As a newsletter writer, I’m always looking for new resources to share with my readers.
I consume a lot of content and have exposure to a lot of tools and resources most creators don’t, and being able to curate and share the best of it is one of my favourite parts of writing both this newsletter, as well as my Creative Wayfinding Newsletter.
Curating these resources isn’t easy, however.
Specifically, the challenge is in sifting through the mass of articles, podcasts, tools, social posts, videos, etc., and deciding what’s worth sharing.
On a given week, I probably bookmark 50–100 new resources for potential sharing. Of those, I share 5–8 a week between my newsletters.
In thinking about how exactly I decide what to recommend, I’ve realized I follow a simple subconscious process.
In short, every resource I share must check the following boxes:
✅ It’s relevant to my audience
✅ It’s useful to my audience
✅ It’s original/novel/unique/fresh
✅ It feels legitimate, worthy of time, attention, and trust
I think of this process as the Recommendation Squeeze.
It looks something like this.
There’s a huge (even overwhelming) amount lot of content out there that’s relevant to me and my audience. A good portion of that is also genuinely useful.
But then comes the squeeze.
Because despite being relevant and useful, not much of that content is distinctly and unmistakably original.
Of the content that is, the field is further narrowed by the fact that many relevant, useful, original resources & content lack an immediate sense of legitimacy.
This lack of legitimacy most often has to do with amateur-looking design—on the website, podcast cover art, social media graphics, and more.
And as stupid as it sounds, a lack of immediate legitimacy will keep me from sharing an otherwise fantastic resource that I know will help my audience.
At first glance, this might seem like one newsletter writer’s idiosyncratic curation process.
Look closer, however, and you’ll see that this is the same process we all use to make recommendations about anything and everything.
The reality is that the things we recommend influence other people’s perceptions of us.
The more recommendations we make that the person on the receiving end finds useful, the more they trust our judgment, and the closer they listen to us in the future.
And vice versa.
Which means if you want your listeners, niche curators, and anyone else to share your show, you need to be sure your show makes them look good.
This starts with your website, cover art, and title.
These are the elements of your packaging that give a potential listener their first impression—both of your show and the referrer’s judgment.
I regularly get pitched podcasts to promote that have relevant, useful, original content… but have cover art that I feel would reflect poorly on my taste or require a lengthy justification and assurance that the content is worth trying out.
And so I pass.
There’s no shortage of incredible content out there after all that checks all four of the boxes.
It sounds harsh.
And in a way it is.
But this is what you’re up against as a creator.
Word of mouth can (and in the long run, will) be one of your biggest listener acquisition channels.
But if you want to tap into it, your show needs to pass the Recommendation Squeeze test.