Last week I presented “Content in 10 Minutes” at a local WordPress meetup. Content seems like a broad topic to cover in such a short period, but ultimately I found only two things needed to be said.
Having discussed those, I was prepared to sit down right after my presentation. The audience had other ideas, however, so we continued with a question-and-answer session.
One of the most thought-provoking questions was this: What do you think of using a content aggregator for your blog?
For those of you not familiar with content aggregation, basically it’s either a web site or some form of computer software that gathers a specific type of information from multiple online sources for reuse or resale.
Now I’d just given a talk on content that stressed two things: value and consistency. By value, I meant the benefits that come from sharing your own ideas and experiences to benefit your readers. When I write blog posts, for example, I try to make sure my audience will learn from my ramblings.
But even as a professional writer, my consistency sometimes suffers. Generally I don’t have trouble coming up with ideas; it’s just that after writing all day, the last thing I want to do is write more.
And it’s worse for non-writers, because most don’t want to write at all.
So what role could content aggregation play in your content strategy?
1) Supply all your blog content via content aggregation.
Yes, you could just go whole hog. You’ll have that fresh, regular content that’s so important to the Search engines. The content could come from newspapers, magazines, blogs, and social networks, and you could customize it to be relevant to your business. If your aggregated content is selected by an editorial team instead of an algorithm, you’ll have that discerning human touch too.
Choose and subscribe to a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed you like and your aggregator will check for new content and deliver that to your site. If you’re picky about what shows up (and you should be), you can even select which content is shown in your aggregator’s RSS reader. Choose wisely and you may find you can bring in readers interested in the content you provide—even if it doesn’t reflect you or your brand. But you’re still better off with Choice #2.
2) Supplement content aggregation with content creation.
Now we’re moving in the right direction. Use content aggregation to keep the pipeline full of informative and entertaining content, but also add your own valuable content. That’s a great balance that can keep your readers up-to-date and coming back to your site for more. You get the advantage of viewpoints other than your own—and if you don’t agree, you have material for your next blog post.
Back in Journalism school, when I was learning all the rules I would later break, this would have been a dream world—writer and editor, all in one. Actually I still think it’s a great way to go: If you can only manage a blog post every week or two, use content aggregation to fill in.
3) Use content aggregation to inspire your blog posts.
I’d like to say that this is the ultimate choice. I’d like to say it, but I won’t. Unless you’re Chris Brogan or Seth Godin or someone who can always keep me reading, it may be better to mix in others’ content with your own. (And even I skip most of Chris’ Pitchy-pitchy Sell-sell posts.)
I write two blog posts each week, one focused on marketing/writing and one focused on whatever I want. Do they always provide value? You tell me. Truth is, the more utilitarian blog posts are not as popular as those in which I just dump my brain contents on the page. But even here, I think content aggregation can play a role by helping you discover what interests your audience and inspire you with new topics to write about. And finding inspiration that keeps you writing may be the best content strategy of all.
Diana Kightlinger is a professional copywriter, content writer and blogger. You can find her on Google+ and Eclipse Communications on Facebook. For lots more helpful info, sign up for the EclipseWriter Blog and get her FREE REPORT on “50 Things You Must Check Before You Send Your Email Offer.”