The Holy Bible. It’s not only the most read book, it’s also the most repurposed work ever created.
From booklets to brochures, inspirationals to infographics, sermons to stories, calendars to coasters—what hasn’t been scribed from The Scriptures?
You can look at apps alone. Search for “Bible” in Google Play or iTunes. You’ll be scrolling for eternity.
It’s God’s plan, right? The Father knew we’d need these words every day in every conceivable way. So he created the ultimate masterwork and invited disciples everywhere to give it everlasting life.
And now for a slightly awkward segue.
With apologies to authors Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, their book “Content Rules” has become something of a bible of content marketing. If you’ll open to chapter 5, the book of “Reimagine,” we’ll learn valuable lessons about the “anatomy of a content circle of life.”
The purposes of repurposing.
As often as struggling content marketers claim it’s difficult to create enough content, a lesson in getting more content with less effort needs to be repeated. The reasons are many:
- Lower the costs of content creation.
- Accelerate production of new content.
- Lengthen the life of your themes and ideas.
- Increase audience reach.
- Appeal to varying media preferences and learning styles.
- Showcase different aspects of a topic.
- Get more “finds” via search.
- Cross-promote your content with your content.
- Reinforce your messages and increase authority.
Repurposing with purpose.
So how do you do this repurposing thing with purpose—and on purpose?
One way is to create a number of smaller pieces of content. You create a series of posts, interviews, or maybe just pins, and roll them into something more substantial when you’re done. This isn’t my favorite way to approach the task, but the authors of “Content Rules” point out two valuable benefits of going small-to-large:
- It’s easier.
- It allows you to test your audience’s appetite for the idea. You can gauge the response along the way and potentially refine your idea or even pull the plug on clunkers.
Though there’s more work involved up-front—planning, research and writing—and probably more risk, I much prefer the reverse strategy. That is, you create the larger piece first, often, an eBook. I dug into the details of this strategy when I wrote, “The eBook is the Stud in Your Content Marketing Stable.”
In addition to outlining the strategy, a slide deck version of the content (a hit on SlideShare), also offers a detailed example of how I executed the approach with my own eBook, “21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website.”
A great content marketing starter kit.
If you’re new to content marketing, I suspect you’ll have some fears about sustaining your creative efforts in the early going. When I advise clients like this, I strongly suggest we take the “studs make ponies” approach.
I talk to them about how we can conceive a substantial eBook designed to address a pressing, but fundamental area of their business they believe will serve as a useful primer for prospects. For instance, a wide scope “how to” covering the main focus of their service… or an “understanding the costs of X”… or “common mistakes in X.” Essentially, you can think of the eBook as an extensive series of answers to FAQs.
And, of course, while it’s an eBook first (one that will be used to inspire email opt-ins), it will get sliced, diced, revisited—and probably expanded—into blog posts, social media bites, visuals, slides, an infographic, emails, webinars, and possibly even more assets.
The point: one big idea, executed well, will result in a piece of content that may “reproduce” for 6, 12, even 18 months. Two years after I created the eBook “21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website, I’m in the process of collaborating with a partner, who is a digital video master, to create a series of short videos (which will be repurposed as well).
The cycle continues, that is, if you have a master plan to begin with. In “Content Rules,” Ann and C.C. call the art of repurposing existing content “reimagining.” Doing it well isn’t just recycling or repacking; it’s making the content fit its new container, plus, using your imagination to add something new.
Just dare me to express this idea as a graphic.
I could do that, but I don’t have to. My friends at Vertical Measures, who are world-class content creators, did it for me (and you). In a concise and informative eBook (which I suspect was also a blog post), Vertical Measures displayed this simple “atomized” representation of the concept and some very common repurposing plays.
Finding studly content to repurpose.
Kevan Lee, a fine blogger at Buffer, gave the topic of repurposing an interesting spin. He spoke to how experienced bloggers can use a nifty shortcut by mining repurposing projects in waiting from past posts. Translation: tap into your blog post archives. Kevan suggests you go in search of:
- “Evergreen” content — posts with quality concepts that remain relevant.
- Hits — posts that performed well as measured by pageviews.
- Update worthy — posts you can update with new ideas.
His article then lays out a series of ideas. I’ll share the better ones with you to get the gears turning:
- Refresh old posts.
- Rewrite for guest post opportunities.
- Create a presentation.
- Build an infographic.
- Create an instructographic (a clunky name given to the how-to infographic).
- Craft an email series.
- Create a video or podcast series.
- Create a webinar.
Check out the blog post mentioned above, from Buffer, because it shows many fine examples of all of the above and more.
Big thanks to you for adding “Content Marketing Minds” to your online marketing advice diet. (Remember we have our own hashtage: #CMMinds.)
Big thanks to the Big G, whose word is the divine inspiration for the rambling I did above.