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How To Use Content Curation To Build A Passionate Audience Before You Launch

Launching a startup with an existing audience is an unfair advantage.

It’s like giving one racer a 50m head start in a 100m sprint.

What if I told you: this is an advantage you can have as well?

You’d likely want to hear how…

Luckily for you, in this blog post – that’s exactly what I’m going to share. I’m going to talk about an approach that many startups and founders have used to build an audience before they actually launched.

The approach is known amongst marketers as content curation. Content curation is the act of finding great content by sifting through the noise and delivering it back to your target audience. It could be curating great content on Twitter and building an audience in the form of followers (Crate helps with this) or it could be curating content for a handful of subscribers on an email list.

As an avid reader and curator, I’ve learned a lot of the growing pains that come with building a newsletter and following from curation efforts. In this blog post, I’m going to share some of these insights and hope you can apply them to your approach to marketing before you launch so you can have an unfair advantage that gives you a head start.

 Be Laser Focused With Your Targeting


When Dave McClure said, Niche to Win, the concept has meaning in everything from startups to content marketing. It’s the idea of focusing on a singular audience and delivering value to them unapologetically. He writes:

Startups are more likely to find product/market fit by narrowing their target demographic, understanding customer needs/benefit better, and building more focused & differentiated products along with more specific marketing messages that are better tuned to those audiences

Too often do I run into marketers who are creating content for a broad audience resulting in them missing out on establishing any deep relationships with their target audience. You need to think about exactly who it is you want to target, understand their motivations, problems and the types of resources they’re looking for on a regular basis.

When you look at people like Marie Forleo or startups like Bevel, while what they offer each of their audiences is very different (content and shaving products) – the one thing they do very well is focus. Marie is committed to female entrepreneurs and Bevel is committed to offering people of color an excellent product experience.

Another great example of focus is found in the SaaStr Newsletter by Jason Lemkin. As you may have guessed from the title, it’s a newsletter all about SaaS. Rather than creating a newsletter that targeted any and every startup – he’s been able to build a quality subscriber base of SaaS entrepreneurs and professionals because of his laser focus in adding value through both creating and curation.

Establish An Editorial Standard

Curating great content is like writing a great song.

It’s not just the words you say that make a difference; it’s the words you decide to leave out.

People subscribe to newsletters to gain insight into things that they may not have found on their own. A newsletter that shares the same content as every other newsletter is a newsletter that will eventually be ignored and find subscribers falling off in terms of engagement and subscriptions. That’s why in Jason’s description of his newsletter he explains:

There’s not much point in linking to great SaaS content from Mark Suster or Tomasz Tungz or David Cummingsor David Skok … if you’re reading SaaStr, you’re already reading their great stuff.  But we’ll highlight uniquely great insights you might not see otherwise.

One of the best examples of a company that leveraged curation to build a raving audience is Mattermark. Boasting more than 80,000 subscribers, their team has an impressive set of editorial guidelines from a content curation perspective. One of their rules for curation is that if the team cannot read the article in full, it gets left behind and doesn’t get featured.

Like Omar said, you’ve gotta have a code.

Here are a few places you can go to find content for your curation efforts:

  • RSS Feeds that are linked to resources your audience would enjoy
  • Content curation software like Crate, Pinterest and Nuzzel
  • Following people on Twitter who share relevant content
  • Subscribing to other newsletters that deliver value

Maintain Consistency In Your Efforts


 Consistency builds familiarity. Familiarity builds a relationship.

If you can be consistent in your content curation efforts, people will look forward to the content you send them and actively look forward to receiving your updates. You want your audience to get excited when the clock strikes 2:30 on Wednesday because they know that your content is coming. In fact, you want your audience to get upset when you forget to send your newsletter on time. That’s the goal.

You want to create a habit within your audience’s daily, weekly, monthly chaos. For the first few weeks, do a bit of testing around when your first few email subscribers are likely to open your emails and use the optimal time as a benchmark moving forward.

Leverage Various Networks To Drive Awareness

If you’re curating content through an email newsletter like Benedict Evans of A16z, take a page out of his book and promote the content on channels like Twitter as well. If you’re curating content in a newsletter, you can also set up most services to automatically tweet or share on Facebook when you press send. Twitter Cards make it easy to acquire subscriptions:

Benedict Evans

But don’t just share once published. Be willing to hustle like Ryan Hoover did telling people to sign up for his newsletter after they upvoted products on ProductHunt:

Don’t just limit yourself to a single platform and cross your fingers that it will work. You need to promote your efforts to your target audience across other channels where they spend time.

If you’re creating a newsletter all about the latest insights surrounding artificial intelligence, you’re going to want to share the findings with sites where people interested in this topic will spend time. Whether it’s uploading a link to Hacker News or sharing it directly in subreddits and Facebook groups talking about futurology and AI – there are plenty of opportunities for promotion. Here are a couple of my favorite content distribution tactics.


Beyond content curation, creating content can give you an unfair advantage over your competitors as well.

It’s important to do everything in your power to set startup and business up for success. To increase the likelihood that you will be successful, build a raving audience that loves you before you launch.

What other tactics have you seen brands and startups take to build a bit of buzz and love surrounding their projects before launching?