12 Most Easy Traps To Fall Into When Curating Content
Last week we talked about reasons why a person (like me) who is curating content may not include certain kind of posts. This week I want to talk about some of the traps one can fall into when working on curating content. Having fallen into most of them, this is something I know a lot about. Or, like Han Solo famously said, “Hey, trust me.”
1. Curating content from only the biggest bloggers out there
When I first starting gathering posts in various and sundry ways, I didn’t know a whole lot of people. I thought I was being a nice person by curating content from sites like Copyblogger and Problogger. “Gosh, they’ll really appreciate my support,” I thought. While that might have been true, the fact is that if you have a post that includes links to every huge site in the world, people are going to chalk it up as link bait or a random cry for attention. You need to try to mix it up a little.
2. Curating content only from people that are your personal friends
Just like it’s easy to curate content coming from the bloggers everyone has heard of, it’s also super easy to just gather posts from people you’re friends with. After all, we have limited time, we want to support our friends, and we hope that this will show we have their backs. The sad truth though is that just because someone is your friend, that doesn’t mean they on their own have enough pull to make your curated content interesting for the whole world. If you’re trying to attract interest outside of your direct circle, you need to try to curate content from people outside of that circle.
3. Getting the blogger’s name wrong
Yes, it’s the thought that counts, but as a person whose name has been spelled wrong more than right (hi Marrige), I can tell you that getting the name right matters. A lot. After all, it’s that person’s NAME. Double and triple check the spelling, and then check again!
4. Expecting a lot of promotion for your efforts
If you are curating content just so you can get on peoples’ good side, you’d best stop now. It’s easy to think that because everyone is talking about curating content and inbound links, everyone you link to will literally fall all over you in gratitude. And some people do, I’m not going to lie. But for the most part, especially with seasoned bloggers, you may not even get a comment or a mention. And that is perfectly understandable, by the way. Do you respond to every person who links to you?
5. Only gathering posts that have something to do with you
I’ve seen this done on occasion, and it’s a tricky line to walk. I was advised during my “30 Thursday” days that I should comment on every blog that I promoted. This would show that I had actually read and absorbed the post. I had felt that my little abstract was doing that, but I wanted to appease my readers, so I started to leave 30 comments a week. It was fun, but I always worried that someone visiting my posts would think I was secretly just driving traffic to, well, me. In hindsight, I don’t think commenting on every post was particularly important to the curating I was doing, and if anything, it may have been a turn-off. If you are only linking to posts that are praising you or are about you, I would definitely recommend trying a new tactic.
6. Gathering posts that are all from the same perspective
If you are doing a lot of curating, you’ll notice something that is not all that surprising. You’re going to gravitate toward posts you agree with. It’s nice to have validation of your views, and we just naturally move towards people who think like we do. When you’re curating content though, you’re responsible (I believe) for offering a variety of perspectives to show the spectrum of what’s out there. I’m doing the best I can to offer a wide range of perspectives at The Blog Library because I don’t want any visitor to feel like they are not represented or welcome there.
7. Including too much of your own content
I saw a post tweeted out once that got me really excited. It was something like, “The 100 best posts on blogging from 2010.” I clicked anxious (I love reading curation posts as much as I like writing them) and found that every single post was by that author. Yurg. If you are going to do something like that, I would signal that that is your intention by calling the post, “My best posts of xx year” or something along those lines.
8. Not including enough of your content
There was a time on my site when most of the “most popular posts” were 30 Thursday posts. That was great, in a way, because it showed those posts were appreciated. On the other hand, since I didn’t include any of my own posts on those lists, I wasn’t really getting feedback on my writing or content. I got great advice from Darren Rowse about this, as it happens. Simple but true – it’s not a bad thing to include a bit of your own content when you’re gathering posts. You don’t need to knock someone over the head, and in fact, if you use the WordPress plugin “similar posts,” this can be taken care of for you.
9. Listing posts with no commentary about why they’re there
Until you start curating content on a pretty regular basis, you don’t realize how time-consuming it is. That’s just the looking for and reading good posts. Then you need to format them into wherever you’re gathering them, and by the time you’re done with that, you may not want to do anything else. However, I strongly believe that a big portion of sharing other peoples’ content with your readers is explaining to your readers why that post is there. That way, if a reader questions your choice or wants a little more reason to click that link, they don’t have to ask – your answer is already there.
10. Making it hard for readers to move between your post and the posts you’re curating
My friend Debra Ellis actually taught me this one. When I first started doing my 30 Thursday posts, I would link to the person’s site, but that link took you off my site and to the person’s site. That meant that if you wanted to visit other posts, you’d have to go back to my site, find the post again, and…well, you’re probably not going to come back at that point. Make sure that you link to outside sites, but make sure you’re just opening up another window or tab for someone. In WordPress, this can be done by simply selecting that option from a drop-down menu.
11. Making lots of errors in your write-ups
Because you are not actually blogging yourself (technically), it’s easy to kind of rush through posts where you’re curating other bloggers’ content. I have made my share of mistakes, including typos in the person’s blog title, broken links, or random other errors (including spelling a person’s name wrong, by the way). If you want people to find you credible in the recommendations you make, proving that you are knowledgeable is a good way to start!
12. Making it too hard
With all of the talk about building inbound links and how important it is to be a curator of content, it’s easy to think that gathering posts and sharing them with your audience needs to be super technical and tough. In fact, this is not the case. I set plenty of obstacles in my way over time, including trying to do daily posts where I would focus on blogs written on a single area. Do you know what happens when you try to do that? All of those blog posts you thought you had seen on that subject randomly disappear, and it drives you nuts! Lately, I harvest a lot of great posts just from skimming through my Twitter feed, favoriting posts throughout the day, and then going through and reading them as I can. You all have some good taste and I am learning whose tweets to trust (@matthewliberty I’m talking to you!).
Those are the 12 traps I’ve fallen into over my very short curating career. Heaven knows what other mistakes I’ll dig up for you!
In the meantime, what have you seen in curation posts that you have liked or disliked? I’d love to hear about it!
Next week this 3-part series will wrap up with 12 most helpful tips for curating content!
Featured image courtesy of Orin Zebest licensed via creative commons.