Every time you create a piece of content, you’re working toward one or more goals – reach new audiences, build traffic, gain leads, create natural links, etc. (at least, you should be). And if a single piece of content has the ability to do that all of that for you, it’s in your best interest to get the most out of the content you create.

It stands to reason, then, that your old content offers just as much opportunity, if not more, than producing new content from scratch.

In a post for Search Engine Watch, Salma Jafri makes a point to talk about the importance of creating less and promoting more, including a quote from Derek Halpern of Social Triggers:

“You don’t have to create content, day in, and day out. You just have to work on getting the content you already have… in the hands of more people.”

Content creation is important, but you’ve already created a wealth of content. It’s time to review what you’ve created, find your most popular content, and leverage it in new ways to extend your reach and traffic.

Start with these 7 simple approaches to repurposing your content:

1. Consolidate content into comprehensive guides

A long-form comprehensive guide, ebook or white paper – like the Content Marketing Playbook I created with Rob Wormley – carries substantial value for your audience. 34% of marketers rely on ebooks as part of their content marketing strategy, and more than 55% of B2B marketers find them an effective marketing tactic.

Ebooks are easy for an audience to digest and are typically packed with information.

Unfortunately, sitting down to write one from scratch is a time-intensive process, as you’ve got to gather lots of research before you even start writing.

On the other hand, if you’ve been writing on a particular topic for some time, you probably have a sizable collection of articles, posts and blogs already providing tips and information. Taking a look around this site, I’ve got countless posts that detail content marketing best practices for a variety of industries, idea generation, content promotion, writing for specific industries, and so on.

Rather than starting from scratch on a new piece of content, I could take all of that information, in conjunction with my own knowledge and experience, and compile it into a comprehensive guide to content marketing. I’d save myself tons of time over reinventing the wheel, and I’d drive up the ROI of my past content.

Keep in mind that, when you’re repurposing content in this way, you’ve got to make sure any information you share is up-to-date. Depending on your industry, things can change quickly – I couldn’t, for example, go back and make a guide to modern SEO out of articles I wrote in 2010.

The electronic cigarette industry is another example of devices and technology that become outdated in months, rather than years. Repurposing content in an industry like that would require a fair bit of updating before it could be used in this way.

Yet another example, Smashing Magazine, has been creating content on the web for years, and they’ve since taken that wealth of content and experience and compiled into a vast library of eBooks.

The great thing about creating comprehensive guides in this manner is that they expand on your top-of-the-funnel efforts. A well-produced piece of content that targets a big concern for your audience – or even one that offers broad education – can help you win more opt-ins and increase the number of leads generated from your content marketing.

That said, you want any resource like this to be attractive, so if you’ve got limited design skills or experience with creating ebooks, I’d recommend outsourcing the formatting to a professional. If you think you’re up to the challenge, try designing it yourself using a tool like Papyrus.

2. Update your old content with new information

When changes happen in your industry, new data arises, or technology is updated, is it better to craft a completely new post or to update your existing content?

In some cases, a fresh, new post may be the best route to take so that you can provide a completely new perspective to your audience. It’s also a good opportunity to push content into a new channel that’s opened up, such as creating a piece of content for Forbes or hosting a live chat on Periscope.

Keep in mind, though, that new content pieces may take time to gain traction. It could take weeks or months for your article to start picking up referral and organic search traffic.

If you’ve got the opportunity to update older content pieces instead, that may be the better route to take.

Think about how evergreen content performs; those old posts get varying levels of traffic, but if you’re doing your promotions right, they should, at least, be seeing consistent traffic. Leverage that by putting a new twist or perspective on an old post or adding in new data to support the original point. Expand on the idea, and the length of the post, to boost value.

BuzzSumo and Moz teamed up to analyze over a million articles. Their research showed that over 80% of content contained fewer than 1,000 words. However, the richer content in excess of 2,000 words – content that provided more evergreen value – saw far more shares and referring links.

Expanding content in this way takes advantage of one of the primary benefits of evergreen blogging – you’re publishing content that’ll consistently produce traffic and leads in the long term.

Hubspot points out another reason you should be updating old content:

“Not everyone who is reading your blog now, was reading your blog months and years ago,” writes Pamela Vaughan, Marketing Manager for HubSpot. “And even if they were, it also doesn’t mean they read every single article you published.”

Pamela suggests that by updating your content and bringing it to the surface, you’re positioning it for visibility among segments of your audience that have yet to see it. That not only extends the life of your content, but also enables you to provide more value to your audience with less effort overall.

