Should Authors Do It All?



What’s better? To be a jack of all trades or to specialize in a particular skill? Naturally, there are arguments for either choice depending upon the circumstance. Let’s say you’re an athlete and have suffered torn cartilage in your knee; you’ll want to consult with an orthopedic surgeon.

After all, they’re experts at what they do. So why is it as authors, we don’t seek out experts?

Why do so many of us try to do it all?

Assuming that the writing is in place, let’s examine all of the jobs or tasks that are required to bring a book to market.

Publishing Requires Juggling —

Editing/Proofreading
Cover Art
Digital and Paperback Formatting
ISBN Registration
Synopsis Writing
Keyword and Category Research
Distribution / File Uploading
Marketing and Public Relations
Social Media

Phew…what a list! Considering that today’s reader has an abundance of choices available to them, it makes sense to give your audience what they crave….more books! Many authors have learned that one of the secrets to building a loyal fanbase is to release their books in rapid
succession. Some debate the pros and cons of doing this with a series versus a standalone novel.

Regardless of which choice, series or standalone, how do you keep up with your writing if you’re busy with so many tasks? And if you are taking on all of these responsibilities, are you doing each one justice? Whether we’re talking about graphics or formatting, there is a definite skill involved in each.

Let’s examine three of these tasks in greater details — cover art, formatting, and social media
— and analyze what makes for a superior job versus one that is somewhat mediocre as a result of not focusing on only that task.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

We’ve all seen them…the book covers that stand out from the rest and not in a good way.

Considering that now there are numerous contests for book cover art that can benefit the writer as well as the artist by bringing attention to your book, you don’t want to attempt cover art on your own for the sake of saving money.

Especially considering that many cover artists create what’s known as “pre-made covers” that can provide immense cost savings. These are covers that aren’t created to your specifications but rather, fit a typical genre such as romance or thriller. Writers will see one of these covers (often times as low as $30 and typically not higher than $75) and use their great imagination to actually pen a scene into their novel that suits the cover image, thereby making it appropriate to their book.

Functional Formatting is Key for Reader Enjoyment —

Many new authors do not realize that proper book formatting requires knowledge of specific softwares that can generate a file format that is accepted by the ebook retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes and more. Furthermore, Amazon won’t accept the same format as the rest. They want what is known in the industry as a “mobi” file whereas the other ebook retailers will accept an “epub” file. As you can see, simply uploading a Word document from your computer won’t cut it, even if you think it’s beautiful with fancy fonts littered throughout your text.

Professional formatting will save the author time because you won’t receive error messages from the ebook store sites. Imagine if you did receive an error message. Would you know where in your entire book to find the problem? And, if you did find it, would you know how to correct it?

For this reason, as well as the aesthetic quality that a professionally formatted book can bring to the reader, it’s important to choose a professional book formatter.

In my opinion, professional book formatting should serve three functions: saving the author time, bringing aesthetics and beauty to your words, and providing a level of technical functionality.

Clever book formatting will include numerous benefits to the reader experience. Here’s just a few things that can be added to your ebook with formatting:

Hyperlinks within the text to outbound URLs
Author social media links
Link to Amazon’s listing of the book whereby a reader can leave a review
Social Media…Fun and Games or Serious Business?

Let’s face it, social media can be fun. Why wouldn’t you want to spend time on Facebook chatting to readers, tweeting messages on Twitter to other authors, or posting pictures of your
adorable pets on Instagram? Because quite simply, social media is a time sucker and if you’re
serious about your writing, you need to limit your time online. However, there’s no denying that if you want to sell your books, you need to be visible and have a proven author platform.

 

How do you do both? As authors, how do we find the time to write our books and use social media? In a word: balance! I write extensively about how to live a creative and balanced life.

It’s a subject I feel strongly about because we all wear many hats. In no particular order, I’m an author, a wife, a mother, a book packager, and a ghostwriter. Trust me, I understand busy. But I also have learned when to back off and ask for help. In terms of social media, I think it’s a great idea to learn a few key lessons from social media strategists and then experiment with how much of this task you can do yourself and still maintain a regular writing schedule and your sanity.

 

As to answer my initial question, should authors do it all? I think it’s wise to educate yourself.

Know how much a cover will cost. Research the different formatting fees. Spend time on social
media and see if your tactics are converting to sales. Once you educate yourself, it’s easier to hire an expert because you understand what their job is and you’ve developed realistic expectations.

If you have questions about anything publishing related, I’d love to chat.

How to Curate Content: The Secret Sauce to Getting Noticed, Becoming an Influencer, and Having Fun Online



Regarding questions I get all the time – excellent read!!

How great is the Internet! One of the most impactful, viral, influential services you can perform online is to read stuff and tell people what you like.

It’s true!

If you’re looking for a competitive edge, a way to establish your authority, a way to get more followers, one of the best, proven paths to online success is content curation.

It’s both as simple and as difficult as finding great content and sharing it with your audience. The difficult part is that there is a lot that goes into a world class content curation strategy. Where do you look for content? How do you find the best stuff? How do you find the time to find the best stuff? And then of course, what do you do with it all once you find it?

These are fantastic questions, and they’re just the type of challenges we’d love to help you solve. We’ve partnered with the folks at Pocket, who’re a huge part of our curation process, to share our research and lessons with you about how to build a remarkable (and remarkably effective) content curation strategy.

We’ll be talking a lot about great curation tools in this post. Our two must-haves are Pocket for reading and Buffer for sharing. Feel free to grab a forever-free subscription from each. We’ll be mentioning them a lot below. 🙂

The Ultimate Guideto Content Curation

What we hope you’ll learn in this post

Content curation is a favorite topic among us on the Buffer team, and we’re so happy to have a chance to share our best tips with you. To make it easier to find the parts of this resource that are most helpful, here’s a look at all we’ll cover.

