You’ve likely heard the word curation. But maybe you aren’t entirely sure what it is, or how you can use it in your business? Why do it? How do you make money from curation at a local level in the real estate vertical?

What is Curation?

In my mind, at it’s very basic form, curation is the process of narrowing some collection of “things” into some collection of “things that mean something”. Digital curation is, by and large, narrowing down links.

Why and How?

Curation is needed because, quite simply, there is too much crap on the web and not enough time in the day for everyone to wade through it and find and consume the quality information relevant to them. Why is the web littered with junk? A couple reasons. For starters, every single person on the web is essentially a publisher due to the growth in user generated content. Additionally, the cost to push out crap content is so low that marketers and SEO geeks will keep doing it until it doesn’t have a positive ROI (not likely to happen anytime soon).

Want a few examples of curation done well on a local level? Jim Duncan sharing a tax rate increase in Fluvanna is an example of hyper local curation at its finest. As is Heather Elias covering the news of the Creighton Farms Clubhouse Opening. Same with Marisa Ormando sharing news that relocating & rebuilding schools is part of a new Issaquah bond.

I don’t want to get into the real nitty gritty of EXACTLY how to curate (largely because there is no ONE way to do it), but it’s certainly more than OKAY to link out to outside sources. In fact, a massive part of curation should be linking out – not just filtering through your own content. Think about it — who would you trust more and view as a credible source of information?

  1. A person who answers all your local questions on Twitter with a self serving link regardless of where the best answer is actually located online?
  2. A person who answers your local questions with a link to the best answer from anywhere on the web — and 75% of those links are NOT located on their own site?

Person 2 by a mile, right?

One other point I wanted to make. Remember that concept that the only unique thing you have is you? Well, great, because it rings true with respect to curation — and likely always will. If you are a huge basketball fan — mix in links to great (not bad or average) articles about the NBA and march madness. History buff? Share a few historical thought pieces. For the book worms, share book recommendations. You get the point. At the end of the day, your stream should be a reflection of your true self — unless you are a robot in real life with only a single interest.

How to Monetize?

I asked Chris Smith what content curation really boils down to, and he responded with:

on the web it’s akin to attention. So curation done well equals an audience.

It’s obvious you need an audience to make money (if no audience, who will buy your goods or services?).

Curation is ONE way to build an audience. It’s not the only way, though it is the only method we are discussing in this post.

For all intents and purposes, Geek Estate’s audience was built over the last 4 years by curating the best real estate technology news, analysis, and advice from around the web. You can of course correct me if I’m wrong, but the audience here (aka you) values that curation. It means you don’t have to filter through all the useless tools (read: shiny objects) and misguided/unproven online marketing advice floating around the web, and instead only read about the products and strategies relevant to you.

If you are a real estate agent or broker, your target audience is of course slightly different than Geek Estate’s, but the goal of curation remains constant — become known as a trusted expert by your target audience. You can use curation to build an audience of local home owners, buyers, and sellers by providing ONLY the best content from your geographic area of expertise. Find a way to save them valuable time by sharing ONLY news relevant to them.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember about curation is that it’s not about you. And it’s not about making a sale right this second. It is about delivering GREAT content consistently over and extended period of time. Curation is about building long term credibility, establishing real relationships, and earning your place as your audience’s go-to source for anything related to real estate. The money will come later.

To summarize my thoughts on the subject of curation…

  • FACT: Everyone is now a publisher.
  • FACT: Many SUCK at creating quality content.
  • FACT: There is too much, for lack of a better word, shit on the web as a result.
  • FACT: I don’t have time to filter through the shit myself and find the valuable/insightful/interesting content.
  • FACT: I value people who curate content in very specific niches for me.
  • FACT: The people that curate content in areas I’m interested in earn my trust over time, and are much more likely to earn my business if I need goods/services they provide.

Now, go start curating 🙂

Related reading & watching:

TEDx Grand Rapids Video – Steve Rosenbaum – Innovate: Curation!

PS: This post was inspired by a recent discussion with Jodi Ettenberg, a travel writer currently calling Chiang Mai “home” like me. That is, until her next adventure to Bangkok in about a week.

[Image by IloveSEO]