Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ghostwriting 101: How to Get Paid Big Bucks As a Ghostwriter

You want to make money as a writer, right?

You’ve told everyone on Facebook (including your weird aunt) that you’re available to write. You’ve been writing guest post after guest post to showcase your talent and get your name out there. Maybe you’ve even landed a few jobs already. (Good for you!)

But then a potential client emails you with the question, “Do you offer ghostwriting services?”

And you’re stumped.

Maybe you’ve heard of ghostwriting. Maybe you have some idea what a ghostwriter is. Or maybe you wonder if it involves ouija boards in some way.

You don’t want to look like an idiot by emailing back to say, “Err… what do you mean?”

That sounds like a good way to send your potential client running for the hills.

But don’t worry — I’m about to tell you everything you need to know about ghostwriting, starting with…

 

What IS Ghostwriting?

You might already have some hazy ideas about ghostwriting. When I first heard of ghostwriting, I thought it was just used for celebrity memoirs.

It turns out memoirs are just the tip of the iceberg. Ghostwriting is everywhere — from independent authors using Kindle Direct Publishing to popular bloggers using WordPress.

So what is it?

When you ghostwrite, you let someone else put their name on your work. That is, you don’t get any credit — at all.

Typically, the person who commissions the work will own the copyright, which also means they can modify or republish the work in any way they see fit.

So why would someone hire a ghostwriter? Are they too lazy to write their own stuff?

Not necessarily. People hire ghostwriters for many different reasons, but the most common ones are:

  • Their business has grown so much that they no longer have time to write (all) their own material.
  • They have a wealth of expertise or an exciting story to tell, but they don’t enjoy writing or they’re not very good at it.

It’s nothing new, either: ghostwriting has been around, in one form or another, for centuries.

To give you a better idea what being a ghostwriter may involve, my own ghostwriting has included:

  • Taking a rough draft, editing it heavily, and expanding on it where necessary.
  • Taking a blogger’s rough notes and transcribing them.
  • Putting together short, functional blog posts (e.g., announcing a new podcast).
  • Taking an assigned topic and very brief outline, then writing a post.
  • Writing a post based on a title and nothing more.
  • Coming up with ideas, getting them approved, then ghostwriting the posts (though this is rare!).

As you can see, ghostwriting has a spectrum from something akin to an editing relationship to writing a piece from scratch.

And it’s growing in popularity.

The demand for ghostwriters is so high it’s now taught in schools — California State University, Long Beach offers a Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program led by Claudia Suzanne.

Of course, I’ve only ghostwritten for blogs.

Authors like Roz Morris have written whole books as ghostwriters, which is a far more involved process that includes extensive interviews with the client.

But Why Would You Let Someone Else Take Credit for YOUR Writing?

Assuming you want to build up your own brand as a writer, why would you want to be a ghostwriter?

After all, you won’t get any of the credit. Your name won’t appear anywhere on the piece, and you probably can’t tell anyone you wrote it.

So why do so many writers ghostwrite, and why do so many love it?

Well, because there are major benefits:

Benefit #1: Being a Ghostwriter Pays Exceptionally Well


One huge reason to be a ghostwriter is money. Ghostwriting tends to pay better than regular freelancing.

After all, having your name attached to your words is valuable for you as a writer. When you have a byline, you can use that piece of work to showcase your talent, build your reputation, and potentially attract new clients.

So it’s appropriate (and standard practice) to increase your fee to compensate for the loss of these advantages.

There’s no exact rule of thumb for how much extra you should charge for ghostwriting over regular freelancing. Personally, I tend to increase my fee by about 15%–20%.

On top of that, once you’ve established a ghostwriting relationship with someone, it often results in ongoing work for you. Most people want their writing to be consistent, so it makes sense to stick with the same writer.

In other words, you have consistent work at a higher rate than usual. That’s quite a plus, isn’t it?

Benefit #2: Ghostwriting Lets You Develop Closer Relationships with Big Names in Your Field


As a ghostwriter, you’ll normally work quite closely with your client. You may be privy to their rough notes or mind maps, or you might interview them on the phone or in person.

Chances are, you’re also focusing your ghostwriting on a particular area of expertise (especially if you’re writing for a blog).

This means you’ve got a brilliant opportunity to get to know and be affiliated with someone well-established in your field.

You’ll find that you get valuable insights into the “behind the scenes” of a top blog, or you get a clearer idea of how a big-name author works and thinks.

This may be eye-opening! It could give you some ideas for how best to move forward with your own business when you start your own blog.

And as you build up closer relationships, or even friendships, with your client, they might share your other work on social media, bringing you a lot of extra traffic. (Several of the people I ghostwrite for have supported me in that way.)

If you ever need a favor or need some advice, there’s a good chance they’ll be very happy to help.

So much of blogging success depends on getting a helping hand from other bloggers — particularly those with a large audience and a great reputation in their field.

Ghostwriting brings you into close contact with exactly those people.

The Counterpoint: Why You Might NOT Want to Be a Ghostwriter

There are a couple of big concerns that writers have about ghostwriting:

“But surely that’s not ethical?”

“But why should they benefit from my hard work?”

“But what about building my platform?”

These are real, valid concerns. And for you, they may be deal-breakers.

So let’s dig into them.

Objection #1: “When You’re a Ghostwriter, You’re Helping Someone Fool Their Readers — That’s Unethical”


When you’re a ghostwriter for someone, they pass your words off as their own.

Which begs the question…

Is ghostwriting ethical?

The authors who hire ghostwriters certainly think it is! But not all writers or readers agree. Many feel that some types of ghostwriting are more ethical than others.

For instance, think about these two scenarios, which are on opposite ends of the ghostwriting spectrum:

  1. A big-name blogger hires a ghostwriter to write an e-book on their behalf. The blogger talks to the ghostwriter for an hour and provides a detailed outline. Once the e-book is complete, the big-name blogger reads it, edits it, and puts his or her name on it.
  2. A big-name blogger hires a ghostwriter to write an e-book on their behalf. They give the ghostwriter free rein to come up with the topic and outline, and they don’t supply any help. When it’s done, the blogger puts his or her name on it without giving it a second look.

Personally, as a reader, I’d feel comfortable with situation #1. The thoughts in the e-book belong to the blogger, but the ghostwriter has helped shape them.

Situation #2, however, seems a lot thornier. As a reader, I’d feel cheated by that.

I’m buying the e-book because I want the blogger’s expertise — not that of a ghostwriter I don’t know.

If you’re thinking of ghostwriting, you have to make up your own mind about what is — and isn’t — ethical. Where would you personally draw the line as a ghostwriter, if at all?

For more thoughts on the rights and wrongs of ghostwriting, check out Patty Podnar’s post Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

Also, Amanda Montell’s Your Favorite Influencers Aren’t Writing Their Own Content—These Women Are is quite eye-opening about some of the less ethical practices in the ghostwriting world.

Objection #2: “It’s Too Painful Watching Someone Else Get Praised for YOUR Work”


It may sound silly, but not getting recognition for your writing can be quite painful — unbearable to some.

I have to admit that, as a writer, it can sometimes sting a little to see a blogger receive lots of lovely praise for a post that I wrote every word of. And I’m not alone; many writers find themselves missing the attention and craving the recognition.

It’s no fun watching someone bask in glory that should be yours.

But think of it this way: All that praise is a sign you did a great job. You can be proud of that, and you can feel confident you’ll get hired again!

Also, as ghostwriter Roz Morris points out in an interview with whitefox, it’s not just ghostwriters who go unnoticed by readers:

There are many unsung heroes in the creative industries, and ghostwriters are only one of them. Editors can also make a huge difference to a book and are rarely credited.

So, if you can’t stand watching someone else take the praise, that’s okay. Many writers feel that way. But maybe we should also keep things in perspective.

Objection #3: “Ghostwriting Keeps You from Building Your Platform”


Even if you’re okay with someone else getting the praise, you may still oppose the idea of letting them take credit.

Some writers feel that, to become a successful freelance writer, you need to take credit for every powerful word you write and create an impressive body of work with your name on it. They believe that ghostwriting is essentially a waste of time.

After all, when you’ve got a bio (or at least your name) on every blog post you write, each of those posts helps raise your profile. You’ll be bringing in new readers and potentially new clients through your work — without any additional marketing.

This is essentially the argument that Demian Farnworth puts forward in The Brutally Honest Truth About Ghostwriting:

The first thing every writer should ask is this: What do you want to accomplish as a writer? Is building a personal and visible platform important to you? Will it help you in the long run? If you have to ghostwrite to make ends meet, fine. But beat a hasty path out of the business as soon as possible. It’s your turn to run the show.

