Content Marketing: How to Find Gold in Your Existing Content
Many consultants and small business owners create content as part of their day-to-day operations. But then when they think about writing a blog or nonfiction book to help promote their businesses, they think they have to come up with something entirely new. Granted, there may be occasions where that might be the case. But the content marketing “goldmine” that may already exist should not be ignored! "Recycling" and "repurposing" this material can help you create new works with less effort. If nothing else, it could serve as inspiration.
Sources of Existing Content
Some of the following sources of existing content seem so obvious it's laughable! So don't overlook the goldmine of material that may be hiding in:
- Material from previous self-published books you’ve written
- Blog posts and online articles you’ve written
- Newsletters that you’ve written and broadcast (by mail or email)
- Your daily journal writing
- FAQs you've answered on your website
- Handouts and slides you’ve used at your speaking engagements
WORD OF CAUTION FOR EXISTING CONTENT! If you have written a book under contract with a traditional publisher, or you have prepared the material for use by a client or any other party, you likely will NOT be able to “recycle” that exact material into a new book, or even a blog. Even if you write on the same subject, you’ll often have to start from scratch. Review your contract with an attorney to clarify your rights. One more reason to go with self-publishing in the first place!
The same restrictions may apply to guest blogs or articles you have written for others. Check your agreement with the publisher. If you don’t have a formal agreement on copyright ownership, either contact the publisher for specific permission OR remove that piece from consideration altogether.
Using a "Bucket" List to Mine for Content Marketing Gold
Though some write on a wide variety of topics or themes, usually authors and writers stick with a few for which they are best known. What topics or themes are you known for?
Once you've narrowed your field to a few key topics or themes, create a "bucket" list for each. As you review your existing content archive, throw each reviewed piece into an appropriate bucket for future content marketing consideration.
You can use any of these methods for organizing your buckets:
- Electronic Spreadsheet. Using a spreadsheet that identifies the title and location of each piece of content is ideal. The spreadsheet can easily be sorted by the topic or theme. As well, the spreadsheet data is searchable.
- Productivity Programs. A variety of productivity programs, such as the popular Evernote, are available for organizing notes and thoughts. Like spreadsheets, these programs can usually search and sort entries.
- Old School Notes and Folders. Use note paper (such as a legal pad) for logging existing content you discover from your archive. Set up a separate page (or pages) for each theme or topic and log each piece of content on an appropriate page. Alternatively, you could also set up a standard file folder for each topic or theme and drop a note into the appropriate folder as you discover viable candidates from your archive.
Bottom line is that whether you go new school or old school, use whatever organizing method is comfortable for you.
Reruns to Revenues
“But I’ve already included this stuff in a previous book (or blog or whatever)! I can’t use it again, right?” Wrong! While it’s true that an audience who has already purchased or read your work may not be interested in other books or blogs that cover the exact same material, begin to think about how the material can be revised or refocused to:
- Address additional aspects of the theme or topic.
- Appeal to additional and nontraditional markets.
- Update material with new information or features for those who already read your work.
Plus, people’s attention spans keep getting smaller and they may need to hear what you have to say multiple times before it sinks in. Another reason not to dismiss the potential of using previously self-published content in new publications and in new ways.
This also points to the value of creating evergreen content. If your topic or theme is faddish or changes rapidly, it will be difficult to find much gold in your archive.
Sorting It All Out
If you've been writing a while, you may have a huge archive of material. Sure, it might all be good stuff but it might not all be good stuff for your current content marketing project. How do you decide what stays and what goes back to the vault? Here's the one big question you need to answer:
What is the primary message and audience for this new project?
Then look at each theme or topic bucket you created while you were organizing your archive. Which ones are relevant to the message and audience? Those are the ones to consider for inclusion in this new work. The rest? Just leave them on tap for that next project where they might be a perfect fit!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2015 Heidi Thorne