It takes a big investment of time, money and resources to produce high-quality content, and all too often, all that beautiful work is abandoned in some obscure corner of a website or lost in the cloud after the campaign runs its course. Branding becomes dated, blog posts and podcast episodes age, businesses pivot and industries move on to newer, shinier things. And the cycle starts again. Sometimes the missing piece is a content expert who sticks around long enough to see new opportunities to reuse old ideas. But many businesses and organizations operate with such a lean staff that there’s no room for a dedicated content role. So how do you get the continuity and economy of an efficient content strategy without hiring an employee to manage it all for you?
The most important thing you can do is recognize the untapped potential of old content and save it somewhere that’s organized and accessible for future projects. The next-most-important thing is to take a collaborative approach with any contractors or specialists you hire and make sure they know those resources are available. “Content hustling” is 100% legal and tons of professionals do it: academics, public speakers, writers, entertainers and anyone else with a few great ideas they want to share with as many people as possible. And if you’re strategic about each new iteration, nobody will call you out for double-dipping because each new piece will have a life of its own.
Want to double or triple your return on the time and money you put into creating great content? Here are a few ideas that have worked well for my clients, and a few I’m dying to try out:
1. Repurpose Old Content
This one is the easiest to start with if you’ve been in business for a while and need to generate “new” content quickly, without a huge financial or time investment. If you can identify some old content pieces that are out of commission but contain good nuggets of wisdom, you are 75% of the way there! Round them up in a folder on the Google Drive or your Dropbox. In one quick interview, I can uncover the best strategy to turn your old content into something that supports your current goals and represents your brand as it is today.
What kinds of content can we repurpose? Almost anything that contains a bit of your “secret sauce” or answers a question your audience never gets tired of asking. Past podcast interviews are great because they capture you speaking candidly about your business. With a little strategy and some structure, there’s potential to create multiple new pieces of content that appear brand new! Blog posts, videos, lead magnets or downloadables, whitepapers, case studies, ebooks and keynote speeches are all fair game for repurposing.
2. Break Big Content into Smaller Pieces
If you already have some big foundational content pieces that you’ve worked hard on, such as a keynote speech, a course, an academic paper or a book, we can reuse that source content to get a lot more mileage and visibility with other mediums. This also works well for launching a new service: we can start with a whitepaper, an ebook or some detailed blogs that really showcase your new direction and break them down into shorter blogs, newsletter content, social media posts and more to speak to multiple audience personas at different stages of familiarity with your brand.
Content guru Andy Crestodina calls this “atomizing” your content, and he created this genius Periodic Table of Content to organize the different kinds of “particles” by their characteristics and uses. This strategy really stretches the lifespan of your content and makes it super easy to maintain a consistent message and voice.
3. Turn Events into Content
More and more, marketers are looking at events as their own type of content: from webinars to workshops and meetups, each type of event facilitates interaction with your brand and should show attendees a bit about what you can do for them. What’s really unique about events-as-content is that you get a lot of “feedback” in different forms: Eventbrite analytics, comments on event pages, attendee participation, post-event surveys and verbal feedback can all tell us what kind of content your most active audience members want.
Holding events virtually opens up some time-saving opportunities since it’s so easy to record Zoom calls and collect other kinds of data. If you have any guest speakers at, say, a panel discussion, virtual conference or networking meetup that you want to quote in a recap piece, make sure to get their permission to use quotes, images or video with a release form.
4. Build Repurposing Into Your Process
When you begin a project with repurposing in mind, you can take advantage of opportunities during the creation process that you might have otherwise missed. For example, I recently had a client collect some testimonials for an email series, but I asked her to record the Zoom calls so we would have both video and audio to play with for social media and other video projects down the line. Depending on the raw material you start with, it can make it easier or more difficult to re-create in other mediums.
Ultimately, the best way to capitalize on repurposing content is to make sure it’s doing something a little different than the original piece. Another past client of mine hosted a weekly podcast, so she hired me to turn each episode into a blog post to get the SEO benefits of fresh written content containing the right keywords. Someone else may prefer to start with blogs and record a series of short unscripted videos based on those topics for social media engagement.
As a rule of thumb, it makes sense to focus on your strengths first and save the original uncut files in case you need them later. Do what you do best, and as you meet other content creators with different strengths, join forces and collaborate! If you’re not the creative type, find one content creator you like and ask who they know. They might have some preferred partners with collaborative processes ready to go! Also ask your creative team about the best ways to promote the content they are creating. There’s nothing worse than spending money on content that never gets seen, and very often, bigger content pieces rely on smaller ones (like emails, social posts and ads) to get attention.
Use these questions to spark ideas for repurposing content:
- Who can I reach with this type of content/on this platform? What questions do they have about this topic?
- What else can I do with this asset?
- What can I do in this new medium that I couldn’t do previously?
- What next step do I want this part of my audience to take?
- What can I do to get more eyeballs on this piece of content?
It’s easiest to create versatile content ripe for repurposing if you start with that in mind and work with creators who are flexible and open to collaboration. I love working as part of a team to make the written content I create go even further.
Got an idea you want to discuss or some old content that needs a makeover? Schedule a call with me and let’s see what we can come up with!