I certainly think it’s worth putting some serious thought into how best to make ghostwriting work for you. It might be that you want to solely focus on your own platform (heck, you might even hire ghostwriters of your own, some day down the line!).

But there’s no shame in taking ghostwriting jobs to generate a steady income while you build your platform. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can do both at the same time.

Ghostwriting takes some focus away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

By the way: We’ve created a handy visual summarizing this post that you can share and embed on your own site. Check out the image below (click to see a larger view):

Ghostwriting 101: The Must-Read Ghostwriter Primer for 2019

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How to Become a Ghostwriter

If you’ve been nodding your head while reading this post, you’re probably wondering…

“Okay, but how do I become a ghostwriter?”

Answer:

The same way you become a freelance writer.

Here are the keys:

#1. Build Your Content Creation Skills


If you want to be a ghostwriter, you have to learn how to create quality content. What’s this mean? It means:

  • Mastering content frameworks
  • Learning how to write solid headlines
  • Knowing how to support your points with examples
  • Keeping your readers emotionally engaged

…and more.

Nothing will impact your ability to earn real, tangible income as a ghostwriter more than your ability to create amazing content.

So, if you don’t know how, learn.

Further Reading: Check out our resource How to Write a Blog Post – The Ultimate Guide. Once you’ve mastered the basics, read How to Create Content People Will Still Remember in 5 Years’ Time.

#2. Learn the Ins and Outs of SEO


If you can create content that will rank on Google, clients will pay you.

Happily.

Heck, they’ll throw money at you.

So how can you help your content rank on Google? By learning all you can about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and applying what you learn to the content you create.

Further Reading: Don’t know SEO? Brian Dean has a great guide that will help you learn the basics of SEO fast.

#3. Build an Awesome Portfolio of Sample Content


Ideally, you’ll have three levels of portfolios:

  1. A portfolio that shows you know how to write,
  2. a portfolio that shows you’re a subject matter expert of a given topic, and
  3. a portfolio that shows documented success for clients.

But when you’re just starting out, you need to focus on the first level:

A portfolio that proves you know how to create a decent piece of content.

If you don’t already have your own blog or website, create an account on a free blogging platform like Medium.

Two or three sample posts are enough, and you can get started right away.

#4. Find Your First Paying Client


In the early days, finding those first few clients will be difficult.

Even with solid content creation skills, SEO know-how, and a great portfolio proving you know how to write, finding paying clients without word of mouth and referrals won’t be easy.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Keep checking job agency postings.
  2. Pitch to software company blogs like HubSpot, Sumo, and Ahrefs.
  3. Do as much self-promotion as you can, including mentioning your ghostwriting service in the byline of your blog or Medium posts.

It’ll be a slow process at first, but once you get those first few clients you’ll be set. Do a great job, make your clients happy, and referrals will happen.

Further Reading: Bookmark this giant list of content marketing agencies. It’ll come in handy.

Ghostwriting 101: A Quick Recap

We’ve covered a lot, so let’s review:

What Is Ghostwriting?
Ghostwriting is when a writer (“ghostwriter”) is hired to create a piece of content for a company or individual, who will then publish the work as their own.
Do Ghostwriters Get Credit for Their Work?
Ghostwriters are paid to let someone else put their name on their work — they do not receive any credit, and they usually cannot tell anyone they wrote it.
Why Do People Hire Ghostwriters?
There are numerous reasons why someone would want to hire a ghostwriter, but two big reasons are time restraints and a lack of desire (or ability).
 
Regardless of their reason, parties who choose to hire ghostwriters do so because it’s advantageous. (They’re getting something out of it, in other words!)
What Are the Benefits of Being a Ghostwriter?
There are two huge benefits to ghostwriting:
  1. Exceptional pay, and
  2. business relationships.

Because they miss out on auxiliary perks like bylines and having their name attached to the content, ghostwriters are usually well compensated.
 
Also, ghostwriting brings ghostwriters into close contact with bloggers, authors, and influencers with large audiences. These connections can sometimes be worth more than the commission itself.

How Much Do Ghostwriters Make?
It varies from writer to writer, but an increased fee of 15% or more from their standard freelancing rate is reasonable when ghostwriting.
What Are the Typical Objections to Ghostwriting?
Those who throw shade at ghostwriting typically do so for one of three reasons:
  1. Ethical concerns,
  2. not wanting to see someone else get credit for their work, and
  3. the worry ghostwriting will keep the writer from building up his or her own platform.

We’ve covered each of these objections in detail. Whether any of them are deal-breakers is up to you.

How to Become a Ghostwriter
The process is very similar to the one for becoming a regular freelance writer:
  1. Build Your Content Creation Skills
  2. Learn the Ins and Outs of SEO
  3. Build an Awesome Portfolio of Sample Content
  4. Find Your First Paying Client

In short:

  1. Learn how to create awesome content,
  2. learn the ins and outs of SEO so the content you produce can rank on Google,
  3. create a portfolio of 2 or 3 posts that prove you’re a good writer, and
  4. pound the pavement so you can secure those first few paying clients.

Will You Give Ghostwriting a Try?

Ultimately, ghostwriting can be a little divisive.

Some writers feel — passionately — that readers deserve to know exactly who wrote the words they’re reading. Others feel building your platform is too important to let someone else take credit.

But ghostwriting is a good way to make money as a writer.

And it doesn’t mean your platform is off the table. You can be a ghostwriter and have a writing career under your own name. Many writers, including me, simply use ghostwriting as a way to supplement or support their writing passions.

Personally, I think it’s worth it.

Only you can decide whether it’s right for you.

About the Author: Ali Luke blogs about the art, craft, and business of writing at Aliventures. If you’re interested in going further with ghostwriting or any type of freelance writing, check out her epic post: Freelance Writing: Ten Steps, Tons of Resources.

The post Ghostwriting 101: How to Get Paid Big Bucks As a Ghostwriter appeared first on Smart Blogger.



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Thursday, March 7, 2019

21 Blogging Milestones on the Path to World Domination

It’s okay to admit it.

That deep, dark secret you don’t want anyone to know.

That thought which keeps you up night after night.

You want… to rule the world!

You want to dominate your industry and be the envy of all. You want the house in the Hamptons and the spoils that go with it. You want two appetizers with your entree.

But you’re afraid.

You’re afraid of what others will say when they hear about your dream. You’re afraid it will seem too big — too crazy. Just like you’re afraid of what the waitress will think if you order onion rings and chicken tenders.

But mostly?

You’re afraid because you don’t know where to begin. You don’t know how to go from where you are as a blogger to where you want to be. You don’t know how to get from here to there.

The good news?

Just like eating an elephant, you don’t do it all in one bite.

World domination — or any major blogging goal — is a journey you take one milestone at a time.

For a handy visual of the 21 blogging milestones (that you can share and embed on your own site), check out the image below (click to see a larger view):

21 Blogging Milestones on the Path to World Domination

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Why Bloggers Need Meaningful Milestones

When you break large tasks into small, manageable ones, what once seemed big and scary isn’t as daunting.

Renovating your entire home? Start by painting a room. Training for a marathon? Walk to the end of your driveway. Want to start a rock band? Get a guitar and start practicing.

Blogging isn’t any different.

Your journey as a blogger is filled with incremental milestones. They start small, gradually increase in size, and culminate with you owning sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

Want 10,000 subscribers? Start with 100. Want to quit your job? Focus on making your first sale. Want to be Jon Morrow’s best friend? Get him to notice you.

These milestones comprise your bucket list. They highlight what you’ve already accomplished, what you’re striving toward next, and what still lies far ahead of you.

To help you in your quest, here are the 21 major blogging milestones (and how to reach each one).

Ready? Let’s dive in.

#1. Starting Your Blog

You’ve been talking about doing it forever.

You’ve been reading blogs like Smart Blogger, Blogging Wizard, and Be A Better Blogger for months.

You’ve been planning, scheming, and daydreaming about starting a blog for so long that people have started to worry about that glazed look in your eyes.

So don’t you think it’s time you finally did it?

How to Start a Blog
What to Do Next
Once your blog is up and running, it’s time to start writing.

But first, savor this moment. You’ve already accomplished more than many wannabe bloggers ever do…

You’ve started a blog. You did it.

Now…

Let’s get to work.

#2. Writing Your First Blog Post

Bloggers blog. It’s what we do.

So once you’ve setup your blog on WordPress, Medium, or wherever, it’s time to make this whole “blogging thing” official.

