Content curation, in very simple terms, and as relevant to solopreneur content marketers, is the art of putting together a blog post on a niche topic, by offering a well-assembled collection of thoughts and ideas from other blogs on the topic. Rohit Bhargava, the influencer-blogger, has this definition: “A content curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue.”
More than any other Content Creation process, content curation does not include generating a lot of original content. Instead, it involves gathering of content from a variety of authoritative sources, and delivering it in a very organized format. For example, a content curator can explore the Net for relevant content pertaining to his specific blog topic, and funnel this information to readers as an annotated mash-up. The Net is overloaded with information, but the curator’s savvy comes from “sorting the wheat from the chaff” and presenting top-notch content as an authority-collection on the subject.
What is content curation – and what are some good examples
Content curation involves discovering, gathering, and presenting content that pertains to a specific subject matter. Content marketers love curation because it speeds up blog posting – you have to write less yourself, and collect more from the writings of others, to put a blog post together. On the other hand, because of the sheer volume of information overload online, readers too need curated content – to be able to reduce searching in diverse places to get the best information on a topic.
From the SEO standpoint, a curated blog post is like any other blog post. It too has to be built around a good keyword that is searched for a lot, and the post has to be SEO optimized. But the advantage is that it easily builds authority for you, as a solopreneur content marketer, because you allow yourself to “be seen in the right company”. When you act as the collator of great authoritative quotes and passages of blog posts, by eminent authors, you put yourself in the milieu of the greats of your niche – and by rub-off, you too come across as an authority.
To see some good examples of curated blog posts see the two below:
Rohit Bhargava of the Influential Marketing Group, in his newsletters, assembles an expertly curated selection of articles from more than 100 sources. His work best exemplifies his tagline of “This week’s most underappreciated marketing stories.” Notice how the opening text sets the tone – and the annotations he adds to the curated content include a lot of his original ideas.
Image: courtesy: Influential Marketing Blog
Using quite a different tack, Simply Centered have created their curated post as a hub of information related to health and wellness. Their own authority in niche areas is underlined by the quality and assemblage of their collection of curated items around their key topics.
Image: courtesy: SimplyCentered
4 things to watch out for to raise the standard of your curated posts
There are some things you should do, and some things you shouldn’t do, to get your content curation to work really well for your brand:
1. Always annotate your collection of curated information. Annotations are a key part of content curation. A good idea would be to build a framework for your blog post on a chosen topic, so that the starting paragraph and the rounding-off last paragraph (summation) are your own original words, describing the key takeaways of the blog post.
In between, plan for sections of curated information, but between these curated pieces, add sections of your own analysis, and a direction of thought flow to connect all the curated pieces together. For example, don’t just have a page full of curated passages from other articles and title it as “Best of expert articles on content marketing”. Instead, you could do a curated piece titled “What are the experts saying about content marketing – and how we can adapt their ideas”. This will give you room to add your own ideas on how the words of experts can be adapted by different readers, to their own circumstances.
Your annotations have to add the thought-flow, the analysis and the ideas of how the curated information can best be used by readers.
2. Choose information of quality that is hard to normally find. If all that your curated article is doing is to produce yet another listicle like “50 best tools for email marketers”, why would someone see you as a valuable resource, when there are hundreds of such posts floating around? You have to be a different – and be a higher-quality curator, by really digging beneath the surface of the Net, to find nuggets of rare thought that have great value.
You have to become the curator of ideas that readers would normally not easily come across on the Net. Don’t just be another average curator, be a valuable and differentiated curator.
3. Give credit to all sources of information with backlinks. It is good etiquette in any piece of writing – and especially in content curation – to give credit to the people whose articles you are culling passages from. If possible, give their Twitter handles and small bios (if space allows), so that you can then contact these people, to let them know you have appreciated and used their content.
Also don’t be tempted to lift entire articles in the name of curation. People would not mind if you took reasonable key passages that make a point, or charts and graphs they have created that underscore some statistics, but to lift articles in entirety (or near-entirety) is a cheap thing to do, and borders on plagiarism in the name of curation. Besides, if you are seen pinching so many heavy passages from another piece, Google will also surely condemn your curated post as “duplicated content”.
Use curation as a way to validate the points you want to make, by quoting renowned influencers who also hold similar opinions. Don’t use curation to sound like you have no ideas – and are therefore living off the ideas of others.
4. Don’t rely solely on curation for all content creation. It’s also not a good idea for your own personal brand to be seen always only posting curated posts. Do you have no original posts at all, or anything you want to say as an expert yourself? What are the chances then that other curators will want to curate passages from your posts quoting you as an authority.
Be a curator – but also aim to be one of the curated!
4 great content curation tools to use – and learn from
How do you, as a content curator, find great resources to curate and add to your blog posts and articles? How do you find the right curatable content to enrich the topic you are writing about? This is where content curation tools come in. There are four things most content curation tools do for you, that will greatly aid your ability to collect, annotate, publish and promote your blog posts.
1. Content curation tools learn from you – they fathom your tastes for resources and then dig out these for you from across the Net. When you are looking for great content curation tools to work with, the first thing to see is where the tool sources its curatable resources from. Not only must the tool find resources on your key topics from a wide variety of resources across the Net, but over time, it must see what you are picking, and develop machine insights into your tastes and preferences.
