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written by Lindsey Donner
9 Ways to Repurpose Your Writing (Without Repeating Yourself)
The best thought leaders know how to mine their own content for fresh ideas.
This post is part of a monthly series on how to best utilize your personal branding and media benefits. [Note: This benefit is for Forbes Councils members only. Click here to find out if you qualify.]
Smart writers repurpose their best work. And there are more ways to do it than you may realize. You can turn your articles into a series on LinkedIn or turn key quotes into great visual content on Instagram. After all, if you spent hours on one 800-word article, you ought to find as many ways as you can to get it into your audience’s hands.
But I want to talk about something a little different: When you’re at a loss for new topics, or you’re a prolific writer who’s already turned out a lot of great content on your area of expertise, where do you find new ideas — especially when most publishers are looking for exclusive, new-to-them content?
We’ve read a lot of brilliant thought leadership articles from members here every day, and I can assure you, they are not all reinventing the wheel every time they write. Here are a few dead-simple tricks you can keep in your back pocket for creating smart, engaging, new material by using your existing library to your advantage.
1. Write a response to your own piece. Ever read an op-ed online and thought, “I agree, but this person really failed to highlight a major issue”?
Consider the same approach with some of your own previous work. I bet you’ve written at least one advice or opinion piece in the past that you now have a different take on. Why not revisit the same topic with fresh eyes (and link back to your first piece)?
2. Update a trends article. Trends, predictions and analyses of current goings-on in your industry are always a good place to go for ideas. But if you tend to write this kind of content often, you’ve already done half the legwork. You can go back to your last piece and piggyback off your initial research to make updates, share new developments and even change course on some of your predictions that have gone south. It’s a great way to stay top of mind and prove you (and your organization) are always on the cutting edge.
3. Take a deeper dive into a hot topic. Often I read big-picture pieces that give a quick skim of several ideas, like “5 Digital Marketing Platforms B2B Companies Must Try.” Good article topic. But why not write an in-depth article on each of the five platforms and link back to the first in your intro? That’s five pieces of content right there.
4. Or do the opposite — step back and offer a big-picture analysis. Did you write a few really in-depth pieces on artificial intelligence? Well, reverse-engineer it: What are the 3 or 5 things someone in your audience must know, broadly speaking, about AI?
5. Revisit reader feedback on the post you’re trying to repurpose. Did someone pose a useful question in the comments of your last article? Did they offer feedback you found insightful? Remember, the whole idea of using content to build trust and credibility is based on writing what your audience cares about. If they had a question, or advice for you, or follow-up thoughts on something you posted previously — that’s a goldmine of content ideas right there.
6. Use the same source material a second, third or even fourth time. I’m not suggesting you rehash your thoughts. What I am suggesting is that you look back at your research for your last pieces, especially if you wrote them for a different venue. Did you conduct an interview? Read an inspiring sales book? Do some other “homework” to prepare? Chances are, you didn’t share every good tidbit you unearthed in your first go-round. So consider a second and even a third iteration.
The first piece might be 5 lessons from a talk or a book you read, and the second piece might be an in-depth look at a particular strategy and how you’ve applied it firsthand. The possibilities are endless.
7. Write the same topic for a new audience. Depending on your goals as a thought leader, there may be more than one audience you’re trying to reach. Let’s say you’re an executive coach offering resume tips. If you work with multiple types of people in different verticals, you can easily re-think your piece for a new audience — C-level tech executives instead of operations pros, for example.
Or let’s say you’re a finance executive who works with business owners. There are branding benefits to be gained both from offering professional advice for your peers (how to overcome objections when dealing with new clients) as there are to offering advice directly to your potential customers (tips for streamlining your company finances).
8. Turn a how-to post into a “top questions” or listicle. Let’s say you’re the founder of a tech company and you write a piece about your experience leading an internal rebrand and the technical hiccups it caused. Why not take that same idea and break it down into before-and-after questions that someone approaching this decision is just now considering? For example, “10 Questions To Ask Your Tech Team Before Embarking On A Rebrand.”
9. Develop a series. What’s the most popular post you’ve ever written? What’s a topic that keeps coming up again and again as a customer pain point? Before you even sit down to write, think in advance about how you can turn one good idea into an ongoing, step-by-step series.
My view? If something you write resonates with your audience, keep going! I’m willing to bet they’re looking forward to Part 2.