Is it better to create or curate website content? You asked, we answered.

Creating vs. curating content: creative professional looks at papers attached to whiteboard

Life is full of easy questions, like:

To be or not to be?

I mean, c’mon, it’s obviously “to be.” We wouldn’t want Prince Hamlet on our Wednesday-night trivia team.

Then there are the tougher questions, like: Does pineapple really belong on pizza? Or: Which comes first, milk or cereal? (Editor’s note: cereal.)

And, of course…

Should you create or curate your website content?

Sharing high-quality content with your audience is crucial to driving engagement, growing your online presence, and winning over new prospects. However, unless you’re a small business owner moonlighting as a content strategist (and if you are, we’d love to meet you!), it can be hard to know where to start.

Fortunately, we’ve got some tips to help guide you in your content marketing journey. In this article, we’ll look at how your business can source content in the way that makes the most sense for your time and team.

Table of Contents

Creating vs. curating: what’s the difference?

Website content can take many forms: blog posts, webinars, social media posts, and everything in between. Creating this content from scratch requires—you guessed it—planning, researching, and executing it all yourself. 

Curation, on the other hand, refers to the act of sharing content created by others. According to Hootsuite: “This could be a valuable blog post from a company in your field, expert advice from a relevant thought leader, or anything else that you think your audience will appreciate and enjoy.”

Creation: developing and sharing something original

Examples of original content:

  • An article researched and written by you or a member of your team
  • A video filmed and edited by you or a member of your team
  • A customer or client interview
  • Social media posts from your business

Curation: selecting, organizing, and sharing something someone else made

Examples of curated content:

  • Summary blog posts and roundups
  • Lists of tools or tips
  • Posts that link to other people’s content on social media
  • Retweets or shares of others’ social media posts

Creation and curation are not opposites, nor are they mutually exclusive. They exist in a liminal space between states of digital being. They embody the push and pull of invention and instruction in the information age. They…

Sorry, we digress.

Every piece of content entails some original thought (creation) and awareness of external information and perspectives (curation). Even a retweet without additional commentary involves creative decision-making on the part of the person deciding when to push the “retweet” button. 

The key difference between creation and curation begins with your approach to a given topic—and choosing between the two largely depends on how each strategy serves both your long and short-term marketing goals.

Benefits of creating content

1. Helps you establish thought leadership

A good rule of thumb when it comes to creating content is that if you know what you’re talking about—then, by all means, talk about it!

Thought leadership is important in driving conversations around your brand. For example, if you’re the #1 pet hotel in your region, you should be the one answering people’s questions about pup pampering. This in turn can help you reach a wider audience when visitors share your original content with others in their network.

2. Supports your search engine optimization efforts

Original content is the key to small business SEO (and large business SEO, for that matter). The more content you create, and the better your original content, the more traffic you’ll generate—and the higher your chances of making money from that traffic.

It’s a win-win for you and the people you serve. Business owners like ranking higher for keywords on search engine page results because it means more customers and clients. Google likes well-crafted website content because it improves user experience and answers people’s questions. Put them together, and well, it’s a match made in digital heaven.

3. Drives lead generation

Valuable content is the lifeblood of any successful lead generation campaign. After all, people tend to be protective of their personal details (who can blame them?) and aren’t likely to hand it over for just any old piece of marketing material.

Curated content can’t be used as gated assets on your site. In other words, you can’t take what someone else made and ask people to give you their email address or phone number to access it. To collect more information from website visitors and potential leads, you need to create original content that is relevant and delivers value to your audience.

When to create original content

A crucial factor in determining whether to create or curate content is longevity. Most original content should be built to last—meaning your staff’s energy and time should be spent creating evergreen content. In contrast, curated content can address immediate, fleeting demands.  

When it’s not clear which approach is best, consider the “six-week rule”: 

Will this matter in six weeks? 

If not, it’s probably better to curate content around the topic. 

Benefits of curating content

1. Minimizes time and effort

Churning out low-quality content not only hurts your brand’s credibility but can also tank your SEO efforts. That’s why it’s important to take time to properly research and develop content when it’s beyond your subject matter expertise.

However, time is often in short supply for today’s business owners, and spending 11 days researching and writing a single blog post might not be the best use of your (or your team’s) time. In these instances, it’s better to share content from trusted sources and spend a little bit of time contextualizing it for your business. 

2. Builds trust and brand affinity

We all have issues—I do, your parents do, that one grumpy barista at your local coffeehouse definitely does. And your customers do too.

Your audience has plenty of problems that your business alone can’t solve. However, when you provide reliable information concerning pain points relevant to your clients, it builds brand loyalty and helps them see you as a trusted resource for all their needs.

3. Creates community

Small business owners in particular know that successful ventures are built on strong connections. That includes the relationships you foster with other like-minded businesses in your network.

Curating content from other brands and thought leaders is a great way to expand your online community. This not only opens the door for potential professional opportunities, but also creates opportunities for others to share your content in the future!

When to curate content from others

In addition to the reasons listed above, curated content is also a means to quickly share information about a topic in the news or the national conversation. 

Original content often involves multiple stakeholders and multiple rounds of approval—particularly for sensitive, politically-charged topics. This means that by the time it’s finalized, the information may not be as fresh or relevant as it would have been if you had curated rather than created a message. 

The final verdict

With enough time in the day, anything would be possible. We could read every book, binge-watch every show, and learn every language (even Klingon).

We could also devote countless hours to creating award-winning content.

Unfortunately, time is something that none of us—especially business owners—have enough of. That’s why, like most things in life, the most effective content strategies are all about balance.

The bottom line: Taking time to craft high-quality pieces of content can end up generating huge returns for your business. However, when it isn’t worth your time to develop something entirely new, thoughtfully curating content is an effective way to keep your channels active and audience engaged.

For more digital marketing tips, time-saving strategies, free tools, and more, check out our small business resource hub!

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