16 Jun
2014
Posted in: Writing
By    4 Comments

The purpose of repurposing content for blogs

Have you ever found yourself needing to write a post for your blog, but not knowing exactly what to write about? Repurposing content you’ve already written can help you come up with an idea in a pinch.

Repurposing blog content means taking content you’ve previously written and repackaging it so it’s like new. Repurposing content does not mean you should plagiarize yourself or anyone else for that matter. Even though you’re not going to sue yourself for copyright infringement, people will stop reading your blog if you keep rehashing the same content. The goal is to provide added value to your original post.

That is the secret to a successful post that makes readers come back every week. To add value. It can be tricky though to get started – especially as a new blogger. One way to attract readers to your blog is to rank in Google search results. However, this can feel like a catch-22 because Google isn’t going to rank your blog well if you don’t have readers clicking on your links.

But, for us, writers, we have an advantage. Thanks to Google’s new search algorithm, blogs that post quality content on a regular basis receive better rankings, which translate into more readers.

Writing quality content takes work. Anyone who has ever managed a blog understands the time commitment required for generating new content even once a week. Repurposing content – like a popular post from this time last year – provides a solution to maintaining quality content generation to get your blog noticed by Google’s web spiders while maintaining your sanity.

Ironically, the idea of ‘repurposing content’ is repurposed itself. I was first introduced to this concept as a summer reporter at the Daily Eastern News in Charleston, Ill. It had nothing to do with the Internet or blogs.

Know what happens at Eastern Illinois University in the summer?

Not much.

Corn grows.

And there’s the IHSA state track meet.

None of this was interesting enough to meet my 5-stories-a-week quota. When I complained, my then editor thunked a tombstone-sized blue scrapbook of the year’s previous stories on my desk.

“Find something in here.” He waved in its general direction before heading out back for a smoke.

Kevan Lee’s “Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content” over on the Buffer Blog ranks creating new blog posts and articles as the number one way to repurpose content. That is exactly how I spent my first summer as a DEN reporter: Writing spinoff articles based on an old article published earlier in the school year.

News reporters employ this technique regularly to fill space. An example is when a local reporter rewrites a national story with a local angle.

For example, here’s a hypothetical national headline followed by two headlines that illustrate how the former could be repurposed.

National Headline: Warm Winter Increases Risk of West Nile Disease This Summer, CDC Officials Say

Local headlines: Nurses Receive Extra Training for West Nile Care, Local Hospital Officials Say
St. Louis City Increases Budget for Mosquito Control Trucks

These articles are not follow-ups that provide a generic update. What makes them ‘repurposed’ is they would use the facts and stats and research from the national or ‘original’ article. Whether you write about the preparation of the local hospitals or how the increased risk impacts the local city budget, you’re still going to need to include the basic facts to give the article’s context.

The hardest part for me to learn, back then as a reporter, about repurposing content was why. Why would I want to include information that we’d previously published, that people had previously read in my article. Wasn’t that being redundant and boring at best and plagiarizing at worst?

Seven years since college, I now know the answer is ‘no.’

Here’s why.

First, I had to readjust my perspective from thinking that including old content was redundant to thinking that I should include it as a refresher. Not everyone would have read the original article. If they had, they probably didn’t remember the details, so a reminder was needed. In fact it’s expected. Readers get crabby if you don’t provide context. If there’s no context, then your post lacks value. If you’re post lacks value, than no more reader.

(Writer, take note. Ground your reader with context. Recycle your context in different articles as much as possible. If you write a mommy blog, then your context is being a mother. Develop a succinct paragraph or two with your target keywords to add to each blog post that reminds readers of your context.)

Next, I was worried that including repurposed content was copying. Don’t I need to do my own work? True, I could spend hours researching the topic myself. Or I could just credit a reliable source like a reporter from the Associated Press who’d already done that research. Why work harder when you can work smarter? Especially when there’s a story quota to hit.

I would call this legal plagiarizing because the newspaper pays the AP a fee to repurpose its content. However, credit still had to be given.

These type of credits can be recognized most often by an italic line at the end of the article that reads something like, “AP reporter Amanda So&So Jones contributed to this report.” That means the article you just read was repurposed using someone else’s research that the author has a right to use.

Not everyone can afford to pay AP their content fees. But, there are other options. Other sites allow – even encourage – writers to repurpose their content. Those include government agencies, blogs that provide permission under a creative commons license or press release sites like PRweb.

So, next time you’re having blog block, think back over the blogs you’ve written in the past and think about how you could repurpose them.

Geeky Lady is a former reporter who now works in legal marketing for a national law firm. She also writers middle grade and young adult fiction. Meet Geeky Lady >>>

4 Comments

  • Loved the example of the newspaper articles. The idea of “repurposed” has finally clicked in my brain now. Thanks, Geeky Lady :)

    • I’m glad to hear it helped, Spirit Lady. Repurposing is just a buzzword to describe a practice that’s been used long before the Internet and blogs. Just now that everyone seems to have a blog and cares about ranking well in Google, more people are interested in the tricks of content generation.

  • Great ideas here. My wheels are turning.

    • Margo – This post was so long….but I could have written so much more. Glad it’s inspiring you! It’s funny, but I plan on repurposing this post over the coming months.

So, what do you think?