There are as many ways to curate content as there are curators. But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be an ominous task.
Once you get your sources set up, most of the content will come to you. Then it’s a matter of filtering it down to what you believe is the most valuable for your audience.
The better news is, you’re probably already taking in a lot of this content so you’ll know what’s good and what to leave out.
I don’t presume to tell you that I have a one-size-fits-all solution for making curation easier for you. What I do have is a system that works well for me and I’m happy to offer it up to you.
Change it as you see fit.
If you’re already curating content, I hope you’ll pull a couple of useful ideas out of this.
If you’re not already curating content it’s a great way to build an audience.
Finding Sources To Curate
One of the most powerful tools I’ve been using is SparkToro.
For curation, SparkToro can be a gold mine because it will help you find the source that your audience is already paying attention to. That doesn’t mean they’ve already read everything that publication puts out. Rather, the resources you uncover will already convey authority in the minds of your readers.
As a bonus, SparkToro will help you find hidden gems so you can also uncover new sources that your audience may not already know.
While this isn’t a full-blown SparkToro tutorial here are a few tips:
- Figure out what keywords or phrases you want to search on and start with the “Frequently talks about” search. This is where I always start and it usually bears the most fruit.
- Second, I try the “Follows the social account” search and drop in 3 – 5 social accounts that you already know are relevant in your niche.
- Finally, (and I don’t always do this) I’ll use the “Frequently visits the website” search. Sometimes I drop in a website I already know is relevant, other times, it’s a website I picked up on in step 1 above.
For each source, grab the RSS feed, you’re going to need it later.
Pro Tip: Not every source will matter so be selective. You may grab quite a few in the beginning but over time whittle it down.
Google Alerts is a great way to get alerts delivered straight to you. Setting up Google Alerts is quick and easy.
- Go to google.com/alerts
- Choose the appropriate Google account/email (if you have more than one)
- Set up a new alert
- Drop in the keyword you want to get alerts on
- I use the following settings:
- How often: At most once a day
- Sources: Automatic
- Language: English
- Region: United States
- How Many: Only the best results
- Create Alert
Google Alerts will give you a preview of the kind of stuff you’ll get delivered to your inbox below the criteria box.
The only real social media channel I’m active on is Twitter but LinkedIn could be good for curation as well.
That said, I’ll only address Twitter here.
I do two things to curate content on Twitter.
- Create a list of accounts to follow on my chosen topic. Some of those are accounts I found on SparkToro. As you find new accounts add them to the list. Check the list once a week or as often as appropriate for you.
- Bookmark relevant tweets. If you stumble across something that fits use Twitter’s bookmark feature and go back to that once a week to add things to your list.
- As an alternative to #2, you can grab the link and drop it into whatever note taking application you use. I usually drop mine right in to a Trello card where I manage my publishing for each newsletter.
Pro Tip: On Twitter, engage with content that matters to you. I’ve pseudo-curated my timelines on every social media platform I use by restricting my engagement to the people and content I want more of. The algorithms will learn your preferences and the quality of content in your timeline will go up.
Keeping Up With Curated Sources
The good news is 1/2 of your job is already done. But one thing remains. Set up a feed reader. RSS might seem old-school but for a content curator, it’s more like an old friend you can count on.
For me, and most curators I know of, Feedly is the RSS reader of choice these days.
Grab the feeds from your sources in SparkToro and add them to Feedly. If you have RSS feeds for your Google Alerts, you can add those to Feedly as well.
You’ve already captured tweets in your Twitter bookmarks or your note-taking platform of choice.
Filtering Content and Making Decisions
Now that we have all kinds of content coming to us the next step is to filter it down to what makes the most sense.
I’m always curating content in the context of the content I’m producing for that specific newsletter.
Your newsletters may not be quite a thematic as each edition of Rogue Mogul. But even if you look at something a little broader like Further, you’ll notice that the content within any edition all feels related.
Beyond that, the filtering process for me is nothing more than reading the excerpt to see if I want to learn more and then clicking through.
If the article hits the mark and keeps my attention, I’ll consider using it.
If it doesn’t grab and keep my attention, there’s a chance it won’t for my readers either.
I don’t use everything that I qualify, only the best and most relevant content makes it.
My goal isn’t to overwhelm you with content. It’s to provide you with the most pertinent, high-quality, hand-selected content I can.
At its heart, that is what curation is all about.
Crafting Excerpts for Your Curated Content
There’s nothing wrong with using an excerpt from the source you’re curating. But you might also want to put your own spin on it.
You may not need an excerpt for everything you curate depending on how you’re integrating curated content into your content.
Either way, it’s important that the excerpt (if you have one) is as well crafted as the rest of your content. Don’t give in to the temptation to slack off on this one.
Before we tie this off let me leave you with a few other sources to help get your curation efforts off and running.
Position Your Content Curation for Success With These Five Essential Elements: Brian Clark does a behind-the-scenes case study on himself, revealing how curation fits into the strategy of projects like Further. This audio lesson is from 2015 but is still relevant today.
- The two primary keys to building an audience with curation
- The element that makes curation a financially viable approach
- How to make your content curation project unique
- The kind of copy to use and how to test it
- How I’m positioning Further in a sea of sameness
- and more.
Content Curation in an Age of Fake News, with Dave Pell: Speaking of killer excerpts Brian interviews Dave Pell of NextDraft on curation and has this to say: “Pell’s NextDraft takes on the daunting task of delivering “the day’s most fascinating news,” plus commentary that’s often better than the links themselves.”
I listened to the Dave Pell interview and intend to do so again. It’s a virtual master class in content curation and doing it right.