Click to jump to any section:

The one-a-day formula for great content curation
Content curation tools
Where to find great content
Advantages of being really good at content curation
Who does it well: Curation heroes
Curation automation

The one-a-day formula for great content curation

Successful curation can be split into these three areas:

Discover
Read
Share

How to Curate Content (1)

From a high level, those three elements are all you need to master in order to get really good at content curation. Exciting, right? That’s not too much to ask! Of course, the really great content curators know that a detailed, comprehensive, strategic approach to each of those three steps is really what sets apart great curation from the rest.

I’d love to share how to get this comprehensive, strategic approach for yourself.

Let’s start by looking at a sample curation day (it just so happens to be my day), and all the different detail that goes into the Discover-Read-Share formula.

Discover Read Share

Discover

Check your newsletters for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
Check Feedly for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
Check Twitter for interesting stories. View by list and hashtag. Add to Pocket.
Check Facebook for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
Check aggregation sites like Inbound.org, Growth Hackers, Hacker News, Panda, Digg, etc. Add anything interesting and relevant to Pocket.

Read

Read everything in Pocket
Mark shareworthy content as “favorite”

Share

Favorite content is automatically added to Buffer via an IFTTT recipe
Browse the Buffer feed to adjust titles, images, hashtags, and mentions.
Schedule or share

Total time (once you get in a good flow): 1 to 2 hours each day.

As you may know, reading articles online can take far more than one to two hours per day. It can take all day! (And what glorious days those are.)

However, there are very few of us who are able to curate content full-time for a living. We’re likely curating as a guilty pleasure, while the other demands of the job beckon us. So it’s vital to be ruthlessly efficient with your curation strategy.

How?

Here are some tips for each of the three key parts to a daily content curation workflow.

Tips on how to discover content, fast

Curate from curators – newsletters, communities, etc.
Have a list of 25 (maximum!) go-to content sources
Follow interesting people and make it easy to see what they share
Give new content sources a probationary period

Seventy-five percent of any curation strategy is discovery.

In fact, you should be spending 95 percent of your time in discovery and reading; only 5 percent should be spend on sharing. (More below on how to make this a reality.)

content curation percentages

With discovery being the bulk of the curation process, it’s okay if it feels like it’s taking more time than it should. Give yourself the time and space to discover. This is where the true content curation all-stars shine: They find the stories that no one else is finding. They guard their secret sources like family jewels and are always willing to spend the extra few minutes diving deeper into a rabbit hole in hopes that a new wonderland is in there.

1. Curate from curators – newsletters, communities, etc.

One of the biggest hidden secrets of curation superstars: They curate from curators. They subscribe to newsletters full of hand-picked links from peers and neighbors. They browse communities where stories are gathered and upvoted — crowdsourced curation, more or less. If you’re in the marketing space, newsletters like Teachable’s MakeChange and sites like Inbound.org are curation gold.

Here’re a few interesting places to look if you might be keen to find curators in your niche (more on these places below):

Pocket’s Recommended feature (easily accesible from within the Pocket app)
Curated’s featured publications
Letterlist’s list of newsletters
Panda’s integrations

Curating from curators helps to build a good base of discoverable content.

Then you have to go a bit deeper.

You have to have your own go-to places to find content that few others have found. These are your go-to sites — maybe an unknown blog, or a low-traffic section of a major news site. For instance, I adore the writing on Post Planner, and I love reading the New York Times’s tech blog. (Whoops, there go my secrets.)

To discover places like these, it helps to keep an open mind for curation when clicking through newsletter links or community upvotes. Do the sites themselves seem to resonate with what you’re wanting to find? Here are some questions to ask:

How often do they publish new content? (or, how old is the article I’m reading now?)
If I like this author, does she contribute often, or is this a guest post?
How well is the article formatted? (This hints at a certain level of content quality.)
How well is the site designed?

And then of course, once you find these hidden spots, make it easy to visit them daily.

The bookmarks hack: This one’s a bit old school but super lo-fi and simple. Once you’ve found a handful of go-to content sources, star them all with a bookmark in your browser, and organize them into a folder. Then each day, start your curation by going to your bookmarks, right-clicking the folder, and opening all the sites at once. It’ll look like this:

content-curation-bookmarks1

2. Have a list of 25 (maximum!) go-to content sources

While you’re building out your Top 25, make sure to keep it at no more than 25. Yes, there may be more than 25 great sites out there, but remember that your ultimate goal with discover is finding the best, original stuff — and your secondary goal is speed and efficiency.

If you have more than 25 sites, you’ll be too busy filtering and hunting. Besides, if your list is more than 25, chances are they aren’t all sites that are original to your discovery. Other curators are probably curating them, in which case you can curate those curators.

Feedly, an awesome RSS tool we’ll cover more below, is where I keep track of my list of sites to follow. Currently I follow 25 total blogs on writing and marketing.

Marketing blogs to follow

3. Follow interesting people and make it easy to see what they share

Along with unique sites, it helps to follow unique people. Take Matt Navarra of The Next Web, for instance. Here is a sampling of recent tweets. The man is a cornucopia of fascination:

Twitter now lets you use any emoji in your account name or bio 😎👌💥 https://t.co/1eKOPhAPZI

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 24, 2016

YouTube may soon be a social network with text, image posts https://t.co/BcY1Ga7J42 pic.twitter.com/juQOlwfJOs

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 25, 2016

Twitter’s new Message button lets people DM you from your site https://t.co/dsAqHdFtxT pic.twitter.com/cMxXXT7QxL

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 25, 2016

There are unique people like this in almost every industry (Matt just so happens to be in social media) — and if there aren’t, then wow what a great opportunity for you to be the first!

