The New Content Superpower: Curation

The New Content Superpower: Curation

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How long can you scan an article on your phone before your eyes glaze over?

How many links a day do you flag, intending to read them later?

How many emails are in your inbox right now?

There’s no question about it: We’re living in an age of a lot of online noise. I’m a news junkie. I have an appetite for daily reading that I know is much bigger than most people’s. And even I can’t read it all.

That’s why I really value knowing people who are good at filtering all of that noise and finding the short list of gems that I need to read. In 2019, curation is an excellent superpower.

Hung Lee has the curator superpower down pat. He is the writer and curator of the email newsletter Recruiting Brainfood. Hung thinks of his role as a “sommelier,” helping readers discover new things.

I love his newsletter because it’s helpful, well-written, and full of gems — while also getting personal and even political. Want to become a master curator like Hung? Here’s how he learned to become a better content curator.

Make the Time to Find Great Links

I wondered what led Hung to start his newsletter in the first place. Was he trying to build his brand? Sell a product? Nope, he says. He was just trying to be helpful. “The Internet got too big for us,” he says. “I found it was just becoming a noisy place to be.”

Hung is a voracious reader like I am, but he says that he had to create new, intentional habits when he started building Recruiting Brainfood. He estimates that each newsletter takes at least ten hours to put together. “It’s a big commitment,” he says. “What really takes time is sorting out which bits and which kinds of posts will go in that week.”

As usual in content marketing, it takes time to make something good, and Hung has definitely found that to be true.

Find New Tools to Bolster the Curation Process

Part of the promise of Recruiting Brainfood is that it will always be humanly curated. But this doesn’t mean that Hung only uses manual tools. “I’ve got all kinds of automation going on,” he explains.

Hung uses a product called Revue to curate and write his newsletter wherever he is, no matter what device he’s using. “It’s good at the top of the funnel in terms of acquiring the content at the in a very fast and efficient multi device way,” he explains.

Revue works for his reading habits because it follows him around on the internet, whether he’s reading on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. “I'm finding links when I'm waiting for the bus or when I'm waiting in the queue at the supermarket,” he says.

Being able to add links quickly using Revue gives Hung the chance to have a streamlined workflow for his newsletter, and it also ensures that he doesn’t forget about any pieces of content he’s considering for curation.

Remember Your Purpose

The links Hung includes in Recruiting Brainfood are really a reflection of him — what he finds interesting, the topics he thinks are important, and even the quirky things that make him laugh. But, he says it’s important to remember to serve your audience. If you go down too many niche rabbit holes, Hung says, you’ll lose people.

So embrace variety. Find links on a wide range of topics that will serve your readers. Not everyone is going to open every link, he says. And that’s okay. Not everyone is interested in the same things.

After all, curation is a service. As Hung says, the world is noisy. Curators provide what we’re all looking for: that quiet space where you can engage with something you never would have seen otherwise.

For more of my conversation with Hung Lee, check out episode 3 of Margins by Managing Editor: Email is Dead. Long Live Email!

Mary Ellen Slayter

Mary Ellen Slayter is CEO of Rep Cap. Before creating her own content marketing firm, she served as director of content development and a senior general business and finance editor at SmartBrief, a leading publisher of e-mail newsletters. Before joining SmartBrief, she spent 8 years at The Washington Post, where she authored the Career Track column and worked as an editor in the business news department. You can find Mary Ellen on Twitter @MESlayter.

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