business appsA great way to make the most of your audience on the web is to participate in content curation. For those who don’t know, content curation is finding interesting items on the Web that pertain to your chosen theme, and presenting them to your audience with the goal of becoming a go-to outlet for that theme.

For example, if you want to run a curated content blog about automobile safety, you would scan the Web for news, opinions, video, and other content regarding auto recalls, accident data, accident prevention advice, and more. Becoming a go-to source for information on a particular topic takes time, but the tips below show the basic process for getting started with content creation.

Study your audience, and ask what they want

Reading sources on your chosen theme alone simply isn’t enough. At the end of the day, you need to serve an audience. For that reason, you need to figure out what topics are most interesting, what the prevailing opinions about hot issues are, and what content there isn’t enough of. Understanding these things will help you select pieces that are “where the audience wants to be,” rather than “where they are.”

You want tomorrow’s content, not yesterday’s.

Reading comments on articles and participating in forum threads will help give you a feel for these things, but you can also ask your audience directly. Post a Facebook poll, or make a blog post asking readers to leave comments about topics that interest them. That way, you’ll get it right from the horse’s mouth.

Find content, especially from little-known sources

Visit a lot of places, not just mainstream outlets, when looking for content. The major developments of the day are, of course, relevant, but if you only offer things that most people are aware of, your site won’t do well. You need to offer your own insights on things, do extra research, and find pieces that aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

Do that, and your blog becomes irreplaceable.

Don’t share everything

Just like your visits to the doctor’s office, you don’t want to share everything you learn with others. Indeed, this is the “curation” part of the project. Don’t be a glorified RSS feed – select the more interesting and informative pieces, and share those only. The Internet is a vast sea of garbage. One of the most valuable services you can perform is to sift through it and find the worthwhile pieces of content. If you have a reputation for quality, people will gladly read your site over outlets that favor the “shotgun” approach.

Add value

There are lots of formats for sharing content – your site doesn’t just have to be a linkroll. You can organize information, annotate it, add your two cents, and more. Add value, don’t just be a mechanical repeater of content. The more robust your treatment of the topic becomes, the more authoritative your outlet will be.

Study other curators

Find other content curators (from any niche) that you enjoy and study them. What do they do right? What do they do wrong? Analyzing your own work can be hard to do objectively, but studying the work of others will yield a wealth of tips about how to run your own site. Keep an eye on the best curators out there, and you’ll never be far behind.

Good luck!