Keep these things in mind when you update your content:

  • Add visuals (images, illustration, animation, videos) to improve the engagement of your content, especially if your former pieces include few or none of these enhancements.
  • Don’t change the permalink structure of your article – you don’t want to lose relevant backlinks to the piece.
  • If you update the title of your content, don’t change your target keywords, unless search trends suggest otherwise.
  • Include a note at the head of the article that the content was updated with the date of the change listed, especially if your post has a published date. This will alert audiences to the fact that they’re seeing something new.
  • Are comments open? If you lock the comments of older posts make sure they’re opened back up for updated content.
  • If your older content mentioned influencers or quoted others, be sure to ping them again and let them know about the updated post going live again.
  • Make sure you watch the metrics – including traffic and engagement stats – to see how your audience reacts to the new content.

3. Source content from Quora

Quora can be a terrific place to network and source leads within your industry. I’ve used it in the past with some success, but you can do a lot more than just answer existing questions on Quora.

A great way to use this platform is to find questions that have a high potential for getting attention, or those Q&A sessions that are already high-performing. Then, take the topic and craft a well thought out, long form blog post that covers the topic in detail.

Once you have the piece published, go back to Quora and start answering any questions you can relating to that specific topic – especially the question you originally sourced the topic idea from. Provide a detailed answer to the question and link back to your new blog post.

If you already have an older, but relevant blog post, check it to make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date; then, share that instead. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you’ve already got a great response on your site.

Not only is this a great way to source new topics when your creative well is starting to run dry, repurposing the question in this manner also positions you as an authority on the subject and can help you create a wealth of new referral and organic search traffic.

4. Deliver custom visual data compilations

Slide decks are a great way to deliver information with a visual impact, but in many cases, once the presentation is finished, that particular deck may never be used again.

Instead of relegating it to a dark corner of your cloud storage, repurpose it. There are a number of ways that visual content like a slide show can be repurposed to bring you a wealth of traffic and leads, especially when you consider that people retain as much as 65% of the information they see when it’s paired with relevant images (compared to only 10% without).

Slideshare, for instance, is a platform you can use to optimize your content for a consumer/target audience, letting them view the slides in progression. Not only can that content be viewed on the Slideshare site, it can also be embedded into other web content.

Does your deck have a lot of visual content and data that can stand on its own? Slice it down into individual graphics then share those out via social channels like Twitter, Facebook, and especially visual sites like Pinterest. You can get a substantial amount of referral traffic from sites like Pinterest.

If a particular slide or two carries a strong message or data point, consider writing a post around the graphic(s) and data then share it out through LinkedIn Pulse.

Finally, while infographics have been around for years – veering into overuse, even – it seems like they’re making a comeback. These days, infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than any other type of content.

A good infographic isn’t just informative; it’s a thing of sheer beauty, driven by great research and design. If you aren’t sure where to get started, know that the information in your slide deck could likely be turned into an infographic that others within your industry will gladly cite and share.

Even better, there are a number of platforms out there that make it easier than ever to produce an infographic – especially if you’ve got some design elements already. Canva, Venngage and Infogram are three that I recommend for creating stunning infographics as you repurpose your content.

5. Turn your posts into podcasts (and vice versa)

Podcast listenership continues to grow. According to Journalism.org, which shared data from Edison Research and Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans listening to podcasts within 30 days of the survey doubled from 9% in 2008  to 17% in 2015. Today, more than one-third (33%) of Americans 12 and up have listened to at least one podcast.

There’s a good chance that some – or all – of the blog posts you create could be transformed on-the-fly into a simple podcast. It’s a great way for your audience to digest your content without staring at the screen, and it requires very little to make it happen.

I’m not suggesting you launch an entire podcast show with all the necessary branding. You can start small, hosting your individual podcasts and sharing them with your followers as you create them, either through a site widget, social channels or email newsletter to your followers.

Rather than reading your posts like a script – which can come off sounding unnatural when you’re recording – just bullet point your podcasts. Hit on the main points, expand on the ideas a little, and set yourself up with a short podcast.

Depending on the lengths of your posts, you could go anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Just try to target a length that makes it easy to listen during a coffee break, in the car or during a walk or workout.

You don’t need a lot of tech savvy or equipment. Get yourself a microphone and some simple editing software, then host your content on a service like SoundCloud for deployment on your site and your promotional channels.

Finally, be sure to optimize your titles and descriptions, then submit your podcast feed to iTunes and the Google Play store to expand your reach.