It’s time to write your first post.

How to Write a Blog Post
What to Do Next
After you publish your blog post, it’s time to promote it.

Share it with your friends and family on email and social media. Email it to your subscribers too (if you have any yet).

#3 Getting Your First Tweet

Getting your content shared on social media for the first time is a big milestone.

Each time your posts are tweeted, pinned, or liked, your content is exposed to new readers.

These new readers are potential email subscribers. Potential customers. Potential allies in your quest for world domination.

How to Get People to Share Your Content
  • Make it super easy to share your posts. Sharing buttons for Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. should be easy for your readers to find.
  • Make sure your posts are worthy. If you write posts that change your readers, they won’t be able to help themselves — they’ll have to share them.
  • Be tweetable. Use short, quotable messages in your posts.
  • Share it yourself. How can you expect others to share your content if you don’t?
What to Do Next
Be friendly and appreciative. When someone shares one of your posts, thank them. In addition to being good form, this act of gratitude will increase the likelihood they’ll share your posts again in the future.

To boost the number of shares you receive, try using interesting images with embedded headlines as the featured images in your posts. Be sure to choose a relevant picture, or one that creates curiosity.

#4. Receiving Your First Blog Comment From a Stranger

It finally happened.

The moment you discover someone other than your mom is reading your blog.

Your first comment from a stranger.

It’s the first sign you’re engaging a real audience (not just friends and family).

The first indication your words are striking a chord with readers.

The first evidence you have what it takes to succeed.

How to Get Blog Comments
  • Make it as easy as possible for visitors to comment. Don’t do anything to discourage engagement.
  • Visit other blogs in your niche and leave inquisitive, insightful comments. Many bloggers will return the favor.
  • Join relevant Facebook groups. People are down on Facebook these days, but being an active member of one or two Facebook groups is an excellent way to let prospective readers know your blog exists.
  • Give people what they want. Answer questions readers want answered, and they will comment.
What to Do Next
Were you raised in a barn? Thought not. So once you’ve received a comment, respond to it. Continue engaging with your reader.

Next, visit their blog and leave them a comment. If they don’t have a blog, thank them in an email.

True, this level of dedication will be difficult once you’re receiving dozens of comments.

But in your blog’s early days? There’s simply no good reason not to go above and beyond to express your appreciation.

After you’ve received a few comments, it’s time to implement strategies to further boost your comment count.

#5. Gaining Your First Email Subscriber

“The money is in the list,” says every blogger (even if nobody has asked them).

It’s cliché, but it’s true.

Email subscribers are far more likely to read, share, and engage with your content than someone who simply follows you on Twitter or “likes” you on Facebook.

Email cuts through the noise.

A person might receive a few dozen emails in a day, but they’ll receive several hundred (or more) tweets from their followers.

If you want to reach the top of the blogging mountain, you must build your email list.

And it all starts with that first subscriber.

How to Get Email Subscribers
  • Sign up for an email marketing provider. MailChimp has a free version, but if you want to send autoresponder emails, you’ll need the paid version or go to another provider like AWeber or GetResponse.
  • Prominently display an opt-in form. Once you have your email list, you need to put your opt-in form front and center where readers can easily find it.
  • Have a compelling call to action at the end of your posts. A focused CTA will increase the likelihood readers will subscribe.
  • Update your email signature. Include a link to your opt-in form in the signature of your outgoing emails, as well as your posts in blogging forums.
What to Do Next
Make your new subscriber feel welcomed.

When someone subscribes to your list, your welcome email should be warm and inviting.

Encourage them to ask you a question. Tell them to follow you on Twitter and say hello. Give them a link to an unexpected freebie bonus.

(But don’t do all three at once — you might scare away your only subscriber!)

Search engines love backlinks — they help them discover how pages are related, and in what ways.

Landing a high-quality link from a relevant website is great for SEO and results in more search engine traffic flocking to your website. And who doesn’t want that?

When a website links to yours, it’s effectively telling Google, “This dude is cool. He’s with me.”

Want to rule the world? You need Google to think you’re cool.

How to Get Backlinks
  • Create Massive Value Content. Epic posts are commented on, shared more, and linked to more often.
  • Implement a link building strategy. Broken link building, community site link building, and other tactics are out there for the blogger willing to roll up their sleeves and make them work.
  • Pound the proverbial pavement. Email outreach is time consuming, but it can be a highly effective method for acquiring backlinks — if you do it right.
  • Take it to the next level. Try advanced strategies like link reclamation and reverse image search.
What to Do Next
Keep going.

Numerous untapped backlink resources are available to bloggers willing to tap them. And if you don’t, your competitors will.

#7. Reaching 100 Visitors in a Single Day

In your blog’s early days, visitors are scarce. Occasionally, you’ll wonder if anyone is reading your blog.

But slowly, little by little, your numbers creep higher and higher.

And then it happens.

The day your blog reaches triple-digit visitors. The day your hard work begins to pay off. The day you get your first taste of power.

Intoxicating, isn’t it?

How to Get Blog Traffic
  • Promote on social media. Keep sharing your content on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Use hashtags to widen your reach.
  • Promote daily. While you shouldn’t publish daily, you should most definitely promote every day.
  • Concentrate on beginner-friendly traffic-generation techniques. Videos, infographics, and the like don’t work for beginners the way they work for established bloggers.
  • Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Poor navigation, lots of ads, and a mobile-unfriendly design will alienate your readers and make them bounce from your blog.
What to Do Next
Implement strategies to keep readers on your blog longer. This increases dwell time, which is another way to get Google to like you.

Linking to other posts on your blog, embedding videos, displaying related posts, and encouraging readers to leave comments are all effective methods for keeping visitors on your website.

#8. Receiving Your First Piece of Fan Mail (Well, Email)

This is strange.

You receive an email from a stranger, but it has nothing to do with male enhancement or an unexpected inheritance from overseas.

It’s an email from a reader. And she’s telling you how much she enjoys your blog!

Your first “kudos” email from a reader is a big milestone for bloggers, and those who go on to rule the world receive many of them.

(Mine may or may not be printed, framed, and hanging from the walls of my office.)

How to Get (True) Fans
What to Do Next
Reply to the email. Thank your reader for contacting you, and try to answer any questions they may have asked.

But don’t stop there.

Follow them on social media. Visit and comment on their blog. Subscribe to their list, if you like what you see.

Your response will make a lasting impression in the mind of your reader. Don’t waste it.

#9. Getting Your First Negative Blog Comment

After weeks of praise, attaboys, and well-wishes, you receive your first negative comment.

You try to laugh it off by making a “these are where the tears would be if I could cry” joke, but it doesn’t work.

You’re confused. Hurt. Maybe a little angry. (Plus, your spouse quickly reminds you of the time you cried like a baby watching Field of Dreams.)

Don’t let it get you down. As you gain in popularity, criticism is inevitable.

Consider it a badge of honor — every popular blogger receives negative comments.

It’s proof you’re on the right track.

How to Reach This Milestone
  • Find your unique voice and stand out. Don’t be another me too blogger — be distinctive and memorable.
  • Be a troublemaker. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.
  • Keep doing what you are doing. Haters are gonna hate. Just shake it off.
What to Do Next
As much as you would like to respond to the negative comment with a barrage of sarcastic wit and venom, don’t do it.

Delete the comment, ignore the comment, or respond to it in a professional manner. But whatever you do, remain calm. Don’t let the insults fly.

Others will see how you respond, and it will leave an indelible impression of you in their minds.

#10. Landing Your First Guest Post

Sooner or later, you’ll discover that commenting on other blogs and making friends on Twitter will boost your traffic only so far.

You need to reach new audiences.

As the marketing crowd would say, you need fresh eyeballs on your content.

In other words, you need to write a guest post.

How to Kick Tail as a Guest Blogger
  • Find your target. While it may seem like a good idea to write a post and then find a blog, it’s better to select a blog first and tailor your guest post around their audience.
  • Thoroughly read the guidelines. Make sure you know what’s expected of you, and avoid making dumb guest blogging mistakes.
  • Proofread! Take the time to properly proofread and edit your posts before submitting them.
  • Stay positive and persevere. Sometimes you have to contact your guest post target two or three times before getting accepted. Persistence often pays off.
What to Do Next
Your job isn’t finished once your guest post is published. No siree, Bob.

You need to promote the post on your social media accounts. You need to email the post to your mailing list (even if it’s small). You need to respond to any comments readers leave on the post.

And, most importantly, you need to thank the blogger or bloggers who gave you the opportunity to write for them.

