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Content Marketing: How to Find Gold in Your Existing Content

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing advocate and author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. She is a former trade newspaper editor.

Find gold in your existing content!

Find gold in your existing content!

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.

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 in the first place!

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.

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. 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!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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© 2015 Heidi Thorne


Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on January 19, 2018:

Mary, I've had to look at some of my articles, too, to see if they can be rewritten or repurposed into something else. Hope you find some gold in your archives!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 18, 2018:

I totally agree with the concept of repurposing some of my previous articles. There are 2 now in my account here in HP that I don't even want to look at again. It is not featured for lack of traffic. I think I will see what I can do.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 20, 2015:

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!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on December 20, 2015:

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.

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 17, 2015:

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!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 16, 2015:

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

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 15, 2015:

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!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 15, 2015:

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!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 15, 2015:

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

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 15, 2015:

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

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 15, 2015:

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!

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on December 14, 2015:

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 from USA on December 14, 2015:

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

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on December 14, 2015:

Great tips.

muhammad abdullah javed on December 14, 2015:

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

Mary Wickison from USA on December 14, 2015:

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

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 14, 2015:

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!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 14, 2015:

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!

Heidi Thorne (author) from Chicago Area on December 14, 2015:

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 from Saginaw, Michigan on December 13, 2015:

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!

Donna Herron from USA on December 13, 2015:

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!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 13, 2015:

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!

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