10 Compelling Reasons to Brand Yourself Today by Curating Other People’s Content

There are two main reasons why personal branding is becoming a core part of our culture. Sadly, it’s nothing revolutionary! First, we are all being judged all the time, even when we’re sleeping (our online profiles are still up!). Second, we have to constantly sell our ideas to teachers, managers, venture capitalists, our friends and family, to make things happen in our lives. We have to convince them to take action.

The above statement is taken from Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog. Dan, a world renowned personal branding expert, defines personal branding as: “How we market ourselves to others.”

Think I’m just trying to impress you with big words? Think again…
How about the following names… Do they sound familiar?

Oprah, Gordon Ramsay, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Barack Obama, David Beckham, Justin Bieber.

Well, if it hadn’t been for their personal branding efforts, chances are Obama wouldn’t be president today, nor would Bieber have over 13 million raving fans on Twitter. Would Gillette pay millions for an unbranded Beckham to shave with their Mach 3? You get the point…

Now here’s the thing:
You’re lucky, because now you can brand yourself too, using social media.
And you don’t need to be a TV host, a football player or a singer to do that.
You don’t need a PR firm or a personal stylist.
You hardly need any money.
Heck, you don’t even need a blog to get started…

How I started branding myself

When I started out online I had no blog and hardly any connections. However, I managed to brand myself as an authority in my area (Internet marketing) in a relatively short period. When I did get my blog off the ground I’d already established an ample, engaged following on social media (mainly on Twitter). I’d also built connections with many other bloggers, social media experts and influencers.

Here’s what I did:
I started by curating other people’s content. Every few days I cherry-picked the most helpful posts I could find out of hundreds of blogs around the Web, and shared them on Twitter. As more and more people were reading my tweets, they started associating me with value. Bloggers, in turn, were happy to get more visitors to their sites. Win-win!

Now you can do the same! Here are 10 compelling reasons why you’d want to become a curator as well, starting today:

1. You don’t need a blog

This has got to be my favorite. There is no need to have your own blog in order to share content from other people’s blogs. Is it ethical? Yes, as long as you credit the content owner and link to the content source. Is it helpful? Yes, times three! It helps your audience solve their problems. It helps you gain credibility and authority. It helps the content owner get more traffic. Blogging-skeptics, your excuses are over!

2. Content sells better than pitches

Earlier today I got an email whose subject line was: WP ****** Plugin is a NO BRAINER. Now this plugin may be the next best thing since Comment Luv, but guess what happened to that email? That’s right, it landed in SpamLand. Do you know why? Because that marketer was trying to pitch me right off the bat. Before I even opened her email. I don’t like being sold to, and I bet you don’t either.

It’s much easier to give value and educate than it is to sell. When it’s time for you to offer your product people will be much more likely to buy because they already know you and trust you.

3. Become the go-to person

A person who interviews experts can gain an expert status himself, by association, just like Napoleon Hill did when creating Think and Grow Rich. In attempt to find the formula for success, Hill had interviewed over 500 successful people, many of them millionaires. This, in turn, granted him an expert status in the success teaching space, and he became an advisor of two US presidents.

Likewise, when you share other people’s content you become associated with their expertise and recognized as a source of value. If you stick to your guns you can become the go-to person whenever your followers need advice, recommendations, etc. Just remember: no selling, no hidden affiliate links!

4. Engage and build connections

As your followers and your authority grow, you can put more effort into engaging with like-minded people and with potential customers. At first you’ll be the one breaking the ice. For example, you could search for people needing help and reply to them via Twitter. Over time you’ll have other people approaching you. There’s no better starting point for a relationship than when a blogger thanks you for sharing his/her post!

5. Get writing offers and attract writers

The more you share content from other blogs, whether big or small, the more blog owners will approach you and ask you to contribute. When you start your own blog even more offers will start pouring in, asking you to be a guest blogger or to accept guest posts on your own site. Provided your blog is of high quality, of course.