One way to find them is with a hashtag search. If you have a particular keyword or two that is central to your brand or area of expertise, look for people sharing content with that keyword. Sort by most followers if you can.

Another way to do it is to see who is sharing the articles that you think are pretty great. If someone else has found your secret best stuff, then they probably are a good one to follow. To do this …

Enter a URL into BuzzSumo
Click the “View Sharers” button next to the article’s title on the results page
Voila! See who has shared this content

(Viewing sharers is a BuzzSumo Pro feature that you can try out for free with a trial.)

And if all else fails, you can try following people with a similar job title or from particular companies you admire or compete with. This’ll make sure that you’re staying on top of the stories that are relevant to people like you.

Of course, following all these folks is one thing. Being able to see their content in the stream of all content is another. You can do the bookmark hack and travel directly to their feeds every day (not a bad idea). You can try a tool like Nuzzel, which emails you a digest of what your Twitter friends and Facebook friends have shared the past 24 hours (ranked by virality).

Nuzzel screenshot

Or you can make yourself a second profile.

The fake profile hack: Create a new profile for yourself on Facebook or Twitter by entering a new email address. If you’re a Gmail user, you can create a new email from scratch by adding “+” to your current email (e.g., [email protected]). Then follow your interesting folks from this fake account, and log in with the fake account in a separate Chrome profile for easy switching.

Switch person Chrome

4. Give new content sources a probationary period

As you come across new websites and publications, definitely feel free to add them to your repertoire — eventually. In my experience, I’ve found that a site might look promising for a day or two, though it takes at least two weeks before you can know for sure if it deserves to be a place you visit every day.

Likewise, it’s beneficial to be quick to cut any sites that aren’t quite passing muster for you lately, too.

Your time is valuable! Being a great curator means staying cutting edge with where you look and how long you look there.

Tips on how to read content, fast

Get a read-it-later app (like Pocket)
Stop reading as soon as you know if it’s a yes or no
If it doesn’t hold your attention, it won’t hold your reader’s
It’s okay to skim, within reason
Sometimes images make the best text

Good news is, the hard part (discovery) is behind you. Now you get to read!

1. Get a read-it-later app (like Pocket)

First things first. One of the toughest things you can do when it comes to curating content fast is to read every article on the site itself. You need a read-it-later app.

This plays into the concept of batching.

Batching (or batch processing) is the act of grouping similar tasks together that require similar resources. Doing so streamlines the process and helps you get more done, faster.

It’s a concept you might be familiar with from Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek or articles like this: How Batch Processing Made Me 10x More Productive. It’s a popular lifehacking and productivity tip, for sure! And it works great with curation.

Batch the tasks that require similar resources.

Do all your content discovery at the same time, while your brain is in the hunting mentality.
Do all your reading at the same time, while your brain is feeling reflective and choosy.

And in order to read in a batch, you need to have a tool that lets you save the articles you find in order to read them later.

I use Pocket for this. It has a neat card layout to quickly see everything I’ve saved. It strips out all the extra sidebars, styles, and ads so that you’re just reading what the author wrote and intended. And it has a wonderful browser extension that lets me save new articles to Pocket with one click from any page on the web.

The extension hack: Bonus! If you’re using the Pocket browser extension on Twitter, you can add any tweeted link straight to Pocket. Just below the link blurb is a row of icons, one of which is for Pocket. If you click this, the article is added automatically, and it even includes the tweet text from the original share.

pocket-tweet

2. Stop reading as soon as you know if it’s a yes or no

Now that all your content is flowing in through Pocket or another read-it-later app, you can start the process of reading. And apologies if I seem to be mentioning ruthlessness a lot in this article. You’ll want to be pretty ruthless here, too.

As soon as you know if it’s a yes or a no, you must stop and go onto the next one.

Here are some reasons why it can be a yes:

A really great article! 🎉🎉🎉🎉

An amazing image or graphic 👍👍👍

A fantastic quote 😍😍

An interesting statistic 🍔

Here are some reasons why it can be a no: Everything else.

3. If it doesn’t hold your attention, it won’t hold your reader’s

If you find your attention faltering, stop reading. You are likely the most invested person in the world in this article. If it can’t hold your attention, it won’t hold the attention of a far less invested reader!

If you realize it’s not as actionable or interesting as you thought, stop reading.

If you’ve read something similar elsewhere, stop reading.

In general terms, these are some factors that make for a really great, curate-worthy article:

It’s unique
It’s interesting
It’s useful

(These go by the vowel-heavy initialism UIU.)

The faster you can find U, I, or U, the better off you’ll be with your speed of curation.

4. It’s okay to skim, within reason

First and foremost, read every article. Only in emergencies, skim read.

Sometimes, you might find yourself really rooting for an article to succeed. And you just really want to get to the good stuff. Well, awesome – there is a time for skimming, and this might very well be it.

Of course, skimming comes with its risks. What if you skim over an offensive or inaccurate portion of an article, then choose to endorse it unwittingly? It’s not a great feeling (spoken from experience). One way to work around this hazard is to excerpt only the portions that you’ve read. For instance, you might say:

Great post! Loved this section on growth hacking in particular.
Wonderful line from this blog post: ““The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them, but we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.”

This way, you’re only vouching for the parts that you did in fact read.

5. Sometimes images make the best text

Similarly, while skimming, it’s possible that a picture might catch your eye, rather than the text itself.

This is perfectly fine.

If you’re in the business of curating unique, interesting, and useful stuff, it matters little whether it’s sensational text or sensational images.

