As your litmus test, think of a museum curator. They are combining some unique things with some common things, adding some stories and explanations for their visitors concerning why what they are looking at is interesting. For example, a musueum may have a map (not unique content but conveniently placed where you might want to see it, and perhaps with some highlighted areas), some different varieties of arrowheads with some information about each type (these can be found in many museums, but perhaps the way they are grouped tells a story about how the people who used them or the times when they were used), maybe a specific arrowhead that was used to kill a famous person (unique – no other museum has this exact arrowhead), a video that tells about the civil war (the same video may be used in other museums but it is high quality and relevant to the the focus of this part of the museum) and a live presentation that is done twice a week that is focused on a topic that the museum curator is an expert in (unique expert content). See how the curator has combined a wide variety of items and content to create a unique experience for their audience – that is what you are doing with your website. Not everything is unique content, but the experience for the visitor is unique.
Here are some additional thoughts on curation:
Curation is not content scraping – it takes work and thought and creativity. You may only be adding a 2 sentencece summary, or even just a headline (like DrudgeReport), but it must reflect your style, persoanlity and the purpose of your site.
Curation is not content theft – you are adding value to others content and giving credit to the author if the content.
Curation is not content spinning – you may provide a summy, but you will usually be linking to the original content not just rewording it.
Curation is not automated – it can be simplified and made easier with tools, but it cannot be automated
Useful ways to use content curation:
News – collect news that would be of interest to your readers, and then you explain why ot is inteeresting or valuable. Add your opinions, speculation about what it may mean for the future, changes your readers may need to consider, etc.
Resource Links – this is not link swaps, but a list of the best sites, pages, articles that you can find around topics that your readers would be interested in. This takes a bit of thought in your planning because in general it would be better to write your own original, high-quality content for your site so that you are not sending peope away, but if you create useful resource pages people will often bookmark and share that type of page.
Reviews – if you cannot do your own product review, you can collect or curate the most valuable reviews you can find on the web.
Videos – videos are easy to curate in WordPress without losing people because you can embed the youtuibe videos on yoursite. So find the best or most interesting videos around your topic, and add a good headline and summary above the video. You just don’t want to usually embed a video from a competitor or that has ads for a competitor.
Tutorials – until you create your own tutorials for your site, you can link to the good ones you find and tell your readers about them, especially if they are from people who are experts but not competitors or heavily monetizing their content. So you might find a good video or document that explains exactly how to do something, and it is from a forum or personal blog. In these cases, sometimes you may want to contact the author and ask if you can add it directly to your site or write an updated or customized version for your site. This is also curation.
“Best Of??? or “Worst Of??? awards or lists – people love these and this is a valuable type of curation.