A guest post by Lior Levin.
On the surface, content curation sounds like a great way to generate content with little to no time or effort. After all, you don’t actually have to write much new content, just find interesting items on the Web and point others to them, becoming a hub for all that’s relevant to your field.
However, doing content curation well means a lot more than just plastering your site with a bunch of synopses and links. Doing content curation right takes a lot of time and requires almost as much investment as creating original content.
Doing content curation poorly, though easy and quick, is often seen as spam and is likely to raise copyright and plagiarism issues for you. On the other hand, proper content curation can be a powerful tool for both building your site and driving traffic to it. In fact, in the best possible cases, it can make you an indispensable part of your niche’s ecosystem.
So how do you curate content in a way that both attracts visitors and makes you a hero to your peers? Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Participate in Your Community
If you want respect from your community, you need to do more than simply share their links. You need to create at least some original content and, equally importantly, connect with and interact with those around you.
Instead of just linking to a post, take the time to comment on it as well. Interact with other webmasters on social media and encourage them to send you interesting links. The more you contribute and interact with the community, the more they will respect and embrace you. That embracing not only makes the environment less hostile, but it also opens up new opportunities for cooperation that can make your offerings truly unique.
2. Be Careful How You Aggregate
Be careful about what you use and how you use it. Remember that the works you’re referencing are copyrighted and other webmasters, if they feel they are being infringed, may come after you.
Use only what you need, short snippets of text (usually under 50 words), headlines and links should be more than enough. If you find yourself writing a 400-word summary of a 500-word article, you likely need to rethink your approach.
Also, always attribute everything you use. Not only is it the right thing to do ethically, but it keeps you from making enemies needlessly.
3. Don’t Automate
When you have a site or service that seems perfectly relevant to your topic, it might be tempting to grab everything that it posts by RSS or another automated tool.
Don’t do it.
The benefit a curator brings to a niche is human involvement. If you’re not selecting the best posts to share, you miss out on adding value to your readers or community. Anyone can subscribe to a site via RSS, and no site is going to be 100% relevant.
In short, automatically shooting out everything that a site or a group of sites puts out is not only very spammy, but it is of no benefit to the reader or the community.
4. Be Where the Audience Is
While this is great advice for any site, it is even more true for curated content as curation is about convenience. You don’t want to make your readers work for your content so it’s important to be where they are.
Have an audience that spends a lot of time on Reddit? Be on Reddit. Are they active on Facebook? Be on Facebook.
Don’t be afraid of multiple platforms as the time needed to add a Tumblr or a Twitter is fairly minor. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to ditch services that aren’t working out for you.
5. Create Expectations and Meet Them
Very quickly, answer these questions for your readers:
- What are you going to post?
- How much are you going to post?
- And When are you going to post it?
Readers need this information so they know what to expect from your curation and know if they want to subscribe. Create a plan and stick to it.
Whether you want to curate ten links weekly about whales or five articles a day about modern medicine, tell your readers what to expect and deliver reliably.
In the end, great curation is a lot of work, but it’s that work that adds value to the reader and the community. Bad curation is, at best, mere spam and at worst copyright infringing.
As a curator, you can’t afford to be a parasite as you need a healthy, welcoming community for your efforts to thrive.
So don’t look for shortcuts with your curation efforts and, instead, focus on providing the best value you can, especially over the long haul. Your community, your readers and even the people you link to will all thank you and reward you for it.
This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a neon sign store that offers a variety of custom neon signs for businesses and individuals, and who also consults for a company that specializes in a to do list app.