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Content Marketing: How to Find Gold in Your Existing Content

Updated on September 10, 2016
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Heidi Thorne is a self publishing expert, author of 21 (and counting!) business books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

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Many consultants and small business owners create content as part of their day-to-day operations. But then when they think about writing a blog or nonfiction book to help promote their businesses, they think they have to come up with something entirely new. Granted, there may be occasions where that might be the case. But the content marketing “goldmine” that may already exist should not be ignored! "Recycling" and "repurposing" this material can help you create new works with less effort. If nothing else, it could serve as inspiration.

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Sources of Existing Content

Some of the following sources of existing content seem so obvious it's laughable! So don't overlook the goldmine of material that may be hiding in:

  • Material from previous self published books you’ve written
  • Blog posts and online articles you’ve written
  • Newsletters that you’ve written and broadcast (by mail or email)
  • Your daily journal writing
  • FAQs you've answered on your website
  • Handouts and slides you’ve used at your speaking engagements

WORD OF CAUTION FOR EXISTING CONTENT! If you have written a book under contract with a traditional publisher, or you have prepared the material for use by a client or any other party, you likely will NOT be able to “recycle” that exact material into a new book, or even a blog. Even if you write on the same subject, you’ll often have to start from scratch. Review your contract with an attorney to clarify your rights. One more reason to go with self publishing!

The same restrictions may apply to guest blogs or articles you have written for others. Check your agreement with the publisher. If you don’t have a formal agreement on copyright ownership, either contact the publisher for specific permission OR remove that piece from consideration altogether.

Using a "Bucket" List to Mine for Content Marketing Gold

Though some write on a wide variety of topics or themes, usually authors and writers stick with a few for which they are best known. What topics or themes are you known for?

Once you've narrowed your field to a few key topics or themes, create a "bucket" list for each. As you review your existing content archive, throw each reviewed piece into an appropriate bucket for future content marketing consideration.

You can use any of these methods for organizing your buckets:

  • Electronic Spreadsheet. Using a spreadsheet that identifies the title and location of each piece of content is ideal. The spreadsheet can easily be sorted by the topic or theme. As well, the spreadsheet data is searchable.
  • Productivity Programs. A variety of productivity programs, such as the popular Evernote, are available for organizing notes and thoughts. Like spreadsheets, these programs can usually search and sort entries.
  • Old School Notes and Folders. Use notepaper (such as a legal pad) for logging existing content you discover from your archive. Set up a separate page (or pages) for each theme or topic and log each piece of content on an appropriate page. Alternatively, you could also set up a standard file folder for each topic or theme and drop a note into the appropriate folder as you discover viable candidates from your archive.

Bottom line is that whether you go new school or old school, use whatever organizing method is comfortable for you.

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Reruns to Revenues

“But I’ve already included this stuff in a previous book (or blog or whatever)! I can’t use it again, right?” Wrong! While it’s true that an audience who has already purchased or read your work may not be interested in other books or blogs that cover the exact same material, begin to think about how the material can be revised or refocused to:

  • Address additional aspects of the theme or topic.
  • Appeal to additional and nontraditional markets.
  • Update material with new information or features for those who already read your work.

Plus, people’s attention spans keep getting smaller and they may need to hear what you have to say multiple times before it sinks in. Another reason not to dismiss the potential of using previously self published content in new publications and in new ways.

This also points to the value of creating evergreen content in the first place. If your topic or theme is faddish or changes rapidly, it will be difficult to find much gold in your archive.

Sorting It All Out

If you've been writing a while, you may have a huge archive of material. Sure, it might all be good stuff... but it might not all be good stuff for your current content marketing project. How do you decide what stays and what goes back to the vault? Here's the one big question you need to answer:

What is the primary message and audience for this new project?

Then look at each theme or topic bucket you created while you were organizing your archive. Which ones are relevant to the message and audience? Those are the ones to consider for inclusion in this new work. The rest? Just leave them on tap for that next project where they might be a perfect fit!

Disclaimer: Both the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and both parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice and strategies presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional advisor where and when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive, arising from or relating to your reliance on this information.

© 2015 Heidi Thorne

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    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi bdegiulio! With all your amazing photo work, I'm sure you have a treasure trove of content and images that can be repurposed into new hubs and more. Can't wait to see what you come up with. Thanks for chiming in and Merry Christmas!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 21 months ago from Massachusetts

      Great suggestion Heidi. I'll have to go back and look at some of my older hubs and see if I can repurpose some of them. I never considered this but it makes perfect sense. Thank you.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      AliciaC, if your work here on HP is any indication, I'm going to guess you have a treasure trove of content in your archive. Have fun searching through it over the holiday. Appreciate all your support over the year. Happy Holidays!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 21 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing this very useful advice, Heidi. I'll think about what you've said over the holiday.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      True that, RonElFran! I think the challenge for us now is to find new perspectives on what we've already written and turn that new insight into new posts. Have fun digging through your archive (it a rich one for sure!). Merry Christmas!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      And, FlourishAnyway, I'm sure you've got a LOT of material to recycle and repurpose! Have fun digging through your archive goldmine. Happy Holidays!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks for stopping by, Larry! Have a great holiday season!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hello m abdullah javed! Glad you found the tips practical. Thank you for your kind comments and Happy Holidays to you, too!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Blond Logic, you probably have a lot more treasures in your archive than you realize. Have fun with your search for content gold and Happy Holidays!

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 21 months ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      You've encouraged me to take another look at some of my existing material. I've repurposed some of it in the past to post elsewhere. The problem is, we seem to be running out of alternative sites these days!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 21 months ago from USA

      I like the idea of recycling and repurposing, building on what you already have rather than starting anew. Great ideas!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 21 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great tips.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 21 months ago

      Very pragmatic approach of making the available contents useful. Your hub serves as a ready reference for the writers. Thanks heidithorne. Happy Christmas.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 21 months ago from Brazil

      This is a great idea. I will now go and look at other items I've written for inspiration.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Reynold Jay! Indeed, I get inspiration new stuff from old stuff I've done all the time. Confession: This hub was inspired by a handout I created for my coaching work. So I practice what I preach. We'll look forward to seeing what new stuff you'll be creating from your archive! Happy Holidays!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi purl3agony! You're also a hubber who has developed a goldmine here on HP, with awesome photos. Sounds like hubby's got a similar stash. Looking forward to seeing what you develop from your body of work. If we don't connect before, Merry Christmas!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Billybuc, you definitely are sitting on some gold with your work here on HP. You probably have several books sitting in those 1,000 articles. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Monday!

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 21 months ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Good advice and many writers should peek at this HUB as a good idea can pop up at anytime. a spark that will begin a blaze of creativity. Ideas are flowing like a gushing well right here! Well done HUB, Heidi!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 21 months ago from USA

      This is a really wonderful idea. I know my husband has written some engineering articles, then written more articles, discussing further the methods or processes he mentioned in the previous pieces. I've done this with a few of my knitting articles, but need to think about other aspects that can be developed further into new articles. Thanks for the great suggestion and inspiration!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Right on as always. I've done these things on several occasions. With over 1,000 articles and counting, it would be a shame to leave them just sitting at HubPages gathering dust. Great suggestions! Have a great week!