Recycle Your Way to Never-Ending Content in 8 Simple Steps
You’ll never run out of ideas with this exercise — all you need is pen and paper
The beginning of the quarter is here and you’re excited to plan your content for the next 90 days. The first month of content creation flows smoothly, and you’re working your way through the first half of the second month, only to hit a wall. You’ve had the best intention to stay ahead of the game with content, but somehow, someway, your editorial calendar dries up earlier than expected. How is this possible?
The answer: You’re attempting to create fresh content on a consistent basis. I want to preface this article by saying I’m not telling you to not create fresh content. I’m saying that fresh content should simply be a portion of your content strategy — not all of it. The remaining portion should be what you already have, only in a different format. This process is known as repurposing.
Not to be confused with “revamping,” which means to update a piece of content, repurposing means to change the format type. For example, let’s say you produce a detailed infographic on the impact of student loan debt. You can repurpose that infographic into images for social media, draft a blog post on topics mentioned in the infographic, and you can create a live-stream.
Repurposing is how you create a year’s worth of content effortlessly. Yes, I said an entire year. You may look at this article, squint your eyes, and think, “There’s no way I can plan a year of content in advance. I barely make it through a quarter.”
You can do it if you reuse what you’ve already created, and I have a handy exercise that will show you how. (Note: if you already have a surplus of blogs, videos, etc., you can jump straight to step four, but I highly recommend you go through the entire exercise.)
The Index Card Method
The Index Card Method is an exercise to help creatives think of topics for content.
To complete this exercise, you’ll need the following tools:
- Writing Utensil
- Index Card or Post-It Notes
- Piece of paper
Step One: Set aside 1 to 3 hours of interrupted time.
Step Two: Have a brain dump.
For the next 15 to 30 minutes, write every single topic that comes to mind about your company, business, or brand on a blank index card or sticky note (one card per topic). As a social media and content strategist, I may write the following topics on index cards: metrics, reputation management, customer advocacy, brand awareness, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and live streaming.
When dumping, don’t think too hard about whether or not the topic is relevant. If the topic comes to mind, write it down. At the completion of your brain dump, you should have a pile of index cards or sticky notes that look similar to the picture below.
Step Three: Create categories.
Now that you have a list of topics, it’s time to create categories. Think about which subjects can be grouped together, and develop a category name. If I have the following subjects listed on index cards: target audience, competitor analysis, tactics, and strategies, I may create a category called “Strategy.” Or, if I have live streaming, blog, video, and infographic, I may create a category called “Content.” The goal is to create three to five subject areas (also known as “pillar content”).
Step Four: Make a primary content list.
In the first column, list the content category. In the second column, identify the content type. And in the third column, provide a name, or title, for your content. Do not skip this step.
Step Five: Make a list of additional content types.
Once you’ve listed the primary type of content, note the various ways you’ll repurpose the content.
As you can see, one form of content can easily turn into three or four additional formats.
Step Six: Create the content from your list.
This is where the magic happens. For every type of content you’ve listed, actually create it.
Step Seven: Schedule the content.
I highly recommend Hootsuite, Buffer, CoSchedule, or Smarterque. If you’re only using Facebook, you can schedule content within the platform.
Step Eight: Celebrate!
Pat yourself on the back, because you now have a full editorial calendar.
Repurposing content is a way to work smarter, not harder. After all, you didn’t invest time and energy into a blog post or podcast for it to only be seen one time. By repurposing content, you’re implementing a marketing principle called the “Rule of 7,” on which The Balance: Small Business writes,
“The Rule of 7 is a marketing principle that states that your prospects need to come across your offer at least seven times before they really notice it and start to take action. Your prospects can be exposed to your offer significantly more than seven times, but they need to see it at least seven times. This helps them remember you amid an overwhelming amount of marketing messages and other information and positions you to get better results from your marketing efforts.”
Whether your content goals are to increase prospects and donors or sell new products, a full-editorial calendar is a step in the right direction.
Please note: I did not receive compensation for mentioning any of the tools in this article.