6. Get others to promote your own posts

If you’ve done your job right, after a few short weeks you’ll start seeing people sharing your tweets around. When you start adding your own posts to the mix, they will naturally be shared as well because you’ve already got the reputation of a value provider. When I promote my posts with the right titles I often get about 1 out of 100 Twitter followers visit my blog. With a few thousand followers the numbers quickly add up.

Paper.li enables you to curate your own newspaper out of your followees’ tweets and Facebook posts. One of my papers, The Honest IM Daily, promotes links shared by people I follow, on a daily basis. As people get excited to see the articles they tweeted or shared in the paper, they share the paper’s link in return with their own followers. Thus the paper gets more popular and helps me brand myself even further. Sweet!

7. Get more quality followers

On a social network like Twitter it’s pretty easy to get followers. The hard part, however, is to get quality followers. And that’s where being a curator shines: as you share more valuable stuff, you’ll attract more of the people who are really interested in what you have to offer. So once you get into the swing of curating, you’ll be able to spend more time on finding quality content and building connection, rather than taking part in the old follow/unfollow game. (sigh.)

8. Learn to recognize value

As you go through endless blog posts in search of quality content, you’ll develop a ‘value radar’. You will be able to tell a meaty, value-packed post from a fluffy, yawn-inducing one. You will see what titles work best to attract readers. You will spot the blog posts that take the cake and get to know the key players in your industry. And the list goes on. All of this information will prove invaluable when you start blogging yourself.

9. Be the first to know

When sifting through the content you’re about to share, you’ll be skimming and reading many posts to determine their relevance to your followers. Doing this on a regular basis will give you an unfair advantage in your space as you’ll be the first to know about any industry developments as well as contests, giveaways, webinars and a lot more. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hidden gems I find when I search for content to share.

10. Use the same content on various networks

So, you’ve spent a whole day curating content and scheduling tweets, eh? Well, here is the good news: you can actually use these links you’ve shared over and over again! Assuming you’ve posted them on Twitter, you can now share them on Facebook, StumbleUpon, Delicious, DIGG and elsewhere. This way you’ll attract more followers on other networks and extend your reach. Now, why not create a few Top 10 posts on your blog where you share links to your favorite resources according to categories?

What about you?

What are you doing to brand yourself online? Where do you find fresh content to share on social media? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Photo credit: Domain Barnyard / Flickr

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  • http://twitter.com/AdamTroudart Adam Troudart

    Bro, if any of these great individuals you’ve mentioned lived today, they’d probably be on Twitter. Have a Facebook fan page. And their own website. ‘Nuff said..

  • Cuckoo

    Hey, hang on, bro! Did Dickens market himself? Or Joyce? Or Beckett? Or Virginia Woolf? To be sure, they may have died penniless, but, heck, who on this sober earth remembers the thrash that’s put out on the Internet via “personal branding” and the new-fangled “content curation”…?? Seriously, there are more honourable ways to make a living…

  • AdamTroudart

    Thanks a lot.
    You will need to spend about 12 hours a month curating and scheduling your content, and then about 10-20 minutes a day (the more the better) maintaining your Twitter account(s): Replying to tweets, building relationships, thanking other people who retweet your content, following the right people and unfollowing the rest etc. But it’s great fun, I can tell you!

  • AdamTroudart

    Thank you.
    Sorry for my very late reply.
    When sharing other people’s content on your blog you can either quote a few lines from their post or link to it, or better yet do both. Copying and pasting the article is permitted only if the author explicitly permits it in their post or if the blog has a Creative Commons license which permits it.

  • jono99

    Brilliant article Adam. When sharing another authors content on a blog, can you literally copy and paste the article? What’s the correct protocol for borrowing that content and displaying it on your own blog?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ocean.whitehawk Ocean WhiteHawk

    Helpful tips, Adam! Although I already have my own brand, being an educator and author of two juicy books, I’m busy teaching and running seminars etc and spend no time at the moment marketing myself in anyway. There is a following already but I can see it making quantum leaps when the right ‘marketing’ (for me it has to be – marketing with soul :-) takes place. I do find hard-selling a bit jarring to my nature so I really like the fact you highlight the importance of giving value to people approach. That resonates big time!

