Repurpose Old Content

If there’s one thing we’re all exhausted by, it’s content. The planning of it, the making of it, the promoting of it. Not to mention the navel gazing of it, the second guessing of it, and the getting 90% done and then bailing on it. And in the six years since Mark Schaefer broke our minds with his philosophy on content shock, things have gotten worse, not better.

I’ve done my best to contribute to the oh-my-God-how-in-the-hell-are-we-supposed-to-keep-up potluck with ways to write newsletters faster, how to do content marketing without a blog, and The 1-Hour Content Plan. But at the end of the day, the truth is the truth. It’s at least hard, and possibly impossible, to keep up.

In response to all this situation, the idea of repurposing content has emerged. If you turn THIS thing into this OTHER thing, YOU HAVE TWO THINGS! The internet abounds with ways to repurpose content so that we’re not having to reinvent the wheel every freaking time we take pen to paper.

The problem is, the biggest advisors in the repurposing world tend to be corporations. They’re companies… with whole teams of people, with massive existing skillsets, and functionally unlimited budgets. Turning an old newsletter into a webinar is a simple matter of emailing Brad in marketing with, ”Can you turn that old newsletter into a freaking webinar or something?”

For ittybiz owners, it’s not quite so simple. Turning that old newsletter into a freaking webinar requires figuring out how to make a freaking webinar, finding the time to make a freaking webinar, learning to promote a freaking webinar, and getting someone to watch the freaking kids.

For many, it's a hell of a learning curve.

But! All is not lost. Even at the itty level, you can absolutely get in on the repurposing game. Here are a few ways to do just that. Some of them might be above your resource capacities right now, but others might not be. Have a peek and see if you might be able to take a load off.

Switch media.

Whatever format your original content was in, you can simply port it over to another format, and POOF – you’ve got new content in that media type. Blog posts become podcast fodder, podcasts become LinkedIn posts, THAT old list freebie PDF becomes a YouTube video.

If you’re going from text to audio/video, your old content becomes the base script that you can operate from. If you’re moving in the other direction, you can take your recorded track and get it transcribed quickly and inexpensively through a service like Trint.

This is one of the easiest, laziest ways to repurpose content, and because of that stands as a personal favorite of mine.

Note: For this to count as “non-exhausting”, you must be switching between media that you already understand and use. Otherwise you’d need a Brad, which you don’t have. Existing media only.

Switch format.

Here you’re switching up the format or structure that the original content existed in. For example, you can take a collection of blog posts and turn them into a small book (I did this with 17 posts from the beginning of the IttyBiz blog in a mini-book called Back In The Day.)

You can take a piece of content and turn it into a workbook, checklist, or quick start guide – any piece of supplementary material that doesn’t necessarily expand on the content itself, but presents it in a format that operates with a different purpose. (In the Like a Boss program, we even take the really good points and turn them into desktop wallpapers.)

(Note: Switching formats this isn’t the same thing as creating a content upgrade. Those are designed to give an upgraded experience, where what we’re doing here is simply repurposing what already exists into a different form.)

Make big small.

Take some topic that you gave the full treatment to and distill it down to the main talking point, or just pull one or more interesting snippets from it and repurpose it for some platform that you create micro-content for.

A 1500-word blog post can get you a few snappy quotes to post on Instagram. That 1-hour podcast becomes a goldmine of little points you can post on Facebook. A salient point from your big flagship product can become the focus of a 5-minute video.

(Aside: Can you imagine how rich and lazy we could all be if we just posted excerpts of paid products on our blogs? I’ve made 30 info-products! I’d never have to blog again!)

Whatever content you create, whatever you discuss, it’s not an island unto itself. It contains a forest of little tiny trees that you can plant here, there, and everywhere.

Make small big.

This is where you take some small point you made somewhere at some time – a bullet point in a blog post, an aside in a podcast, a quip on Facebook or Instagram – and you expand it into a full piece of standalone content.

Technically, this is creating new content – but it gets into this list on a technicality. You’ve already made the point somewhere before, so you already have thoughts on it. Now imagine someone had stopped you when you made that point and said, “Oooh! Can you share more about that?” Bam. You’ve got a brand new piece of content just like that.

(Note: Turning small into big is a great place to experiment with a more casual voice. Remember, even if all you can do is talk about it for less than ten minutes? That’s enough words for a blog post.)

Switch live and evergreen.

If you create live content on social media platforms, then your real-time ramblings can become a deep mine of stuff-you’ve-already-said-out-loud-but-can-now-write-down. The nature of live video means that the person speaking often says creative and interesting stuff that they wouldn’t have considered writing down previously.

Go back over your live content and see what you can copy over to an evergreen format. You’d be surprised how much you covered in those channels, especially if you’re a fast talker.

(And if you can’t bear to go over the content yourself – which I can’t – assign a VA the task of watching it and taking notes like they were at an exciting seminar. Then work from the notes.)

Go shallower.

If you have a collection of existing content pieces that can theoretically be grouped together in some theme, you can create a roundup post that isn’t content per se, but that just links to existing content.

Any theme will do. 10 can’t-miss fried chicken recipes? 7 of your most popular blog posts? 15 of your least popular blog posts? 12 cool things you said on Facebook this week? It’s all good.

The sky’s the limit here, people. Grab a batch of posts, write a sentence or two telling people what they’re about, and you’ve got a new post that links out to a whack of other ones. It’s the perfect response to a slow news day.

Just move it.

Finally, you can just take your existing content and copy it directly over to another channel like LinkedIn or Medium. You won’t even need to change the formatting.

For a long time, content creators worried that they’d get whacked with a “duplicate content” penalty from Google if they did this. These days, it’s less of a big deal. Might it have SEO drawbacks? It might. But if you’re not standing a chance in the SEO wars to begin with, then you’re not missing much if you miss out. For those who are willing to roll the dice on that for a chance to get in front of eyeballs on other platforms, this might be a shot to consider. Neil Patel has advice for how to do that over here.

(Of course, you could always rewrite the piece and publish it on another platform and avoid any duplicate content issues. This is probably the best option, but it involves, you know, rewriting the damn thing. So maybe, maybe not.)

Pssst! You’re REALLY smart.

I’m willing to bet a solid fifty bucks AND a pack of Marlboro Lights that you’ve said some pretty killer stuff in your day.

If you’re willing to stretch your comfort zone a little, you can say those same things again and again.

Then many people will see them, they will all give you tons of money, and you can give some of it to me.

Sweet? Sweet.


Things you can do next…