“Curation is the ultimate method of transforming noise into meaning” – Rohit Bhargava
In this 2 part podcast series Chris discusses the importance of the role of the curator.
He shares with you why curation is important, how it can help you, the skills of a great curator and good examples from CMA and from other resources.
Blogs on curation from CMA:
- Curate, don’t create – The benefits of content curation
Great examples of content curation as mentioned in Part II:
- Wait But Why
- Brain Pickings
- Jay Baer weekly emails
- Colin Gray Online Business Primer ‘podpack’
- Tim Ferriss’ 5 Bullet Friday
- Scott Monty’s The Full Monty
- Rohit Bhargava
- Chris Brogan
Alright, welcome to part two – all about becoming a curator.
In this part of the episode, in this part two, really just gonna talk about how you can get better at this. Things you can actually do to get better at curating or be a better curator. I’m gonna go into some examples – I’m gonna give you some examples from CMA, give you some examples from other people as well, what they’re doing, and all the links – I’m gonna put a whole bunch of links into the show notes for you as well, guys, so you can go over there and check that out and get access to all the links.
So, we’ve covered a lot so far about the skills of a curator, but here’s the kind of things that I do on a daily basis to kinda curate stuff.
It’s probably the best word I can use, or gather. And then I kind of get stuck into it over the weekends, usually. So I’m just gonna give you some examples about how I do things. This is about getting into the habit of gathering and collecting things and gathering it into some sort of central place or central location. So, one example that I do is I save a lot of links in Facebook. I don’t know if you’ve been- when you’re on Facebook and you see something that you like, like a video or an article, and you definitely don’t have time to read it right now ’cause that’s distracting, but you wanna save it for later, you can just click on the little three dots at the top and then just say “Save Link” and that just saves it into a place where you can go back to it, which is great.
Another thing to do is to use something like a Trello board or an Evernote where you can copy URLs and bookmark them in a place for you. The key here, though, is that it’s important that you’ve got a place where you gather your ideas so you can go back to.
But the other thing here is that you’re gathering and aggregating. So what I mean by that is you’re not just gathering randomly. You’re going to put things that are of a certain topic into the same place. You haven’t just got this mess of links to videos and articles and books. It’s actually organised by, say, a topic, or an idea. That’s the best way to keep it organised.
It’s up to you, but as long as it’s kind of organised, in some way, so you can start to kind of highlight areas for trends and areas for discussion. Essentially what I’m really talking about here, to cut a long story short, is having what’s called a swipe file. It’s basically a digital, or a non-digital, off your computer, file that you save stuff in.
This used to be a folder with magazine pages ripped out and ideas for advertising or ideas for marketing. But you could keep a notebook simple. You could keep a folder in your email inbox where it’s just called “Your Swipe File” or something like that. And you just drag emails in there and you can save emails in there too. I find I save a lot of stuff on my iPad, I have a Trello, things like that. Anything that’s gonna help you collect and gather and aggregate and think about all your ideas and all that kinda stuff. I think those are some things you can do.
One of the things I was actually just thinking about now, as well, is just follow really interesting people on Facebook and Twitter, and on those platforms, you’ve got tonnes of other ones, there’s loads of platforms to get ideas from – all the bookmarking platforms, tonnes of places. Typically I get all of my interesting stuff from interesting people, surprisingly enough. So follow interesting people, too. In your space. And you’ll find that you’ll gather really interesting ideas from them.
So, just to give you a bit of backstory, here, like I said I’ve been curating stuff for a long time – I would say most of the time, I take time to curate something unique.
Say it’s a blog article I’m writing – I will spend time. I won’t just put “Here’s my top five videos”. I’ll actually put a bit of explanation about why they’re my top five, and you won’t even need to, in some cases, play the videos, you could probably get most of the point just from the writing I’ve put together.
But I still feel like one of the weakest areas for me is that sometimes I don’t add any unique thoughts, I just say “Here’s a great bunch of articles,” or “Here’s a great trend,” or some- I don’t know, whatever, and I think there’s a lot more that I can do right now to improve my curation skills in terms of adding unique thought, opinion, and conclusions to things, adding meaning, essentially, back to the main point that we had in the last part.