And as a bonus, skimming for great images is a breeze. Some read-it-later apps strip out the images from within the body of articles; Pocket grabs the article’s main image and uses it as a thumbnail on the post. Otherwise, you may be able to spot a great image well before you save to Pocket, during the discovery phase of curation.

Tips on how to share content, fast

Get a social media scheduling app (like Buffer)
Set up an automation workflow
Invest in a good email solution

Like I mentioned above, the sharing of curated content needs to take only five percent of your overall curation workflow. If you spend an hour-and-a-half on curation, you can do all the sharing in as little as five minutes.

1. Get a social media scheduling app (like Buffer)

It starts with a solid foundation: a social media management dashboard. These are great for managing multiple social accounts on multiple channels, all in the same place. For instance, we use Buffer to manage our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts, plus the accounts of our individual profiles (like, in my case, all my Kevan Lee profiles).

What’s more, social media dashboards like Buffer also come with scheduling.

This is uber-important for a curator especially.

Picture this, you’ve just gone through the discovery and reading phases of curation, and you have 15 cool articles to share. What do you do with those 15?

You can share them all at once as a burst, which has been scientifically proven to lose you followers.

You can space them out over the course of the day by manually sharing one every 45 minutes (which has been qualitatively proven to be a pain).

Or, you can add them all at once to Buffer, and Buffer will send them for you at the pre-appointed schedule you’ve set. 💎

Here’s a video that explains the calendar feature within Buffer:

2. Set up an automation workflow

To make this even more powerful, you can set up automation workflows that allow for the bulk scheduling to happen seamlessly. I’ll get into lots more detail below about how this particular automation can happen.

Basically, you can use a tool like IFTTT or Zapier to connect your favorite read-it-later app like Pocket to your favorite social publishing tool like Buffer. Then, whenever you take a particular action while you’re reading — say, marking something as “favorite” — IFTTT or Zapier will tell Buffer to do a particular something else — say, add to your sharing queue.

In addition, there are some neat, native integrations with content tools like Pocket and Feedly and sharing tools like Buffer. For instance, from Pocket’s web app, you can share any article directly to Buffer. (The same can happen on mobile, with Buffer’s share extension turned on.)

Pocket share to Buffer

3. Invest in a good email solution

Similarly, if your curation strategy relies more on email for spreading your content, there are some awesome automation tools to help with email. There’s the IFTTT and Zapier automation flows for capturing favorite links, and there are even standalone tools that allow you to build an email newsletter as you read.

Speaking of tools, let’s get to know a few.

The content curation tools behind great newsletters, roundups, and lists

Great curation can vary widely, from the most manual of processes (copy-paste to spreadsheets) to the most automated (tool-connected tools). We lean a bit toward the tools side at Buffer, particularly when it comes to working as smart as possible.

These are the tools we use personally or can recommend highly. Hope you spot one or two that might work for you also.

1. Buffer – https://buffer.com

Social media scheduling, publishing, and analytics

buffer extension for content curation

Price: Free

Buffer is the key to our fast-sharing curation. We’re able to go in from Day One and set a custom schedule, based on when our tweets and posts tend to get the most engagement (Buffer tells you this; thanks, Buffer!). Then this schedule stays for as long as we like: All we need to do is fill a queue with the curated content that we find, and everything else takes care of itself.

The browser extension makes it easy to add content from anywhere, too. Just click the Buffer button on any page, or press Option+B, to open the Buffer window.

The Twitter scraper hack: It’s not a hack, really. It’s more of a feature! If you’re sharing an article to Twitter, Buffer will grab all the images on the page and suggest them as possible images to add to your tweet. It works from the dashboard, too. Say you want to edit some posts that were added via automation. Click to edit the tweet, type a space at the end, and all the images pop up.

buffer-twitter-images

Other options:

Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Sprinklr

 

2. Pocket – https://getpocket.com

Read-it-later app with social content

pocket for read it later curated stories

Price: Free

This is the reading app for online content. What we do is save everything we find to Pocket and then set aside time to read it all. Each post is stripped of all superfluous design so we can concentrate on just the words. And it’s super easy to share from Pocket with its many social social features and integrations.

You can even Recommend items with others on Pocket, and cross-post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. Recommendations on Pocket will appear on your Pocket profile and in your followers’ feeds when they’re looking for great content to read, like and repost.

If you’re ever strapped for time (or doing other tasks), Pocket will even read the articles to you. Yup! You read that right!

Other options:

Instapaper

 

3. Feedly – http://feedly.com

Robust RSS reader with content discovery

Feedly

Price: Free

Feedly is the heir to Google Reader, and it’s improved the RSS formula in some neat ways. You can 1) search Feedly for topics to find the content you want to subscribe to. You can 2) integrate Feedly with other apps in order to make it easy to send stories to places like Pocket or Buffer. You can even do cool things like publicize your feed collections and check the virality of content based on its shares (great for curating in a pinch).

The viral Feedly hack: If you’re strapped for time, you can quickly spot the most viral stories in your Feedly by switching to Index view (via the Preferences link in the sidebar), then hunting for the biggest share numbers. These numbers appear just before the headline. Numbers in the hundreds and orange numbers (trending) are great.

feedly-virality-gif

Other options:

Digg Reader, The Old Reader, Flipboard

 

4. Nuzzel – http://nuzzel.com

See what your friends are sharing on social media

Nuzzel

Price: Free

Nuzzel searches the feeds of your friends on Facebook and Twitter to find the content that they’re sharing. Everything gets ranked, then emailed to you once a day so you’re always in the loop. The top three stories make up the start of the email, then Nuzzel goes the extra mile with a Friends of Friends section with even more content. And if you’re wanting to go beyond the email, you can click through to the site to see everything that was shared that day.

