The web often feels like an all-you-can-eat buffet; how high should you pile your virtual plate? For the curators and collectors out there, here are some ideas on how to enhance your blog with content you find elsewhere.
Whether it’s great artwork, a punchy quote, or even a funny gif, many bloggers enjoy showcasing others’ work from around the web. In this piece from Hot Off the Press, we give you both food for thought and hands-on advice on how to use curated content on your personal blog.
Your blog is the space where you show the world the things that make you tick. You put together stories and images that entertain and enlighten, and invite your visitors in. It’s your own carefully designed museum-living room-coffeeshop packed into a screen.
Some rooms feel a bit cozier, though, with a choice item from the flea market or the antique store. Likewise, your blog can come to life with some well-chosen materials you’ve collected on WordPress.com (and the web in general). Many bloggers are already curating thoughtful content on topics as diverse as design and science — here are some ideas on how best to find and present others’ materials on your blog.
Digging for content
The WordPress.com community creates, collectively, over a million posts every single day, generating an endless wealth of information and opinion. This shouldn’t deter you from looking for content to enhance your blog. On the contrary, you can discover great material by employing some of the following tactics (we use these, too, to find our Freshly Pressed picks!).
- Rely on the Reader. If you’ve already found — and decided to follow — blogs that fit into your web of interests, your Reader is likely brimming with posts that merit a greater audience. Stumbled upon a great read? Sharing another blogger’s post is extremely easy — in fact, you can do it directly from the Reader. Just click Reblog at the bottom of the post (or excerpt), and, while you’re at it, add your own commentary to start a conversation.
- Use topic search. If you’re new to blogging or looking to branch out from your regular reads, searching for specific topics can lead to some exciting finds. Whenever you use the topic search box, you automatically add the topic you were looking for to a list on the Reader sidebar. You can then easily review the same topics on future visits.
- Follow, follow, follow. While topic-searching, you’re sure to stumble upon many bloggers who share your interests, and whose posts you can directly reblog from the results list. Don’t forget to follow the blogs you liked (just click Follow, right next to Reblog): this way, new posts from these sites will show up automatically whenever you visit the Reader.
- Build your network. Just as you would collect book tips from people who have similar tastes to yours, tapping into the shared wisdom of like-minded bloggers can lead you to discover great content. Did you find a post particularly engaging? Check out the writer’s Blogroll and hunt for new blogs to visit; it’s also a good way to build a Blogroll of your own. Left a comment on a post? Read the rest of the comment section to look for people whose writing resonates with yours.
Showcasing your finds
Even a great art collection will look faded in a dark corridor. Now that you’ve amassed great findings for your blog, present them in a way that honors them. For inspiration, you can look at some blogs that already do a fine job showcasing curated materials, like Submitted for Your Perusal and hovercraft doggy. Here are some of the tricks that make these, and other curation-heavy blogs, successful.
- Choose the right theme. The first major step is to choose a theme that plays into your content’s strengths. While virtually all themes will allow you to incorporate text and images into your posts, some are particularly tailored to the work of a blogger-curator. Have you cultivated an interest in finding great images to feature next to your own? Pick one of the beautiful gallery-style themes available, like Visual or Hatch. Are you more into finding and presenting great writing from across WordPress.com? Several magazine-style themes, like Esquire or Sight, allow you to present text (as well as other media) with a sleek look.
- Quoting is a welcome form of praise. Occasionally, instead of reblogging an entire post, you might prefer sharing just a nugget of particular interest. Some themes offer a Quote Post Format, designed specifically to highlight the chosen text (to see if your theme supports this format, from your Dashboard click Posts → Add New. A sidebar box will show all available formats for your theme).
- Blockquote is always an option. Even in themes that do not offer this post format, you can use the Blockquote tag in the visual editor to foreground the quoted text and separate it from the rest of your writing.
- Give credit where credit is due. No one likes to see their hard work used by someone else without attribution. When you reblog an entire post, the original blog will automatically be mentioned in your own post, and you can add more information in the text box that opens when you click Reblog. Citing your source is just as easy when you quote, or use someone’s else’s image. Simply add the source in the caption (for an image) or following the borrowed text (for a quote), and link to the source.
Getting inspiration from others’ work and paying others tribute will make your own content stronger — soon enough, you might find your own posts quoted by your own favorite bloggers.