Jane Steen is a freelance writer who lives in the Chicago suburbs. She’s prepared a wonderful post for us about the intriguing content-sharing site, Scoop.It – Enjoy!
Take a blog reader, mix in Pinterest, add a dash of paper.li and a pinch of Twitter. This is Scoop.It! — a little-known content sharing site that may be just what a writer needs to share knowledge and increase visibility. Think of it as paper.li with more user control, a simpler interface for visitors, and no ads. Here’s my Scoop.It! dashboard:
Why share content?
Like many writers, I wade through a pile of blog posts daily and frequently tweet links to useful information. Sharing content (via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or any other social network) has the following advantages for a writer:
- You become more visible to other social networking users. The more often they see your name, the more likely they are to notice your book among the many others on offer.
- You give back to the online community that surrounds you.
- You have more on your Twitter timeline than just tweets about yourself and your books.
- You show others what interests you and in which areas you are building up expertise.
The disadvantages of timeline-based content sharing
I realized my Twitter links were quickly buried in my timeline, never to be seen again. I also collect information on my favorite topics in Evernote and share them in Google Reader, but these products are primarily geared toward personal consumption, not sharing. Pinterest, with its arrangement into topical “boards,” is great, but is oriented toward sharing visual information, not articles.
The Scoop.It! edge
The top advantage of Scoop.It! is that it aggregates information (over which you have 100% control) into a clean interface that its developers describe as a “magazine” format. To me it looks like an exceptionally clean blog reader crossed with Pinterest’s useful topical format. Other advantages are:
- No ads on either the user or the public end.
- A simple, fairly intuitive interface.
- Content is suggested to you but not included automatically. You have complete control over what goes into your topic.
- Posts can be promoted to the top spot and held there. This is useful if you blog on a particular topic and would like your latest blog post to be prominent.
- Social networking is built in (although, as Scoop.It! is not yet widely adopted, there are not enough users for me to judge how useful that might be).
The disadvantages of Scoop.It!
The major drawback of Scoop.It! is the pricing. To take advantage of the full set of features you are expected to pay a whopping $79/month, which to my mind is a corporate rate. And for that price you still only get 15 topics. $12/month gets you more features and 10 topics, but that’s still a lot for most writers.
Scoop.It!’s second problem, low adoption rates by social networking users, may well be related to the pricing issue, and holds Scoop.It! back from reaching the critical mass it needs to take its proper place in the social media world. By comparison, the widely adopted content aggregator Evernote, which offers a wide array of features and tie-ins to other useful programs, is $45/year for the premium version.
The free version of Scoop.It! is still worth it
Scoop.It! has some outstanding benefits for a writer who’d like to share content frequently on a particular topic. The free version gives you five topics, so choose carefully (you can delete a topic if it’s not gaining momentum and try again). My topics have changed over time, but right now the two I post to most frequently are:
The Writer’s Resource Cupboard, into which I post articles that help writers find relevant information and how-tos.
History Curiosity, in which I collect particularly good articles on obscure historical topics that may come in useful in my (or your) writing.
Signing up on Scoop.It! is remarkably easy. You use your Twitter or Facebook login, or simply enter your basic details (name, email and password) to get started. Then create a topic or two; limited customization of colors, etc. is possible. The broader your topic is, the more likely you will be posting content to it frequently, so look for topics that have mileage. It might be useful to spend a few minutes looking at what other users are doing before you decide. Here’s a screenshot from my Mac:
The next step is to install the Scoop.It! bookmarklet in your bookmarks toolbar; this is a drag-and-drop installation so it only takes a second. The bookmarklet opens up an easy-to-use interface where you can customize the title, add a few introductory words or accept the automatically generated introduction (note: the free version does not let you format your introduction), and decide how you want to share the post. I generally opt for Twitter, as I find Twitter users often follow the link to my Scoop.It! topic and then stick around to explore it.
The numbers game
After the first few posts, Scoop.It! topics receive a Klout-style rating depending on the number of times the topic is viewed. In conjunction with the very simple analytics offered with the free version, you can see if your topic is attracting any attention. The screenshot to the left shows how my Writer’s Resource Cupboard topic has done!
You can follow other Scoop.It! users; their posts show up on your dashboard in an easily scannable format and are also emailed to you.
If this sounds complicated, it’s not.
This truly is one of the simpler content collection/sharing sites around.
I recommend you give it a try!
Jane recently published her historical suspense novel,
The House of Closed Doors (the first in a series) on Kindle:
In Nell Lillington’s small Midwestern town of the 1870s, marriage is the obvious fate of a young woman of some social standing. Yet Nell is determined to elude the duties and restrictions of matrimony. So when she finds herself pregnant at the age of 17, she refuses to divulge the name of the father. Nell’s stepfather Hiram sends Nell to live at the Poor Farm of which he is a governor, to await the day when her baby can be discreetly adopted. Nell is ready to go along with Hiram’s plans until an unused padded cell is opened and two small bodies fall out…
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