The Nuzzel hack: You probably follow a lot of people, right? And not everyone may be the most relevant to the topic you’re curating. What we’ve done is to set up a fake Twitter account, follow just the people whom you want to monitor, then sync Nuzzel with this account. Bingo! All your Nuzzel recommendations are hyper-targeted to just these folks who curate great stuff.

Other options:

Refind

 

5. Goodbits – https://goodbits.io/

Ready-made email newsletters from the content you discover

Goodbits

Price: Free

Goodbits removes the middleman/woman/spreadsheet from the flow of collecting great content and emailing links to great content. With Goodbits, you simply collect the content using their browser extension, and all the content is placed automatically into a pretty email that you can send to your subscribers. Goodbits integrates with popular email platforms like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, and you can tie in RSS feeds directly to the Goodbits interface so you don’t even have to go looking for the content.

Other options: 

Curated.co

 

6. TinyLetter – https://www.tinyletter.com

Straightforward newsletter building and sending

TinyLetter for email curation and newsletters

Price: free

One of the absolutely minimal ways for sending a newsletter is with TinyLetter. It’s completely no-frills, which means no barriers for entry. With TinyLetter, you get a straightforward landing page to collect emails and a clean and simple interface for writing your newsletter. And that’s it! There are some simple stats, but beyond that, all there is to do is write, send, repeat.

Other options:

Campaign Monitor, MailChimp

 

7. Letterlist – http://letterlist.com

A list of the best, curated newsletters out there

LetterList

Price: free

Remember the tip to curated from fellow curators? Well Letterlist collects the best curators for you. From the Letterlist website, you can subscribe to dozens of great newsletters.

It’s a curated list of curated newsletters, in order to help you curate.

images

Here are some more ideas of where you might find great content to curate …

Where to find great content: 17 vetted sources

Like we’ve talked about, the most important job of a high-quality curator is finding fantastic content. We’re lucky — there’s a lot of it out there!

Here are a few of our favorite places to look, both specifically (the sites themselves) and generally (the bigger-picture places). It’s important for me to remember that not everyone will be wishing to curate content based on startups, productivity, social media, or writing. Hopefully seeing some of our process might trigger some ideas for your particular industry.

1. Newsletters

I get a ton of value from the newsletters I subscribe to, both for the curation help they provide me and for just learning lots of interesting things. We’ve covered a list of over 60 favorite newsletters before. Definitely start there if you’re looking for a comprehensive list.

60+ Fantastic Email Newsletters to Read and Share

These are a few of the go-to ones I use currently:

NextDraft
Caitlin Dewey
Ann Friedman
MakeChange
Inside’s Daily Brief

SmartBrief also has a list of over 200 newsletters, segmented by industry. You might find something up your alley there.

The newsletter search hack: If you’re unsure where to find a newsletter based on your particular topic, try a Google search. Er, try a very specific Google search. Search “site:tinyletter.com YOUR SEARCH TERM” to discover TinyLetter lists that might be relevant for you. Here’s an example. Since all TinyLetter newsletters are archived, you’re able to search the full archives of all newsletters with this search.

Newsletter search hack

2. Community aggregators

These are sites that are collecting content on their own and upvoting it so you can see what’s new and great.

Hacker News
Inbound
Growth Hackers
Product Hunt
Sidebar

3. Reddit

I thought about including this one in the list above for communities, but no, Reddit deserves a category all its own!

There are more than half-a-million subreddits, which are niche communities focused on a particular topic. These are basically community aggregators for anything you could imagine. Here are a few favorites:

Data Is Beautiful
Mechanical GIFs
TIL – Today I Learned
IAMAs
Listen to This

(The Daily Dot ranks over 200 subreddits here.)

4. Content products

Another outcome of our content-heavy Internet is that there are entire products built for helping you find content. Thank you! These sites might either have algorithms that go out and source great stuff, or they have humans curate what they find to be worthy of a wider audience. Either way, these products are great for curation.

Panda

Panda
Pocket’s Recommended Stories
Digg Deeper
Medium’s Editor’s Picks
Content discovery tools on Zeef

For even more content discovery ideas, we’ve put together some favorite lists here:

17 Unique Places to Find Great Content to Share

Advantages of being really good at content curation: Why people curate

By this point, you’ve likely got a good sense of what it takes to be really, really good at curation. And you might be wondering …

Why would someone go to these lengths?

Well first off, a lot of people enjoy it. Reading on the web is a wonderful leisure activity for many, so it must feel like such a gift to be able to build a following around what you’d be doing anyway.

That said, there are some specific brand advantages to being really, really good at curation. Whether you intend for these things to happen or not, they simply come with the territory of curating greatly. And if you do wish for any of the following to happen to your brand, then curation is the way to go!

1. Build authority

Awhile back, I made a purposeful decision to adjust my social media content and newsletter to focus on writing and social media. (I had to let go of the notion of building authority on my previous tweet fodder like football, soda pop, and Calvin and Hobbes comics.)

The result?

A jump in followers.

An increase in subscribers.

And, were there a way to measure these sorts of things, I imagine I also got a bump in authority.

When you choose to find, share, and comment on the best of the best articles in your industry, you will gain authority. If you do it consistently, you’ll build authority. People will look to you to see what’s happening and what’s worth discussing. It’s quite a special place to be, and one that I’m still working to achieve.

Once there, you have quite the platform for speaking and sharing on a topic.

The Pocket authority hack: One of the fastest ways to gain authority is to be a consistent part of a new network or community. There just so happens to be one within the Pocket app, as you can recommend your favorite Pocket stories and create a following within the Pocket ecosystem. To really make yourself stand out in the feed, you can share quotables by highlighting any text in an article and clicking the Share Excerpt popup.

