content curation

5 Reasons to Quit Curating Content and Just Get Writing

5 Reasons to quit curating content and just get writingContent curation seems like an easy way to boost your online visibility and prove you're a useful, fascinating resource. You pull together ideas from lots of smart people and then weave them together with a common thread plucked from your own life and work. You publish and share. You tag both the new and established content creators who are featured in your piece. Take the weekend off and start it all over again on Monday.

I took it on good authority that this whole curated newsletter thing was a low sweat way to build credibility. And grow a list.

5 Myths and Truths About Content Curation for the Creative Entrepreneur

content curation: 5 myths and truthsThis list is based on ten weeks’ experience of research and writing about 15,00 words. Is this enough time to be an expert in the field of curated newsletters? No, but I am an authority on the Sovereign Standard and my own definition of what it means to be a successful creative entrepreneur.

My intention is to give you some insights from inside a content curation project because there’s a lot of good press about it out there.

Truth is, you might just be better off writing rather than curating. I’m pretty sure I am...

Myth #1: Content Curation is Quick and Easy

The Hope: Curating others’ content would be easier and faster than writing my own post/newsletter each week.

The Truth: Weaving together other people’s posts and interviews often took more time than just writing and organizing my own ideas. Though I started with three set categories (livelihood, message, and everyday creative magic) and intended to share a couple of posts for each, I quickly rejected what felt like an overly simplistic system and wrapped all the ideas together in prose. (Lots and lots of prose...)

Outcome: I was producing long, “heady” posts each week that were well-made but ultimately too much for the majority of my readers.

Myth #2: Content Curation Makes You Smarter

Hope: I would read more widely and with more focused attention.

The Truth: I stopped reading things for pleasure or personal growth and would scan only for Sovereign Standard-related ideas. It’s likely I missed out on the best stuff because I was preoccupied with my agenda - my topic of the week.

Outcome: Reading others’ content became a chore. And, for brief and terrible periods, I started playing Two Dots or Candy Crush to avoid it.

Myth #3: Content Curation Encourages People to Share the Posts

Hope: Content creators would be so happy to appear in the Sovereign Standard that they’d jump on my list and share the posts with enthusiasm.

The Truth: Some people were awesome about this. Heck, Margaret Atwood tweeted at me and must have visited my blog (because she thought I misread her poem, but still…)! For the most part, however, there wasn’t any detectable bounce from all my dedicated linking and tagging.

Outcome: Over this ten week period I was producing two posts a week. The post that was all “mine” and more directly related to writing advice was just as likely to be shared as the Sovereign Standard piece.

Myth # 4: If It’s a Good Idea, It’s Worthy of Content Curation

Hope: Great posts related to the week’s topic would be easy to share and link to.

The Truth: The Sovereign Standard is about setting one’s own standards. Everything that was included in an issue had to meet my own (rather exacting) standards. As a writing coach with extensive website creation experience, I size up the effectiveness and quality of a site in about three seconds flat. I had to reject lots of content related to my weekly topic because I didn’t think the post or the site worked overall. If the post didn’t include a clear call to action or the website left me wondering “what does this person actually do?” I couldn’t include it.

Outcome: I did identify some potential clients and I became certain that people need my help when it comes to clarifying their message and presenting it through clear website copy. (Yes, this ultimately is a win, but it never made assembling the Standard any easier!)

Myth #5: Content Curation Frees Me to Focus on My Own Creative Projects

Hope: As in point #1, I was seeking a quick and easy route to visibility because I have a novel to write (and children to mother and a husband to love and clients to serve). 

The Truth: Because content creation didn’t really feel like mine (even though I was expending loads of creative energy as I tied all those ideas and sources together), I felt compelled to write a second blog post each week that explored my signature idea - Writing to Sovereignty. The novel? I’d be lucky if I made few notes while nursing or hanging at the playground. Those two blog pieces took all my writing and production mojo.

Outcome: I started to feel like a fraud calling myself an “author” when I hadn’t typed a word of fiction since launching this curated newsletter. I was starting to resent whomever had appropriated my creative fire… and I realized it was me. 

Still Curating, Still Sending a Newsletter, Just Not a Curated Newsletter

When it comes down to it, there is nothing wrong with content curation. I’ll never actually stop doing it.

After all, every time you share something you’re a “curator.” And linking to other people’s posts is a longstanding tenet of blogging that deserves to be preserved.

The problem was the way that I went about it. I lavished time and attention I didn’t really have on a project that wasn’t giving back what I was putting in.

