As many of you know, I’m constantly trying to figure out the best way to consume content efficiently. As time goes on and you find more websites that you love - or think you may love in the future - you scribble them down somewhere in your computer’s memory and then hope you’ll someday return to them.
I use four rules that seldom change. These rules may expand and contract based on new data or new behaviors.
We must choose the mediums in which we subscribe to a source carefully.
There are certain sources that are better to subscribe to via RSS and others that are better to simply follow on Twitter. For example, Boing Boing or TUAW publish large amounts of content daily. These types of sources bottleneck in your RSS reader and are better managed through a medium like Twitter or Flipboard.
This rule mainly comes down to reducing anxiety when you go to read backlogs of content.
Recognize and exploit the limitations of RSS.
RSS is such an interesting technology. It provides the opportunity for anyone to subscribe to a source yet publishers shoot themselves in the foot by truncating content in the effort to get you to go to their website and click on a few ads.
Many sources - like Esquire - only provide a headline through RSS. The user is asked to subscribe, evaluate and then click through, leaving them in the browser. This completely defeats the purpose of RSS, leading me to subscribe to sources like Esquire through Twitter.
Other sources, like blogs that publish in low volume, are wonderful for RSS. The content is all there and it doesn’t get overwhelming if you miss a week or two.
Collect, then curate.
Curating is one of the hardest things we can do, both in our digital lives and in our real lives.
Curating requires that we make hard decisions about what stays and what goes. We ask ourselves the question: “What if I want this in the future?” This question is largely a trap and ends in us keeping things that we won’t actually use, leading to clutter.
No one has really nailed consumption analytics yet. I want my systems to phase our sources that I don’t actually read and tell me exactly how I’ve interacted (or how I haven’t) with a source.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
The beauty of these rules is that you can quickly and easily change how you consume a source or a set of sources. I tried primarily using an RSS reader for a while, that didn’t work for me so I changed things. I unsubscribed from five sources through RSS and began to follow them on Twitter. This led to a much more manageable experience and allowed me to create Rule #1 above.
Make your changes small and temporary, maybe even a few hours or a few days. If you don’t like the change, go back.
What rules do you use to manage your content?
There’s a lot of time and attention online devoted to the personal brand, from techniques on crafting your brand to managing it, blah blah blah.
Stop for a second and ask yourself “Where do I want my traffic to funnel into?” What is the flow of everything I do online? Where am I directing new readers, new fans, et cetera?
Yesterday, I deleted my other blog and wrote down each service I use and what it links to. The whole point is to avoid confusion and allow your readers or fans to easily find you.
This blog links to About.me, my company’s website and Twitter. You can also email me. For this blog, that’s enough.
On About.me, you can find my LinkedIn as well as Twitter, 59thirty and this blog.
On Twitter, you get funneled here.
The point is, I want to build my blog and more importantly, I want you to get here to read it without confusion.
So take a minute and stop crafting that “social strategy” you probably won’t stick to and manage the flow of all of your profiles.
Once you’ve done that, make content that you love. Readers will come; don’t stress out. I love to write and I fucking miss it. Some people will like my stuff and my viewpoints, some people won’t. That’s life.
Hope to see you around my blog again.
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