The internet is awash with dreadful content. What if you could cut through all that, giving your readers links to the resources they crave – and at the same time make a business out of it?
It's called content curation.
Don't confuse it with autoblogging (stealing content by republishing it automatically from a web feed and slapping it on a page with 27 ads). Neither is it like a legitimate aggregation service like Alltop.com, which automatically reblogs posts with the permission of the publisher.
So what is content curation?
Sometimes called curation blogging, curation means posting collections of valuable and useful links, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. on a specific theme. Think of it as a link round-up with informed commentary from you added to the mix.
As good as Google is, it's still time-consuming to wade through a lot of web pages to understand the key concepts of a topic – and many people just don't have the time or want to be bothered. Or both.
They like the idea of a trustworthy resource site that's done all the donkey work for them – nothing but the best links, without the junk and without the effort.
How to do it well
Take the business of internet marketing and social media, for example.
As you're probably aware, there are few subjects more full of spam sites, crappily rehashed articles, self-proclaimed gurus, general scam artists and ne'er do-wells.
Trying to find some serious, reliable information on the subject is tricky.
That's what makes the regularly-curated posts Kristi Hines publishes as Fetch Friday such a success. She's picked out the gems from the dross so her readers don't have to.
The business model
Because curation blogs quickly become an in-depth resource on a niche subject, there's the potential to make good money through advertising and affiliate programs.
Think about that for a moment.
Not only can focussing on content curation get you out of writing 100% original material every time, it can also create a revenue stream without needing your own product or service.
If you're one of those people who's always sharing links on social networks, you're already doing a form of content curation and you're probably thinking there's a pretty nifty business idea here. And there is.
The trick is to know that you can't just Google a keyword, paste the top five links into a post and then pop open the Chardonnay.
The key word here is curation
Like an art gallery curator, you need to take the trouble to find the very best examples for your audience – because a crappy resource in your post will reflect badly on you, not the blogger you're linking to.
To provide a valuable resource, you need to work harder than the average web searcher does when you research your post. Most people just hop on Google or Bing to do their research. You need to use more unusual sources to find the more unusual pages worth linking to.
That means using Google News and Blog Search, Twitter, Blekko, You Tube and the best blogs in your niche.
It's great for search engine rankings
Make sure you tell your readers why you've included a particular link. Is it new information, a controversial opinion or is it from a particularly authoritative source?
By adding your own commentary you'll change the post from an impersonal link fest – which can look a little like an attempt to game Google – to a thoughtful, original piece of content that cites excellent sources.
That's just the kind of post Google loves.
Aside from making it easier to write good blog posts, it also keeps you updated with your niche and builds contacts with other bloggers in your field.
Mention them in a post and often even a big name will leave a comment, share it with their followers on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ or, if you're really lucky, link directly to your curated piece from their blog.
Works for me
Even if you're not planning to develop an entire curated blog, it's worth experimenting with occasional curated posts on a regular blog.
I've been doing that recently here on Genius Startup with good results. The posts are much quicker to write, are well-received by readers and are attracting good quality links.
Rather than have several different browser tabs open for each of the different sources used to compile the posts, I've found it easier to use CurationSoft – a neat little app I discovered through a post on Ana Hoffman's Traffic Generation Cafe.
It's a very simple app that allows you to find content quickly from several different sources – Google, Twitter, You Tube, and so on, all at once.
Once you've found the content you want to include, you just drag and drop links (with the post image, if there is one) directly into the edit screen in WordPress or whichever blogging platform you're using.
I find that on its own is a huge time-saver.
No tedious re-typing or copying and pasting very long URLs and to make links by hand. You just drag and drop and then edit as you need to. I usually shorten the title and always write my own description.
It's a Time-Saver
Whether you use software or curate your sources by hand, you'll probably find content curation is much quicker than content creation. Mix up a bit of both on your blog and you're on to a winner.
Genius Startup helps small startups and solo entrepreneurs build a successful and profitable online business without needing to be a technical whizzkid. We've got smart and savvy strategies for social media, content marketing and generating revenue.