The hope was to create something credible and substantial. The truth was, I believed that no one would be interested in what Marisa Goudy had to say about writing, entrepreneurship, and creativity, so I decided to share the spotlight with other creatives (many of whom hadn’t asked for the privilege).

I was afraid to stand Sovereign.

I’m grateful for this 10 week journey - for all that it has taught me and for managing to fail quickly (to borrow Chris Brogan’s line). I’m taking this opportunity to reset my course so I can tell my own Sovereign Story and offer you, dear reader, something useful that will help you identify your own.

Focus On What Actually Builds Visibility & Brings in Clients

What will change about the Sovereign Standard? Even my most loyal readers may barely notice.

The important thing is that I am shedding a term that became heavy and restrictive for me. I wanted “curated” to be a container that helped me shape my thoughts easily each week. Instead, I was perpetually over-delivering (in ways that didn’t add tangible value to readers or boost my business) because that container was never the right size or shape.

Likely I’ll end up blogging on my own site once a week and focusing on guest posting (please go read my essay about grief, motherhood, and a crazy dog on Suzi Banks Baum's Laundry Line Divine). 

Most importantly, I’ll be making my foundational website copy absolutely perfect so no one ever says “I love your work! But… what exactly do you do?”

 Need help focusing in on what writing projects are really important to building your business? Let's set up a free initial consultation.

Set Your Own Sovereign Standard

You know those magical creative moments when it all just flows? The story or the business idea or the picture emerges and it’s like it was just waiting for you to finally discover it. That’s what it was like for The Sovereign Standard, this new weekly curated newsletter.

In the midst of a typical family Saturdaymorning, the idea announced itself:

Set your own Sovereign Standard - livelihood, message, everyday creative magic

Set your own Sovereign Standard - livelihood, message, everyday creative magic

The Sovereign Standard takes its stand at intersection of livelihood, message, and everyday creative magic and aims to give creative entrepreneurs access to noteworthy insights from across the web.

But you know how it is - you careen from visionary brilliance to obsessive wordsmithing. All the initial genius leaches out and the concept begins to feel overanalyzed and underdeveloped.

Sometimes the fault line in an idea stems from a single word.

The flaw in the initial Sovereign Standard “download”? “Intersection.”

Intersection indicates that business and communication and creativity all merge, but it also implies that they’re distinct tracks that are only drawn together from time-to-time by a project like this one.

In truth, you're constantly braiding together of all those strands - all of the elements of life and work, body and soul.  To set your own Sovereign Standard, you take all aspects of your life into account and, consciously as you can, integrate them all.

Why Would a Writer Want to Curate Other People’s Stuff?

Thanks for starting with me from the very beginning. Here’s a window into the “why” of this new Sovereign Standard adventure.

In a word: connection.

The goal of a weekly round up + commentary is to expand your connections in a meaningful way by introducing you to fellow creative entrepreneurs as well as leading thinkers in business, creativity, and progressive leadership.

The Sovereign Standard community may be rich with solo entrepreneurs, but this is not a bastion of the DIY mindset. To borrow a term from a great community builder, Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder, it’s about DIT - Do It Together.

Jeffrey names the contradiction  that so many creative entrepreneurs face: “We want to feel supported in our work, but when we receive it, we don't know what to do with it. We don’t trust it.” In this detailed and, yes, lengthy piece he lays down a compelling case for why support and collaboration are vital to even the most brilliant solo acts.

That support may be found in hiring a WordPress whiz or a writing coach. You may get the support you need by simply opting into the e-newsletters that really speak to you.

In the process of building up this publication, I’ll also build my own connections as I read with your needs in mind. I get to create relationships with smart, tuned-in writers and media makers who are saying things that matter.

And, yes, I admit that I am working to build my email newsletter list. I trust that the insights carefully gathered from at least a dozen other sources will be more compelling than sending you the same single voice each week.

These aren't new ideas. They don't have to be.

Curation encourages connection and community

Curation encourages connection and community

Think you may want to build community in a similar way? You wouldn't be copying me. You’d be joining a growing cadre of content curators who understand that their tribe is plagued by information overload. Your tribe would appreciate it if someone they trust would handpick some “must reads” each week.

I trust Copyblogger products and after investing many car rides in the Rainmaker podcast, I can tell you I trust their CEO Brian Clark’s instincts.

He has launched his own new curation project. The process is detailed in three episodes beginning with this on Content Curation Positioning. I immersed myself in this topic over the last few weeks and can also recommend an earlier episode that gives an overview of the entire curation as content concept.

