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?”
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