Content Strategy: Reuse & Recycle

You already have great content and plans for more, but how can you get more out of what you’ve already created? Reuse and recycle!

When I first started as editor of WorkingMother.com, the magazine was published eight times a year and then it dropped down to six. Up until then, most of the content on the website was direct content from the magazine, cut and pasted as is. It was great content–premier content: features about working women, recipes, family life, and generally, how to do whatever you needed to do at work and at home. But there wasn’t enough of it to publish daily.

For starters we launched slideshows (still a staple of many websites). Using more visuals and breaking a story into snackable bites added more pages. A slideshow sidebar extended existing articles and gave readers more to enjoy. The process also allowed us to publish web-only content on a different schedule than the magazine. And, it allowed us to look in the archives and find new ways to recycle and reuse valuable pieces from the past.

While you may not be part of a print magazine company, if your existing website if more than a couple years old, it probably has a treasure trove of content. Now it’s time to reuse and recycle–get the most out of what you already have without taxing you or your staff.

Analyze: What were your biggest page-view hits over the last 12 months? What were the social posts that went viral? Which video made its mark? Make those topics the priority on this year’s content calendar.

Now that you know what’s of interest: recycle. Many of those tried-and-true pieces are considered evergreen–information that never changes. It’s the bread and butter of your site. Consider this: nothing is so evergreen that it cannot be reused and updated with a new fact or, better yet, new visuals. Brainstorm and create two or three multimedia pieces on each winning topic. Don’t forget video. Add new style to old chestnuts. Contests, creative images, infographics, social posts or short videos can update evergreen pieces. Keep an eye on what takes the most time for the least return. Create templates for recurrent themes to speed up your production process.

For example, a recipe site does not have to only produce new recipes. Instead, create articles or slideshows that group them in new ways. Five family classics can become Five Back-to-school Dinners with a comment about making ahead or portion size. Or write an article on wine pairings for your existing recipes and link to the full recipes.

A health-and-fitness site may have been around for several years with a great base of exercises. However, the images that go with the articles are looking dated because of the outfits or hairstyles on the athletes. Consider updating photos, making sure to fill out the “alt content” to draw attention to that new image. Post some to Instagram with an “Exercise-a-Day” to find a new audience for those same pieces. If you have a series of videos that feel dated, update the thumbnails to give them new life.

As you cull through your existing content, keep one thing in mind. Your audience is constantly changing and looking for the latest post. Readers will assume it’s new and fresh if you to make it so.

How can you look at your content through a fresh set of eyes?