Copywriter Q&A: Repurposing Marketing Content with Merrisa Milliner
COPYWRITER Q&A: REPURPOSING MARKETING CONTENT WITH MERRISA MILLINER
The Writers For Hire (TWFH) team member Merrisa Milliner has a background that makes her uniquely suited for content creation: She got her start as a magazine editor, where she honed her skills developing content and maintaining an editorial calendar. From there, the self-described “big-picture thinker” moved into a series of corporate communications and marketing positions, where she combined her editorial acumen with her gift for planning and strategic thinking.
Merrisa sat down with us recently to discuss fine art of repurposing content. The quick-and-dirty takeaway: If you follow a few best practices and choose the right pieces, repurposing content is a great way to get the most bang for your marketing and copywriting buck.
TWFH: First off, let’s define “repurposing.” What is repurposing, exactly? How is it different than simply duplicating work you’ve already done?
MM: A lot of times, the format is going to dictate that. For example, if you have three existing blog posts, add an intro, and put them together into an eBook, that’s repurposing. Or, vice-versa: If you have, say, an eBook and you take a couple of individual chapters and edit them slightly for your blog, that’s repurposing. You’ve packaged the content differently. I don’t consider that duplication.
TWFH: What is the benefit of repurposing content, from an internal perspective?
MM: You save time and money; you get more bang for your buck, marketing-wise. You can use the content you’ve created to serve different purposes and to help you further your marketing strategy. You can repurpose content to meet certain goals. For example, if you have an eBook that’s a free, downloadable pdf it’s serving as a lead magnet. But if you’re pulling it apart and using it for blog content, it’s more about informing customers, staying in touch, and helping your SEO.
TWFH: What are some types of content that can be repurposed?
MM: One thing that immediately comes to mind is a company history book. That’s a great example of something that can be repurposed. You’ve spent time and money on a massive company history book, and you’re searching for blog or newsletter idea — why not pull something out of the book and use it?
Or let’s say you have a blog post with four images or infographics. Can you pull out those images and use them to create four new social posts that direct traffic to your blog? You could also take information from your existing content and use it to create an infographic. Infographics are highly shareable. People don’t read as much anymore, but infographics and images are very popular because they’re easy to scan and they grab the eye.
TWFH: How do you decide if something is worth repurposing?
MM: Most companies have some standard keywords or hashtags they’re using for SEO. That’s definitely a relevant thing to look at. It’s worth repurposing a piece of content that can help in any of those channels. And, obviously, anything that you think would be interesting to target audience.
TWFH: Is there any type of content you would NOT repurpose?
MM: I think that depends on a few factors. Is the information still relevant and useful? Is your audience is going to be interested? Before you say, “Hey, I think our blog post could make an eBook,” ask yourself, “Will my audience read X number of pages about this topic?” If the answer is “no,” don’t do it.
TWFH: Is there a “waiting period” for repurposing content?
MM: No. The reason for that is, very often, you can use repurposed content to cross-promote. Let’s say I just launched my new eBook. Now I’m going break it apart and pull out some pieces for a series of blogs — and in each one, I’m going to promote my new eBook. In that case, I wouldn’t actually want to wait. I’d want to do that pretty close to launch. Really, you want to be thinking about how your pieces of content all play into each other and how you can use them and re-use them to get the most bang for buck.
TWFH: So, do you always create new content with an eye toward repurposing it?
MM: Yes. That’s partly because that’s just how my mind works. I’m “big-picture.” But I think it would make sense for anyone to do that.
TWFH: Do you use any strategies to make sure that a piece is easy to repurpose?
MM: I think some of it can come down to the format and style you use. For example, if you want to create an eBook that will be easy to break into blog posts, format it accordingly. Use lots of subheads and bullet points. Keep chapters and sections brief. It’ll be harder to do that if you’ve got something that’s very dense and text-heavy.
TWFH: It seems like this is where planning might be helpful. Do you find that you draw on your experiences creating editorial calendars?
MM: Yes. It’s easy to overlook all the different ways you can use content. But if you purposely set out with that in mind, that’ you’re going to see opportunities for repurposing right away. If you don’t plan, you’ll often end up with a bunch of blogs on random topics. For example, if you have a blog, you can create a 12-month editorial calendar and organize it with the goal of creating a series of e-books. You can plan to do three or four blogs per month on a specific topic, and then at the end of the year you can combine them and re-purpose them into an e-book. You could also do this on a quarterly basis. What’s really important is that you have content that fits together.
TWFH: What about industries or companies that rely on very timely blog content that’s hard to plan? Or departments that don’t do editorial calendars?
MM: If planning is not your forte or if it’s simply not the way you do things, I’d suggest taking a look at your existing content once a quarter or so. Some of your content might seem a little random and unrelated, but then you might notice themes that show up naturally. For example, you might notice that you’ve got three articles about manufacturing. Can you combine them and repurpose them into a single eBook?
TWFH: Is there a limit to how many times you’d repurpose something?
MM: I think it depends. For social media, you can repurpose content several times and just take a different angle each time. For blogs or e-books, on the other hand, I would recommend repurposing the content just once. There aren’t many to change it up so you’re not just saying the same old thing or duplicating your content.
TWFH: So, how do you avoid saying the same thing? How do you keep repurposed content fresh?
MM: This is another reason an editorial calendar or quarterly review is helpful. This gives you an opportunity to get purposeful and go back through your content. Have there been any new developments? Is there anything you can add to refresh or make this content more relevant?
TWFH: What about unsuccessful content? For example, a blog post that never really attracts readers — how do you know if it’s worth trying to repurpose? How do you know if it’s NOT worth trying?
MM: I think most people have a good feel for whether content should succeed. Ask yourself this question: Were you surprised that the content didn’t succeed? If your post was unsuccessful but your gut is still telling you it’s good, interesting information, you should look at different ways to present that information. But if you look at it and say, “That’s not very interesting, and I can understand why it didn’t succeed,” it’s probably not worth it.
TWFH: We’ve talked about the “standard” sources of content for repurposing – blogs, eBooks, social, etc. But are there any surprising, under-the-radar places to find reusable content?
MM: When I was working at in marketing at an engineering firm, we entered a lot of industry competitions. Typically, you’d have to fill out these huge entry forms, and they ask for detailed descriptions of past projects and areas of expertise. There are some really good stories in there, and they’re not typically published anywhere else. Another surprising source is proposals. They can be kind of dry and technical, but sometimes they have good information and good stories. Because again, a lot of times when you’re writing a proposal you’re thinking about successes you’ve had, or you’re presenting case studies.
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