In a perfect world, we would be content generating machines.
Every day a new idea would pop into our minds, and it would be a winner. Everyone would love it, and the post would be shared far and wide.
Your audience would grow effortlessly, and those content gems would just keep on coming.
But we are not machines. Content ideas (especially good ones) don't just fall out of the sky.
Sometimes we don't get the mileage out of what we were certain was going to be a hit, or a random post we barely thought would work becomes a viral sensation.
It is all just a roll of the dice.
The only absolute in content is the need for lots of it. Unfortunately, the above issues come into play and there are days when your fountain is running dry.
What do you do when you need something new for your blog, but it just isn't coming?
Your blog old content is your most efficient source for new content inspiration. You would be shocked by the sheer amount of power still lurking behind posts that were published in the past.
By looking at what you did in the past you can expand your content marketing tactics effortlessly.
Finding The Posts To Reuse
Not all blog posts are worth recycling. Separating your former content into three categories will help you moving forward:
- Content that did very well. These posts generated a higher amount of traffic than others, was shared regularly, or brought on plenty of comments. It sparked a discussion, and boosted your visibility. You know for a fact that your readers appreciated it, and are interested in the topic. These are going to go to the very top of your recycle list, and will likely bring the most return.
- Content that didn't meet its potential. Admit it, you have a handful of posts that you know where ripe for great content, but you just didn't manage to nail it. The topic was good, but you were having an off day. Maybe you didn't know enough about the subject at the time. Perhaps you were even just feeling lazy and didn't put in the work it deserved. These will potentially offer more posts for your recycle list, but be honest about whether or not it will work this time around. If reader interest has passed you either have to find a new, more relevant angle, or scrap it.
- Content that generated no interest. If a post didn't manage to catch any attention, or people just didn't seem interested, use that as a sign. The traffic numbers will be the best indicator here. When you have decent traffic but no engagement, it means the post didn't meet its potential. But interest in the topic itself was there (something was done right, to get people to click in the first place). Without that traffic, it shows that no one was interested in the core topic you were trying to present. Let that one go.
I am using this premium Wordpress plugin (Happy to find a free alternative if you are aware of one!) to sort my blog articles by how many social media shares it received. It's a good way to get a bird's eye view on which articles went particularly well / badly:
Obviously, referral analytics software (I am using both Google Analytics and Piwik) is also a must if you want to identify particularly successful content.
How To Use Your Old Content to Create New Articles
When it comes to using old blog content in a new way, you are only limited by your imagination.
As long as you are trying to make something genuinely new, it is going to be a good post with the potential to be successful.
Here are some ways you can use your blog old content effectively:
1. Go With An Update
When a topic has generated a lot of interest, there is a good chance people want to learn more about it. If there is new information available, things have changed significantly, or a lot of time has passed, you can do a new post about the topic.
Then consider linking back to the original you did, which can bring some traffic to an old post.
When you are writing an update, make sure to prominently link to your old article. This way you'll rank it higher. Be sure to name your new article differently (target a different but related keywords in the title).
This way you'll avoid your new article competing with your old one is search results. Use this awesome free Bulk Suggest keyword research tool to get some new keyword ideas to use in the article title:
2. Read Comments
Comments are an absolutely unbeatable source of content inspiration. Whichever article I am reading, I'll always scroll down to the comments.
A well written post can bring up more questions than it originally set out to answer. Go through your old posts and write down any questions which were brought up in the comments. You should end up with a decent sized list of new posts that can spark your inspiration.
Tip: Try to bring those discussions to your new article too! Everything around your old content can become a good asset for your new article.
For example, you can quote your reader or embed tweets to give more background on what you are talking about and why. Look at how SiteGeek is using Tweets to give more information to their readers for example:
Another great way to curate social media conversations around your articles is Cyfe. You can create a separate widget for each of your articles to collect and archive tweets to later embed them in your new content:
3. Write A List Post
List posts are, and always have been, ridiculously popular. If something gets a lot of traction, nine times out of ten it is written in a list format.
Find bits and pieces from old posts and start a curating a list. Try and make them unique or original; no one wants to read a list with the same items on it as any other.
Featured tool #1:
Use MyBlogU (Disclaimer: I am the founder) to generate more original items to re-focus your list and make it more original. MyBlogU lets you crowdsource your content ideas and creation: Create a project and let members send you related thoughts, quotes, stats, etc. You can even upload your draft and let MyBlogU collaborators complete it:
Featured tool #2:
For more exposure to your list, consider re-using it over at List.ly: It can a good additional traffic and inspiration source too!
4. Make A Master List Of Blog Posts
Blog post master lists are a great way to bring people's attention to old posts they might not have been aware of. Or to remind them of posts they read before and really enjoyed.
Think of a handful of categories and start finding posts that match them. Write a small description of each with an enticing visual (like the original header image).
This free Wordpress plugin looks outdated but it still works for me. It lets you easily generate blog round-ups
5. Create An Infographic
Everyone knows infographics are powerful marketing tools. Not only are they great to look at, but they are viral fodder. The market for infographics is relatively small in comparison to their popularity, which makes them ripe for the picking.
Another a bit more time-consuming re-packaging tactic is creating an eBook. Great asset!
Canva is an easy way to put together cool infographics... It's free too!
6. Record A Podcast
Plenty of blogs now have podcast versions of their blog posts these days. Or they take the topics as a general idea, and then record a podcast just based on the subject.
That allows them to also link to the blog post as its own content on a related subject, doubling their audience engagement. We had a great Twitter chat with @StacieWalker on how to set up a podcast.
Another plus to this tactic is that podcasts have become a standard content format that has really taken over. Having one can immediately set you apart from the competition.
7. Put Together an eBook or a Whitepaper
When you feel like, you've covered a particular topic extensively throughout several blog posts, put them together in an eBook or a Whitepaper! That's a great way to consolidate your expertise and offer your audience free educational content to take home!
I am using this tool to convert my docs into handy PDFs. It preserves all clickable links which is great!
Here are more content types you can re-package your old content into:
Do you have any tips for recycling content? Let us know in the comments!