Alan Belniak asked a followup question on yesterday’s blog post about what sources I read. This is less a question of what I read and more a question of method: where do the sources come from?

Here’s what I mean: everyone starts with the same sources because those are the easiest ones to start with. We all read what I call the mainstream, the places that publish news that’s already news, stories people are already talking about. These are the Mashables, the Next Webs, the Techcrunches of the world. Reading these sources isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it’s the best place to start.

What you need to pay attention to is where they get their information. In many articles, you’ll find a small link of attribution to where they got the news. These are the sources that you need to be paying attention to. These are the sources that did the original research, that found the information. When you find one of these sources in an article, follow the link and subscribe to that source’s blog. In this manner, you’ll build out a blog reader portfolio in three layers: mainstream, specialization, and source.

It’ll take a little while, but as you build up your sources, you’ll have a better sense of where the thought leadership resides. In some cases you will have to go through three or four layers before you get to the best stuff. For example, Mashable every now and again runs an SEO story. They published one recently that was picked up from Marketing Land. Marketing Land’s story came from an individual contributor. That individual contributor follows a source named Bill Slawski, who runs SEO by the Sea:

SEO_by_the_Sea_-_Carlsbad__California_SEO.jpg

Bill’s specialization is reading and understanding patents. That’s his thing, and he is one of the best people to follow if you want what will eventually be breaking news stories about companies like Google. In this example, you should subscribe to Mashable as the mainstream site. You should subscribe to Marketing Land as the intermediary, the specialized news site. Finally, you should subscribe to SEO by the Sea as a source news site.

As I mentioned in the video yesterday, if you are reading it in Mashable, it is probably too late for the news item to be a competitive advantage. Don’t just lazily read the mainstream news sites. Click, investigate, and dig until you find the real story from the expert sources. That’s how you’ll build out a blog reader feed that is world-class and a true competitive advantage. Know long before your competitors know what is going to happen.


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