Author Blogging 101: Your Quick Guide to Content Curation

by | Jul 3, 2017

Curators have traditionally been found in museums and libraries where, relying on their expertise in a specific field, they acquire, organize, and present selections of works with something in common.

Enter technology, and we’ve had an explosion of online content aimed at specialized audiences. The last time I looked, there were a reported 73 million blogs online (although you and I know that probably 72 million of them are abandoned, with their last post in 2013).

With all this content sloshing around the Internet, the role of “curator” has become urgently needed to handle the firehose of data being published every day; select the content that best fits a specific purpose; then present it to readers.

This content curation can be a powerful ally for bloggers who become adept at performing these tasks quickly and efficiently, and curated content can boost your blog’s traffic, reputation, and engagement with readers.

As a bonus, when you curate other writers’ content for your readers, you don’t have to write any of it.

Benefits of Content Curation

Content curation can benefit both you and your readers, in different ways.

Benefits to you

Curating content demonstrates your authority and knowledge in your field. By reviewing many content sources and selecting the best ones for your subject, you get to express your own opinion of what’s truly important.

It takes expertise and a sense of what your audience needs for you to be successful at attracting readers with curated content.

A good example that’s close to home is This Week in the Blogs. This feature has appeared on Sundays continuously since November, 2009, just weeks after I first got started blogging. It allowed me to post content on the weekends without having to write it myself.

There have been almost 400 issues since then, and it’s a staple on the weekend for self-publishers everywhere.

One of the benefits of curating the best articles for your readers is the ability it gives you to link out to other bloggers, who appreciate getting a link from a blog with a lot of traffic and great authority in the field.

Linking out like this will supercharge your networking efforts, because the vert best way to make another blogger happy is by sending traffic to their site.

Benefits for Readers

Think of curated posts, where you gather together resources on a specific topic, as providing “playlists” for your readers. By eliminating everything but the top sources, you perform a very valuable service to readers who may not be as involved in the topic as you are.

Curated content saves time for readers who don’t have the leisure to read a lot of specialized content just to find the gems. It also helps them to evaluate which content sources are better quality.

Your curated content will also introduce readers to new blogs and websites, and that’s benefits both your readers and the bloggers you link to.

Delivery Methods for Curated Content

Since curated content is like any other content, you can deliver it to your readers or viewers the same way you deliver all your other content. For instance, you can create blog posts made up of curated content, giving you the opportunity to add your own commentary, personalizing it for your readers.

You can create special blog features, like my Sunday “This Week in the Blogs” post, or any other type of “roundup,” on a one-time or on a regular basis. I like having an editorial calendar so readers know when these features will be appearing.

Another great use for curated content is in a regular newsletter. I’ve long admired Jane Friedman’s Electric Speed, where she curates 5 links to articles of interest to writers and authors.

You can also use services that automate some of the curating chores, like Paper.li (see below). Of course, the automation will remove your personal touch, but it may be worthwhile considering that once it’s set up, selection of articles is automatic.

Curated Content on My Blog

In addition to the weekly links in “This Week in the Blogs,” we also publish a monthly blog carnival called the Carnival of the Indies.

Although this is a great addition to any blog and will bring you more traffic and networking opportunities, this blog carnival isn’t really curated content, because we publish all articles that are submitted and which meet the guidelines.

publishing 101

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However, we’ve recently started our own weekly newsletter, Publishing 101. (It’s free, so go sign up for it right now.)

Publishing 101 has enabled us to broaden our reach, bring even more great content to readers, and increase engagement at the same time. Our editor, Kathryn Mazur, finds the best articles of the past week and passes them along with annotations.

We also use Publishing 101 to let subscribers know about upcoming deals, webinars, and we use it to highlight individual authors, too.

Tools for Curation

Okay, I bet you want to try your hand at curating content, now that you know just how much of a win-win this is for both bloggers and readers. How to do that? Here are some of the tools we use that will make curating faster, easier, and more efficient. They are all free, too.

