What Was Old is New Again: The Art of Repurposing Content


What Was Old is New Again: The Art of Repurposing Content

To create something means to invest time, effort, talent, and a whole lot of other aspects of your personality in generating a product that would serve as a vessel for expressing yourself. Whether you’ve decided to take up painting, sculpting, or writing, the creative process definitely requires concentration and focus… and sometimes, it takes a lot out of you, much more than you’d initially expected.

Artsy types have different terms for it. Painters attribute it to the absence of a muse, depression, or a lack of inspiration, writers call it “writer’s block” or “blank page syndrome,” and other creatives just call it “creative block.”

Actually, even I have trouble with writing new blog posts sometimes. I mean, there’s only so much you can do in a day, right? After all of the social media consulting, management planning and monitoring across various social media channels that I do regularly, what should ideally be a simple process of collecting all my thoughts and organizing them in an informative (and hopefully entertaining!) blog post quickly turns into hours of me alternating between staring at the empty word document on my computer screen and burying my face in my hands.

Luckily, no one ever said anything about having to start from scratch all the time. (Oh, and if someone did, maybe you could share this article with them!)

For people who work in the field of content marketing, the ability to repurpose content — which basically means taking old content and switching it up somehow to create something original; think of it as sort of dressing up old content in new clothes — is a valuable skill that helps them focus on other urgent tasks while keeping their sanity intact.

The Purpose of Repurposing

Yes, even the best writers understand the value of repurposing content. It’s not that they’ve run out of things to say, or that they have no concrete idea of where to take their content strategy next. Quite the contrary – being able to repurpose your content means that you have a good grasp of what you’ve written, so much that you’re not afraid to play around with it a bit and find more inspired ways to elaborate on some items and give more focus on others.

There are a number of reasons why content marketing folks repurpose content.

  • To save time. The main reason we repurpose content is that it saves time. Repurposing is a content creation shortcut. Creating your own content takes a great deal of time, and repurposing allows you to get more mileage out of the content you’ve created.
  • To make the most out of what’s already there. Think about it – when you research about a specific subject, you don’t really get to put in all of the information you find, right? That leaves a ton of leftover data that you can put to good use. For example, you can take an existing blog on social media management tools and write a list of the ten best tools for, say, managing Facebook pages. The possibilities of repurposing your content are endless, and you are only truly limited by your willingness to come up with new ways to use what you already have.
  • To create new opportunities for lead generation. Offers — often in the form of an informative eBook, a useful checklist, or a white paper or case study supported by existing data — are a surefire way of attracting attention and getting your audience to provide you with their contact information. All you need to do is take a look at the content you already have and think about how you can use it to further add value to your clients.
  • To make sure that all your followers, old and new, get the information they need from you. Repurposing content doesn’t just let you reuse your old stuff; it also allows you to repackage them and make them more palatable to a specific audience. Let’s say you wrote a really, really good blog post a couple of months ago about why it’s important to blog consistently, and you want to be able to share your knowledge with your newer followers. At the same time, you don’t want to just spam them with your old link, and you also want to incorporate new studies and concepts into your written content. Why not find a new angle to it, add your new research, and turn it into a video? That way, you can have a strong foundation upon which to base your new output on, AND it’ll make things easier for prospective clients who prefer watching videos to reading. Essentially, it’s a win-win situation, both for you and your audience.

The best part about repurposing your content is that it can work for pretty much anything you’ve written. For example, a guide on how to paint a fence would reasonably be the same animal, even after a couple of years. That’s what we call “evergreen” content — content that doesn’t rely on timeliness to be relevant to your readership. 

A Repurpose-Driven Life: Ways to Repurpose Content

The next question, of course, is how you can repurpose your content. 

Repurposing content isn’t limited to just one platform, of course; you can repurpose your text-based content and end up with a video, a slideshow or an infographic. It can be turned into social media updates, talking points for a podcast or interview, or a webinar or other presentation. In the same manner, all of these types of non-text content can be turned into text articles.

Pro tip: You can make the repurposing process much more convenient for you by keeping a list of templates into which you can plug in your ideas or information as they come.

Keeping it Real: What about Original Content?

Of course, there’s that whole other debate about whether repurposed content really counts as ‘original’ content. After all, repurposing content to be the writing equivalent of taking an old product and marketing it with a new brand and packaging.

Well, here’s what I think: Repurposed content can count as original content, but only if done correctly. The important thing here is to change it enough to make it stand out as an entirely different product from the original content it was pulled from. 

Basically, if you’re going to repurpose your content, make sure that you’re not just retreading old ground, and that your “new” output would still be able to add value to your readers. Don’t forget this simple rule: When it comes to content, you can’t spell “repurpose” without “purpose.”

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