    This concept of being a curator on other people’s useful material is cool! So I would like to know from you, roughly how many hours per week does one dedicate to this wondrous task to make it work?

    Thanks for being helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/AdamTroudart Adam Troudart

    Thanks a lot Allie.
    What a wonderful story!

    I think you’re right.
    Actually I’m trying to find that uniqueness with posts I write and tweets I share. I’m trying to be funny and to use references to pop culture, movies, famous songs, and sayings. A few example tweets:

    “Confessions of a Syrian gay blogger… [Link]”
    “A tweet down memory lane… [LINK]”
    “The guestblogger’s guide to galaxy… [Link]”

    I’m not sure if everyone gets it, but it’s fun creating these kinds of tweets and titles, and they’re more likely to be read as well, as opposed to simply copying and pasting article titles.

    Keep smiling Allie…
    And enjoy your Taco Bell. Yummie…

  • http://www.ramblingsofawahm.com/ AllieRambles

    Adam,

    I have a short story.

    Once a week I go to Taco Bell to eat. It’s a bad habit, I know. I drive there, order food and sit in my car to eat it. It’s about 30 minute trip total. While I do this I listen to podcast about social media, blogging etc. My favorite is Pat Flynn’s.

    Every so often I tweet what I am doing. “It’s Taco Bell Tuesday with @patflynn’s podcast.” or “Taco Bell and SPI Podcast rock together. link” Anyhow, Pat started to notice and every so often on his blog or his FB he will reference my lunches. At first I was embarrassed but then I figured it was kinda funny.

    I branded myself without even knowing it. Ok, so my readers know I eat Taco Bell but they also know I respect Pat Flynn and I listen to his podcast regularly.

    I can handle being the Taco Bell lady in order to get people to my blog or social networks. LOL.

    I always try to encourage individualism in branding. Share content with a funny but not offensive blurb. Or have a pattern so people can rely on you always at that time or place.

    Great post, love it! You have so many amazing ideas, I need to go back and note them.

    ~Allie

  • http://twitter.com/AdamTroudart Adam Troudart

    Thanks a lot Jd.
    Hope it helps you engage and grow your business:)

  • http://twitter.com/AdamTroudart Adam Troudart

    Thanks a lot Ramiro.
    It did take some time but I had fun writing it…

  • http://twitter.com/AdamTroudart Adam Troudart

    I love your question Jason. Actually, 2 questions:) Firstly, I personally broadcast much more than engage right now. I’d love to engage much more but I can’t afford it right now in terms of time commitment. I do, however, strive to provide a lot of value and most of my content on Twitter consists of RTs of other bloggers, so that is a kind of engagement and it often leads to conversations.

    As for self promotion Vs content that doesn’t sell: Right now I only focus on providing quality content that doesn’t sell. I don’t do any self promotions. It think that content marketing is the only thing that really works on social media, especially Twitter. The amount of trust you build this way is second to none, therefore I focus on building a following and building a list to which I will market later down the road.

  • http://twitter.com/AdamTroudart Adam Troudart

    Thanks Janet. You are right, getting a sizable large ENGAGED following does take time and effort. The more effort you put in, giving listening and helping your audience, the more trust, engagement and responsiveness you’ll get back.

  • AdamTroudart

    Thanks a lot.
    I hope it helps you

  • Ramiro

    Hey Adam!

    I can tell this article took you a while to write :-) Good job man.

  • http://twitter.com/GoodPeopleJapan Jason Ball

    Good stuff Adam.
    As an Internet Marketer, how do you balance ‘Broadcast’ with engagement/value, ‘self promotion’ with content that doesn’t sell to me?

  • http://twitter.com/peacestores Janet Wentum

    Great article. You don’t mince words on how to get loyal followers. It takes hours of hard work (reading articles written by others etc) done over time to win a sizable large following or to become an expert.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jd-Meyer/1303311129 Jd Meyer

    Great info on how to brand yourself and get noticed on social media.