Lessons from curating a link blog

I maintain a link blog about Colorado food and local food in general.  I use Tumblr, but I’m only incidentally interested in Tumblr traffic.  Tumblr hooks up to Facebook and Twitter, and pushes links there.  (I realize that I am missing interaction on Twitter and Facebook by using these networks as broadcast only, but I don’t have time to fully engage, so I thought a limited presence was better than nothing.)

Having maintained this link blog for over two years, I have learned a few things.

  • It is easy to start a project like this, but hard to finish.  There’s always more to do.  I think I’ll stop when it stops being interesting.
  • Deciding to do this is a great way to gain a broad understanding of a field while providing some value (via curating).  As you find more and more sources of links, videos, articles and audio content, you’ll gain a sense of what is happening.  Even if you don’t painstakingly read every article, you’ll still get a sense.
  • Speaking of sources, Google alerts is your friend.  I get emailed alerts on a variety of searches, and about 25% of the results are worth posting.  Facebook and twitter are additional great sources of links.
  • An RSS reader can help you if you are really diving in.
  • Giving someone notice that you’ve referenced their article via an ‘@’ mention will get you their attention.
  • Queuing up posts on Tumblr is a life saver.  This lets you stack up posts and portion them out one per day.  I typically have between 15 and 30 posts in my queue.  This makes timely posts more difficult, but frees me up to forget about the link blog for weeks at a time.
  • A link blog like this is a great use of your in between time, especially if you have a smartphone.  In five minutes I can scan and post two or three links, where five minutes is barely enough time to think of a regular blog post.  The Tumblr app is very good.
  • A linkblog is a great resource for other content generation.  I have a newsletter about local food as well, and a key section of that is interesting links.  Those are almost entirely drawn from the Tumblr.

The linkblog approach is very similar to Twitter, but differs in a few crucial ways:

These attributes make a linkblog a fine complement to Twitter.

There are some problems with this model, however.

  • Limited interaction with followers, either on Tumblr, Facebook or Twitter.
  • I’ve found that engaging on Twitter and Facebook directly is far more effective if you want content to be viewed or links to be clicked.
  • A linkblog like this is not truly building my tribe

So, if you have limited time, want to gain insight into a particular area of interest, and are OK with the drawbacks, create a linkblog.



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