How to curate content: The best ideas, resources, and tools

Have you ever walked into a restaurant and been unsure what to order because there are so many options? People can become overwhelmed by choice to the point where they cannot easily make decisions or act.

A similar thing is happening on the web today. There is so much content out there on the web, and even more is pouring in daily. (I should know… I’m writing a bunch of it). People aren’t searching anymore, because it’s so easy to find information on something. Instead, they are trying to make sense of it all. That’s a big difference.

Enter content curation. This is where people take the content that is already out there and pull it together to help people make sense of the information. It’s a science as well as an art, and you shouldn’t think of it as simply just putting up a list of links. Curation requires more.

Different sites are approaching content curation in different ways: Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm and in a way, they are very much in the content curation business. Squidoo is Seth Godin’s early take on content curation. Twitter offers a type of real-time content curation. Pinterest is a type of visually-oriented content curation. Facebook (at least among my friends) seems to be turning into an exclusive meta-curation club. Scoop.it has built a hub to help people curate and share.

Just to clear the air for those of us who see ourselves as content creators: I think there is still room for that. Curating is like only being allowed to marry your cousin. Eventually you’ll need new blood or everyone will be walking around your family compound with three arms. Even the guy from curation website Storify thinks that creators are still going to be valuable in the future.

So how do you curate content? Well, I’ve curated a list on exactly that topic:

First of all, you should download and read Seth Godin’s ebook Everyone Is An Expert. This ebook is written in 2005 so it predates a lot of the curation tools out there but, in classic Seth Godin form, he was talking about curation long before anyone else was. Check out the book and read the first 18 pages. (After that, he launches into a bit of a pitch for Squidoo, which you might want to read but can safely skip).

Once you’ve done that, watch this video. Although the video’s presentation is a little dry, they go through a very valuable step-by-step overview of content curation. In other words, reading the first 18 pages of Godin’s ebook and then watching this video gives you probably the best “crash course” in content curation.

Next, read this “content curation 101” blog post by Beth Kanter, which is one of the best examples of content curation I’ve seen. Beth explains what content curation is and why we need it (which you’ve already read) and then she describes how to do it well. Great stuff from Beth! Beth mentions in her blog post an excellent article from ClickZ that I think is worth highlighting again — How to become a content curation king. This article’s real value is down at the very bottom, where the author provides 9 very helpful tips on how to curate content effectively.

And check out this excellent article from WebbyThoughts about the 5 different types of content curation and how to excel with each of them. (Plus the article has some great tips and tools for content curators!)

Curation gives you some valuable benefits as a business owner:

  • There SEO benefits of content curation
  • Curation relieves the pressure of having to develop something new
  • Curation establishes you in the higher-order role of taste-making evaluator rather than someone who constantly pushed out content
  • You can monetize your curated content (I’m going to write a separate blog post about this tomorrow

Be sure to also read this article from Forbes — 4 reasons why content curation has gone mainstream.

Even if you don’t want to switch over entirely from being a content creator to a content curator, you can dial in a bit of curation into the work you are doing now, to change things up and to experiment with this new-to-you approach.

There are a bunch of tools to help you curate content. Check out these articles that list some curation tools:

Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and he's a real estate investor and a copywriter for real estate investors.

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