Guest blogging, as much as anything, is about the connections you can make. Backlinks, traffic spikes, and a bump in email subscribers are all nice.

But establishing a long-term connection with an influential blog owner?

That’s worth its weight in gold.

#11. Getting Featured in Your First Interview or “Expert Roundup”

When people see you repeatedly mentioned on other sites via interviews and roundups, their perceptions of you change.

Yesterday, you were just an attractive guy or gal oozing talent but drowning in anonymity.

Today, you’re a freaking rock star.

You’re no more knowledgeable than you were moments earlier, but suddenly your powerful words carry more weight with readers. That’s because someone they trust just called you an expert (or treated you like one).

To reach world-leader status, others must view you as an authority. They need to consider you an expert in your industry.

Participating in interviews and roundups is a great way to make that happen.

How to Become an Influencer People Want to Interview or Quote
  • Create an awesome About Me page. Tell your story, share testimonials, and be sure to mention you’re available for interviews.
  • Help A Reporter Out. Sign up for HARO and you can receive multiple emails each day listing people who are looking for quotes from experts.
  • Make your Contact page easy to find. Don’t have one? Create one.
What to Do Next
Take advantage of the networking opportunities an interview or expert roundup creates.

If you’ve been interviewed, respond to those who leave comments. Engage with them. Give them a reason to visit your blog.

If you participated in a roundup, you now have some common ground with the other bloggers who participated.

Follow them on social media. Tag them when you tweet the roundup. Send them emails saying how much you enjoy their blogs.

#12. Hitting Your First 100 Email Subscribers

Finally.

After having single- and double-digit subscribers for what seems like forever, you finally reach 100. One hundred individuals decide they want updates from you.

These first 100 subscribers are arguably your most important.

They’re the ones who found your blog in its early days.

They’re the ones who decided to follow you before you were popular.

They’re the ones likely to be your biggest supporters as you rise through the ranks and vanquish kingdoms.

How to Get More Email Subscribers
  • Be a broken record. Keep finding reasons to mention your mailing list.
  • Give something away. Entice readers to subscribe to your list by offering something of value. And the sooner you have an opt-in bribe to offer, the better.
  • Promote your opt-in form on social media. Add an opt-in form to your Facebook page. Link to your form in your Twitter and LinkedIn bios.
  • Ramp up your guest blogging. With a little planning to maximize results, guest blogging is an excellent method for building your email list.
What to Do Next
Why not survey your subscribers? You’ve built a small tribe and it’s time to discover what they think.

Find out what kind of content they want you to create, and what kind of content they wish you would stop creating.

To encourage participation, turn your survey into a contest.

#13. Seeing a Post You Wrote Go Viral

Wow. That was unexpected.

One of your posts takes off. It goes viral, as the kids say.

At its simplest definition, a viral post is one which has a life beyond your own promotion of it. As such, it gets considerably more clicks and shares than your typical post.

And, as a result, your blog receives a nice (if temporary) bump in traffic.

Even if it’s short lived, a viral post means more eyes on your content. And that’s just what a prospective world ruler wants.

How to Go Viral
  • Create share-worthy content. If you want a post to go viral, it must be worthy.
  • Use social metadata. The better your posts look when shared on social media platforms, the more likely people will share them.
  • Be visual. Use stunning, shareable images in your posts.
  • Use an intriguing headline. Jon’s Headline Hacks has some great tips for headlines that go viral.
  • Make it easy to skim. People read only 28% of blog content. Make your content easy to skim, and you greatly increase the chances it could go viral.
  • Create list posts. According to a recent content marketing case study by Backlinko and BuzzSumo, list posts (like the one you’re reading now) get an average of 218% more shares than “how to” posts.
What to Do Next
Since the bump in traffic is only temporary, you must capitalize on it. You must turn as many of those visitors into subscribers as possible.

Make sure your call to action is clear and singularly focused. Offer a content upgrade for users who subscribe.

Use one of the dozens of available WordPress plugins designed to help you boost your subscriber count.

When Bob the bellhop from Bolivia mentions you on Twitter, a small handful of people will see it.

That’s nice.

But if John Lee Dumas, Pat Flynn, or Jeff Goins mentions you on Twitter, a small army will see it.

That’s even better.

When you’re mentioned or followed by an A-lister, it means much more than a small bump in traffic.

It means you’ve made it onto the radar of someone with influence.

How to Connect with Influencers
  • Link to A-listers in guest posts you write, and let them know about it. Most will be appreciative, and many will share your post with their followers.
  • Buy their courses or services. Want a sure-fire way to get A-list bloggers to notice you? Give them money! As an added bonus, you’ll benefit from their vast experience.
  • Reach out to them. Identify the bloggers of influence, and put your content directly in front of them.
  • Ask them to participate in expert roundups. Participants in roundups almost always share them.
What to Do Next
Just as a couple should keep wooing each other even after they’re married, you should continue doing the things which caused the A-list bloggers to notice you in the first place.

Keep sharing their content. Keep leaving comments. Keep engaging with them.

#15. Hitting Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers

Now we’re talking.

Around the time you hit the 1,000 subscriber mark, your emails begin to carry more weight.

You’re able to generate traffic for new posts simply by emailing your subscribers.

Even better?

You can begin making real money from your blog.

As a rule of thumb, you should be able to make at least $1 per subscriber each month — more if you really know what you’re doing.

How to Get Even More Email Subscribers
  • Have a dedicated landing page. You should have at least one page focused on one thing and one thing only — getting people to sign up.
  • Say yes to pop-ups. Yes, some people find them annoying. But they work.
  • Harness the power of webinars. They create a sense of urgency, but without being “salesy.” Plus, you can run one even if you have a limited budget.
  • Do more guest blogging. In case you haven’t yet picked up on the theme: strategic guest blogging is a solid strategy for gaining subscribers. Gaining traffic? Not so much. But gaining subscribers interested in your blog’s topic (assuming you’re guest blogging for relevant audiences)? Absolutely.
What to Do Next
It’s time to think about monetizing your blog.

Affiliate programs, sponsored content, digital products, and consulting/coaching sessions are common methods for making money with your blog.

And speaking of those last two…

#16. Successfully Selling Your First Product or Consulting Session

You tried your hand at sponsored ads. Maybe you even had a little success with them.

But eventually, you aim higher.

You decide to offer your skills as a coach or consultant.

Or maybe you decide to create your own digital product because you like the idea of unlimited income potential.

Whatever the route, the desire is the same: to pad your wallet with twenty dollar bills.

How to Reach This Milestone
  • Know your audience — intimately. To be a successful coach or consultant, you must know your audience, what they need, and how you can help them.
  • Choose a topic you know inside out. If you’re writing an e-book, pick your topic wisely.
  • Repurpose content. If you have been blogging for any length of time, you have a collection of archives begging to be republished as an e-book.
  • Master the art of ethical persuasion. Focus on benefits rather than features.
What to Do Next
Don’t rest on your laurels.

Once you’ve created your first product or course, create a sales funnel with an email autoresponder series.

Then start working on your next product.

#17 Reaching 1,000 Visitors a Day

When you reach 1,000 daily visitors, your blog will be perched at a level many bloggers never see.

Your blog has momentum, which means your email list starts to grow on its own.

You’re selling more products and services.

Your social media shares are increasing too, which is bringing even more new visitors.

Your hard work is paying off. “Soon,” you say to yourself before laughing maniacally.

“Soon.”

How to Get More Traffic
  • Strategically promote on social media. What gains traction on Pinterest won’t necessarily gain traction on Twitter, right? When promoting, always be mindful of the platform you’re using and adapt accordingly.
  • Become a SlideShare master. For many bloggers, SlideShare is an enigma. Unfortunate, because you can easily repurpose content with SlideShare and bring in thousands of new readers.
  • Think outside the box. Communities like Triberr and websites like Quora offer bloggers additional avenues for driving traffic to their sites.
  • Start taking SEO more seriously. Ranking for keywords and optimizing your blog for Google (and Bing) are a must to take your traffic to the next level.
What to Do Next
Resist the urge to publish more often. Even though you receive traffic bumps on the days you publish, your time will be better spent on promotion.

If anything, scale back on your blogging and focus even more time on promotion.

For example: targeted advertising. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others offer bloggers the ability to advertise and bring in additional traffic to their sites.

#18. Reaching 100,000 Visitors in a Month

When you reach 100,000 visitors in a month, you’ve reached a level of success most can only dream of.

At this level, practically anything you try can be lucrative.

