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Tips on Outsourcing Curation

Today a raven from the Canadian north lands arrived with a question from Sara J.:

I want to outsource my curation. Is that possible with your tool and do you have any advice on how to best do this?

Yes, our tool supports outsourcing. Combined with standard WordPress features and a few simple editorial plugins this is drop dead simple.

Here’s how I’ve consulted with others to make this happen. first thing you want to create is what is called an living and breathing editorial guideline document.

This isn’t something that has to be the length of War and Peace but it is important guide to have.

This Editorial Guideline Document defines the rules for someone who is going to publish on your behalf.

A editorial document has a few things:

Content Rules

This outlines the type of content you will publish. It also covers the type of stories you will cite or just as important the type of stories you won’t cite.

For instance, maybe you never want to curate rumors or gossip. Maybe you only cite content from trusted or known sources.

These are the type of things you would put into your editorial guidelines document.

Here you would also outline how much content you cite and whether or not you cite images.

Also it’s a good practice to include layout and style guidelines you have. The best way to do this is to provide real live examples and screenshots.

Your Editorial Perspective

Here you will describe how you see your market or niche.

Do you want commentary with a slight edge? Do you want more of news reporter approach?

Will you inject humor? Is there a perspective you want to be the foundation of everything you publish?

Quick tip: the easiest to outsource is the news reporter style of commentary. This is the just the facts type of approach where your outsourcer will highlight the who, what, when, where, how, and sometimes why.

Create a Process List

Just like an airline pilot who has a pre-flight checklist you’ll want the same. Create a process list of how your content will be published.

Who will select the stories you will curate? Will it be you or your outsourcer?

If you are in the drivers seat this process is really easy to do with our curate to post feature.

Another process that you might outline is for your outsourcer to create drafts of content and you will finalize and approve.

The important part here is create a step by step approach to how content is going to be published.

Most Important…


Much like how analytics on your website track your visitors you want to create a way to track your team.

From day one create a way to manage and verify the work being done.

There’s a saying and it goes something like this….

You can only manage what you can track.

From the start you’ll want to design how you will track and verify the work being done. You’ll also want to ensure this is up to the standards you’ve outlined in your editorial document.

Even if you’ve found the perfect person you still should track and verify the results.

Make it a habit.

Here’s how I do this.

I get an email every week with a list of the curations our outsourcers have published. It’s a simple bulleted email with date, outsourcer name, and link to the story.

Now I don’t read every single one of the posts every week. I choose a few at random to check and verify it’s up to our standards.

When I find an issue I’ve built a process through Trello that corrects the issue and also adds the issue to our editorial document in Google Docs.

This last part is huge because if we bring someone else on the team we have an example of an issue we’ve had before someone can learn from.

Doing this will ensure that if you bring in someone new you don’t have to train them on every little aspect of your publishing. You have basically a running record of best practices and tips.

How Much Content Can Be Published This Way?

It usually takes someone about a week to get familiar and very proficient with our tools both Curaton Suite and the Listening Engine.

From there our training like this one on single source curation and this one on mastering commentary in curation will help anybody with the basics of publishing.

The typical output is 4-8 curations an hour. The number depends on how well they are at consuming stories, writing commentary (by your editorial perspective) and your own process.

In closing…

We built our tool to work well for an individual blogger or a team. In a team environment it’s important that you take a little bit time to plan your efforts.

When outsourcing it’s important you provide rules, guidelines, and a way to track your results. Sure it’s a little more effort but in the end it saves you time and money by doing it right from day one.