Lately, I have experienced some trouble coming up with relevant, compelling blog topics. This isn’t for a lack of motivation but more so out of a desire to provide our readers (that’s you!) with fresh, new information. In need of inspiration, l turned to my favorite column in Entrepreneur magazine, Lead Gen by Ann Handley. In May’s issue of Entrepreneur magazine, Ann Handley, chief content officer of Marketingprofs and co-author of Content Rules, writes about re-examining old content and re-using it in new forms.
In this post she writes about three topics: reorganizing, rewriting and remixing old content. In short, here are her three approaches to taking old content and reworking/recreating this content to create new content:
Reorganize – Take past long-form publications, such as eBooks, whitepapers and research reports, and break these up and repackage into shorter-form pieces, such as blog posts or newsletters. Also, think the opposite of this. Take a series of blog posts or a long chain of comments left on your company’s Facebook wall, and curate these into a longer form publication.
Rewrite – you know that post that continues to generate dozens, if not hundreds of views a month? Yup, that one that was published 16 months ago. Take that post and rework it. Layer in new facts or statistics or learnings as a preface to what already exists in the post. Provide updates in the post and fresh facts that support the blog post, and at the same time are a bit more relevant.
Remix – this is my favorite piece of advice from Handley and one that isn’t so obvious. Does your company have a ton of podcasts and video interviews stuck on the 16th page of your blog (AKA: a digital graveyard)? It’s time to dust off that content and remix it. Transcribe the video interviews and republish these blog posts. Better yet, republish as a series of blog posts.
I absolutely loved Handley’s article last month in Entrepreneur. Her post got my juices flowing, to the point where I have established my own two cents on how to rework and republish old content. Here are my four tips on how to create new life for your blog from the old stuff.
1. Take pieces of old posts and inject them into new content. Call me nostalgic, but I love re-reading old posts from 6-12 months ago. For one, re-reading old content provides me with a reference point about how far Get Busy Media’s content has come and what sorts of posts we were pushing out in mid-2011. The other benefit I get with reviewing old content is I find snippets and often large chunks that I can lift and repurpose for new posts. Sometimes, it’s merely a matter of copying and pasting a chunk of text from a previous post into a new post. Not only does this expose new readers to older content that he/she might have missed but if you’re smart, linking back to the post provides them an avenue to read further and engage with other content (i.e. old posts) on your website.
2. Create a series. This is an obvious one but this tactic is painfully underused. Too many writers publish great work, only to have it sit there, collect a few more views and then slowly become buried under new content. Whether it be blog posts, newsletters, podcasts, videos or interviews, a series of posts keeps readers engaged and waiting for the next installment. Once you’re done with a series, be sure to provide all the links to past and future installments on each one of the posts. This way, if readers stumble upon one of the posts, he/she will be able to navigate easily to the other installments in the series.
3. Find content in unexpected places. Most of our inboxes are inundated with trade publications and newsletters. If you’re like me, you have dozens, if not hundreds of unread emails from these trade publications sitting, unperturbed and unopened in your inbox. At the very least, make an effort to skim through these on a daily basis. These often contain kernels of wisdom or reviews of current news that can serve as an inspiration for your next topic. How about those company “update” emails that only receive a cursory glance from you? Take 10 minutes a day and read the contents of each of these emails. You never know which one of these emails will introduce you to an influencer or provide you with a resource that leads you to your next topic.
4. Rework your website and social media tactics to introduce old content more consistently to your new readers. At the beginning of this year Get Busy Media was completely redesigned. We realized our website was failing us. Visitors were consuming the piece of content they had intended to read and were bouncing over three-quarters of the time after viewing this single piece of content. Hardly anyone was browsing through pages, subscribing or filling out a lead form, inquiring about our services.
Another reason for our redesign was our site’s inability to offer visitors access to old content. In our previous design, for a visitor to view a post from June of 2011, she would have to search for the post on Google or click 16 times to get to page 16 of the blog. Not a good user experience and not one that lends itself well to high engagement.
With our new design, we have ramped up our Twitter and Facebook efforts, as followers to both of these accounts have grown. The “tweet old post” plug-in on WordPress, allows us to share “old” content with our followers by automatically (and randomly) tweeting out old posts. This strategy, coupled with reaching out to influencers on Twitter, has helped us generate more traffic, and keep these visitors on the site longer.
A strong web design keeps users in your butterfly net, but strong social media efforts help to attract those looking for your content.
What tips did I miss on how to breathe life into “old” content? What tactics have you successfully employed in recreating or remixing old content? We would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave them below in the Comments section or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.