Pocket Recommended stories

2. Gain influence

Along with building authority, curation also allows you to gain influence. We’re in a fortunate place at Buffer to have a pretty solid foundation of content and social sharing. As such, we get a lot of people reaching out to us to share this or that particular story.

They’d love for us to share because they feel we can influence others to click, share, read, etc.

You’ll find the same once you get in a solid groove with curation. Once people see that you curate great content, they’ll love to be considered along with the other great content you share.

3. Spread goodwill

With that influence comes the ability to honor others with a mention or share.

Curating content is one of the most generous things you can do online.

It’s a virtual high-five or tip jar, a Pay-It-Forward moment for whoever has the chance to catch your eye with a great article. What a good feeling! This one might not make the most immediate business impact, but it does help build relationships and engender positivity with others in your industry. Those relationships are key in the long run.

Who does it well: Curation heroes

We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from a number of folks in the startup space and content industry, people who do a sensational job of always having great stuff to share. It’s a good practice to curate from curators and also to learn from them.

Does anyone come to mind for you?

It can be as simple as noticing who in your social media feeds you tend to read most often, or which of your friends you most admire when they share new stuff. In one way, it’s a bit like venture capital; investor Ben Lerer has an interesting investment strategy: jealousy. He says:

investment quote

Similarly, to find your curation heroes, you might check yourself for any moment you say, “Boy, I wish I had shared that.”

Here’s a list of a few heroes of ours at Buffer. Whether or not they match your industry or interests exactly, I hope you’ll be able to pick up a few trends or take some inspiration from the way they curate and share. A few things you might notice from this list:

Many have been going at it for 5 to 10 years (Jason Kottke, Daring Fireball, Maria Popova)
A few are senior-level executives or entrepreneurs (Rand Fishkin, Hiten Shah)
Some are marketers like you and me (Courtney)

Translation: You can be yourself and still be fantastic with content curation.

Here’s the short list of curators I look up to.

1. Rand Fishkin, Moz founder

Hadn’t been to Collector’s Weekly before, but impressed w/ their content marketing efforts, e.g. https://t.co/GxIpgDbT4X

— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) August 26, 2016

Rand built the SEO company Moz, and he remains its chief evangelist through his videos, content, speaking, and curation. His Twitter feed is a goldmine of SEO and marketing tips and other interesting finds.

We had the privilege of having Rand on one of our upcoming Buffer podcast episodes. He shared a bit of his curation strategy with us along with these three takeaways for blending content, curation, and values:

Everyone does best when they have a process and a set of guidelines.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that content is a short-term investment with a short-term payoff. It is absolutely not.
When you are developing your values and committing to them, you need to also be aware that you’re going to have to need to go out and find like-minded people and a like-minded community that believe in those same values.

2. Hiten Shah, Crazy Egg & KISSmetrics founder, Quick Sprout co-founder

The Hype—and Hope—of Artificial Intelligence https://t.co/JbDsybXpRd pic.twitter.com/qS4Uw25aUJ

— Hiten Shah (@hnshah) August 26, 2016

Hiten is one of the smartest marketers out there and one of the most accomplished SaaS entrepreneurs and founders. His Twitter feed reflects his varied interests: lots of marketing, lots of tech, lots of innovative ideas, lots of, well, good stuff!

(Full disclosure: Hiten is one of our advisors at Buffer. We love him!)

3. Brain Pickings, curated by Maria Popova

One of the best sites out there for book lovers and inspiration seekers, Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings covers all sorts of different types of literature and dives deep into the topics and authors. Her curation is almost one of self-curation: She’s built up such a library that each new blog post is chock full of links to past ones. It’s making these connections from book to book and article to article where Maria really shines — and where she reveals a great opportunity for fellow curators.

4. Kottke.org, curated by Jason Kottke

Kottke

Jason Kottke’s website began 18 years ago and has evolved to cover art, media, and people doing awesome things. Jason shares five to ten interesting links per day on his site: stories, video, lists, news. He’s cornered the market on “huh, interesting” content, which is a great example for those feeling a bit too tied to one particular subject. As long as you have the market cornered on a feeling, that works too!

5. Daring Fireball, curated by John Gruber

Along with Jason Kottke, John Gruber was another of the original curators, starting Daring Fireball over a decade ago. The blog focuses on Apple technology and really blossomed in the heyday of iPhones and iPads.

John was recently a guest on the ReCode podcast where he shared behind-the-scenes about getting started with the blog and how he views the value that his curation and analysis brings to the Apple conversation.

6. Courtney Seiter, Buffer

The Only Technique To Learn Something New https://t.co/ACVJYR5S8K

— Courtney Seiter (@courtneyseiter) August 22, 2016

A couple years ago, Courtney led our content suggestions feature, and she singlehandedly curated 30+ unique pieces of content for every day of the week. It was the most prolific stretch of curation I’d ever witnessed — and people loved it. The content suggestions feature didn’t continue on, but Courtney’s work with curation was hugely instrumental toward delighting customers and teaching our marketing team what great content looked like (and how we could get there).

Bonus lesson of curation: You learn to recognize what’s good!

Next level content curation, feat. automation workflows

If you’ve read this far, thank you! There’s been a lot to digest, and hopefully it’s been encouraging to see what you can accomplish with great curation. Now the final steps are the ones that put curation into the advanced category and help you save even more time.

Ready?

Automated curation is your best time-saver. The more you can automate with your workflows, the more time you’ll save.

How do you automate? It all starts with tools like IFTTT and Zapier, apps that connect one service to another, triggering actions based on other actions. For instance, you can automatically add a new row to a spreadsheet every time you send a tweet.

Here’s a quick link to get started at IFTTT, which is completely free.

