I’m going to put it all in context and explain why you should listen to what I have to say.
Over the last two years, I’ve been on a journey…
Phew. I made the cut. Thanks for your time. I’ll continue…I’ve learnt more in this period than I have in half a working lifetime of successful gainful employment.
There are lots of reasons for this.
But the overriding one – and the one that concerns me here in this blog post – is the amount I have read.
When I started my career, the Internet was in its infancy.
I fondly remember sitting in a room with four PR consultant colleagues in 1997.
“Are you off yet?” one of us would say. “Tell me when you’re off, would you?” Came the reply: “I’m just downloading my emails. I’ll only be five minutes.”
PR has changed since then, and the Internet, powered by lightning fast broadband speeds, has been transformative. In ways, we could never have imagined 19 years ago.
And I’ve changed too.
Over the past few years, I’ve had to learn new skills.
Mouth and trousers.
And this against a backdrop where time is money. As all small businesses know, you need to spend your time wisely.
So, back in early 2014, I plunged headlong into content curation.
I already knew where to look; I’d been doggedly increasing my digital knowledge for a few years, getting to know who were the experts. I’d even started a running blog to practice.
And here the Internet was my enabler. Content marketing had been mushrooming and seemed to explode as 2013 turned into 2014.
These authors were blogging all the latest information. Truthfully. Helpfully. Not holding anything back.
All they wanted in return was the odd social share.
It was like being at digital marketing finishing school but my lecturers were world leaders in their field.
Now I wanted to be the best content curator that ever walked the Earth.
When it came to small business marketing, digital marketing, SEO, PR, media relations, crisis management, Glasgow no-one would curate better content than me.
Friends said nice things: “You’re all over social media Dave.”
My Klout score was in the mid-60s (with minimal use of Facebook). I was getting on people’s radars.
I even had a system. So proud of it was I that I wrote a blog post detailing my content curation process.
I still haven’t found anything online to beat this system and I’d recommend it if you have time.
But, you see, I don’t have that sort of time.
My company is me. And no matter how much you automate content curation, it still eats into your day.
I’ve no regrets, I learnt a shed load. And lots of people got to read lots of good content for free.
But the more you learn, the more immersed in a field you become, the more your tastes develop.
The solution that worked for me. Something that’s happened over time. Not by design.
Is email newsletters.
That’s how I get my content now. That’s where I learn stuff from. That’s why I’m constantly tinkering, developing, improving.
And that’s a significant benefit to me. And my clients!
And this is what I do with it all:
A curated top-10 weekly email. Very difficult to categorise. Covers topics from digital marketing through AI to how poverty changes kids’ brains.
User experience (UX). That’s where it’s at, is it not? For people trying to get their message across online. I subscribed because I wanted to learn more about UX as it applies to websites. And I love well-designed things.
Curated by Kenny Chen. Weekly.
There is no better blogger writing about website strategy. I’ve learnt more from reading and applying the Orbit Media co-founder’s instructional tips than anyone else. He also posts a lot of good information on LinkedIn.
Not just websites either; wider web marketing as well.
Scott really dives into topics. At the moment, he’s focussing on influencer marketing and I am learning a lot from a series of posts he’s writing. Subscribe to his list and he sends the posts to your inbox.
I enjoyed his daily short thoughts blog posts in December too. The Seth Godin of UK PR.
I look forward to reading Dan’s weekly comms2point0 emails. The tone of voice is lovely and there’s always reading material I’ve never read before.
One of the few emailers I reply to occasionally. Probably because it feels like you’re having a conversation, reading Dan’s stuff.
An original voice. A good writer. And a man not afraid of putting the cat among the pigeons. Never anodyne, always thought-provoking. One of my favourite PR bloggers.
Stella Bayles brings you good stuff on new PR, sort of a UK-PR-SEO perspective on things. A well-curated newsletter with content I’ve often not read elsewhere.
Prodigious. Agenda-setting. A must-read for any UK PR. I know two guys who put out quality blog posts every two days. Neil Patel and Stephen Waddington. In and around doing lots of other stuff. Makes me tired even thinking about this bloke’s work ethic.
The blogfather of UK PR.
Recommended by fellow Scottish PR Scott Douglas. Because things move so quickly, monthly newsletters seem to have gone out of fashion.
But this one is great. It’s a well-designed round-up of the last 31 days’ digital PR happenings.
