Let's Create Some Curated Content
All bloggers and writers know that information management is critical to our creative productivity. Today, I’m sharing the process I use to collect, organize, evaluate, sort and share original and curated content with my readers.
Of course, it almost goes without saying that any content curation workflow is a work in progress. If you are running solo then you're always looking for new tools and methods that can streamline your process, give you greater flexibility, save time and make you more efficient.
One critical requirement for me is the ability to work my process on any platform and in any location. So far, my current set of tools and methods meet that requirement.
To kick it off, I’ll begin with the hardware. My current setup includes a 15-inch Macbook Pro, an iPad 3 and an iPhone 6. Yes, I love Apple products. I worked on PCs for 20 years and finally made the switch to Apple several years ago. For me, there’s no going back. They just work. The user experience between devices is nearly seamless.
I have a string of apps that I use to work the data. Most of the apps work cross-platform. Reeder 2 and Pinner are the two exceptions. They are Mac/iOS exclusive. More on that in a minute.
Feedly — This is my go-to news aggregator. I monitor about 100 feeds and use Feedly to organize those feeds into their niche categories, i.e. WordPress, web design, social media, productivity, etc. But, I don’t use Feedly as a reader. The interface doesn’t offer the flexibility or options I need in my workflow.
Reeder 2 (Mac / iOS) — As mentioned, Reeder is a Mac-only app. I link it to my Feedly account to do my reading. Its clean, flexible interface is a joy. With seven different themes, it can accommodate all lighting conditions. But, the biggest benefit to me and my process is the ability to save articles as a bookmark directly to Pinboard without leaving the app. And that brings me to …
Pinboard — A bookmarking application, much like Delicious. I use it to store articles that I want to curate on other platforms, such as Twitter, or use as a reference to for creating new, original content. I use the Pro version of Pinboard, which costs $25 per year. The Pro-version archives all your bookmarks. Even if a page is removed from the Web, Pinboard will provide you with a complete copy of the page from your archive. You also get full-text search capability for all your bookmarks. Pinboard will also archive your Tweets. Be sure to check out the Pinboard Resources page for Windows supported applications.
Buffer — Not much to say here. I use Buffer to schedule and publish all of my Tweets.
Zapier — This is a workflow app, much like IFTTT. It allows apps to communicate with each other to complete a single task or series of tasks. Zapier works with more apps than IFTTT, but in my case, even though the apps were available in both Zapier and IFTTT, only Zapier had the “actions” that I needed. Zapier is a freemium service. My workflow doesn’t generate any cost so, for all intent, it’s free.
ToDoist (Mac / iOS) — One of many to-do list managers, but with a beautiful, minimalist interface. It scores high on user experience.
Pinner — My last app is another iOS exclusive. Again, great interface and user experience. Pinner gives me access to my Pinboard bookmarks on both my iPad and iPhone. I use it to review saved articles and make selections for Tweeting.
Now it’s time to pull all of this together.
I begin my review in Reeder. Typically I’ll scan one or two categories that I’m interested in that day and begin to work through them. Most will be scanned without any action.
Occasionally I may Tweet an article directly from Reeder if it is particularly timely or just a well-written, informative piece. Less often an article may be the inspiration for an article of my own. In that case, I will apply a special tag and note forwarding the link to Pinboard. That tag will trigger a Zapier action creating a draft post and a note on my editorial calendar on my WordPress site. I use Co-Schedule as my editorial calendar and social media manager on the site — another timing-saving premium plugin for WordPress. It will also trigger a second Zapier action and place a task on my To-Doist to write the post.
I send the other articles to Pinboard for later reading, review or filing. For that review, I will go into Pinner and read those articles again at my leisure. They may be deleted, filed for future reference, or, most frequently forwarded to my Buffer queue and published on Twitter or other social accounts.
That completes the process! I have a stream of quality content to share, inspiration for blogging/writing, and the task reminders in place to keep everything front of mind.
So how about you? What workflow do you use? I'd love to hear your comments.