Content curation can be a powerful way to build an audience without creating original content.
When you’re starting out, you may not have a large audience or much credibility. So people may not see a strong reason to listen to what you have to say, even if you do have amazing original thoughts and ideas.
Instead, you can become a curator of great ideas, say through an email newsletter, and become known as the person who spots and shares interesting, relevant content from across the internet.
Over time, as you do that, people begin to view you as the expert who can spot trends and ideas before they become popular and you become an influencer in your own right.
This is a key idea that Dave Gerhardt recommends in his book, Founder Brand.
Let’s go into what exactly content curation is, why it’s valuable, and how to do it well.
The basics of content curation
Content curation can be a valuable piece of building a marketing engine from scratch. Rather than create new content, you hand-select interesting, insightful pieces of content from around the internet and share them in a consolidated medium.
These are typically about topics that your target audience would be interested in. For example, if you’re in B2B SaaS marketing, you might share content about how one company is doing growth or what CMOs at B2B companies are thinking about and doing.
Content curation might seem easier than writing original content but it’s challenging in another way. You must spend a lot of time consuming a lot of content to find the ones worth sharing.
Defining a content curation strategy
Strategy is nebulous so let’s keep it simple and not overanalyze. Who are you curating content for? What are the particular topics that person or audience would be interested in? Why would they subscribe to you versus another newsletter or content curator? What will you do differently?
These are basic questions but will lay the foundation to help you define what you’ll share and how you’ll share it. By answering these questions, you’ll get clarity on your content discovery tactics and what social media platforms you’ll curate content on.
The benefits of content curation and why it’s valuable
An advantage of content curation, as opposed to content creation, is it takes less time and can be done by many people. Instead of one person sitting down and writing an article from scratch (anyone who has published an article knows how tough this is), you and your team are probably already reading high-quality interesting content. So you can share that. It takes time but probably not as much time as writing an article about an original idea from scratch.
Content curation also helps you establish trust and credibility in the industry as you begin making a name for yourself. You become, dare I say, an “influencer” and a “thought leader,” the person who can identify lesser-known but high quality content, perhaps from less popular people before they get discovered. People will eventually start to trust you as an expert in the field.
This in turn allows you and your company to build an audience, whether that be social media followers or subscribers to your email list.
Examples of great content curation
Becoming Omniscient Newsletter
I’m definitely plugging our newsletter. We put some of our best thinking in our weekly newsletter and share content that’s interesting to us and relevant to those thoughts. If it’s interesting to us, it’s probably interesting to our audience (right?).
One of my favorite tech newsletters that I look forward to reading every week. Ben always includes interesting news in tech and shares many types of content including podcasts, articles, videos, and data.
Another great newsletter that aggregates top stories (and gifs) into a daily newsletter. They’re one of the best content companies you can learn from.
They’re a tech company and their content marketing strategy was built on content curation and roundup posts. They’ve done it so well, you could view them as a template to learn from and build on.
They curate recommendations and advice from their own customers so the curation feeds two birds with one scone. It’s a way of producing content for their target audience by engaging and producing content with the help of their customers who are also their target audience. Genius.
Their article on the most useful Google Analytics reports is a great example of that in action.
They’re a new one on the block but the team has shared some really interesting content about the future of work and building a meaningful and productive life. Good stuff.
The Sunsama app is also one of my favorites for planning out my days.
How to do content curation well
Doing content curation well starts with understanding your audience and what they want. Either that or you could just share what you think is interesting and perhaps you’ll attract people with similar interests.
You can curate content on various platforms and in various mediums including email newsletters, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, blog posts, and more.
When thinking about what content to share, I recommend not just sharing the most popular content you found but the content you found genuinely interesting, even if it hasn’t gotten popular.
The simplest way I’d recommend getting started is through a newsletter.
So how do you find content worth curating? Here are some tips to find and share great content and things to avoid.
Follow interesting people on Twitter
If it wasn’t already, Twitter is now part of your job. Unfollow the people just complaining about their days and follow more people who are sharing interesting facts or articles related to your industry.
I’ve found amazing content on Twitter. Need a recommendation? Follow Morgan Housel. Well, he’s quite popular now, but many people still don’t know him.
Subscribe to (many) email newsletters
Good email newsletters often share content that’s worth consuming. You can curate what others are curating. Pretty meta.
Scroll up to see which ones to subscribe to.
Don’t just do a Google search.
Please don’t do this. If you can find an article from a quick Google search, then anyone else can. There’s nothing valuable about sharing an article from the first page of Google. Try harder.
Don’t just share what already has thousands of retweets on Twitter.*
This falls into the same bucket as sharing content you found through a Google search. If a tweet already has a ton of retweets and likes, it’s likely already getting plenty of shares. Look for the diamond in the rough that isn’t getting shared as much and would make someone think, “Wow, I would’ve never found this content. if it weren’t for this newsletter.”
*Unless if it’s actually really interesting.
Don’t share just for the sake of sharing.
Once you start curating, there will be days when you get busy or tired or lazy and you’ll struggle to find great content to share.
On those days, you’ll want to just share a link you found from a Google search or take another easy way out. It’s natural. It’s a part of your job. But resist that urge. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a boring newsletter with nothing special or interesting to share.
Recommended content curation tools
Here are some tools to help you build a backlog of content to curate so you don’t run into curator’s-block (if that’s not a thing, it should be).
Notion web clipper
If you use Notion, create a database called “Reference” and use the Notion web clipper (I prefer the Save to Notion Chrome extension) to save interesting pages to the database.
Here’s what mine looks like:
Todoist Chrome extension
If you don’t use Notion, you could also use Todoist and the Todoist Chrome extension to save pages to a Todoist project.
Dedicated Slack channel
This is less organized, but you could also create a dedicated Slack channel for your team to share interesting reads. This is a great way to crowd-source great content to share.
Remember the goal
Your goal is ultimately to become a trusted source of curated information that a reader wouldn’t get elsewhere. They trust that you’ll share interesting bits with them so they don’t have to go searching for it and they can then share that content with their network.