I haven’t been as disciplined in my writing as I’d like. My articles have been few and far between, which is not what I intended. Part of this is because of other time commitments, priorities and partly the inertia of doing the longer story. To get back into the swing and get my “writing muscle” going again, I thought I would try referencing good content I see from around the web that would benefit you. While I might not be able to write as often, there’s a lot of good content out there. There are three tools I’ll use for this content curation process you might consider for everyday use.
Essentially, I’m trying to build an easy process to identify content and share the good stuff without breaking my “time bank”. As with most processes, I want simplicity and speed. After some testing, I’ve settled on 3 tools:
Step 1: Finding Good Content
The major step in this content curation process is finding good content. Let’s face it, we’re bombarded with content so the issue is sorting the good from the bad. The tool I use for this is Feedly. This is a powerful RSS feed reader I first started using when Google Reader shut down. Initially, I used the free version, but have since upgraded to the paid version. What’s appealing about the service is that it is customizable. Sometimes I want to group related RSS feeds into categories. This allows me to focus on one topic. I can also create feeds from keyword searches.
In the example below, you can see I have a series of RSS feeds that show under my Webmaster group [A]. I can drill down to see a specific feed or look at all of them. Another nice feature is I can see the popularity of a story [B]. This number can help me find good content especially if someone doesn’t have the best headline. You might think of it like crowdsourcing, but keep in mind that the masses can be wrong.
By having the content in this layout format, I can quickly scan. Another benefit is if I click to read a story, it’s a simple layout that doesn’t include ads and popups.
The downside to Feedly is there is a learning curve so start slowly until you get a handle on how to organize your info.
Step 2: Highlighting the Gems
Once I’ve found shareable content, I like to click through to the site. I want to view the story as a reader would when clicking through. Sometimes, I don’t share a page simply because it’s a terrible or overwhelming user experience with popups, videos, ads etc. At the bottom of each item, Feedly provides a direct link to the article.
Using the PressThis browser bookmarklet from WordPress, I can highlight a passage and click my toolbar bookmarklet. I can add text and site images by clicking one from the image strip [A].my text to the post. The highlighted info is properly formatted in a blockquote [B] with the source [C]. The caveat here is you need to keep in mind “fair use” and not highlight huge sections of the original article.
Step 3: Adding My Take and Headline
One of the lessons I’ve learned from using Feedly is the value of a compelling headline. When you stack all these stories up, it can still be overwhelming. I use the headline as a sorting mechanism. This means that I also have to write a good headline to catch people’s attention. It’s not as easy as you might think so I rely on the free Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule.
The tool is simple to use and only requires you to enter the headline. From there, it will score your headline and provide additional data including your history. This makes it useful to test one headline against another. The service is skewed toward headlines that attract social media shares. However, it has value even if that’s not your intent as it provides some analysis regarding word types and lengths.
I should mention that CoSchedule’s main paid product is a marketing calendar that works with WordPress and various social media platforms. You could use this service to further promote and leverage your content.
I’ll start rolling this process into production this coming week. Let’s see if this system will get me posting more often.