If you really throw yourself into content creation, each piece that you create will represent a sizable investment of time and creative energy. Naturally, you’ll want to maximize the return on your investment. Reusing content can help you do that.
It can also help drive traffic to your site, broaden your reach, and give you a chance to exercise your creative powers.
Revamping and Repurposing
There are many ways of reusing content, but they fall mainly into two categories—revamping and repurposing. Niti Shah at Hubspot makes the distinction clear in The Purpose of Repurposing Content:
- Revamping content means updating it to attract more people from the same market segment targeted by the original piece
- Repurposing content means changing its format or modifying it to attract people from different audiences
Following Niti’s distinction, we’ll first consider various methods of revamping existing content.
Then we’ll consider several methods for repurposing content.
Finding Your Best Work
Whatever method you use for reusing content, you should focus on your best work. There’s no point in reworking pieces that didn’t do well in the first place.
Begin by exploring your existing content to find what your audience has favored. Review your analytics, drilling down to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
Then sort by Pageview to see which of your work has performed best. Focus on those pieces.
You can also review your social media analytics to see which pieces got the most likes and shares.
Even evergreen content requires updating from time to time. In fact, there are many potential reasons you might want to bring an old piece up to date. For example:
- New facts or statistics become available.
- References, illustrations, or photographs are dated.
- Links are broken.
- Your knowledge of a subject has grown.
- New keyword targeting opportunities have appeared.
Updating facts, statistics, references, illustrations, and photographs keep your content looking fresh. Freshness is important in its own right. You don’t want your brand to look out of date.
Some content management systems also let you bring up the date of publication, which will make your SERP entry more attractive. You can also manually submit a URL through the Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools (or both) to prompt the search engines to reindex your content.
Fixing Broken Links
Broken links can lower your rankings, so you should fix them as soon as they appear. A plugin like Broken Link Checker can automatically check for broken links and send you email alerts whenever one occurs.
Sharing Your Reasons for Updating
Updating a post because your knowledge has grown or your perspective has changed also has the advantage of showing you to be a thoughtful blogger, one who is willing to reflect on a topic and learn from experience.
I recommend being candid about your reasons for updating content. Be frank about where your opinion has changed. You have an opportunity to boost your credibility and spark some engagement with your audience. You should also submit a post for reindexing whenever you perform a substantive rewrite.
In some cases, you may want to revisit your keyword targeting. Search volumes rise and fall over time, and your rewrites may also make it desirable to rethink your keyword choices.
You can check the search volumes for your keywords over time with Google Trends. If your content is targeted for a specific location, check the trends in that location while you are at it. See 7. Perform Competitive Research for more information on this technique.
If a declining volume for your keyword means fewer people are seeing your content, retarget it with an alternate search term. Make adjustments to your headings, body text, and alt text as necessary. If you change the URL, use a 301 redirect to avoid breaking existing inbound links.
Naturally, you should also resubmit your content for reindexing whenever you change keywords.
Repurposing content, as we discussed previously, means changing its format or modifying it to attract people from different audiences. Repurposing content almost always means recasting it in a different form.
There are many ways to repurpose content, including:
- Starting Small and Building Up
- Breaking Down Complex Media into Simpler Forms
- Spinning Off New Posts from Existing Ones
- Creating a Presentation
- Building Infographics
- Building Pinterest Instructographics
- Creating an Email Series
- Creating an Ebook
- Writing a Guest Post on Another Blog
- Creating a Podcast or Video Series
- Creating a Webinar
You can produce large signature pieces by starting small and building up—that is, by assembling small pieces into a larger work. For example, you can combine separate blog posts into a multichapter book like this one. Alternately, you could use those separate blog posts to create an ebook or an email campaign.
You can plan to produce the larger work from the outset by exploring your topic through a series of small pieces, which you later consolidate into a long-form work. You can also realize that large masterpiece in retrospect by combing through previous blog posts and assembling them.
The basic functionality you require is already built into WordPress. By assigning your posts to tags, categories, or both, you can group and link related posts. By placing links to tags or categories at the foot of each post or in a sidebar, you can drive traffic to related posts, which will boost metrics like pages per session and time on site.
Long-form content can work well at either the Discovery or Consideration stages of your funnel. If your content is general and informational in nature, it is suitable for Discovery. If it focuses on your product or service in particular, it is suitable for the Consideration stage.