One thing I have found out about myself, though is I’m quite comfortable not being an expert at everything, and I’ve definitely got better at being unbiased. You know, not getting emotional about content, for example, in my case it’d be another marketer that’s produced something amazing, and instead of saying, I wish I could’ve done that, I’ll be like, this is awesome, let’s dig into it, see if I can get meaning from this and share it with my audience. I love all of that. I mean, my favourite subjects are content marketing, marketing, network growth, speaking – all the stuff I talk about on this show. And I think even though those are my favourite subjects, I wouldn’t have said that I’m the best at any one of them. And I like to look at other areas outside of those as well and how they affect things like consumer behaviour and how we buy things and other businesses as well. Just business stuff, generally speaking.
People do rely on me, I think, to find the best content, for them to cut through the noise and save them time, and it’s not just a simple case of collecting resources, like, anybody can go out and go, for example, someone might ask you a question. And you just go and Google it and find the answer. They could do that themselves. But you’ve got to take it a step farther. Do a little bit of deeper studying, drawing conclusions – that’s where the true value is for your audience. And like I said, I’ve still got a lot of learning to do, in everything. We’ve all got a lot of learning to do. But I think this skill of the curator deserves to be a skill that’s honed and crafted as well.
So what can you do about it? Let me give you some examples of things that we’ve done. In fact, let me talk about what a bad example would be. There was an article that I saw just recently – I hear that, and it was so stupid that I think, in hindsight, it was like, “The 25 Best Resources for Content Marketing,” or something like that. And it was literally a blog with 25 bullet points with links to, like, e-books and stuff like that. There was no meaning. It was just- it didn’t do anything. It didn’t save me time, I would still have to go into all of those to find the information. I would be doing better if they’d drawn out all the best information from those 25 resources and put it into one resource for us.
So I think there’ arethings that people think they’re doing curating when they’re actually not, things like when it doesn’t actually have any conclusions. Or it’s not actually saving time or having a perspective or a point of view. There’s no unique insights. When it adds noise instead of reducing noise. When it’s not useful. It’s just sharing articles without thought. And it’s more complicated rather than simple – I think those are the kind of opposite end of the skill in terms of curation. So here’s some examples that we’ve done, and if you’ve got any questions about anything, please just give me a shout – I just wanna give you some ideas so that it might trigger some ideas for you in terms of how you can do it for your audience.
So we took Stephan Thomas’s blog when he was speaking at our conference and we picked out the ten best blogs from that, and the 10 best lessons for networking for that and put it into a blog article. We took a 90-minute keynote presentation for market share, and we narrowed it down to six main lessons and put them into a PDF document and shared that with our audience. One of the things we’ve done recently in the more recent past is, I used to do an email, it was called “Content Marketing Essentials,” every single email would take a single topic and it would have the top three or five resources, whether it be a blog or podcast or a video, in there on that topic. Like say for example, Instagram marketing. Or whatever it might be. Or personal branding. And that kind of fizzled out a little bit for us, and I’ve started up again, my email is called “HotDog with Onions,” now, and I send that out every week with the best resources that I’ve seen this week.
So that’s a really good example of curation. I’ll talk about some of those examples as we go on from other sources. It could be that you take – this is just an idea, but we’ve done something similar but not quite to this depth – where you take a big study, like a white paper or something like that, and you read it and you take notes and then you summarise it for your audience. I’m doing that for a couple of things right now.
Another thing would be, like, surveys and data – to take that data from surveys and things like that, things of that nature, and draw conclusions on those resources. That sort of thing could work as well, and recognise some trends, and it’s adding meaning, so taking the data and making it meaningful to your audience and the context that they work within.
A great example is just taking your best resources this week, this month, this year, that sort of thing. You could create – we’ve done this before as well – we take crib notes or a crib sheet for a book or a quick reference guide for something, a larger piece of content which could be a book or another resource. You can do interviews with professionals – like, we’ve got interviews with professional speakers as one of the things we’ve just done recently. You’ve not heard any of this, maybe, it’ll come out in the future, where we’ve interviewed a whole bunch of people in a single topic, the business of speaking. And what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna curate that information into a great resource for people. And one of the other things we do as well is curate speakers for our stages, curate people and speakers and talent for our webinars as well. So we’re doing a lot of that and it’s not just a case of, like, anyone can speak on the stage and anyone can be in a webinar. We’re looking for the best people for a specific topic.
