Which is better for personal branding success–writing fresh content or curating content written by others?

Content curation has been in the news lately, and there’s a lot to be said for it.

Benefits of content curation

Content curation offers an efficient way to build your online visibility and position yourself as an expert in your field.

If you enjoy exploring new ideas, and you already spend a lot of time tracking high-visibility topics and trends, you’re already well on your way to becoming a content curator.

Today, there are numerous online resources available, like www.paper.li. These make it easy to publish a daily or weekly newspaper summarizing and linking to content on a variety of blogs and websites.

The more carefully you choose the content you recommend, the more successful you’ll be. This is especially true if you go beyond the “obvious” experts and search for the next generation of influencers waiting to be discovered. Your success involves your ability to uncover ideas and stories that haven’t been discovered by the top tier experts.

Cons of content curation

If you’re considering content curation as a way to build your personal brand, there are a couple of potential pitfalls.

For example, there are a lot of competitors, and their topics often overlap. Often, the same content sources appear in dozens–possibly thousands–of curated newsletters. This duplication, together with the limited options for design and newsletter personalization, can weaken your brand. As always, it’s best if you have carved out a unique niche and you go “deep” instead of “wide.”

The biggest potential disadvantage, however, may be the lack of possibilities for creating profitable books and back-end information products. After a year of spending 30-minutes, or more, each day reading and passing-along ideas and referrals to blog posts by others, you may not have created any equity you can later publish and sell.

Benefits of writing fresh content

Writing fresh content on a consistent basis offers significant opportunities for personal growth, brand-building, and future profits. Benefits include:

  • Blogging a book. Writing a book as a series of blog posts breaks a big project into a series of short, easier-to-finish, tasks. Blogging topics from your book at consistent intervals keeps you motivated and moving forward. When you’re finished with the series of posts–regardless whether it takes you 3 months, 6 months, or a year–you’ve established a market presence for yourself and have a finished manuscript. For details, see Nina Amir’s detailed How to Blog a Book book and the blog where the book originated.
  • Thought leadership. Writing fresh content provides more opportunity for personal brand building by allowing you more free to choose topics and explore them in as much depth as desired. One good article or blog post can be enough to spark a million dollar career!  That’s what happened when Al Trout and Jack Ries wrote The Positioning Era which began as a promotional article in a local newspaper which was picked-up by Advertising Age, which lead to 30 years of writing, speaking, and consulting success.
  • Challenge, change, and control.  The Positioning Era story, is just one of a number of stories of transformation stories that have emerged from the more than 500 interviews I’ve conducted with published authors whose careers began with an article, or an idea, which turned into a book that transformed their careers and lead to happier, more productive lives.

Even if your life doesn’t dramatically change as a result of writing fresh content on a consistent basis, however, writing on a consistent basis helps you become a more confident and efficient writer, better able to  communicate in all aspects of your career and business.

Challenges associated with fresh content

The benefits of writing fresh content on a consistent basis involve overcoming some serious challenges, including:

  • More time. It takes time to prepare fresh content than it does to curate and share ideas written by others. Also, in order to succeed, you have to do the work yourself, rather than delegating it to others. The time challenge is not impossible, but it does require mastering the basics of time management.
  • Deadlines. Success requires consistency, and consistency involves deadlines. The more frequently you write, the better you’ll write, and the faster your following will grow. But, you’ll have to replace the adrenalin-joy stress of  deadlines with measured progress on a consistent basis.
  • Relearning habits. As I wrote about my post, Why Do Many Small Business Owners Dislike Writing? writing is difficult because most high-school and college writing instruction focuses on “creativity” and “inspiration” rather than clarity, simplicity, and brevity. As a result, most business professionals have to master a different set of skills.

How these blog posts have changed me?

Perhaps my experience may help you choose between writing and content curation.

I’ve been contributing to Dan’s blog for over 3 years.

Even though I had already written 40 books plus thousands of articles and blog posts, I’ve benefited from writing for Dan’s blog. Dan’s blog challenged me to develop a new perspective and set of writing tools, helping me become a better writer.

Yes, the Sunday night deadlines sometimes interfered with other activities. But, more important, each time I finished a post and printed it out, I’d feel energized by the experience.

As I view the 3-ring binder containing over 125 blog posts, I feel a great sense of satisfaction–whether or not I ever turn them into a 41st book!

Are you writing fresh content or curating content to build your brand? How did you choose between them? What kinds of experiences have you had? Are you considering a change? Share your comments and questions, below.


Roger C. Parker encourages you to use IdeaTracking to harvest the good ideas all around you. Use his online form to ask questions about writing and publishing.