Tutorial: repurposing content…waste not, want not

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Repurposing your content: economically sensible recycling

Despite Google’s rightful insistence on “fresh, original content,” it’s a shame in some ways not to make the most economical use of your content over more than one medium. Repurposing content solves this problem.

With the value of “owned content” rising as the social media platforms tighten up their rules and monetize your use of them more … to repurpose as much of your owned content as possible makes greater sense than ever (as long as you don’t upset the great GoogleZilla.)

Repurposing your content makes it available to a wider audience than that purely of one medium, and as such is likely to attract interest and traffic from audiences similar to but beyond your existing one. It also gives you the best bang for your buck in terms of the time you have invested in creating the original content – both in writing it and in researching it.

Repurposing content: some examples

Email newsletters repurposed as blog posts

A lot of people use this repurposing combination and because an email newsletter does not count as being “published” on the net (as it has gone out to a private list) Google will regard it as original content when it’s published on your blog.

Out of courtesy to the people who subscribe to your updates, you should send the piece out to your list first and post it on your blog a few days later. However many people do the two things simultaneously, and quite often when you receive an eNewsletter in your inbox you’ll see a notice that says something like “if you can’t read this comfortably in your inbox, click through here to read it on the website.” Don’t forget to rewrite the top and tail of each version to suit the medium concerned.

Print newsletter and articles repurposed as blog posts

(And vice versa.) Here, although the print newsletter may have been “published” in hard copy, as far as Google is concerned I believe this does not count, so it will be viewed as an original post once it goes online. Ditto the other way around; the fact that a blog post may be effectively “republished” in print doesn’t seem to goad Google into accusing it of being duplicate content. Yet.

Email marketing mailshots repurposed as web pages

(And vice versa.) In some circumstances you can use the same copy you use for sales mailshots as you do for web page text for the same product or service with only a minimal amount of editing and re-angling.  This can be especially useful when you are promoting a special offer for a limited time.

Many companies use this repurposing and as with email newsletters, offer readers the option to read the mailer on the website if they prefer that to reading it in their email client.

Updating older blog posts

This is not only a popular way of repurposing content: it’s also a very useful exercise both for you and your audience. You will need to make significant changes to your original post for Google to consider it as a new one. One way I do this is to retain excerpts of the old post in the new one, adding not only what has changed in the meantime, but why it has changed and how it affects readers. This can be especially useful when there have been changes in rules/regulations, legislation, government policy, etc.

Repurposing your comments from elsewhere, as new blog posts

I tend to ramble on quite a bit when I comment on other people’s blogs and threads on social media and quite often I will look at the comment and think, “that would make a good blog post in itself.” So rather than leave it there, I will take my comment and develop it into a full-length blog post. As for copyright, technically some social media platforms will argue that they own everything even if you wrote it. However a) they would have a hard time getting away with that and b) because you will change it all quite substantially when you write it as a blog post, no-one could bleat about breach of copyright anyway. And the same applies to the originality of the new post as far as Google is concerned.

Presentation transcripts to blog posts, print articles, etc

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To repurpose as much of your owned content as possible makes greater sense than ever

(And vice versa.) At a recent seminar we were discussing this and my good friend Maureen Windridge made the point that she sometimes develops a presentation speech from a blog post she has written. The other way around: transcripts of presentations can make good blog posts, print articles, and even short eBooks depending on their nature and length. That’s another reason why (in my opinion) it’s a good idea to write a script of whatever presentation you’re going to make … even if you only use it for reference on the day. More on that argument here

Series of blog posts repurposed as eBooks and print books

There have been several examples of this on HTWB and they work very well indeed. Two of my own print/Kindle books – Business Writing Made Easy and How To Write Brilliant Business Blogs – are based on blog posts I have written for the site, re-edited and added to as necessary to make them into a proper book format. Lucy McCarraher’s very popular series, How To Write Fiction Without The Fuss, is also doing very nicely now as a print/Kindle book. As far as the print version is concerned there is no issue with Google; with the Kindle versions you have to declare that you own the copyright of the published blog posts before Amazon will accept it – simply a matter of ticking a few boxes.

Print books and other documents serialized as blog posts

If a book or other long document of yours has been published as a Kindle or other digital format, Google might argue that for you to serialize it as XX blog posts will not constitute original content. However if it has only ever appeared in print, there’s nothing to stop you repurposing it this way and it can work very well. Once again good editing is required. Lynn Tulip and I serialized the relevant parts of her print book, Get That Job, for HTWB in a series called “The Write Way to Get a Job,” and that is still getting very good traffic some two years later.

White papers repurposed as print handouts

As you know, white papers are somewhat different from other content in that they are done almost in the style of academic papers, and as such usually represent a lot of very hard work with research, fact-checking, references, etc. All the more reason to get the best possible mileage out of them. Online, they mainly are distributed as PDF downloads – either for sale, or for free as promotional pieces. With a little cosmetic editing they can also be printed out and used as handouts on exhibition stands, as part of a delegate pack at a conference or seminar, as additional material to tuck into the back of your sales brochure, etc.

Blog posts repurposed as video/audio

I heard about an interesting toy-toy recently and tried it out: it’s called “Article Video Robot.” All you do is upload your blog post along with its images/diagrams or whatever other illustrations you want, and for about $50 a shot within a few minutes you’ll see the illustrations plus some captions dancing about on the screen, along with a robotic voice reading out the words. You can have the first minute’s worth as a free trial, so go and have a play with it … it’s fun!

The Article Video Robot’s end product is a bit of a nonsense. I suppose if you were to write it a proper script based on your blog post it might be OK. However there are other equally cost effective words-to-video apps around that work a lot better.

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Recycling your (text, written) blog posts as video – well, a few images with a voice-over – nice gimmick, but I don’t think so. Do you?

When it comes to video representations of blog posts etc., I am still a bit lukewarm about its value. The trouble with video and audio is that they are restricted to the speed of live speech; when we read text we go a lot faster. People don’t have time to listen to voice when they’re in a hurry and just want facts.

And with text, you can speed comprehension up even more by telling the key points of your story in your crossheadings – giving the gist of your message in seconds. No video can do that. But people do like pictures, whether they’re worth a thousand words or not. Conclusion? Text with good illustrations, for me, anyway…!

Books and eBooks to talking books

If you can give it the time and have a good reading voice, you can record your book or even a series of articles/blog posts into a talking book for people to listen to on long journeys, at the gym, out for a run, etc. If you’re good with techie stuff you can easily do this yourself, and simple recording facilities are not expensive. If your voice isn’t right for it you can usually find young actors from local drama schools willing to do it for small amounts of money.

That’s all I can think of for now – please add anything I’ve forgotten in the comments. And how do you feel about repurposing content?

photo credit: andyarthur via photopin cc

photo credit: Liz | populational via photopin cc

photo credit: Earl – What I Saw 2.0 via photopin cc




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