Another way to revamp content is to start with complex media and break it down into simpler forms. I learned this approach from Jeff Zwier, whose excellent webinar, A Practical Approach to Automating Corporate Communications, is available from the IABC Academy.
Jeff advises us to work initially in video, then extract simpler forms. Let’s say you want to profile someone, such as the executive director or board member at a nonprofit, or a key executive at a business. Traditionally, you would interview that person, using an audio recording or pen-and-paper notes to capture the highlights of your exchange. Then you would write an article or blog post, supplementing it with photos of your subject.
Jeff’s method is to capture the original interview on video. No fancy equipment is required—a regular smartphone and tripod will do, and if you carefully position your subject, existing light sources will provide all the illumination you need. You can then put away your notepad and concentrate on the conversation with your interviewee.
You can use the resulting video in a number of ways:
- Edit the video into a polished film, excerpting shorter clips as desired. If video editing is not your forte, hire an editor on Fiverr.
- Capture still photographs from the video.
- Use the audio as source material for a podcast.
- Transcribe the text, using a service such as Rev. You can use the transcription as source material for a Q&A or an entirely different article. Rev can also provide closed captions (subtitles) in English or a foreign language.
By breaking down complex media into simpler forms, you maximize your initial content investment, spinning off many pieces from a single video. With creativity and imagination, you can build up a rich content stream without spending great amounts of time or money. The SEO gains are also considerable.
Text, audio, and video can all function at any stage of your funnel, depending on the questions they address.
Once you finish a blog post, you have several opportunities for reuse. Spinning off fresh posts offers several possibilities. This technique is especially useful with listicles—content organized in a list structure, usually with an abbreviated description for each entry.
Each listicle entry can serve as the seed for a new, extended post. For example, if you have a listicle post on different ways to repurpose content (like this one), you could turn each entry into an in-depth article. Alternately, you could pull excerpts from several different posts into a broad overview of a topic, with links back to the individual posts for an SEO boost.
Even full-length articles can spin off new treatments of your topic. No blog post, on its own, can be considered an exhaustive treatment of a subject. There’s always another angle to cover, a new fact to present, or a new way to engage your audience—or a different audience. Be alert to these possibilities, and take advantage of them whenever they add value to your marketing funnel.
Because they’re easily consumed, blog posts and listicles work well in the Discovery stage of your funnel.
Every post can serve as source material for a speaking engagement. Presenting your ideas to a real-life audience gives you great opportunities to hone your material and gain broader exposure.
If your post is rich in graphics or data, that’s even better, because these things provide excellent source material for slide decks. Add some pullquotes and pithy, actionable advice, and you have the basis for a memorable interaction with a live audience.
Presentations work well in the Discovery or Consideration stages of your funnel.
Graphic- and data-rich posts are also ideal for repurposing as infographics. This tactic pulls out and highlights data that some visitors might have trouble accessing in a text-heavy post. Add splashy colors and eye-catching design, and you have a complete new artifact.
Infographics are eye-catching and easily consumed, so they work well at the Discovery stage of your funnel.
Usually, my inner curmudgeon rises up at a word like instructographic, but the idea is so useful that I think I’ll adopt this new term. Besides, I already gave infographic a pass.
Some ideas lend themselves to visual presentation. I’m pretty dazzled by the examples Laura Varley includes in The Difference Between Infographics, Instructographics and Data Visualisations.
In my technical communication career, I diagrammed various gizmos to illustrate the points I was discussing in a procedure. Like many technical writers, I followed a strictly functional approach, which overlooks values like brand management and user experience. That’s a shame, because these things are integral to every organization’s strategy. They also give communicators a chance to exercise their creative powers.
Instructographics are eye-catching and easily consumed, so they work well at the Discovery stage of your funnel.
A variation on Starting Small and Building Up, in this method, you package a collection of related posts as a drip campaign, which you deliver directly to a prospect’s inbox. It’s a classic technique in content marketing, offering a small, free gift, or lead magnet, in exchange for a prospect’s contact information.
As long as you handle the opt-in correctly, building out your list in this way keeps you in compliance with the laws of your jurisdiction. Each email in the series—which you can deliver on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis—provides you with a chance to deepen your relationship.
Naturally, each email in your drip campaign should contain links for sharing on social media.