How to Boost Blog Traffic
  • Pay to extend your social media reach. Quuu Promote lets you get tweets and shares from real people with real followers.
  • Dedicate yourself. Mastering traffic generation takes time.
  • Start accepting guest posts. Neil Patel grew the KISSmetrics blog to over 400,000 readers a month by publishing content that mainly came from guests.
  • Use split testing to optimize conversions. At this level of traffic, even small tweaks can make a big difference.
  • Try new delivery channels. Launching a podcast allows you to reach a different audience than the one on your blog. So, too, can the creation of YouTube videos and SlideShare
What to Do Next
Dig into Google Analytics and learn how to make the most of its data. Discover which topics and posts are performing best, and optimize your blog accordingly. Identify your most important traffic sources, and adjust your outreach efforts.

And if you haven’t started monetizing your blog yet, you’re leaving real money on the table each month. Get started!

#19. You Hit 10,000 Email Subscribers

As Jon Morrow likes to say: 10,000 subscribers is the “magic number.”

With 10,000 subscribers, publishers beat down your door to give you a book deal.

With 10,000 subscribers, you could make a full-time living as a coach or consultant.

With 10,000 subscribers, you can easily sell a course you have created.

In short, earning a six-figure income from your blog is entirely realistic when you have 10,000 subscribers.

It’s arguably the most important blogging milestone.

How to Supercharge Your Email List
What to Do Next
Look for ways to improve your email open rates. It doesn’t matter how big your list is if nobody bothers to read your emails.

As your list grows, and your humble blog starts to look more like a viable business, you may need to trade your email provider for a more sophisticated solution, such as Infusionsoft that can handle e-commerce and relationship management as well.

#20. Finally Earning Enough Money to Quit Your Day Job

It’s the dream of most bloggers.

Being able to quit your job and blog full-time means you’re able to quit the rat race. It means you can set your own schedule, pursue your passions, and spend more time with your loved ones.

It means you’re the boss.

How to Quit Your Job
  • Charge premium prices. This allows you to devote more of your time, which means your premium price comes with premium service.
  • Outsource certain tasks. Time is money. And when you reach a certain level of success, your time (and money) can often be put to better use.
  • Promote affiliates. In addition to high income potential, affiliate products require zero investment.
  • Create joint ventures with other popular bloggers. Build a product together or just make it attractive for them to promote your products.
What to Do Next
Don’t quit your job just yet! Instead, create an exit plan.

Decide what kind of financial buffer you’ll need just in case things get tough. Your buffer will depend on your risk tolerance and personal situation, but a good rule of thumb is three to six months of salary in the bank.

Use the time leading up to your departure to ensure your blog is running smoothly by the time you quit.

Automate everything you can. Create processes to ensure you can work as efficiently as possible. Because when the paychecks stop, you don’t want any additional drag.

#21. Achieving World Domination

You did it.

They said it wasn’t possible, but you made it happen.

The world is your oyster. You’re the master of your own destiny.

And it’s all thanks to your blog.

Now it’s time to take a vacation. Maybe even move to paradise. Heck, you earned it.

So What’s Your Next Big Blogging Milestone?

You realize they’re yours for the taking, right?

The niche you want to dominate?

The house in the Hamptons?

The sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads?

They’re all out there… just waiting for you.

They’re waiting for you to decide, “Today is the day I’ll make my dreams come true.” They’re waiting for you to stop reading and start doing.

So, don’t just sit there.

Work out where you are on the list and what you must do to hit that next big milestone.

And let’s do this thing.

Because the world isn’t going to rule itself.

About the Author: Five years after first writing this post, Kevin J. Duncan’s dreams of quitting the rat race, blogging full-time, and world domination came true when Jon invited him to join the Smart Blogger team as our Blog Editor.

Never give up, folks. Never, ever give up.

The post 21 Blogging Milestones on the Path to World Domination appeared first on Smart Blogger.



source https://smartblogger.com/bucket-list/

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Content Curation (With Examples!)

Saving time, making connections with influencers, building authority — these are just some of the benefits of content curation.

But you might also have lots of questions like…

  • How much time should you spend curating content versus creating great posts of your own?
  • How can you make curated posts stand out amidst all the noise out there?
  • What tools can you use to speed up or even automate the process?

Well, here’s the good news:

In this post, I’ll answer all those questions about content curation and more.

If you’re new to the topic, I’ll explain exactly what content curation is and why you should do it. We’ll also explore some tools and tactics for streamlining your content curation process, saving you loads of time, even if you’ve been doing it a while.

And the best part…

Lots of real-world examples! You’ll see what’s working in the trenches right now, so you can model it for yourself.

Why Should I Consider Content Curation?

There’s an overabundance of information out there.

As I write, in the early evening, around 3 million blog posts have been published today, all vying for your attention.

Every second there are:

  • 8,320 Tweets sent
  • 888 Instagram photos uploaded
  • 3,550 Skype calls made
  • 66,233 GB of internet traffic logged
  • 71,596 Google searches performed
  • 76,892 YouTube videos watched
  • 2,758,518 emails sent

By 2020, an estimated 1.7 GB of data will be created for every person on earth — every second!

No-one can possibly keep up.

But with content curation, they don’t have to. Think of it like this:  

Imagine there was only one radio station that played every genre of music and broadcast all the news and talk-back shows ever made.  Your passion is country music, but it’s too hard to find amidst the noise of the other content.

Along comes a small, independent radio station dedicated to bringing you the best country music it can source. Everything about country music that entertains and informs you. All curated in one place for people like yourself to enjoy.

Which radio station will you tune into the most?

That’s why content curators are becoming increasingly important in a world of time-strapped, overwhelmed content-consumers. And that’s why every blogger, brand and business should consider curation as part of their content marketing strategy.

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is the art of sourcing, filtering and repackaging all forms of existing content to share with a specific audience to add value to their lives and save them time.

Phew. That’s quite a mouthful.

Let’s break it down into more bite-sized chunks before we delve into the detail of how to do it.

  • Sourcing:  First, you’ve got to find content that’s relevant to your niche and worthy of curating. Luckily, this post is jam-packed with tools to do just that.
  • Filtering:  This is where you sort the wheat from the chaff. Anyone can find a bucket load of content, but top curators add a filter of human analysis to make sure they’re sharing something valuable.  
  • Repackaging: Your curated content needs to look good. It needs to be well branded, consistently presented, easy to navigate and enticing enough for your audience to click through to the original content.
  • Existing content:  This can be blog posts, articles, videos, books, reviews, podcasts, music, infographics, lists, news, images — anything that is currently on the Internet, including your own content.
  • Specific audience: If you are doing any form of online marketing, you are serving a specific audience. Curated content is no different.  Their goals and intentions should be at the epicenter of your curation strategy.
  • Share:  You can share curated content in several ways. On social media, in a blog, a website, YouTube or an email newsletter. Or go for a combination — whatever works for your audience.
  • Add value:  This is at the heart of content curation. You need to make sense of it for your audience by putting it in context with their interests and lives. In its most basic form, this can be a summary of the content to allow readers to get the gist of the subject matter, but it should be an original summary created by you.
  • Save them time:  You are preparing and presenting content they need in an easy to digest format, which means they don’t have to go schlepping through the web to find it for themselves.

The Benefits of Content Curation

It Makes You a Trusted Authority

When you consistently curate relevant content for your audience — and add value with your insights — you become a go-to person for your topic.  

Before long, your audience will turn to you as one of their trusted sources because you know how to filter out the noise and deliver what’s important. You’re making it easier and faster to find what they’re looking for.

Example: Social Media Today is a website and daily newsletter with 104k subscribers. In addition to curating the top news stories and publishing their own articles, they also provide information on industry events and jobs and run regular Twitter chats on all things related to social media marketing.
Social Media Today

It Builds Your Credibility

Most businesses publish original content as part of their online marketing strategy. And that’s still a great approach. But sometimes it’s good to combine your advice with those of others. Curating work by other experts proves you care enough about your audience to bring them the best content — not just your own voice — which gives you greater credibility.

Example:  If anyone has the right to voice his own opinions it’s Brian Clark of CopyBlogger fame, one of the world’s most influential blogs. But Brian also chooses to share curated content through his weekly email Unemployable for freelancers. It is this generosity of time and knowledge that boosts his credibility and pays back big time when it comes to selling his fee-generating services.
Unemployable

It Establishes Connections with Influencers

Every time you curate content produced by an influencer or include their expert opinion in a curated list post of your own, you are endorsing their views and opening them up to a new audience.

It also helps put you on their radar.