James has no filter. He lets it all hang out. He is brutally honest (about himself) and has lived an amazing existence. Building up successful companies, selling them for millions, losing it all.
There’s a lot everyone can learn from James.
Imagine being able to read all day, go to the gym, live in Brooklyn, and have 230,000 people hanging on your every word each week. The beautifully-designed Brain Pickings Weekly by mid-thirties Bulgarian writer Maria Popova is unique.
“A subjective lens on what matters in the world most and why.”
My current favourite (perhaps because it’s new year). “Our lives should be designed around our highest ideals.” Hear hear. There are so many gems in his writing.
You may have read him in The Observer too.
Crew helps people build websites and the like. It’s more than that, though. What they also do is write very high quality, well-designed blog posts, about working smarter. They’re usually aimed at me: someone working in the digital and creative industries.
They also pass on posts they’ve read and like at the foot of each weekly newsletter.
I’ve always been a fan of nicknames with the letter o at the end. Backlinks still drive Google Search. Brian from Backlinko tells you how to get them, ethically.
He also asks questions in his email and responds to answers.
Rumbled! The inspiration for Zude’s Top 4. Quite simply the best occasional curated email I receive in my inbox; from Meredith @ Moz, usually. A woman with taste in all things digital marketing and SEO.
This is a fella who practised SEO for 15 years (and still does). Then wrote his first blog post a few months ago. The thing is, he clearly wanted to write the world’s best blog on his chosen topic (using Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique I would wager).
I noticed, and his subsequent ones have been impressive too. Kudos.
The man behind Whiteboard Friday, and founder of Moz. Having stepped down as CEO in 2014, he now has more time to share his knowledge.
If you’re interested in SEO, this one’s a must.
As it sounds.
Whitespark is a citation-builder. It helps you get business listings online. This is a key element of local SEO, which is of paramount importance to most small businesses’ marketing efforts.
A very handy daily curated email to keep up-to-date with all the latest worldwide happenings in local SEO.
SaaS is a term which will mean nothing to people NOT working in techy startup land. It stands for Software as a Service. All those new online tools/apps you use to make your life/work easier.
Digital marketing seen through a startup business owner’s eyes. So lots of great information on ROI, a topic dear to every SaaS CEO’s heart.
If the first thing you ask after walking into a coffee shop is: “Where’s the router,” this one’s for you. I know so many people now who work in the most weird and wonderful places.
This bi-monthly emailer is chock full of tips on how to make work fit your life, not the other way round.
A well-designed minimalist daily newsletter that shows me the most shared stories by my Twitter friends.
My best source of reliably interesting content. You curate it yourself. In that, it knows who you follow, whose stories you recommend, and which “channels” you subscribe to.
It gets to know your interests and emails you daily. And Medium is sooo nice-looking too.
I get all my best “and finally’s” from here. Reddit is amazing. I love it. Here are the most “upvoted” stories on Reddit during the previous week.
Read my post on rediscovering reading for why you should subscribe to Ryan’s list.
I signed up to David’s list to get a free email course on design. It is brilliant. He’s a great writer. I don’t want to actually design websites. I just want to appreciate more about the thinking that goes into their design.
He’s now started a reading list email too. David is interested in similar topics to me, and I am grateful for his suggestions.
Glenn’s based in Taiwan. For the life of me, I can’t remember how I got to know him (through starting writing on LinkedIn back in mid-2014 I am reliably informed).
I’ve watched with interest his blogging and now his excellent Write with Impact podcast. I’m reading a book by one of his podcast interviewees. A great writer, senior comms person, and, now, mate.
This bloke cracks me up. His posts are like nothing I’ve read before. One the other day was on writing a sandwich board! And how small tweaks to signage can have a huge impact on ROI. You gotta read it.
Instructional tips and case studies about writing commercially.
You now have 29 (or 30, if I may be so bold:O) sources of new learning. Which, for the sake of 30 seconds a pop, you can curate straight to your inbox. And read at your leisure. Writing you want to read. You’re in charge.
And if you think passing on content that you recommend is important/worthwhile, you have a streamlined content curation system too.
With most of these lists, you sign up to their newsletters and all you get is valuable content. Some use automation to give you lots of valuable content then eventually sell you stuff.
I trust that you are a woman/man of discernment, and can take the smooth with the rough.
I prefer the former approach but have no problem with the latter. I can always unsubscribe.