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How To Start An Aggregator Blog

No time to write articles? A content or news aggregator blog might work for you

You don’t necessarily have to write a lot of original content to be a blogger.

There are many popular blogs and news sites that work as a content curator and gain readers by sharing content. The key to success is to share great content that is niche targeted to a specific subject or service.

Before I explain how you can set up your own aggregated site, here are a few examples to show you how it can work.

The most well-known aggregation websites are news aggregator services.

You probably read Google News from time to time to check the latest news. It is a perfect example of aggregation of trusted sources at work.

Google News

Google scoops up articles from news organizations such as The New York Times, The Guardian and The Washington Post among hundreds of other news sources.

Then it categorises popular news items into top stories or breaking news, and then into different news topics or sub-topics.

As an aside, it is a pity that Google Reader has been discontinued because I enjoyed using it to read the news.

The facility to use RSS as a feed reader has disappeared on all browsers, so you need to use a news app now for anything similar to the old RSS news reader.

The Drudge Report is another example of aggregated content. It is not the best looking site, but it has been around for a long time and gets a lot of traffic.

Drudge Report

But it is not just news. PopURLs is a site that pulls content from a variety of sources including YouTube, Flickr and social media. It even aggregates (again) Google News.

There are hundreds of sources on its site, and for an aggregator, it has a very slick user interface.

Popurls

Lastly, there is Blog Engage. It is a text-based blog that gathers web content from thousands of blogs.

It is a site that is a win-win. Bloggers get more traffic, and Blog Engage makes money from advertising.

Blog Engage

How can you start a content aggregator site?

You can start by building site content manually. When you do this, it is called curated content.

An excellent example of a curated site is The Passive Voice. The Passive Guy post articles about all things publishing.

All you need to do is grab a small piece of an article and perhaps its image as well, and post it (always) with a link through to the original article.

Here is an example of creating a curated post using an article from Publishers Weekly.

Books for Emerging Readers

Publishers discuss the unsung value of early chapter books in fostering literacy

publishers weekly

Ask educators or editors, or even some parents, what constitutes the trickiest writing assignment in children’s literature, and a lot of them will say the same thing: the humble chapter book.

“I think it is perhaps the hardest category to write for, because you are writing for kids who are just learning to read on their own, but it’s incredibly important to create a book that will encourage them,” says Erica Finkel, who edits Ellen Potter and Felicita Sala’s Big Foot and Little Foot series at Abrams. Continue reading here.

You can do this on any blogging platform, even on free sites such as Blogger, Tumblr or free WordPress.

To build a multiple source blog, you will need a WordPress self-hosted site

The advantage of a self-hosted site is that you can automate the process of creating article snippets and links and even posts by using a site’s RSS feed and a plugin.

If you are using a premium site on wordpress.com, there might be plugins available for you, but you will need to check.

When I first started Just Publishing Advice, it was part of my personal site, and I used this technique to set it up as a news feed for publishing news.

By luck, I was able to find a screenshot of the early days of my site by using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

JPA aggregated news

It ran very happily for a couple of years, automatically posting fresh news every day from a handful of sources. But in the end, I decided to change tack and build Just Publishing by writing original content.

But at least you can be reassured that I know how content aggregation works.

To create an automated, or semi-automated site you will need to use a premium plugin. I used the WP RSS Aggregator plugin.

I can vouch for how well it worked. I also have to add that I have no affiliation, so I am offering my opinion as a user only.

There is a free version that only publishes text snippets.

If you want to add images, set up individual posts and style your site’s aggregation, you will need to buy premium add-ons.

I used the Excerpts & Thumbnails add-on, and it worked perfectly for me for more than two years.

To give you a better idea of what you can do, here is a short video using the Feed to Post add-on.

There are so many ways you can use a simple RSS feed to create stunning content on your blog.

So what’s the big deal with setting up as a content aggregator?

There are a few reasons why this type of blog may suit you.

One is that you do not have time to write original content. I know full well how time-consuming this can be.

Second is that you would like to find a way to make a passive income. Many news aggregators make a nice monthly income from Google Adsense and other forms of advertising, so perhaps it might be an option for you.

Third, you would like to become an online influencer on a certain topic. Attracting comments and leveraging social media can work for any subject such as cooking, gardening, politics, baby care or even self-publishing.

It will take time to build a great looking site. But after that, it is only a matter of using search engines to find the type of content you want, and you can add a new post very quickly.

Summary

Is an aggregated site cheating?

No, not at all. It is a win-win for you and the content creators you add to your site.

If you can attract reasonable traffic, you will be giving the original content owner a backlink to their site that will help their SEO ranking and referral site visits.

For you, you can hope to build your advertising earnings.

However, like any new blog, you should expect that it will take some time to establish and to attract enough daily visitors to make it profitable.

Building your social network with Facebook and Twitter is often the quickest way to do this.

It is not an option for everyone. But done well, it is a viable and lucrative means of blogging.

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