You can draw their attention by tagging them on social media when you share their work, or emailing them a link to your curated blog post. Content curation is a great way to build solid relationships with top influencers in your niche, but only if you get it right.  Like this:

Example: Mashable.com is a digital media site, which published a guest post by Aaron Orendorff about growth hacking strategies.  In it he curates advice from 25 influencers and includes their headshots and links back to their sites.  The post received a total of 4.4k shares across social media, and I bet I know where 25 of those came from.

It Makes You a Trend Spotter

When you spend a couple of hours a day sourcing relevant and interesting content, you can’t help but increase your knowledge. You’ll start recognizing patterns and trends as they’re happening, and gaps in existing content you might be able to fill.

Not only does this add value for your audience, but it also makes you a credible expert in your niche and one to watch.

Example: CB Insights mines massive amounts (I’m talking terabytes) of data to identify and make sense of emerging technology and business trends for its customers. And it puts this to good use by sharing its often-irreverent insights and curated findings in its free daily newsletter to over 537,000 subscribers.
CB Insights 

It Can Boost Your Google Ranking (When You Get It Right)

Many people think curated content could harm your Google ranking because it’s seen as duplicate content. And that’s true, if you do nothing but reproduce the original.  

But content curation is all aboutadding value.

Here’s proof.  The folks at Bruce Clay Inc. ran a test to see what ranking Google would give to curated content on their blog versus the original. You can read the full details here.

Bottom line: When they reproduced the original post without adding value, the ranking went down from 4th place to 10th. But when they published an excerpt of the original with theirown summary and links, the ranking shot up to 1st place — even higher than the original post.

Bruce Clay Google Rankings
Example: SmartBrief.com  (“We read everything. You get what matters.”) is a curator of industry news. It’s easy to navigate with every piece of content summarized in their own words, which adds value for their readers and brownie points with Google.
SmartBrief

It Can Help Build Your Social Media Following, Faster

As a curator, your output of content will increase, giving you a lot more to Tweet about on a regular basis. But remember, always aim to add value, not simply retweet or share.

Example: TheSkimm is a curated subscription service for female millennials — over 7 million subscribers. It delivers its content via audio, video, an app, and of course, social media:  They have 608k followers on Instagram, 246k on Twitter, over 1.1m likes and followers on Facebook, and 465k views on YouTube.  That’s an impressive social media presence.
theSkimm

It Can Grow Communities and Conversations

Great content curation encourages debate and feedback.  When you add your own insights and respond to audience comments by providing them with more of what they want, it can attract other like-minded people to your knowledge “hug.”

They come not just to seek information from you but also to share content and support each other.

Example: TED.com is one of the best-known global communities. At its core, it’s a curator of ideas, or as they put it in their mission statement: “We’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.” With an online community of tens of thousands, over 11 million Twitter followers, and 35 people watching a TED Talk every second, I reckon they’ve accomplished their mission.
TED

The Myths of Content Curation

It Saves You a Truckload of Time

When done properly, the full process of content curation can take just as much time as creating original content. Sometimes more.

You have to source, repackage and share a ton of information. Sure, this can be done more efficiently with automated tools. But you must also spend time filtering the content, adding insight and perspective, and building relationships with influencers and other publishers.

This is where the real value of content curation kicks in. And it takes time.

With curation, the volume of your published and shared content will increase, but your ability to spend more time with your feet up enjoying a beer won’t.

So, don’t become a content curator if your sole purpose is to save time.

All You Have to Do Is Find Relevant Content and Pump It out to Your Subscribers

If you just share every blog post and article you find on your topic without any filtering, you can do more harm than good to your brand and reputation.

The content you curate will reflect directly on your credibility and reputation, so choose wisely.

You Never Have to Worry About Creating Your Own Content Again

Undoubtedly, content curation is a great way to build authority in your niche, but it’s rare to find a site that relies 100% on curated content. Research has shown that creating your own content is more valuable regarding conversions.

And let’s face it. That’s one of the main reasons we do content marketing of any kind.

The research is explained by Tristan Handy in this post, who says the ratio for publishing curated v. original content on social media is around 60:40.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and everyone needs to find their own sweet spot, but it’s not a bad guideline if you’re just starting out.

Content Curation Strategy: How to Get Results

Give Your Audience What It Wants

What are they looking for when they seek information? What are they sharing on social media? Are they looking for comparisons and reviews, or the latest industry trends? Do they want to be entertained, inspired or informed?

If you don’t have an existing audience, read this post.  If you do have an audience, but you’re still not sure what they’re looking for, read this post.

Example: Further.com is a curated weekly email targeted directly at Generation X, by Brian Clark, one of the most influential Generation X-ers on the net. He knows what they’re thinking, feeling and aspiring to, and he delivers in spades.
FURTHER

Source Valuable Content

Overwhelming as it seems when you start out, sourcing great content is not hard, especially with so many automated tools at your fingertips.    

RSS feed readers are the first go-to source of content for curators. Using tools such as Flipboard allows you to search by URL or topic and collate your content into categories.

Social media is the next main source, and again you have a myriad of tools at your disposal. For example, Social Searcher is a free platform that allows you to search by hashtags or topics and brings up every post published on the major social media sites.

Or you can create a Twitter list to collate the accounts you follow.

Find the right tools from the list below for your content sourcing and collating purposes, and remember to stay focused when you go searching. You can easily disappear down a rabbit warren of irrelevant information.

And finally, don’t forget your own blog or social media pages as a source of content.

Select posts that have done well in the past and may resonate with a new audience. Or think about repurposing or updating an old post.  Here’s a great example of curating your content from Copyblogger.

Filter Your Content

Content curation without filtering is a no-no. This is part of the process that’s going to demand time and attention, but it’s worth it.

Once you have a good collection of content, filter each piece through these questions:

  • Is it well written or produced?
  • Is it relevant to my audience? Does it satisfy a need or curiosity of theirs?
  • Is it timely, or has it been recently updated?
  • Is it in context with everything else I have published or curated?
  • Will it reflect well on my brand?

If the answer is yes, keep that piece of content and move on to the next step. If it’s no, dump it.

Always Add Value

There’s one more important consideration before you hit that share button.  You need to add value.

You know the content is worthy of sharing because you’ve filtered it. Now you need to tell your audience why.  The following are some of the ways you can add value:

  • Add a brief introduction in your own words.
  • Put it in context for your audience. Make them understand why you think it’s important for them to see.
  • Highlight something specific in the article.
  • Change the headline using the language and voice your audience would relate to.
  • Likewise, think about using a different image to add your own personality or perspective to the original.
  • Add a call to action or a link to a relevant post or free download of your own to give them further information relevant to the curated piece. Doing so also helps to keep your original content on their radar.

Make It Look Good

Think about a museum curator. Their job is to present an exhibition of works in a manner that makes sense.

They encourage visitors in by making the collection look enticing. They often separate subcategories by rooms or open spaces. They add information and insights to each piece and present them in a logical flow.

They don’t take random artworks, dump them in the middle of a room and expect visitors to work it out for themselves. Neither should you.  

Think about how you’ll best present your curated content on your website or in a newsletter.

And above all, make sure you consistently represent and reflect your brand, whether that’s through the use of your logo and colors, your voice, the language you use or the content you curate.

Example: brainpickings.com by Maria Popova is a fine example of a well-presented and branded website with some of the most thoughtful and insightful curations on the web today.
brainpickings

Dedicate Time

Aim to make the practice of curation a daily habit.

When you’re starting out, set aside at least an hour a day to source, filter and add value to existing content. Build up a collection of quality content, enhanced with your own insights, that you know your audience will love.

Be Ethical

The curating and sharing of content created by others is growing in popularity with proven success rates when it’s done right. And successful curators always follow these golden rules:

  • Credit the creator of the work prominently, and link back to the source.
  • Never knowingly infringe copyright.
  • Don’t rely too heavily on one or two curation sources. At best it makes you appear lazy. At worst it could be interpreted as riding off the back of the original creator’s work.
  • Avoid reproducing too much of the original work. Add value by offering your own headline, or insight, but give your readers the motivation to click to the source to read more.

Find the Right Distribution Channels and Publishing Schedule

Hands up anyone who’s shared anything on social media.

That’s how easy content curation can be when you’re starting off.  However, you should aim to use a variety of distribution channels as your curation efforts take wings.  The four main ones are as follows:

Social Media

Make sure you add your own introduction or insights to shared links, giving your audience a reason to click through to the original. Like this:

Spin Sucks

Your Blog

This is where you can produce original posts featuring curated content (think “best of” posts, or list posts of tools and resources). Here’s a great example from CXL, which has curated 10 of its own articles in this post.

