Content is an essential aspect of any branding initiative. Regularly released content attracts attention, gives visitors a reason to come back – or to come to a site in the first place – and helps with search rankings. It seems like a given.

Sometimes, however, content is harder to produce than other times. Sometimes due to staff size, budget restrictions, workloads or ability, writing original content on a regular basis simply isn’t possible. If a brand understands the importance of content but isn’t able to produce it, what can be done? It’s simple: Content curation can become the focus as opposed to original content creation. Follow the five steps below to successfully curate content starting today.

What Is Content Curation?

Before breaking into how to curate content, it’s important to understand what it entails in the first place.

Put simply, content curation is the process of finding, collecting and presenting content from around the Web that focuses on a specific subject that’s relevant to a brand or website and its readers. Instead of content generation, content curation pulls content from other sources and delivers it to readers – while giving credit to the original source. Content curation is not publishing prepublished work as-is or passing off someone else’s work as your own. We’ll cover that a little later.

Ready to get started?

  1. Pick Your Focus

There’s content out there that relates to just about any topic that you could think of. That’s why starting with a blank slate is unlikely to be successful. Instead, think of your brand’s central focus. What appeals to your site visitors and target market? Which articles from past initiatives have seen the best success?

Pick the central theme or focus for your content curation and use it as a starting point.

  1. Find Reliable, Authoritative Sources

Not everything found on the Internet is true. You want anything you publish to be credible and based on fact; to accomplish this, finding reliable sources is of the utmost importance.

Reliable websites:

  • Have regularly published pieces
  • Include the author’s information
  • Cite sources and external sites for additional research
  • Have content that is published by real writers, not submitted by anyone with an account

Think about the resources that you’ve found to be helpful or relevant to your business or industry. Digital magazines, news sites, blogs by thought leaders in your industry and niche publications are excellent places to begin. Find a variety of sources; you don’t want to pull from the same site over and over again.

  1. Make It Yours

Yes, the content you curate is coming from somewhere else. No, this doesn’t mean that it must look the same on your site as it looks on the original site. As long as the original source receives credit for its work, you – and your brand – are safe. Google likes unique content, though, and your audience will be better engaged if you apply a consistent tone, so don’t just copy/paste the content to your site.

To make the work yours, consider:

  • Adding a new title. When the same title is used in multiple places, the search engines are likely to pick up on the pattern. At the same time, your piece will be in competition with the piece that was published first, meaning your rankings will not improve. Change the title.
  • Add commentary. Just because you’re pulling information from another website doesn’t mean that you can’t have a voice. Add an introduction or a note at the end of the content you curate that explains why you published it and why it’s relevant to your readers.
  • Add a call to action. By curating content from other sources on your brand’s site, you have control over what shows for readers. Take the time to include a call to action that keeps readers on your site, rather than going back to the original source.
  • Give credit where it’s due. The content your curate will be published on your own site. However, it was first published elsewhere. Give credit – author’s name, location of the original piece along with a link and any other information that could be relevant – where it is due.
  • Only publish excerpts from the original piece. Yes, you could publish the entire article as is, but that’s not a fair marketing practice. Instead, pull pieces that are especially powerful and then add your own insight and style to make it yours.

Putting a little time into making the content fit onto your site instead of publishing carbon copies of prepublished work can go a long way.

  1. Put Some Budget Into It

This isn’t necessary. Content curation requires little time and money when taken at face value, but that doesn’t mean putting a small budget into it can’t come with big payoffs.

Consider working with a freelancer – these can be found on or offline – and explaining your needs. Experienced freelancers have the ability to curate content while making it original with a fast turnaround. Additionally, working with a freelancer is generally less expensive than adding an additional member to your team.

If you’re preparing for a lot of content, it’s smart to consider implementing a content management system. Simply put, an effective content management system will organize and consolidate content efficiently and store them in one place for easy use.

  1. Encourage Sharing

Content that stays in one place, is read occasionally and doesn’t break through to new readers is stagnant and unlikely to be effective. For curated content to be effective, it should be relevant to existing readers and to those that have yet to discover your brand. One of the most effective ways to make this happen is through online sharing.

To encourage readers to share your curated content:

  • Post your content on your social networks and ask fans and followers to share it with their own networks.
  • Consider promoting curated content on social networks to reach a larger audience.
  • Ensure that each piece is optimized for search engines.
  • Make sure the article itself encourages readers to share what they’ve learned through a clear call to action.

Content curation can be a great way to reach new readers, to promote your brand and to increase your credibility without breaking the bank or taking hours out of your day. Follow the steps above to get started and consider incorporating the practice into your next marketing initiative.

About the Author

Sarah LandrumSarah Landrum is a marketer, freelance writer, and founder of Punched Clocks sharing advice on growing your business and finding happiness and success in your career. You can find Sarah tweeting out great content @SarahLandrum.