Many tools “learn from your choices” as you use them, so that they are better able to deliver to you the right kind of curatable stories that you like using in your posts.
2. Curation tools must enable the smart intermingling of your annotations with curated resources. Most content curation tools also allow you to create a few different templates for your curated articles, so you don’t have to format every new post from scratch.
Curatable resources may come with their own formats – fonts, image sizes, headline sizes, link anchors – but when they sit into your post, you want a homogeneous look that aligns with your brand. You don’t want your curated posts to look like a hotch-potch of hastily assembled pieces of content. Curation tools enable you to create and use templates for your curated posts, so your posts looks smooth, and your work is also speeded up.
3. Curation tools allow publishing of blog posts or even newsletter emails. Curated content must be capable of being delivered across different devices and formats. Your curated pieces could perhaps be blog posts – but you may also then like to adapt them into email newsletters.
Good curation tools usually allow you to decide both where you want to publish curated content, and how you want to publish curated content. You also have to worry less these days about mobile-responsive curated posts, because the curation tools themselves allow responsive formatting.
4. Promoting your curated content across the social media is also a lot easier with content curation tools. Most tools enable social sharing as long form or short form content.
Some curation tools also automatically let the “sources” of the content know when their content has thus been shared by you. Your curated content can get further amplification when they then promote their content curated by you.
There are a lot of content curation tools available, from which I have chosen the four below as my favorites. Of all these tools, Curata is by far the market-leader, and by just downloading their free resources, you can learn the whole art of content curation. Curata and Publish This are two tools at the upper end of the pricing scale. They pack some features you may not need when you are starting out, but you can still use their free resources to learn a lot. Scoop It is a relatively lower priced option, while MyCurator is actually a WordPress plugin. It sources curated content, and then auto-embeds your choices of content into WordPress blog posts, that you can annotate and publish with consummate ease.
Take a look below to see which content tools you could use rightaway – or which ones you could use after you’ve been through a bit of growth.
With Curata’s Content Curation Software (CCS) you’ll gain access to the widest selection of published content available on the Net, at your fingertips. Using keywords, news sources, authors, and bookmarked or shared content, Curata CCS will scour the web and return highly relevant results via a dashboard. Curata also empowers you to incorporate your own summary and brand voice, embed royalty-free imagery, and then schedule and share. Getting smarter over time, the proprietary “learning engine” in Curata improves your results based on the content you share and how you rate results.
This content curation solution’s platform has prebuilt hundreds of thousands of curation sources. These get refreshed 24 x 7. Publish This also continually adds to its database of content. The tool sources content on a variety of topics from magazines, newspapers, YouTube, and Vimeo. You can also add any other source you want. All the curated topics are displayed in handy columns titled “Trending”, “Recent” or “Relevant”, so you can choose content by topic or freshness or buzz levels. You can also package your sources up into “bundles” that can be accessed from anywhere in the platform.
Scoop.it has a smart “suggestion engine” that crawls more than 35 million web pages every day and filters them using your own specific keywords. You can also filter resources by format or date, and have the tool rank your chosen resources by popularity, freshness or relevance. This tool claims that it can enable you to create blog posts 4-8x faster, by speeding up your ability to add your annotations and publish them to your website. Scoop.it also automatically formats the results to fit your brand and site look and feel.
MyCurator WordPress Plugin delivers articles from your specified industry or niche to your WordPress site, where you can easily review every source from within your WordPress dashboard. This plugin also has its own “Machine Learning Relevance Engine” which allows you to train MyCurator with a simple up or down vote on any resource. With regular usage, MyCurator will understand your preferences, and learn to classify the best resources for you, weeding out 90% or more of the junk and spam articles, thus saving a huge amount of time. Then, with one click you can transfer any resources into your WordPress Editor. Just add your own paragraphs of original content wherever you wish – and then hit “Publish”.
How to curate content like a pro – good practices and steps to follow
To make the right choices of curated resources for your articles, here’s a list of questions to ask yourself:
- Is this content resource “on brand” for me to use in my article?
- Is there a benefit to my business in sharing this content from another source?
- Can I trust the source of this content as a reliable authority?
- Is this curated content evergreen – or is it time-bound?
- Is this external content offering something unique to my readers?
- Is this curated content adding enrichment or differentiation to my own brand?
Some best practices to follow when curating content would be:
- Curate content that is actually newsworthy and high quality.
- Share niche-targeted information to be of most value to your target audiences.
- When crediting curated content, double-check site link URLs and social accounts.
- Make sure your groupings of curated content make maximum reading sense, and avoid a choppy layout.
- Make sure your annotations add value to the curated content instead of being mere “in-between” text.
- Make sure that the SEO optimization for your entire blog post covers your curated content also.
Apart from all these good practices, there is a beautiful infographic from Curata that shows you a process flow to follow when building curated content. Use this as your checklist to make sure you’ve covered all you bases!
Image courtesy: Curata
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Creation Process”:
- How To Use Visual Content To Create More Appeal In Your Blog Posts!
- How To Kickstart Your Content Marketing With Total Confidence!