This is Part 2 in a series. (Read Types of Curation Part 1)
Today: Curated Hubs
While many people extol the virtues and value of social or real-time curation, my personal favorite from a branding and monetization standpoint is the curated hub, which is just a fancy name for blog curation. A curated hub contains regularly published stories that contain citations of great informatin and resources on a particular keyword topic. Curated content is formed into a blog post, with commentary from the author that gives the topic more depth, context, and standalone value.
The effects of a well-curated hub:
- save readers time finding the good stuff themselves
- inform readers by providing context and meaning to the citations and the overall topic
- trackback links from cited sites, which improve search rankings for the curator
- loyal following from readers who have chosen your site to be the trusted “filter” on a topic
- monetization through traditional methods of paid advertising, affiliate sales, list marketing, or products and services you provide directly
How Curated Hubs Bring Value To A Niche Market
One thing is for sure: if you provide something of value to a large enough group of interested people, you can expect a loyal and growing following. Along with good search rankings, links, and direct traffic from sites who reference and link to your stuff.
A site on the web today has to provide a much higher level of real value to earn loyal fans who recommend it to others. People have serious A.D.D. these days with all the social, mobile, and web channels they follow. So much noise, so little time. It makes for a hardcore weeding-out process for web publishers. You have to have your A Game going at all times to successfully compete for attention these days.
The value proposition in a curated hub is essentially twofold:
- The site must create a knee-jerk reaction in first time visitors to want to bookmark, subscribe, or somehow make a note that this is a site they must visit regularly. This is done firstly by providing content that helps them get a bird’s-eye view and deeper understanding of an overall interest which saves them time over finding all the good stuff themselves or elsewhere.
- The person behind the curation is not just an aggregator of content, but someone with opinion and insight to add to the discussion and the outside sources they curate into their posts. i.e. – the readers have to get connected to the person behind the information for “imprinting” to take place which causes them to really want to follow and talk about your site.
The way this is accomplished is by having a serious editorial policy, much like this one from Techmeme. And then sticking to it. Make it clear from the first visit what readers can expect and then deliver it with consistency and with high attention to detail. What you share and how you talk about it is the very essence of curation.
There are often more than a few sites that do much the same thing. Take gadgets. There’s Endgadget, Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and about a dozen other smaller players in the tech and gadgets niche that everyone follows. Now, everyone doesn’t follow every gadget site. Fans are, in fact, very vocal about why they like Endgadget over Gizmodo or vice versa.
Why is that? It’s because they like the way the information is delivered and the way each site chooses things to curate and talk about. It is how the reporting culture is set up behind the scenes and in the writing itself. When Samsung comes out with a new phone and each site curates a story on it, they aren’t talking about two different phones. But their loyal readers like the delivery and the coverage of one over the other. Each brings a different value to different reader tastes in how they like to consume information on gadgets and tech.
All of this “bonding” has everything to do with editorial policy and the people behind the curation, and nothing to do with the technology helping the curator to research, pick, and publish curated 3rd party content.
What Being a Great Hub Curator Means
Getting hub curation right means providing a value in the marketplace that is sought after by a significant portion of the ideal reader demographic you wish to attract. Get this down, and you’ll have the traffic, rankings, and discussion on social networks to provide you with monetization opportunities out the wazoo.
At the end of the day, all hub curation is is a way to do content marketing that can take less time, help you publish more often, while becoming a necessary, crucial site for readers to visit regularly. It is a way to attract a demographic to advertising, products and services, or affiliate offers that are placed throughout your site and in your email newsletter.
And doing it on your own domain, your own “hub,” means you control the entire process. You control the flow of readers from other sites and search engines. You control how they flow from content to ads or content to email list subscription, or to take whatever action you want them to take that makes your content marketing profitable.
Who’s Castle Are You Building?
This you cannot do on a third-party site owned by someone else. In every instance where someone has built a third-party, hosted solution for publishing it has been an utter failure for the publishers in terms of maximizing profitability of all the eyes they attract. It is always better for the owner of the network than it is the publisher. Always.
So never put your business in the hands of anyone else. You home site – your curated hub – absolutely must be on your own domain and under your full control if you want to have a successful content marketing business. Use outposts like social networks, personal curation sites like Scoop.it, and other places to help draw attention to your curated hub where the real business of content marketing gets done. If one of your outposts changes the rules or dies, your loss is only a fraction of your overall efforts rather than a complete decimation of your entire business.
Things A Curated Hub Can Sell Well
- Books and courses (your own or as an affiliate)
- Services (your own or as an affiliate)
- YOU (as a personal brand)
- Memberships (your own or as an affiliate)
- Any number of hard or digital affiliate products related to readership interests
Curation is a particularly sweet kind of honey that attracts stressed out, overstimulated, overloaded bees (readers) who want to follow someone who cuts through the noise for them and presents them with only the best content with appealing insight, commentary and thought leadership.