CXL

Email Newsletters

Send them out daily, weekly — whatever works best for you. Just make sure it’s at the same time each day or week so you can condition your audience to look forward to them.  Convince & Convert’s email turns up in my inbox as regular as clockwork once a week with a mixture of curated and original content.

Convince & Convert

Websites

Dedicating a website to content curation is best left until you’ve built your skills as a curator through some of the less demanding channels like social media and your blog.  

While you can build a successful content curation site on your own (take brainpickings.org, for example), mainstream information streams like Redef offer up a daily mix of hand-picked content that takes a sizeable team to curate and maintain.

REDEF

So, depending on the time sensitivity of your curated content and the method you’ll use to distribute it, you might aim to share on social media every second day, and publish a newsletter or blog post weekly, or monthly if that feels more doable.

If you dive right in with a daily email or a dedicated website, you may create a monster you wish you’d never started.  

You can always increase the regularity of your content distribution once you become more confident.

Now, set up a social media publishing schedule in whatever program or content curation tool you feel comfortable with.  But a word of warning: Don’t schedule social media posts too far in advance. You want them to be as fresh and timely as possible.

The following are some additional things to think about regarding distribution and timing:

  • Always make sure your curated content adds value, is well presented, and properly reflects your brand before you hit that share button or start to design an email newsletter.
  • Think about the environment your content will appear in, and decide if you need to adjust the headline, or the size of the image to suit the different platforms.
  • Likewise, you may need to produce variations of your introduction and insights to suit a Twitter feed versus a Facebook post, for example.
  • Do your research around the best times to schedule social media posts and email newsletters, and try to consistently stick to the same schedule for your emails so that your audience begins to anticipate their arrival.

Reach Out to Influencers

If you want your curated content to fly, you should reach out to influencers. Here’s how you do it:

First, read this post and start practicing some of the techniques to get on your favorite influencer’s radar.

Next, when you’ve created your first blog post of curated links (a list of the best, or a round-up post for example), reach out to the influencers you’ve mentioned in the post. Here’s how you find their email addresses.

You want to send your email before you publish.  Something along these lines:

Hey [name of influencer],

I wanted to give you the heads up that we’re just about to publish a curated list of the top 20 tools and resources for freelancers, and you made the list because [tailor your reason why they made the cut].

We’re hoping to publish within the next few days, and I’ll send you the link as soon as it goes live.

Thanks for being a continued inspiration.

Cheers, [your name]

Now you’ve got their attention, and they’ll likely be curious about your post. As soon as it goes live, send them a follow-up email:

Hey [name of influencer],

Here’s the link to the curated post I mentioned in my last email: The Top 20 Tools and Resources for Freelancers

[Name of influencer’s site] is included as #5.

If you think it deserves a share, we’d be grateful for the exposure.

Either way, we were delighted to include you in our round-up.

Cheers, [your name]

Finally, when you’re sharing other curated content in social media, tag the original creator to let them know you’re sharing their work.

But make sure you add value by highlighting something important. You need to demonstrate you’ve read their work and why it’s of value to your audience.

A simple retweet or share won’t impress them.

10 Examples of Killer Content Curation

The following examples are great picks because they all demonstrate at least one outstanding quality of content curation, and together they showcase a cross-section of distribution channels and topics.

#1. Kottke.org: Blog

Founded by Jason Kottke in 1998, Kottke.org is one of the oldest blogs on the net.  Jason (almost) single-handedly curates and creates content across several different topics.

In January 2018, Jason launchedNoticing, an email newsletter with a curated roundup of the week’s posts on Kottke.org.  He has even curated a collection of more than 2,000 books and products he’s linked to over the years, entitled The Accidental Shop, all of which you can purchase at Amazon.

Why is it killer curation?  Because the blog and website are nurtured and maintained by an individual with a strong personable voice. Jason curates and writes about what interests him, but in doing so, he reveals what’s interesting about himself, which is an attractive quality. This organic, hands-on approach to his work has built a loyal following of subscribers and members whom he talks to like old friends.

Kottke

#2. Deadspin.com: Website

This one is for all you sports lovers, as long as you don’t mind a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm served up with your daily news and commentary.  Edited by Megan Greenwell, Deadspin has broken several major stories making it a credible and widely-followed source of sports information for its mainly male community. It also distributes a weekly newsletter to subscribers.

Why is it killer curation?  It knows exactly what its audience is looking for and serves them well.  It’s brash but unpretentious. It’s a visually appealing site, relying heavily on videos and images. Above all, its conversational tone makes it feel more like chatting to your buddies about the latest game than a staid news site. Bang on brand.

Deadspin

#3. The Moz Top 10: Email Newsletter

The Moz Top 10 newsletter is emailed to subscribers every two weeks. In addition to the newsletter and its prolific social media sites, Moz publishes a blog (with daily updates emailed to subscribers) and its famous Whiteboard Friday videos.

Why is it killer curation?  Moz.com (founded by former CEO, Rand Fishkin) is one of the leading authorities on anything SEO and digital marketing. But you knew that, right?  So, when they say they’ll share the“10 most valuable articles about SEO and online marketing that we could find,” you know they’ll dish up the goods.  This email is killer curation because it’s current in a rapidly changing arena. It’s on point and unfussy, it’s easy to navigate, it adds considerable value and saves time.

Moz Top Ten

#4. Smashing Magazine: Website

Smashing Magazine is a curated information resource for web designers and developers.  The website is fun and quirky (what’s with the cats?) while being chock full of articles, books, and even a job postings board. You can also subscribe to a newsletter, emailed out every two weeks.

Why is it killer curation?  As you would expect from web developers, the site is beautifully designed and easy to navigate with just the right number of tricks to be impressive, without being distracting. But it’s the community focus that’s most impressive. The passion for their subject matter really shines through, as does their desire to serve and support their audience with the best content and resources.

Smashing

#5. Rohit Bhargava: Twitter Account

Rohit Bhargava is a marketing expert who describes himself as a “trend curator.” When he’s not teaching, blogging, writing books, or giving keynote presentations, he Tweets. At least daily.

Rohit is the founder of the Non-Obvious company, which monitors and reports on trends and provides weekly insights through its email newsletter. It also runs the Non-Obvious book awards, which is a by-product of all the reading Rohit and his team do to curate ideas for their annual trends list.

Why is it killer curation?  Rohit’s Twitter feed is full of links to funny, informative, thought-provoking, trend-setting insights.  He has an innate sense of balance between light-hearted and serious, and he injects just enough of his content and promotion to remain credible. Which is why he has amassed an impressive 34.3k followers.

Rohit Bhargava - Twitter

#6. Next Draft: Email Newsletter

Every day, Dave Pell sends out his news round-up — Next Draft. He curates ten items a day that he considers to be the essential, fascinating bits of information you need, without you having to go search for them.  Or, as he puts it on his website,“I am the algorithm.”

Why is it killer curation?  Because he does thisevery day. He takes content curation to the next level with his analysis and insightful commentary. But he’s also funny, wacky, and devilish enough to make you lust after his next email.

Next Draft  

#7. Rocumentaries.com: Website

And now for something completely different — documentaries that rock your world. This is a collection of documentaries from BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, VICE, YouTube and more. You can browse the website or subscribe to the email for the latest picks.

Why is it killer curation?  Because the site is wonderfully minimalist and focused. This is for and by lovers of documentaries. Nothing more and nothing less. You can sort by genre, sources, or recommendations and read the original curation notes before deciding which ones to download.

rocumentaries

#8. Growth.email: Email Newsletter

This is another simple but highly targeted email. Compiled by Miles Burke, Growth.email delivers ten articles a week that have been carefully sourced, analyzed and curated. The theme, as the name suggests, is about growing revenue and business.

Why is it killer curation?  There is no fluff. This is a thoughtfully curated collection of ten articles a week that has the audience’s interests firmly in mind. Miles does this on his own, for free. It’s content curation at its purest.

growth.email

#9. Really Good Emails: Website, Email Newsletter and YouTube Channel

This site is a curated collection for email marketing geeks. It has curated and showcased almost 4,000 email designs to date, and it provides practical and insightful critiques through its YouTube Channel, Feedback Friday.  Every week it sends an email round-up of curated links to its subscribers entitled “News and articles we thought you’d like.”

Why is it killer curation?  This is one of those emails I really enjoy seeing in my inbox. It’s inspirational, educational, fun and I think I’ve clicked through to a link from every email I’ve received. Which is what you’d expect from email marketing experts.

