Need Great Content Ideas? Repurpose Old Articles!

Why you should repurpose old articlesAs a new content marketer, when you first realize the amount of content you’re going to need to create, your first response is probably something along the lines of “How am I ever going to come up with enough fresh ideas?” It can be a struggle to find fresh topics that keep the attention of your audience. Even if you’re a seasoned content professional, you’ve probably had a dry spell or two, when you just can’t think of anything interesting or relevant.

All too often, businesses fall into the trap of believing that they have to create something completely unique and groundbreaking every time they write a blog post, design an infographic, or shoot a video. While new and groundbreaking is great, it’s not always possible and that’s where repurposing old articles comes in.

Repurposing has been around about as long as  the content itself, and it’s a perfectly legitimate source of fresh content. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that you are actually sitting on a goldmine of content ideas that can keep your site and social feeds fresh for quite some time.

Repurposing Defined

To begin, let’s define repurposing. Back in the early days of content creation, many marketers relied on “article spinning” as a means to repurpose content. Essentially, article spinning involved rewriting content just enough to make the search engines think it was something entirely new. The basic structure and information remained the same, but the vocabulary was different.

As you might imagine, spinning had the tendency to create some less than quality content — in most cases, the “spun” pieces were awkward at best and practically incomprehensible at worst. And the search engines took notice, but not in a positive way. Because this content was generally poor quality, it didn’t help with SEO, and in time, it actually hurt the marketers who were doing it.

Repurposing is not — repeat, NOT — the same as spinning. Rather, repurposing is taking existing content and recycling it (or upcycling, if you will) into something completely new. It’s taking an existing piece of content and repackaging it into something fresh.

For example, you might turn a blog post into an infographic, or an infographic into an animated video. In each case, you make changes to the content to make it more relevant to the new audience, adding or deleting information as necessary, realigning the focus, or making other adjustments as needed. In the end, what you create is entirely new, while still being based on the original content.

Why You Should Repurpose Old Articles

Repurposing your content does more than just give you new ideas and help you fill your content calendar when your well of inspiration feels like it’s run dry. Repurposing can also fill an important role in your content strategy.

By repurposing your content, you can more effectively meet the needs of your entire audience. Not everyone will respond to a blog post, for example, but will enthusiastically embrace a video that shares the same information. By the same token, someone might only read a single article in a series, but when you collect all of your content on a single topic into an eBook, they get a better perspective on what you have to offer and will subscribe to your blog. You can also add in new resource links that may not have existed when the original content was created. Linking to credible and recent resources can be a great way to add value to your piece.

How to repurpose old articlesHow to Repurpose Old Articles

So how do you turn your existing content library into a source of new ideas?

The first thing to know is that not all of your content is a candidate for repurposing. Some posts are simply too outdated, too trendy, or no longer relevant. If you can easily revise old content to reflect new information, that’s a good place to start, but a better option is to comb through your content to find those evergreen posts that continue to attract traffic long after they are first published.

As you consider candidates for repurposing, consider some key questions:

  • Can I reframe this for a different audience? Would this information be relevant to another group with a few revisions?
  • What other content have we created on this topic? Can I consolidate it into a larger resource, like a whitepaper or eBook?
  • Does this content lend itself to visual representation, such as an infographic? Can we turn it into a video?
  • Are there salient points that can be turned into tweets or Facebook posts to drive traffic back to the full post?
  • Is there content that was maybe not-so-great the first time around? You can take the idea and turn it into something exceptional.

Chances are you’re going to find that you can repurpose a lot of what you have already done. And while you don’t want to give up on finding new ideas, by turning your attention to your existing stockpile of content, you can fill in those gaps when you need inspiration.