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Curation is method of sharing content, and a key way to keep up with content on a specific topic. Whether it’s sites like Techmeme – which highlights links to the biggest stories from the tech blogosphere for the day – or sites like BrainPickings – where a little bit of original writing accompanies the curation – there’s no denying the success of these kinds of blogs.
We’ve already taken a look at four ways you can curate your way to a significant Internet following, but if you’ve been thinking about starting your own curated blog, but don’t want to spend any money on it to begin with, keep reading. We’ve got four simple steps you can create a streamlined and almost entirely automated curated blog.
Before you actually dive into the steps on how to streamline your blogging platform, we have some tips on how to choose your topic and stay on top of it, so read those before you dive in.
1. Keep Up With the News
The first step to curating the news is obviously keeping up with the news. You probably already have an RSS reader of choice that you use to keep up with your favourite sites, blogs and more. There are a few recommendations we would definitely make if you’re looking for ways to keep up with a niche topic.
- Zite: Unfortunately Zite is only available as an iOS or Android app, but that’s about the only negative we have for the free app. Zite makes it easy to keep up with topics rather than sites. Just plug in the topics of your choice and you can keep up with them on the go. An advantage to using a mobile app like Zite also means that you can keep up with topics for your curate blog no matter where you are.
- Feedly: We’ve taken a look at just why Feedly is such a popular alternative to Google Reader and it’s definitely our number one choice for keeping up with RSS feeds – both on your computer or on the go, using the Feedly mobile and tablet apps.
- Prismatic: If you’re looking for a Zite alternative to use on your computer, Prismatic is the best possible option. The service allows you to keep up with topics of your choice from the comfort of your browser.
- Flipboard: If you want to keep up with sites as well as social media accounts, the cross-platform Flipboard, which really comes to life on the iPad, is a great way to do just that.
- Twitter: If you’ve already gone to the trouble of following people on Twitter, or creating topic-specific lists, keeping up with what your peers are sharing is another great way to find interesting and shareable content.
Of course, at the end of the day, the service or apps that you choose to use to keep up with the latest news is up to you. There’s really no limit to the ways you can keep up with everything you need to know on a certain topic. In fact, you might also want to check out this list of four ways to keep up with breaking news online to make sure that you’re always on top of the very latest on the topic of your choice.
2. Save Stories to Pocket
Once you’ve decided which way you want to keep up with the latest, the next step will be collating it all into one place in a way that makes it easy to get it from the internet into your curate blog. We’ve found that one of the best ways to gather all of your content in one place with absolutely no-fuss is by using Pocket.
With Zite, Feedly, Flipboard and Twitter, all it takes is the click of a button to save posts directly from the app or service into Pocket. With Prismatic, you can simply use the Pocket bookmarklet. In fact, the Pocket bookmarklet is a handy way to save content that you just happen to stumble across as you’re browsing the internet.
3. IFTTT Recipe: Pocket to WordPress/Tumblr
As you save content into Pocket, you’ll want to get it into your blog without having to manually copy and paste the content. The easiest way to do this is by using the online automation service, IFTTT. If you’re not familiar with the service, be sure to check out our guide on how to use IFTTT.
The recipe you’ll want to use will automatically create blog posts when you archive a Pocket post. Depending on your blogging platform of choice, you can do this on IFTTT with Tumblr or WordPress. If you want to keep the whole project completely free, just use a WordPress.com or Tumblr blog. If you want to make things a little more professional, you can opt for hosting your own blog. The good news is that you can still use the exact same recipe for a hosted WordPress blog, or can use a Tumblr blog with your own domain.
Either way, there are a few key features you should keep in mind when adapting the recipe to suit your own needs. For the body of the blog post, be sure to include the following ingredients: Excerpt, Item URL and Image URL. You can also choose to add tags. If there’s a specific tag you want to use with all your blogs posts, you can add that in the tag field.
Finally, you need to decide whether you want to save the post as a draft or publish it right away. If you want a completely automated process, you can opt for publishing items as soon as they’re archived in Pocket. We, however, would recommend saving them as drafts – particularly if you want to include images in your blog posts. If a post you Pocket doesn’t have an image IFTTT will place an ‘image not found’ thumbnail, so you’ll want to remove that before publishing.
4. IFTTT Recipe: WordPress/Tumblr to Buffer
As you’re saving all of this content directly into WordPress and publishing it online, you’ll want to find a way to share it your followers without having to manually share it on Twitter, Facebook and more. The best way to go about this is to use another IFTTT recipe. The recipe you’re looking for is either, WordPress to Buffer or Tumblr to Buffer.
With this each time a post is published an entry is created in Buffer. With Buffer, you can share the links with your Facebook, Twitter and (now) your Google+ followers. The reason using Buffer is preferable to simply creating recipes that go straight to Twitter, Facebook or any social network, is that you can stagger your social media posts rather than flood your followers with multiple updates in one go.
Once you follow these four steps, you’ll have an extremely streamlined process making it incredibly easy to update your curated blog on the go or from your computer.
Do you have any tips for how to curate a successful blog for free? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credit: Mark Hunter