If you already have some existing podcasts, this process can work both ways. Pull key points from your podcasts or interviews and transform them into blog posts. Embed your podcast into the post so your audience knows about all the options for engaging with you, and then push those new blog posts out to your audience.

6. Deconstruct comprehensive content

Epic content is, well, huge right now, so it’s no surprise that the most typical approach to repurposing content is to take something you already have and transform it into something else in a new medium. This could involve compiling multiple blog posts into a comprehensive guide or, as in the case of Smashing Magazine above, developing a thorough resource library.

One idea that’s typically less often used comes from Lee Odden over at Top Rank Blog.

There, Lee suggests customizing your more comprehensive content and deconstructing it:

“Identify a key topic that represents what you’re trying to be known for, or the solution you provide,” writes Lee Odden, founder of Top Rank Marketing. “Create a substantial resource that provides comprehensive information making your brand the expert. Then figure out, ‘What does this topic solve for each target audience?'”

Once you have a complete resource piece, like an ebook, Lee suggests taking a few different approaches to the content.

Break the book down

Since your ebook offers a wealth of content divided into a variety of chapters and various topics surrounding the main theme, Lee suggests breaking the book down into easily digestible top-of-the-funnel content. This could take a lot of forms like blog posts, email segments, diagrams, even micro-content for social posts. If you’ve got data-rich material you could even turn your content into an infographic.

Revise the content for various audiences

I really like Lee’s recommendation to repurpose ebooks to hit more than one audience. Rather than trying to create new content from scratch, you can customize what you already have so it fits into specific audience segments or verticals. Lee Odden uses the examples of “Content Marketing for Financial Companies” and “Content Marketing for SaaS Companies.”

The key is to make sure that all of the content is relevant, and that you’re changing your ideas enough so that the insights you share are 100% actionable and can be applied to whatever industry you customize the content for. The customized versions should carry substantial value for each and every audience – not read like a cheap knockoff.

7. Use stats, facts and reports for micro-content

There’s no shortage of data being published on the web for virtually every industry. If you need content for your social channels, these reports and industry statistics are the perfect source for repurposing content. They don’t even need to be rich data points, they could just be interesting facts relevant to your industry or audience.

Take, for example, the “10 shocking facts about content marketing today” post from Search Engine Watch.

Not only can you create easily-digestible blog posts or small video clips citing facts or data points, you can also share that data out either as text or attractive graphics on your social channels. In the example link above from Search Engine Watch, each of those 10 facts could be turned into 10 or more individual tweets or graphics.

These data points also help add engagement to your posts by using a “click to tweet” link within your content.

Your older blog posts likely contain similar data points, data you included for a purpose at one point – it was relevant to your audience and had some kind of interesting or “wow” factor to it. Pull those data points and share them out to your audience with a link back to the original post to drive more traffic back to your blog.

Is repurposing content part of your content marketing strategy? If so, which approach has worked best for your older content? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below:

Comments
  1. Hi Sujan, I have been following your blogs. This one gave some good insight on content, was much needed… Thanks 🙂

  2. Sujan, I find many of your posts to be excellent resources–actually, I see them as acts of tremendous generosity on your part. This is another such post. As a marriage and family therapist trying to spread his ideas about self-improvement as far as I can, repurposing existing content (over 25 articles so far) is extremely important.

    As just one person trying to do it all, I want to maximize the effect of every unit of work I devote to this work. Articles are *hard* to write. Repurposing existing content, so I’m told, is much more useful than writing another article. I never would have thought of the repurposing ideas you shared in this article. Thank you!

  3. Hey Sujan,

    Really great post here. Definitely got some ideas I never considered. Such as “If a particular slide or two carries a strong message or data point, consider writing a post around the graphic(s) and data then share it out through LinkedIn Pulse.” I haven’t taken advantage of Linkedin Plse yet , but I think your suggestion would really help with that.

    – Andrew

  4. Hey Sujan- great tips. To add to your repurposing tips, another strategy we’ve had success with is incorporating existing content into email newsletters- it’s an effective way to get more out of your high-performing content without having to do much work. One of our favorite repurposing strategies is turning webinars into SlideShares, and even vice versa. Here’s a great article that goes into greater depth on the many different (and creative!) ways you can easily repurpose your content: http://blog.scoop.it/2015/03/11/5-top-marketing-experts-15-ideas-and-2-roi-analysis-on-repurposing-content/
    Thanks!

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