With the repeated exposure they provide, drip campaigns are well suited to the Consideration stage of your funnel.
You can also create a lead magnet by combining a series of blog posts into an ebook. To add value, make sure that the sum is greater than its parts by embellishing the individual posts with an intro and conclusion, fresh examples, new graphics, and a call to action. Over at Hubspot, Rachel Leist has written an excellent primer on the topic in Maximize Your Marketing: How to Easily Turn Blog Posts Into an Ebook.
A number of tools can help you with the conversion process, and many of them are free. Beacon, Bloxp, and Designrr are just a few examples. Many of these tools also provide templates, free stock images, and other design aids. Designrr can also convert your posts into other forms, such as videos, podcasts, show notes, and flip books.
As a type of long-form content, ebooks can work well at either the Discovery or Consideration stages of your funnel. If your ebook is general and informational in nature, it is suitable for Discovery. If it focuses on your product or service in particular, it is suitable for the Consideration stage.
Guest posting on another blog is a good way to build relationships, gain exposure to new audiences, drive traffic to your own site, and gain backlinks. You might even pick up some freelance work through your guest posts.
Kristi begins by setting goals for her guest posting, which are like the ones we just touched on in the preceding paragraph. She then lays out a comprehensive set of tactics for finding guest post opportunities, choosing the opportunities best aligned with her own strategy, pitching her ideas to the blog owner, writing a bio, and tracking her results. If you’re interested in guest blogging, I recommend her guide.
Ramsay Taplin puts forth some excellent ideas in his Copyblogger guest post 7 Crucial Tactics for Writing a Wildly Successful Guest Post. Ramsay treats his guest posts as an extension of his own marketing funnel. “Just like filling up your car with petrol,” he tells us, “you need to put fuel in the gas tank, not pour it all over the engine. Use a content funnel to direct the flow of traffic toward your desired outcome or target.”
How does Ramsay put this advice into action? He carefully selects the link targets he places in his author’s bio so that he drives visitors towards specific pages on his site, not just the home page. He engages influencers by mentioning prominent writers in his niche. He follows up with “sister posts” on related topics. He carefully composes the anchor text for his backlinks, choosing the specific keywords for which he wants to rank. He responds to every comment on a guest post, sometimes using a comment as a springboard for a new post.
Blogs, podcasts, and videos are three related methods of putting an idea across. Many people favor one of these forms and rarely, if ever, try to work in any other medium, but you can develop these three content types in parallel and use them in combination to reach your objectives.
A podcast is a blog in audio form, with each episode corresponding to a post. A video log, or vlog, is a blog in video form, with each episode corresponding to a post.
You can easily transform a blog post into a script and use it as the basis for a video log post. Or, if you prefer, you could start in video, as we mentioned in 2. Breaking Complex Media Down into Simpler Forms, and extract the blog text from the finished video. It all depends on how you like to work. Whether you start with text and proceed to video, or work the other way around, the audio will fall into your hands for free as an intermediate format.
Most marketers place podcasts—and by extension, video logs—at the Discovery stage of the funnel, but I think they can work equally well at Consideration. If someone is willing to give you 22 minutes of their time, they are indicating substantial interest in you. So go ahead and tell them something about your organization and what it has to offer. Just be subtle about it, and make sure the bulk of your podcast or video addresses some other topic than you and your organization. Content marketing works because it avoids obsessive self-promotion. Put your listeners and viewers in first place.
In some cases, a webinar can be a useful addition to your funnel. You can create one on a tight budget, and if the topic is evergreen, your webinar can live on in your content feed for a good long while. Webinars also give you the opportunity to associate a human face and voice with your brand, and there is no better vehicle for educating an audience.
Naturally, you should begin planning by focussing on your objectives, since a clear choice at this stage will help you achieve optimal results. Whether it’s brand awareness, engagement, or growing your email list, being purposeful about your objective will help you achieve the best results.
Go Forth and Reuse
There you have it, five reasons for revamping content and a near-dozen methods for repurposing it.
Whichever you choose, reusing content provides you with many opportunities to drive traffic, broaden your reach, and be creative.
So go forth and reuse.
What Is Content Marketing?
Setting Goals, Objectives, and Metrics
Optimizing Content for Your Audience
How to Do Keyword Research
Promoting Your Content
How to Create a Content Calendar