Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Curate Your Interests Post 15 :: Write 31 Days

Curate used as a verb can mean "to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation," as defined by dictionary.com. This is the definition I intend when using it in this post.

Note that this definition implies three separate actions: gather, sift, and select (not necessarily in that order). Let's say you decide to curate photographs of European castles for your blog. Generally there's a point or connection to your collection--a reason for pulling together these particular photographs. Be specific in explaining the reason so that readers aren't left wondering, "What is your point?"

Every Sunday I curate a portfolio of quilt inspiration and examples. I begin with an idea and curate photographs to use as inspiration. The title always includes the specific idea or reasoning, so readers know exactly what to expect for inspiration. At the beginning of the post I show several examples of the inspiration (generally 8-10 photos). Finally I post examples of how one might move from the inspiration to actual quilts. This means that the second half of the post shows photos of completed quilts that include the idea.

Let's say I've chosen the castle idea for one of my posts. Viewers can expect to see 8-10 examples of castles that I've pulled together. Then they can expect to see quilts that somehow employ the castle theme. I always find at least 10 quilt photos. Sometimes finding enough quilt photos is difficult, and I have to sift through many Pinterest pages before finding them. Other times, there are so many photos of quilts (or the idea, for that matter) that I spend most of my time deciding which 10-12 will make the cut. Finally, I tell readers how I searched for the idea, either by providing the search terms or by giving them a link to a board that I've curated.

Readers are interested in this type of post because finding inspiration can be a difficult process. Let's say you enjoy creating origami. You've just purchased a package of colorful origami paper that is 5" X 5". When you have a few minutes to yourself, you pull out the beautiful papers and try to think of objects you can create. If you've already curated photos, instructions, and websites that can serve as inspiration, you will be creating in very little time. 

Additionally, if you know of a blogger who regularly posts curated photos with the information you need, you can simply go to that blog. Adversely, if you must begin sorting through hundreds or even thousands of websites to find objects that fit this specific size paper, you could spend all of the time you have for one or two sittings searching rather than creating. Readers appreciate your saving them time and helping them with inspirational ideas.

Photo credit: Jessica Ruscello @jruscello

Pinterest, YouTube, and Flipboard are three sites that were created specifically for the purpose of gathering pictures, videos, and articles, respectively, but other websites and blogs can help you curate what you need and like for your hobby or work. Chances are your readers share your tastes and needs--that is what you have in common--and appreciate that you share your curated portfolios with them.

You can include short summaries or explanations of how you came to curate this particular portfolio but that is not always necessary. For example, when I have chosen a color or combination of colors to curate for inspiration, I let the colors speak for themselves. Otherwise, a summary can help tremendously because the reader can go straight to the curation that is most important or useful and save time.

Photographs, or pins, are not the only ideas that can be curated. Websites, blogs, patterns, company websites, magazine and news articles, lifestyle sites, and almost any other type of website can be curated for your readers. 

This idea actually follows what creative people did before the internet came along. Most creative people kept a binder or notebook of ideas close at hand. Boxes of patterns, magazines, clippings and other paraphernalia were very common only 20 years ago. I remember reading articles suggesting that creatives take or scan pictures of all their favorites to file on their computers, "but keep physical copies just in case." Go to a garage sale that includes items from studios and craft rooms, and you'll discover all manner of vintage idea collections. Slowly those items are being added to the vast stream of information and, eventually, they will be obsolete except as articles of interest in collections and museums. 

My grandchildren have laughed about all of the "stuff" in my studio, but I remind them that today's Pinterest and other websites are simply electronic versions of our old paper "stuff." I usually add that they won't be able to sell my websites, but one day those old magazines, patterns, and other curated items will be worth dollars. We all joke about it, of course, but I've curated both physical and electronic portfolios. There really isn't much difference, except the space requirements.  

Do your readers a favor and sift through some of the stuff on the web, gather it into collections, and share it. They will be grateful.

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Kaja said...

It sounds so obvious when you say it, but I hadn't thought about pinterest etc as the electronic equivalent of paper clippings. Maybe I'll feel less bad about time spent 'aimlessly'browsing now.

Mary at Fleur de Lis Quilts said...

Not that you need an excuse, but sure, it works for me. 😄 Actually I finally put it into words while writing the article. I've had a little seed of the idea for some time. Guess I had to stand still for a minute to figure it out.