Many bloggers these days are turning to content curation as a tactic to add to their repertoire of blogging tools. As they do so they are finding that content curation can be hard work. Maybe not as hard as content creation, but it does have its own hurdles and can be very time consuming to do well.
The biggest hurdle to content curation is also why it is valuable to your blog’s community – there is so much information to read through and digest out on the internet. To do well at curation, you need to process 20, 50 maybe 100 articles and posts per day to find great information to curate. Just skimming a bunch of titles from your RSS feed and posting them without comment just doesn’t cut it these days.
The volume hurdle has sparked the development and use of many tools such as PageOne Curator and CurationSoft for bloggers and Curata or XYDO for larger businesses. I’d like to illustrate some of the ways to overcome the facets of this volume hurdle with the MyCurator WordPress plugin tool (Disclosure: I’m the CEO of Target Info, the developer of MyCurator).
The first component of the volume hurdle is that you really need to cast a wide net to find the interesting and insightful articles. You should have Google alerts set up on the keywords that you want to track. Using Google alerts provides the widest search available, as Google doesn’t narrow the content based on your recent browsing history. This brings in a range of articles you wouldn’t normally see if you do an online search each day.
In addition to Google alerts, you probably have a list of blogs that you follow as well as important twitter searches. You may also have news alerts set up, as well as feeds from key online publications. All of these will bring in different types of articles.
You could put many of these sources into Google reader, as well as other content curation tools. In MyCurator, you enter these source RSS feeds right into the Links section of your WordPress blog, as many as you need. You can also enter Twitter searches for content using a handy tool in the plugin. Having all of your sources in one place makes it much easier to be consistent in what you follow, as well as making it easier to manage them over time.
Now that you’ve got your feeds and sources set up and managed you would normally have to start reading through them all. But casting a wide net for articles means reading a large volume of articles. Tools such as Google Reader or other content curation software will present you with nicely ordered lists of articles, many times with some extra search or filtering capabilities.
With MyCurator, a software AI tool begins to read every article presented by the feeds. Not just the headline or a short excerpt, it actually extracts the full text from the original web page and processes it.
As a first step, you tell the software which topics you want to follow, using a set of filters that can include and exclude articles based on combinations of keywords. Articles that make it through this step are then classified by the AI software as good, bad or not sure. Training the software is easy, you just click on a simple thumbs up or thumbs down icon attached to each article.
Over time, MyCurator starts to pick out the types of articles you are looking for. It can weed out 90% or more of the off topic and junk articles that are picked up by alerts and feeds. Its like having a personal assistant to read and classify your articles all day long. That can free up hours per day and let you really focus on finding the best and most interesting articles in your stream.
Now that you’ve identified some content, the final step is curating it into a post. With Google Reader, you’ll need to cut and paste out of the article on the web. Other content curation tools have various ways to easily add information and pictures into your post. MyCurator places the full text of the article, as well as pictures, right into your WordPress post editor page, for easy curation.
Of course the final hurdle, writing your insights, comments and opinions, can only be overcome by your effort. With tools such as MyCurator though, I find that in spending less time searching for articles to curate, I have more time to appreciate the insightful, well written pieces that are out there on the web. After curating good content for a while, it helps inspire you to write those original creative pieces that you also need for your blog.