10 Ways To Use Recycled Content


As we’ve previously covered, remarkable content is dying. It’s dying and in its place we’re seeing content farms sprout up delivering us material that is “good enough” for search engines, but not necessarily inspiring for users. Before you invest in a content farm of your very own, why not make sure you’re getting as much mileage out of your best content as you can? That means finding ways to repurpose it. I mean, you wouldn’t throw an ice cream carton away until you had scooped out every last bit, right?

Of course you wouldn’t. It’s not human.

Here are some ways I like to repurpose old content. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas for how to get more power from your own work.

Article Directory Sites

This is the easiest (and my least favorite) way to repurpose old content. It typically requires going in and reformatting the material for an article directory site like EzineArticles. These sites tend to have strict editorial guidelines about how articles must appear, the number of links you can include, and how to handle affiliate links. The benefit, though, is that these sites tend to rank very highly and can offer you a whole bunch more new eyeballs, while allowing you to point keyword-rich links to your site. To make it super easy, eZine now has its own WordPress plugin so you can post directly to the site from WP. I haven’t used it myself, but people say it works.

Your Company Newsletter

Your email newsletter often has a much wider audience than your blog does. If you write a post that gets a lot of traction or even an article for someone else, don’t assume that the people on your email list have seen it. Because they likely haven’t, which means you’re missing out on an opportunity to bring them into your community and to show yourself as an expert. If you had a post that exploded on your site, why not republish the article in your company newsletter? Obviously if the article appeared on another site, you’ll need permission. But you’ll often be able to get some republishing rights, even if it’s just a snippet that directs them to the full article. Everyone wants extra exposure.

Change Markets

Say you’re an Internet marketing company that recently penned an article on promoting your caterer business online. Now you have this killer resource for those in the catering market who need help networking online, creating relationships with bloggers, and using social media. Awesome. Now flip it. Change the market. Make it about floral marketing or using social media as a veterinarian or accountant. The core of the article is there, you just have to change the details and market the article toward a new audience. Bing, bang, boom.

Create Presentations From Articles

I choose not to speak at conferences, however, the moment I ever decide I want to I know how I’d be writing my presentations. I’d be going back to old articles and blog posts I’ve written and creating my presentation around it. Think about it. You’re often asked to speak on issues that you’re an expert on. Topics that you’ve probably already written about at length on your blog or for other outlets. These articles broke down complicated problems and created a step-by-step process for how to do something. Pick out the steps, add some clever banter throughout and it’s not an article anymore. It’s a crowd-winning presentation!

Create Articles From Presentations

If you do speak at conferences, then you’ve already spent the time and mental energy to create a presentation deck that carefully outlines your view on a specific topic. You’ve stood in front of an audience in the position of an expert and shown them the steps to do X. Why not use that as the basis for an article on the same topic? I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve listened to Rae or Rhea speak and approached them later about writing an article on the same topic. It’s another good way to repurpose content. After all, the work is already done!

Expand on Interviews

A few weeks ago I was asked to answer a few questions for an upcoming post on one of the popular social media blogs. Because I’m a tad wordy, the interviewer emailed me back and said he wasn’t able to use the entire interview and asked if he could repurpose it for another article on a different site. Obviously, I told him he was free to do so. If you’re often interviewed, chances are your whole interview isn’t being used either. Why not ask for permission to use the remaining portion on your site and turn it into a larger article? You’ve already spent the mental energy and been given a great prompt, turn it into something.

Transcribe Interviews

Were you recently interviewed for a podcast, TV interview, or some other non-text medium? Ask for permission to transcribe the interview and place it on your site. This will help you add new content, take advantage of keyword opportunities, and it gives people another option to take in the information. Believe it or not, there still are some people who would rather read an interview than listen to one. Google also provides text to audio. Interviews can be time consuming, you want to make sure you’re getting as much mileage as you can.

Tie it together as an eBook

We’re starting to see a lot more of this lately. A company or media outlet will publish a series of articles on a related topic and then, later on, tie them together as an eBook available for download. This is a great way to establish authority on a topic that you’ve already written about and it gives readers one place to go to get in-depth information about a certain topic. You’ve already done the work, now you just have to rename posts “chapters”.

Document Sharing Sites

Again, don’t be afraid to reuse presentations. Whether it’s a presentation from a national conference or the presentation you gave to a handful of college students, upload the Powerpoint to a site like SlideShare and embed it on your blog with some additional comments. You’ll get more eyeballs on it and reaffirm your position as an expert on the topic. It’s also good to place this type of content on your blog for any media outlets or potential clients who may stumble across it.

Audio Content

People listen to podcasts because they like the freedom of being able to take content with them. They want to listen to that radio show while they’re in the car or burning calories at the gym. Why not deliver your RSS feed or articles the same way? Use a program like Audacity to record them and publish them to the Web so that users can subscribe to them via iTunes. You get to re-use the same content and potentially attract a whole new audience.

As you can see, I’m a big believer in repurposing content. Because, as they sometimes say, if you’ve got it, you may as well flaunt it. ;) What are some ways you repurpose your best content?

Your Comments

  • Wait, have I read this before? (And if not, why not?)

  • Lisa, can you elaborate on why you don’t think highly of article submission sites?