Here’s a quick link to get started at Zapier, which gives you the first five automations free then charges beyond that (Zapier has a great deal more services than IFTTT at the moment, which kind of balances things out).

Of course, there are many parts of curation that you can’t automate. You can’t automate good judgment or a strong eye toward quality or interestingness. You can’t automate the whole discovery phase of curation or, obviously, any of the reading part.

The most ground to be gained in automation will be with the sharing part of curation.

These are our favorite curation automations at Buffer.

Pocket to Buffer IFTTT

Send your Pocket favorites straight to Buffer and schedule with an image

(Recipe)

This one is pure gold for me. Every article I like in Pocket goes straight to Buffer, without me needing to a thing.

Once it’s in Buffer, I schedule time once a week to go through my backlog and prettify any of the updates that are in there — changing around the headlines or adding images. Here’s an example of one that Pocket/IFTTT/Buffer pulled in for me (before I changed a thing):

buffer tweet

Alternative: You can also set up this IFTTT recipe to work with Pocket tags. If you have a tag like “Buffer” or “Social Media”, everything article you tag in this way will go straight to your Buffer queue in a single click.

Pocket Trello IFTTT

Send your Pocket favorites to Trello

(Recipe)

For a monthly newsletter, this Trello/Pocket combination comes in really handy. You can ask IFTTT or Zapier to create a new Trello card for you each time you favorite a story in Pocket. This way, when you’re ready to write your curated newsletter, you can simply pull all the links straight from your Trello board.

I use this one for my personal site and keep the links alongside my other blog notes and to-dos.

Curate Feedly to Email

(Recipe)

For those who love as much of their curation as possible to happen in email, this recipe makes it possible to bring Feedly in there. All your Feedly content is sent as an email digest where you can choose what to read or skip.

Your turn: Let us know how your curation goes!

Thanks again to the Pocket team for the assist with this article. If the strategies here sounded worthwhile to you, we’d love to make it easy for you to start a free Pocket account or get all set up on Buffer!

Phew! Thanks for hanging with us the whole way. I hope the info here has been helpful for you and has maybe even inspired a content curation strategy that you’ll be excited to try.

If you’re curating content, mind sharing with us where we can follow along?

It’d be great to see what you’re finding!

And if you have any tips for us on what’s been working for you, or if you have any questions about anything we’ve mentioned here, feel free to drop a mention in the comments. I’ll be hanging out there and would love to chat!

Happy curating!

Image sources: UnSplash

Source: How to Curate Content: The Secret Sauce to Getting Noticed, Becoming an Influencer, and Having Fun Online

Guide to Content Length (infographic)



Being a huge fan of Infographics, I’m excited to share this little gem I found here.  Length of content is a subject that seems to be much discussed.

What are your thoughts? Short or long?

160405-an-infographic-guide-to-content-length-infographic-preview

8 Must-Know Trends For SEO In 2016



Although the topic of SEO is one that many find intimidating, this article should be helpful to many. As always, Jeff Bullas’ blog is a fountain of information Enjoy!

Source: 8 Must-Know Trends For SEO In 2016

8 Must-Know Trends For SEO In 2016

Google cares about quality…

In the past few years, the biggest search engine in the world has released numerous updates aimed to increase the overall quality of their search results. This has made it much harder for SEOs around the world to rank sites today in contrast to previous years.

As an SEO consultant, I try to spend some time analyzing and predicting Google’s trends so that I have a better idea of how to plan and strategize for upcoming SEO projects. And with 2016, I predict more changes primarily revolving around quality and user-experience.

Here are some of the biggest changes we are likely to expect this year.

1. Further emphasis on the mobile audience

Google started to put an increased emphasis on their mobile-audience when they rolled out the mobile algorithm update in April 2015. After the algorithm roll out, we’ve begun to see bigger variations between the mobile search results and desktop search results.

As mobile internet usage rises, we can expect to see Google increasing their efforts to better cater to their mobile users. So it’s more important now than ever before to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile.

2. Implementation of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

In addition to an emphasis on the mobile audience, we can also expect that having AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) pages will be beneficial to gaining more organic traffic from Google. This is because they announced that they’ll begin to integrate AMP in February of 2016.

This means that AMP pages themselves could indeed get a boost in the mobile search results.

Greg Sterling from Search Engine Land actually predicts that AMP pages may even obtain a unique designation in the search results just like how mobile-optimized pages do.

3. More direct search answers

If you’re a frequent Google user, you’ve probably noticed that Google often provides you with the answer you need right there in the search results.

For example, let’s look up the Los Angeles Basketball Team, the LA Lakers.

LA Lakers Google - trend for SEO in 2016

And the results we find are…

LA Lakers Google 2 - trend for SEO in 2016

I mean, everything I need to know about the team is right there in the search results. With a quick search, I got details on their most recent game, team roster, news updates and more.

This is known as the Google Knowledge Graph. This is a step forward by Google to increase their overall user-experience by providing their users with information faster and quicker.

If you’re interested in having your website show up in the Knowledge Graph, there are a few things you’ll want to do.

Some of the primary steps to help Google understand your sites content and place you in the Knowledge Graph are to:

Get a Wikipedia page for your brand.
Claim a Google+ page for your business.
Make sure that you’ve properly implemented schema markups on your website.
Link out to other relevant and related websites.
Make sure that you use nouns and entities as opposed to pronouns to help Google better identify what exactly you’re talking about.

4. Weight given to trust and authority

Over the past decade, the internet has grown rapidly. Now, it’s much easier for Google to separate trusted sites from non-trusted sites based on the reputation built over many years.

Today, Google prefers aged website’s which have proven their trust over many years by obtaining many quality inbound links and providing tons of valuable content.