Soon you’ll notice that many of the people you trust most on the web are building a community by assembling useful, compelling resources all the time.

The day before I announced a weekly feature that would speak to livelihood, message, and creativity, I came across Gina Fiedel’s article that drew those exact ideas together - and curated the hell out of some quality content too.

Her post, which ostensibly focuses on how to connect to your creativity even when trying to feed the content beast blossoms into a chorus that celebrates the blending of writing and marketing, creativity and productivity, and work and play.

Gina offers: “Here’s a secret I told myself. If I start with play and if I continue in that vein, what I end up with contains more overall creative style and elements than if I hadn't done that. I achieve both creative process and (hopefully) a creative product.”

This is the delightful pivot point. All this writing, all this curating, all this community building that our work depends on is enlivened by play.

Play is How We Make Friends and Build Connections

"We are fully human only while playing, and we play only when we are human in the truest sense of the word." - Rudolf Steiner

"We are fully human only while playing, and we play only when we are human in the truest sense of the word." - Rudolf Steiner

Play is the space we learn how to engage with others.  Play is also the space we learn to engage with ourselves.

Play makes taking risks feel less threatening. Play is riddled with successes and failures.  It’s suppose to be. Failing means learning.

Play is how we learn and grow; long into adulthood. Play is a doing activity, not a trying activity. We don’t try to play, we play.

When you're hooked on productivity, play seems like a chore. We work to build community (yep, I say above that I am "working to build my email list"). But really, do we win friends through work or play? Really, any newsletter list worth having is full of people you'd like to call friends.

Better to attract new friends to your hive with the sweetness of play rather than the sweat of work, right?

Recently I’ve been redefining play in my house to make for our collective imagination and really see one another. If knocking a few Disney Princesses off their thrones appeals to you, check out When You Wish Upon Someone Else’s Marketing Star.

Saundra Goldman of The Creative Mix is a self-professed “serious girl” (but I can attest she has a great laugh!). She is making 2015 the year of #ContinuousPractice. This #365project is intended to document her daily writing practice and to encourage others to show up to their creative endeavors each day.

Though not ostensibly about play, sharing evidence of your daily practice can build connections in much the same way that playing can… You show your authentic self and you dare to be vulnerable. You invite people close in a way that efforting never quite permits. Since you're not a photographer it's ok if every image isn't perfect.

It’s an honor to know that Saundra credits me with inspiring her photo-a-day project. My 365 Project as a Creative Process appeared on her blog recently. Just a few other creatives who have picked up the 365 habit include Brenna Layne (#rootsandwings), Ginny Lee Taylor (#livetrue), Deirdre Walsh (#justbreathe), and Lauren Ayer.

As Saundra asks, “What would it take to make today Day One?” If you need a little more encouragement or incentive to consider launching your own #365 project, here’s a post on how daily photos make you a better writer. If it feels overwhelming you may want to modify the yearlong project to suit your needs and resources.

But Is Everything Supposed to Be Integrated?

I’m a self-avowed #365project evangelist, but what are the downsides to all that photo snapping and sharing? Is it play or process? Is it obsessive brand building? Is it an exploitation of your own intimate moments?

In When a Picture Breeds A Thousand Questions Blair Glaser asks some probing questions about why we’re motivated to capture a sunset and then share it. Blair concludes “I write this post not as a judge, but as a witness: A witness to the changes that are happening in my business, in my brain, in my life, and in the way our culture is shaping these changes.”

#365SovereignReality blank slate for the #newtechcity Bored and Brilliant challenge

#365SovereignReality blank slate for the #newtechcity Bored and Brilliant challenge

She then introduces the Bored and Brilliant project from WNYC’s New Tech City podcast. It’s a collective experiment in putting down the phone and embracing the power of daydreaming. This is “challenge week” and they’re putting out daily podcasts encouraging you to change your phone behavior.

Tuesday’s challenge: don’t take a photo.  Not only do I have a photo-a-day commitment, but it was my daughter’s first birthday, so I failed miserably (but cheerfully).

Listen to the episode (only 6 minutes) and make up your own mind about the “photo taking impairment effect” and whether it’s detracting from life as you’re living it. I won’t be quitting my #365SovereignReality practice, but I will be monitoring how I’m using the camera to witness the moment and decide if I'm shortchanging my senses and my memories.

Setting Your Own Sovereign Standard

This is the first step in a new adventure - finding the Sovereign Standard that serves each of us as individuals, but doing it collaboratively.

To get The Sovereign Standard delivered each week (and to let me know you'd like to be featured in future editions), sign up today.