  • Feedly (or other feed readers)—Feedly is my favorite feed reader. What’s a “feed reader” you want to know? It allows you to grab the URL of any blog and place it in your own Feedly collection. You can sort these and categorize them, then Feedly presents you with a reverse chronological list of the most recent posts on those blogs (newest on top). This makes it incredibly fast to keep up with dozens of bloggers, a great boon for content curators.
  • Paper.li—This service gathers articles from social media and the web based on lists of followers or subjects, then places them into a newspaper-like publication you can share via email, in social media, or even on your own site. Paper.li is an automated service, so it will lack the notes you might add to curated content items, but it’s a great way to get started.
  • Google News—A searchable, constantly updated list of news items that you can search with your favorite keywords to uncover stories about your subject.
  • Bing News—Performs the same type of function as Google News, but based on different algorithms, so you will get different results.
  • Goodreads’ Listopia—If it’s books you’re looking for, there’s a Listopia list for them in the huge social reading site at Goodreads. Although limited to books, these lists are a fast way to find out who is writing in any particular genre or niche, and connect you to other people interested in that topic.
  • Twitter Search—The invaluable front end to search Twitter. Use keywords or #hashtags to unearth the latest news, people, photos, videos, and people, while also finding people to follow based on the same search terms.
  • Twitter Lists—An underutilized and under-appreciated tool provided by Twitter. You can create your own subject-specific lists, or just hunt down users who have already done this and simply follow their list. These lists of companies and users on Twitter can help you quickly identify and evaluate new content in your subject area. If no list exists of the people you want to follow, start one and let others know about it.
  • Google Alerts—Who monitors the entire web? Google does! Use the power of Google to find content that mentions specific phrases or keywords. Very powerful, and great for tracking people talking about your books, too.
  • Evernote—My favorite note (and audio and video and web page) keeper, Evernote builds a fully searchable database of information you want to save. I find their browser plugin, the Evernote Web Clipper to be an invaluable tool to collect and organize great content you discover while cruising the web. Quickly and easily capture web pages, screenshots, or just about anything else you want to curate for your readers.

Well, there you have it, a quick introduction to the “Whys” and “Hows” of content curation. Over the years, the content curation we do on The Book Designer has helped bring loads of traffic to the blog, connect with other writers in the indie publishing field, and saved readers tons of time by providing them with the best content we can find.

If you want to experience these benefits, try introducing curated content to your own site and social media posts, it will handsomely repay you for your efforts. (And remember, you don’t have to write it!)

Curation Resources

Photo: Shibuya Newstand by kramertron via photopin (license)

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6 Comments

  1. Brenton Fields

    Thanks for the information.

    Reply
  2. Sharon

    Marlene, you are absolutely on the right track. You can also do them on a schedule. For example, on Tuesdays, you could post book reviews. You could do them once a week or the first Tuesday of every month. And then another day could be recipes to share or something else. I’m sure you have lots more ideas for your topic.

    Reply
  3. Marlene A. Bumgarner

    I love the idea of curated content. Applying that concept to the topic of my own blog, I could review new children’s picture books, collect recipes for Persimmons in November, or suggest lullabies to new grandparents who’ve forgotten the ones they sang to their children.

    Am I on the right track?

    Marlene

    Reply
  4. Donna

    Interesting Joel. Thanks! I love your Publishing 101 newsletter. I usually find something useful in there!

    Reply
  5. Michael N. Marcus

    You said that “Paper.li is an automated service.” It’s not purely robotic. The publisher of a paper.li paper is able to manually delete and add items.

    Last year I published “The Donald Trump Daily News,” “The Hillary Clinton Daily News” and others.

    You have an extra “t” in “subjtects.”

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks for the proofreading, Michael, error has been corrected.

      What I meant about Paper.li is that once you’ve set up the accounts you’re following, the aggregation is automatic, but thanks for pointing that out.

      Reply

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