    • My bad if it came off that way. It’s not that I don’t think highly of them, they definitely serve a purpose and offer an effective way to build links back to your site. They’re just not my favorite way to repurpose content. I prefer to make something new out of something old, I suppose. But there’s nothing wrong with article submission sites. They can offer great exposure.

      • I went back and re-read that section, and I did read too much into your comments. (My bad.)

        I have used those sites over the years, and some of them do have increasingly annoying ground rules. Still, we have seen some serious traffic increases in certain instances.

        • Agreed. If you can get past the strict rules of conduct, they can offer a lot. Sorry if I confused you at first. :)

          • There’s a lot of controversy when it comes to article submission sites. Obviously you can get a lot of attention from posting on these kinds of sites, but there’s been talk in the SEO world that it’s a low-quality tactic and doesn’t count much. I still haven’t tried submitting to article sites. The submittal site’s publishing rules don’t bother me much; my questions have to do with the legalities of it all. And it may be a little bit of an ethical tension issue, too.

            For example, I wrote an article about air intakes. A small ATV blog decided to publish it on their site. The site doesn’t get that much traffic (and I really haven’t figured out a way to tell if people who read the article on that site clicked on the links in the article and came to our site). I then took that same article and improved it by 100% and have gotten a major industry website to publish it as a blog post. The article isn’t exactly the same; there’s a lot more depth on the major industry site version. But it’s still basically the same article.

            I’m wondering if it’s ethically okay to publish essentially the same article on several sites and also on our own site. Would this go to duplicate content issues that would mess up our rankings?

            Also, what are the legal ramifications behind this? If I’ve already posted a version on our website, another version is posted on another website, and now a third version is being published on a third website, am I going to get into trouble? If I do get into trouble, what are the consequences? I would think I would start to get a bad reputation in my industry if I did this too much.

  • Excellent article. I like the idea about turning old articles into presentations or sideshows. I’m definitely going to give that a try for some of my older work!

    • Thanks! It makes sense to do it. After you’ve written the post, you already have the whole outline ready and waiting for you. Good luck with it!

  • Some of my best content is still sitting as drafts in my wordpress CMS. :)

    • Ha, I hear that. I have a big drafts folder myself. :)

  • Lisa, I have also recycled content into press releases. It does take a little re-writing, but it works well. You have to make it come off as an announcement of a program or an attempt to inform the public, but it works well and gets a lot of Google recognition.

    • Nice idea. I have a pretty limited history with press releases, to be honest (Rae is much better), so I haven’t tried that approach. Yet. :)

  • I absolutely love this post!! I was thinking how I could get attention to some posts I’d written in the past when I had much less traffic back then.

    This is just what I was looking for. Thank you! ;-D

    • I think you hit on something really important. A lot of times we release our best content right out of the gate…when we don’t have a big readership yet. By recycling them you can your new readers find and benefit from them.

  • You’ve made great points Lisa. Especially on creating e-books from old content. What a great way to recycle!

  • Great piece,
    The re-purposing ‘recycling’ of content is something widely practiced in the music field.
    A natural for re-using online content would be events that take place yearly, say Thanksgiving, Halloween, Bastille Day.
    It is easier to do when you’ve been at it for a while. Stories resurface as these yearly events approach.
    Right now I could recycle stories from July’s past.
    Since I started doing interviews, I follow up with a contest when possible and related stories so it creates a thread.
    The recycling sometimes is done by others for example this week ‘Mahalo’ mentioned a story I did on ‘Picpoul de Pinet’ (a wine) in their related blog content.
    I guess there are many possiblities.
    I would like to come up with some ideas that generate income.
    Enjoy the rest of your day

    ‘The French Guy from New Jersey’

    Twitter: @theconcierge
    Facebook: sergetheconcierge

    • Nice point about being about to recycle seasonal content. That’s another biggie. Thanks for the comment. :)

    • Thinking of (written) content like music – remix it, remaster it, change up the lyrics, or keep the lyrics and make an acoustic / electric / orchestra / movie score out of it. Play it with a new band, a side project, or make a live recording.

      Seriously, thanks for that. I hate recycling content, but love to recycle music… artistically, it’s the same process.

  • I recently heard John Jantsch say something about this. He said anytime he creates content, he always keeps in mind multiple purposes. I now do the same as much as possible.

    • Cool. John’s a smart dude. I wish I could say I was smart enough to think up multiple uses of my content as I’m writing it, but that’s not always the case. For me it typically comes after.

  • Great points, Lisa!

    There are n number of ways to repurpose say, a podcast. Transcribe the podcast and edit it for a blog post, or a chapter in an ebook, a whitepaper to hook new subscribers, a guest post, article marketing, etc…

  • I also recycle content and I definitely pick-up something new today aside from article submission … thanks a lot.

  • For recycling blog post I used to rewrite or change a bit to publish in Bengali news paper or magazine. If the magazine publish my blog URL, I can also drive some traffic to my site too.

    Thanks Lisa for such a nice article, creating the presentation with the old article and making a ebook I like the most. Definitely I am gonna implement those two for my work.

  • Good commentary. I tell my clients this frequently and also rotate my own content (especially those that get the most kudos) on a regular basis. We have to remember that the internet is not static. Every day there’s someone new who hasn’t read your content; may be looking for your exact take on a subject. Make sure you provide it while working in new content to keep it fresh for your loyal followers.