared. It was quite uncanny, but I took it as a sign :)

Great point also regarding making sure your readers are interested in what you're gathering. My primary job is also in the B2B world but most of my readers here are in the self-employed B2C world, so I cater to those interests.

Thanks for your great comment!

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Hi Patricia,

So glad this post helped you out. Curating content can definitely be/get/evolve into something overwhelming, but that's why a plan is really important. Don't be afraid to draw back your plans either. When I first started working on my Blog Library I thought I would be able to add 6 posts a day. That turned out to be totally crazy. Two turns out to be much more comfortable :) And there's no shame in that!

Lynne Gibb
Lynne Gibb

Thank you for your encouraging words. I will definitely post questions if and when I have them. Thanks again
Lynne

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Let’s Talk About How to Start Curating Content [...]

  2. [...] me started on the whole idea of curating content, and that someone was Margie Clayman. Her post on how to start curating content clearly made an impact. I like how she explains that passion can show through curating as much as [...]

  3. [...] Let’s Talk About How to Start Curating Content [...]