You can look at any search result and easily find that the top results are generally dominated by bigger and larger brands.

For example, we can do a quick search for laptop reviews in Google.

Laptop reviews Google - trend for SEO in 2016

In the results, you find the following.

Laptop reviews Google 2 - trend for SEO in 2016

When we go ahead and look at the domain age for each of these domains, most of them are almost 2 decades old.

Laptop reviews domain age Google - trend for SEO in 2016

5. Importance of building thematic relevance

In addition to the example above, you may be wondering why Laptop Mag outranked all the other sites even though it’s younger than all of them and has a lower domain authority.

Well, Laptop Mag is the only site out of the top 5 that strictly focuses on Laptops specifically.

Why does this matter?

Back in 2015, Google released a 160 page document which included their Search Quality Guidelines. They stated that supplementary pages are a very important factor in helping them determine a website’s overall authority on a topic.

Although the other sites may rank for a wider range of keywords and get higher volumes of organic traffic, Google has learned that Laptop Mag is the number one authority to go to for topics related specifically to laptops, such as laptop reviews.

That’s because they’ve created a high level of thematically relevant topics related to laptops.

6. Crack downs on unnatural link practices

There’s no doubt Google is going to continue to make major crackdowns on spammy link practices. They even have a spam team dedicated specifically to doing just that.

And over the past few years, Google has made major leaps to cracking down on black hat link building practices. One of the most prominent updates was back in 2014 when Google de-indexed private blog networks. Shortly after that update, many people reported that their domains had been deindexed.

And we can expect to see even more of this in upcoming years as Google really tries to increase their overall user-experience.

7. Importance of website speed

There’s no doubt that site speed is an important ranking factor. If your site performs much quicker than your competition, you’ll have an edge over them.

Another thing is that Google has a crawl budget allotted for each website based on their site and authority. This means that your crawl budget will be wasted with long load times.

Site speed is also important because it increases the overall user-experience. A study by KissMetrics found that 47% of internet users expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% of people abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

8. Further push for user experience

With increased competition and market share by Bing, it can only be expected that Google will have to provide their users with a better user-experience overall and the truth is, Google is only as good as the website’s it has in its index.

In 2016 and beyond, we can expect Google to be putting increased emphasis on sites which prove to provide better answers for their users.

So we can possibly see Google putting more weight on engagement metrics such as bounce rates, page visits, and visit durations.

Conclusion

In 2016, and upcoming years, building a quality site that provides value to users is going to be a more important factor in SEO. Creating high quality content and obtaining white hat links is going to be the way to go for long term results with Google.

One analogy I kind of like to use is a courtroom where Google is the judge, you’re the lawyer, and your website is the client. There’s going to be a lot of concrete evidence that Google will need to convict your site of being legitimate or fraudulent.

If your focus is on building a site with high value content that can easily obtain links from high value sites, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to take your SEO to the next level in the years to come.

Guest Author: Andre Campbell is a Digital Marketing Consultant with an emphasis in SEO. He has a passion for learning, sharing and experimenting on various types of Digital Marketing Strategies. Currently, he runs Thunder Rank, a small Digital Marketing Agency based in Toronto.

The post 8 Must-Know Trends For SEO In 2016 appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.

 

7 Deadly Sins of Blog Post Writing



This blog post from Jeff Bullas’s site is one of the best I’ve read at explaining what is frequently done wrong in terms of blog posts. I love reading Jeff’s blog – it is informative but not overly technical. A good addition to your list of resource blogs. Enjoy!

7-Deadly-Sins-of-Blog-Post-Writing
In the realm of writing, one could easily confirm that blogging is more of a science than an art. Great content is key to any great blog, but if that’s the only thing you have to offer, then your blog isn’t likely to go anywhere.

There is a world of information about algorithms, lead optimization, SEO and keyword searches, and more, all designed to get your content seen by a massive audience. But beyond those big things, there are some little details, that, when ignored, have the power to ruin a potentially successful blog.

Here is a list of seven blog killers to avoid:

1. Writing text-only posts

Very few people will remain loyal to text-only blogs. You have to give them visual cues. Photos, graphics and videos all help to reinforce and clarify the content. Without them, your readers may become bored or frustrated.

To read the rest of the post at Jeff’s blog, click here

*****

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Why WordPress is the Best Choice for your Author Website



Note: There is a lot of opinion out there regarding what platform to use for your author website. Don’t necessarily take the suggestion of your friend. Do the research – don’t just choose the easiest platform. You are building a business and need to make sound choices for your business decisions. The following blog post was created by me and posted on Bad Redhead Media – a site chock full of actual publishing information – not opinion. A good site to subscribe to.
Why WordPress is the Best Choice for your Author Website

Several weeks ago Rachel asked me to write a post outlining the reasons WordPress is the best choice for your blog or website. My opinion about WordPress is based on my years of experience working with this program, the success I’ve had with it and the research I’ve done on it.

This post is directed at authors and other creatives. If you have a degree in computer programming, you probably don’t need my help. 🙂

I’ve been blogging since about 2006 on various platforms. I’ve used Typepad, Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I’ve helped create sites on WIX. Honestly, there are a lot of platforms vying for your business. I’m sure that if you ask your fellow authors about their preferences, they will have an opinion about what platform you should use based on their experience.

It could be that your friends suggest what they are using because it is familiar, not because they have done the research and truly understand what is best from a technology point of view. That’s what I’m here for. I’ve got 15+ years teaching technology and I have done the research.

Your website is an essential addition to your author platform. You need a site that will, with very little work from you, rank well in a Google search so that readers can find you.

Let me explain why my choice is WordPress.

To read the rest of the post, click here

*****

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