How To Use Curation To Make Your Blog Better: Lessons From Postsecret

If you talk to most successful bloggers today, they will likely tell you that some part of the formula for their success has been their ability to adapt their blog to what people actually wanted to read and interact with instead of sticking to a closed vision of what their blogs should or could offer. Last night I had the chance to participate in a great event put on by Shashi and his crew from Network Solutions to promote their new online community called LinkTogether. The two speakers were Frank Warren, the founder of Postsecret.com and myself. As I listened to Frank talk about the rise of Postsecret from a local art project in the DC area to one of the top ten blogs on the Internet today – the word curator came to mind to describe how he treats his blog.

Postsecret1 Curation evokes that powerful idea of working on something larger than yourself. Museum staff curate the works of art and historical significance that line their walls. National archives that store the lessons of the world’s past are similarly curated. It also applies to what Frank does as he sorts through thousands of heart felt secrets that people send him each week, and chooses a new 20 to post on his blog every Sunday. On the surface, this type of blog is the exact opposite of what most blog consultants would tell you to do. Frank has very little editorial or information about himself. There is hardly any branding on the site, his email address to contact him is hard to find, there is no archive of old content, and he only posts once a week,

Undeniably, for his site, this works. Here are a few counterintuitive lessons I took from Frank about using this curation model to make your blog more successful. I’m hoping to put some of these lessos to work for my blog:

  1. Focus on quality instead of quantity – Frank may be in the enviable position of getting all his content sent to him for free, but his painstaking effort in going through and selecting the best postcards shines through. It makes the fact that he only posts once a week less important.
  2. Put yourself in the background – This is something most bloggers don’t do well (including myself). But on Postsecret you won’t find big headshots and bios of Frank. The site is about the secrets and anything else is extraneous to his mission. My big lesson from this is that sometimes the best thing you can do is try to leave your ego behind and just focus on creating the best content possible.
  3. Make it harder to find you, but welcome those who do – It’s not easy to find Frank’s email address, and he likes it that way … but for those who do and email him, they can expect a warm thoughtful response and for a relationship to start. He often asks people to share more details about their secrets with him, and even has a postcard he will be publishing this weekend that a guy will use to propose to his girlfriend with while they read the site together.
  4. Become what your site needs you to be – This may seem like a bit of zen advice, but much of what Frank talks about accidentally goes in this direction as well … perhaps the result of his spending the better part of every day carrying around other people’s secrets. He shared in the meeting how Postsecret helped change him into a person with a mission and allowed him to become the curator that the site needed. I can see why Hollywood producers are hot to talk to him – it could make a great movie.

If you believe in Frank’s mission or want to support the great work that he is doing to bring his message of hope to the world, you can ATTEND HIS SPEAKING TOUR (see video below) which is starting today and will bring him around the country or PURCHASE ONE OF HIS BOOKS. And while you’re at it, think about what Frank’s lesson of curation could do for your blog. I’ll be doing the same thing.

A Trailer for Frank Warren’s PostSecret 2009 Event Tour.

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