For example, our audience were crying out for video marketing help. So we got Amy Schmittauer to not only do webinars for us, but speak on our stage, and we got Salma Jafri to join as well. She’s a video expert too, so we’re looking at specific topics, specific challenges, and trying to find a way to solve those problems for people.
So there are some examples, hopefully, that’s given you some ideas – I’d love to hear from you. @ChrisMarr101 on Twitter. You can get in touch with me, let me know what you think.
So, just to finish up, I’m gonna give you some examples from around the web of great curators.
I’ve got 10 here, there’s probably more – I’d love to hear who your best curators are as well.
- I’ve picked out the Wait, But Why website – that’s one of my favourite websites in the most recent months, very long form content – there’s a huge amount of studying and curating and reading – I just can’t even imagine how much work goes into that. I’ve read a 40,000 word document that they had created on AI, for example, one of them – it was the Neuralink, maybe – you know, that’s like, a dissertation that guys created, you know? So, that’s a massively inspiring website.
- More Info – Wait But Why
- Brain Peckings by Maria Popova, I think her name is? Brain Peckings, a hugely impressive blog, highly curated, almost every topic about living a great lifestyle. She reads and she writes prolifically. Just incredible amount of work.
- More Info – Brain Pickings
- More in the marketing side of things, Jay Baer has his weekly emails which are great, I think they’re just called Jay Baer On. And he just sends out the resources that he’s liked this week or anything that he’s created this week. And I’ll put links to where you can sign up for this stuff in the show notes.
- More Info – Jay Baer weekly emails
- Colin Grey has got a great example, let’s go back a bit, I’m not sure of where he is with it at the moment, but he created something called a Pod Pack. So he took an example – you called it the online business primer, and he picks maybe 20 to 25 podcast episodes from various different sources, and put them all together in one single playlist for an online business primer. So if you’re just getting started with your business online, these were a top 20 that he had selected and hand-picked for you to go and get stuck into them, gonna help you get your business started on the right foot.
- More Info – Colin Gray Online Business Primer ‘podpack’
- Tim Ferriss sends out his five bullet Friday every single week, which is great, and that’s another example – I’ve read that today, for example, it’s Friday
- More Info – Tim Ferriss’ 5 Bullet Friday
- and the Full Monty, which is Scott Monty’s newsletter, he sends that out every week as well – I think it’s every week, anyway. That’s a big, big email. Again, I’ve put a link in so you can subscribe to these newsletters, and you’ll be able to see what they do, but Scott breaks it down into categories, I think that’s really good, so he’s got AI, marketing, I can’t remember the other topics but he’s split them up into topics and then shared with you the resources within those topics which is really good.
- Then there’s like, TrendHunter,
- More Info – Trendhunter
- Inbound.org, as well, from the marketing side of things, that’s essentially what they do, they deliver to you the best articles on Inbound and marketing this week. That’s their job.
- More Info – Inbound.org
- Rohit Bhargava I’ve already mentioned, and
- More Info – Rohit Bhargava
- Chris Brogan also does the same thing, the news stories from this week. So those are 10 really good examples of curators and all different types of curation going on there as well, links in the show notes for all of those, you can go and check them out.
- More Info – Chris Brogan
I just wanted to leave you with this challenge note – this is a two-parter on becoming a curator.
So the challenge for you is to think about how the role of a curator is something that you can either improve upon or get better at, and then how you can apply the role of the curator to your business or to your role in your career and to help add value to your audience.
So how could you apply these ideas, these lessons, to your business? To the business that you’re in? What problems do you think curation will solve for you as a content marketer, as a business owner, and what problems will it also solve for your audience too? What opportunities will curation provide you with as a content marketer too?
So I just want you to think about all of that, I’d love to hear your thoughts – you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org, just put “Becoming a Curator” in the subject line, I’d love to hear from you, your thoughts and ideas on this.
I think it’s a really important role, I love being a curator, I love everything about it, I think it’s exciting, and also the one big thing that I love is this: completing my knowledge, as a whole, and learning tonnes about loads of different things. It’s kind of like filling in gaps, it’s making me smarter and more intelligent, and I love it. And I hope that you do too
So I’d love to hear from you, let me know if you’ve got anything on your mind, I hope you’ve had an amazing day and an amazing week.