The Why and How of Content Curation—Insights from Copyblogger

green_red_bokeh Content curation is the process of:

  • Finding useful ideas about a specific topic from many different sources
  • Organizing those ideas
  • Sharing the ideas in a useful way with a specific audience

I’m excited about this emerging field because it’s critical for idea entrepreneurs. These folks are constantly curating, whether they use that term or not.

Fortunately, Jerod Morris and Demian Farnworth at Copyblogger created a series of podcasts about content curation.

Following is my personal list of take-aways from this series. Also check out the primary sources:

Three Types of Curation

  • Curation is distilling information that’s interesting to you and useful to your audience.
  • Link curation means creating lists of content that’s already been published.
  • Knowledge curation is “connecting the dots” between ideas in ways that serve your audience.
  • Idea curation is your personal process for gathering ideas so that you can easily retrieve them in the future.

Benefits of Curation

  • Curating serves your audience by guiding them to relevant information and ideas.
  • Curating is the logical culmination of something that you’re already doing—reading.
  • Curating serves you as a source of useful content that you don’t have to create from scratch.
  • Curating builds your reputation as a trusted expert—and a creator of products and services that are worth buying.
  • Curating allows you to be a good online citizen by spreading the good work that other people do.
  • Curating helps you build relationships with those people.
  • As a renewable source of ideas, curating helps you avoid writer’s block.
  • Curating content is a useful way to build an e-mail list.
  • Sharing a little bit about yourself as you curate is a way to round out your online presence.
  • At the same time, content curation is just one way to gather a tribe. Consider Seth Godin andCal Newport, who built large followings without curating.

Curating Links

  • Find links to share by following skilled curators such as Dave Pell and Maria Popova, subscribing to email newsletters such as Atlantic’s The Wire and Farnam Street, or using an RSS tool such as feedly.
  • To judge whether a link is worth sharing, think ROAR: I’ve Read it, it’s Original, it’s Applicable, it’s from a Reputable source.
  • Because curating reflects on your reputation, maintain editorial control of the links that you share.
  • Share links on your blog and on the social networks where your audience hangs out.
  • Experiment with sharing links at different times of day to see when they gain traction.
  • If you don’t find anything to share on a particular day, resurrect a good post from your archive.
  • Remember to curate links that challenge conventional wisdom and prompt disagreement.

Curating Knowledge

  • The ultimate goal of curation is to make ourselves and our audiences wiser.
  • Wisdom comes from a combination of reading, writing, and actively testing ideas.
  • Wisdom is expressed when you put ideas in context and find intriguing connections between them.
  • It’s easier to make connections when you specialize in a particular subject and think across subject matters.
  • Consider immersing yourself in one subject per year by reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, taking courses, and creating playlists.
  • Remember to read books as well as online sources.
  • As you share ideas, balance factual knowledge with emotional intelligence.

Curating Ideas

  • Ideas will occur to you at random times and come from many different sources.
  • Put a simple system in place to capture ideas on the run. For example:
    • Carry a notepad or index cards and pen.
    • Dictate a voice memo on your phone.
    • Use a note-taking tool such as Evernote.
  • To organize the ideas you capture, create a commonplace book that matches your preferences.
  • Look in particular for:
    • Remarkable quotations about your topic
    • Relevant data points
    • Interesting anecdotes
  • Cite a source for each of the above.
  • Present ideas in narrative form—as a story with a beginning, middle, and ending.
  • Approach your topic as a blank slate and let the story emerge organically from your sources.
  • Stimulate your thinking by creating mind maps and other kinds of visuals.
  • Let ideas incubate while doing “mindless” physical activities such as walking.
  • Record interesting ideas even if you’re not sure how you’ll use them in the future.
  • Trust the process: The best ideas will keep coming back to you.

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