How to find interesting content online
I’ve been a book worm pretty much all my life thanks to my mom’s influence, who happens to be a Literature grad and an Editor by profession. I’ve transitioned from fiction to non-fiction over the years, but in the recent past, I’ve been reading a lot of content online. My reading material covers blogs, short ebooks, guides, journals and so on.
I still love reading books, but I find material online to be quite appealing too. For one thing, they’re way easier to digest in one sitting and I can skim through it and then decide if I want to read it properly or not. Plus, not everyone who has something worth saying writes a book on it – maintaining a blog or a podcast is way easier.
I was recently asked how I find interesting content online and I thought I’d share some ideas on that. I’ve started off with my main sources of content, followed by a list of tips that’ll help you find interesting stuff online.
This is my #1 source of interesting content and articles. Twitter lets you create lists of users (you needn’t be following them) which can be private or public. The list I use most frequently is one I called “Interesting Tweeple” (not the best name in the world, I admit) and I’ve added users whom I consider thought leaders. This includes journalists, CEOs, bloggers, tech people and so on. Other advantages of this list aside, what’s great is that these users share a lot of links and articles on a daily basis. And because I’ve deliberately chosen the people in the list, I know that the content they’ll share will be useful or interesting to me.
Here’s how you can add people to Twitter lists: https://goo.gl/9hzslX
Publishers on Facebook
Facebook gets a lot of flack for being a waste of time, but I’ve found it to be quite useful. Publishers across the world get a lot of traffic from platforms like Facebook, which encourages people to share their work here. I make use of this by following interesting pages (ranging from Vox and Reddit to Harvard Business Review and Brain Pickings) and saving links on my feed I find interesting.
Subscriptions and Feeds
Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet signing up for different newsletters which send me great content right to my inbox. I’ve subscribed to various sites and blogs, many of which send me a weekly update on the new content posted that week. A lot of them are also bloggers who promote other people’s work so I get to know of even more sites through this.
I also follow some sites using apps like Feedly that helps you to organise and read content from the web. I don’t use this too heavily (since I’m more used to the other methods) but it can be quite useful to keep track of your favourite sites in one place.
That’s pretty much it! All sources combined, I think I go through about 50-80 articles/videos/podcasts every week. As you can imagine, sometimes that can be overwhelming. That’s why I have a few tips to share to keep everything under control and make the most of the content you find online:
- Unfollow/unsubscribe like it’s nobody’s business: Since I subscribe to a LOT of newsletters, I unsubscribe from things I don’t find relevant anymore, quite often. When I sign up for a new site, I give it about 2-3 emails to see if it’s for me or not. If I don’t do this, my inbox becomes unmanageable and frankly, quite daunting to wade through. So my advice would be to experiment with newsletters, but make it a point to move on if it’s not your cup of tea. If you’re past the point where you can check these manually, you can use Unroll.Me to unsubscribe from multiple sites in one go. The same strategy can be used for Facebook pages and Twitter users.
- Save for later: When you’re scrolling through your social media lists and feeds, you probably won’t have time to read everything right then and there. Thankfully, we can save articles/links/videos for later on almost any platform. You can favourite links on Twitter to curate them, save links on Facebook and bookmark posts on Medium. You can even use an app like Pocket to “download” articles in one place and read them when you’re offline! (Goodbye, boring Metro rides!)
- Share good content with your networks: Whenever I come across an article I think other people would enjoy, I make it a point to share it, either to specific people or simply on my social media timelines. It’s a great way to pass interesting content around and also to keep in touch with people. (I don’t know about you, but when someone shares something with me by saying “Hey, this reminded me of you” or “Thought you’d like this link”, it makes me feel good!)
- Customise your feed: When it comes to platforms like Facebook or Quora, you might think that the links and articles that show up on your feed are random. Well, you can make it more likely for the feed to contain things that YOU like by saving articles, unfollowing irrelevant pages, muting irrelevant threads, liking/upvoting posts that are interesting and asking Facebook to stop showing you certain types of posts. These deliberate moves will make your feed more customised to what you like.
- Send a thank you email to the author: When I wrote for DU Beat, one of my favourite moments was when 12 people (complete strangers) emailed me letting me know that they had found my article useful – it made my day! Since then, I’ve made it a point to email the authors of articles I find particularly useful/touching and thank them for writing it. (Tweets work well here too!)
What are some of your favourite sources of content online? Let me know in the comments below.