Really Good Emails

#10. Wirecutter.com: Website

Wirecutter provides news and recommendations for its readers about the best gear and gadgets it can find. With detailed reviews, interviews and data, this is a curated gallery of diverse and insanely useful items with links back to the sellers.

The website also has a Deals page with the latest retail discounts updated daily and sent to your inbox via an email newsletter.

Why is it killer curation?  This is curation with a difference. The team at Wirecutter spend hours, weeks and sometimes months researching and testing products to make shopping easy for their audience. From TVs to toilet brushes, everything is scrutinized with precision and care to establish the best product to buy in each category. The site is easy to navigate, insanely useful and hugely addictive.

wirecutter

Content Curation Tools

I haven’t set out to give you an exhaustive list. No-one ever could. Tools come and go on the Internet all the time.

Instead, I’ve researched as many as possible to bring you a good cross section of 20 automated content curation tools. Most of them are free, some have a free trial period before you need to start paying, and a couple are for the more dedicated and experienced curators with paid plans to match.

Explore the features and decide which are the best fit for your business.

Best Tools for Sourcing and Collating Content

Feedly

Feedly

Feedly lets you source content from almost anywhere on the web and organize it in your feeds. You can sort by topic, save to read later, and even share directly to your social media accounts.  Its free for up to 100 sources and three feeds, and $5.41/month for the pro version.

NewsBlur

NewsBlur

Similar to Feedly, Newsblur is a free personal news reader that allows you to read content from 64 sites in their original format and save by categories. If you upgrade to the premium account ($36/year), you get access to unlimited sources, custom tags and more.

InoReader

InoReader

InoReader is another free reader that gives you access to an unlimited number of feeds and archived content. You can use folders and tags to sort and collate your content, and it’s quick and easy to get up and running. The starter plan is just $14.99/year to get rid of the ads and enjoy a customizable dashboard.

InstaPaper

InstaPaper

Instapaper has a beautifully simple interface and lets you source and collate content from anywhere on the web. The best feature is adding highlights and comments to any article, but you’ll need to upgrade to the premium account for $2.00/month to unlock the unlimited version of notes and other features.

Vidinterest

Vidinterest

No list of curation tools would be complete without one dedicated to videos. Vidinterest supports videos from YouTube, Daily Motion and Vimeo, and while other tools support a wider range of sources, Vidinterest is free. Plus you can earn affiliate dollars by writing and sharing reviews.

Social Searcher

Social Searcher

A gazillion tools can help you source content from social media platforms, but I like Social Searcher because you can start using it without registering an account. This gives you access to real-time searches across 12 social media platforms, data analytics and the ability to sort by date or popularity. Upgrade to the basic plan for around $4/month and you can start saving your searches and monitoring data results.

Blog Lovin’

Blog Lovin'

You’ve gotta love Blog Lovin’! It keeps all of the blogs you follow in one place and updates your feed as they publish new posts. It operates like a cross between a news reader and a social media platform, with love and comment buttons and a card layout like Pinterest. And it’s free.

Flow Reader

flowreader

Flow Reader is the best free content sourcing and collating tool in this list because you can combine your RSS and social network feeds in one platform.

Best Tools for Sharing Curated Content on Social Media and Your Blog

CrowdFire

CrowdFire

With over 19 million users, Crowdfire is a crowd pleaser regarding content curation. Source from social media and other websites and blogs with its new RSS feature. Customize and schedule posts for each social media profile. It’s free for unlimited curation and up to 10 posts/month on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. It’s $9.90/month for the plus account.

DrumUp

DrumUp

DrumUp lets you source, collate and share content across multiple social media accounts. You can get hashtag and content recommendations to suit your audience, share directly from the Chrome extension and track and measure engagement. DrumUp has a limited free plan, and the paid plans start at $15/month.

Triberr

Triberr

Triberr is a content marketing tool wrapped up in a community of like-minded bloggers. Firstly, it helps you source and share content across your social media accounts. But you can also follow and share posts from tribes of bloggers and influencers and get invited to become a member. You can get started on Triberr for free, or unlock additional features for $20/year.

Tailwind

Tailwind

If your content marketing is focused on Pinterest and Instagram, this one’s for you. With Tailwind, you can source, schedule and publish across both platforms and monitor and track the success of your efforts. There’s a free trial period, but the paid plan for bloggers and small businesses starts at an affordable $9.99/month.

Tweeted Times

Tweeted Times

The Tweeted Times helps you create a curated online newspaper from the most relevant content on Twitter to share with your followers. You can get basic branding and promotion for your newspaper for free, or pay $15/month to unlock more features in the pro plan.

Curation Soft

Curation Soft

This is the only software included in the list. It’s compatible with several major platforms including WordPress, Blogger and Facebook. CurationSoft is easy to use. You can search for content by keyword across blogs and social media, drag and drop, add your own commentary and post. It comes with a 14-day free trial and costs $49/year for the annual plan or $5/month for a pay-as-you-go plan.

Best Tools for Publishing Curated Email Newsletters

Elink

Elink

Elink is a visual collection of curated links that are shareable in an email newsletter and other online formats. From Elink you can source content, design and personalize your email, add curated links and send it to your subscribers via Mailchimp. Elink has a free 14-day trial, and then it costs $12/month.

Nuzzel

Nuzzel

Nuzzel is a free Twitter and Facebook news monitoring and research tool that also sends out automatically generated or self-curated social newsletters. Subscribers to your newsletter receive a daily email containing the top five stories from your Nuzzel feed or any stories you want to include.

Revue

Revue

Revue is an email newsletter tool that connects to a range of social media and other content curation tools to build the content for your newsletter. It’s free for up to 50 subscribers and $5/month (or more as your subscriber numbers increase).

Best Tools for the Full Package

Content Studio

Content Studio

With Content Studio, you can source and filter trending content and share it across your social media accounts, blog and email marketing platforms. The free subscription allows you to publish up to 500 posts/month to two social media accounts, but you’ll need to upgrade to the $49/month pro plan for unlimited social media and blog publishing.

Publish This

Publish This

Publish This is another full package content curation tool that lets you curate and publish content in newsletters and social media accounts. It’s free to start, but paid plans start at a slightly higher $99/month.

Scoop.it!

Scoop.it

With Scoop.it, you can source content and publish it across your social media accounts, in your blog, your website or your newsletters. But you can only publish to one social media account with the free subscription and publish to five with the pro subscription ($14.99/month).  If you want to embed on your website or publish newsletters, you will need to upgrade again to plus for $67/month, so this is a tool you will need to grow into.

Can You Hire Content Curators to Do This?

Sure, you can hire a freelancer or VA to do several content marketing tasks for you. But consider a few things before you search Google.

Whenever you outsource work, you’ll have a trade-off. No-one will know your brand and voice as well as you unless they work with you consistently over a length of time.

So, you need to decide what functions of your content curation you are comfortable outsourcing and what needs to be done by you to retain an authentic relationship with your audience. My suggestion is that with a good brief, you can hire a VA to:

  • Source content in your niche
  • Filter the content to validate its quality and relevancy
  • Research topics/content for curated blog posts
  • Schedule your social media posts
  • Track audience metrics

You still need to add your own voice and insights to your curated content before sharing it, but a VA can do a lot of the time-consuming implementation tasks, freeing up your time to focus on strategy and relationship building.

And secondly, it might not be a smart move to outsource your content curation until you have mastered the discipline yourself with the aid of the tools available.  You’ll be in a much better position to work effectively with a VA down the road once you have tested curation firsthand and understand the needs and interests of your audience.

The Bottom Line on Content Curation

A final word of advice: In your rush to embrace your new curation skills, don’t ever stop writing your own blog or producing your own videos and podcasts. Just ease back a little (remember that 60:40 rule of thumb).

Curation can certainly lighten the load and open new doors, but it will never replace the authority-building power that comes with creating original content.

What it does give you is a stack of new opportunities to build relationships with influencers and turbo-charge your social media following.   

Just remember — always filter the content you source, always add value with your own insights and find a publishing schedule that works for you.

The grind of having to come up with something fresh and original on a daily basis is relegated to the past.  You’re now armed with the strategy and tools to become a killer content curator!

So, go get ‘em!

About the Author

Mel Wicks is a seasoned copywriter who helps bloggers and business owners bring the ‘wow-where-do-I- sign-up’ oomph to their writing.  Give your original content a shot in the arm with her free ‘No-Fluff Guide to Writing Epic Blog Posts Every Time’.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Content Curation (With Examples!) appeared first on Smart Blogger.



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