Productivity: Content Recycling

As Chris pointed out in “Do Something Different – Mix it up” there are moments when you are stuck in routine and enthusiasm is going down.

Are you always more willing to create new projects instead of hanging with the old ones?
But how to get the new content?

My tip: Use valuable content you have already published and renovate it.

I am going to mix the two subjects ‘motivate yourself’ and ‘recycle content’. I’d say that you can reach these two goals with one action. Start a new platform and use the ‘old’ content to speed up your new project. A speed booster factor of two or three should be normal compared to creating all content new from scratch. The result still can be doubled by taking care of two publishing platforms – the old one and the new one.

Side note – ‘meta articles’: If your content is ‘news’ or ‘product’ … no big problem with ‘content recycling’ … it’s a question of the mix and your editorial capabilities … old news make wonderful keyword rich ‘overview’ lists. Just use your archive (= old content) as the research source for new articles. Create ‘meta’ articles like ‘what did I get for 500 bucks two years ago compared to today’. Do heavy linking to the old articles! Don’t forget the title tags and the bookmarking and tagging!

The editorial and technical trick is ‘content enrichment’. Let’s say you still have an old PHPNuke platform hanging around with nice content but the site itself is not state of the art anymore. You are seriously motivated to switch to a new platform because YOU would like to use all that geeky new stuff (active sidebars, RSS feeds, Javascript includes, …).  Well, I’d say so do your readers! Don’t try to tune your old platform to be fit for all that geeky stuff. You could do so but I promise you will not reach that ‘motivate yourself’ goal. It’s just work. Instead of tuning the old platform just open a new system and enrich old content with new features on the NEW platform. The fresh design and the new features will attract old and new readers (like switching from PHPNuke to a more modern blogging platform).

Now you are playing around with your new system. That’s a lot of fun. But how to get the ‘content issue’ solved? If you follow your statistics and see that you have many new readers then renovating the old content (on both systems!) is still a good and valuable editorial ‘trick’ (newspapers do it by publishing their archives to the web). Take content from the ‘old’ page and do some renovation. Let’s say you have a photo blog … the pictures itself don’t get ‘bad’ just by hanging around in the archives of the other site. Just publish them again on a new article on your new site. You must find your own way of ‘refreshing’ the content!

BTW, if your articles on the ‘old’ site are in the archive for like six months think about to bring them back to the front page in a renovated new version and attach advertising for your new site (trap!: don’t just change the article date, please see “Managing Titles and Paths For Traffic”). Call it ‘refreshment’, ‘update’, ‘follow-up’ or whatever … the goal is to get changing content on your front page and to draw readers to both sites. The old page can pretty comfortably hang around online for as long as you want it. Nobody forces you to switch or migrate from one day to another.

Talk to your readers about the new site. Ask for comments. If you do it right and polite you will gain new readers on both platforms. That is a third goal which comes in handy through the back door.

Regarding the better productivity … it should be obvious that you can’t use old content 100% but you can have a ratio up to 90% old content to 10% new content. Your primary self motivation is the fun to create the new platform. Instead of solving the content issues with ‘lorem ipsum’ text you do some heavy copy and pasting plus the very important ‘content enrichment’. I’d say that only costs you the amount of 20% to 30% of the work you would have to invest for newly created content.

Reading this article I must admit that it is a pretty rough ride ‘concept wise’ … not as clear and straight forward as I would like it to be. But I just wanted to paint a rough picture … pretty ‘bloggish’ isn’t it 🙂 Let me know what you think? Did you do ‘content recycling’ yourself before? How was the success?

Copyright © Markus Merz 2006 – All rights reserved

Categories / Keywords / Technorati Tags: Markus Merz, 2006, blogging, content, management, recycling, productivity, writing, publishing, archive, editorial

9 thoughts on “Productivity: Content Recycling

  1. You simply add tags to the Technorati field and also publish the article to Finished.

    I just re-activated my account after I installed PFF. Before it was always a little bit uncomfortable 🙂

    Regarding routine I would use a web calendar like AirSet which sends you reminder mails. Or one of these web 2.0 to-do list services (?? backtrack or backpack ??). I don’t use any of them (yet).

  2. Interesting ideas, Markus. I have not yet developed the habit of looking at delicious very often. Maybe I should add it to my daily routine.

    One thing I’ve found that does help me is my Google Desktop sidebar. I use the Todo list all the time. It supplements the paper-based calendar I have on my desk, which I couldn’t live without.

    But I will definitely start using delicious more. (I can never remember where the periods go, so I leave them out.)

  3. Include tags for the date (‘2006’ + ‘February’ or more a unique style like ‘MMblog0602’) into your tags and write down/develop a routine to look after it on a frequent/monthly base. The same is of course possible for subject tags (… create overviews, lists, …)!

    This way I am also solving some archive presentation pages issues. For every month I ‘develop’ a certain linkroll … with or without excerpts and put them onto a page or into my sideboard … so I get around the normal ‘recent posts’ blocks on a very easy way (It is not SEO friendly though because of the use of Javascript).

    For the routine I would recommend a simple repeating calendar entry. Have a link to a local checklist in it and you just have to do it when it pops up 🙂

    Another more creative trick is to use the search feature of your blog as a kind of brainstorming tool … you think I should write an article … but which subject … just search for random words and check what comes up.

    Then you can add some search engine searches to your brainstorming …

    Being lazy helps a lot in developing such easy workarounds 🙂

  4. This makes a lot of sense to me, Markus, because lots of people only look at newer stuff. That means they’ll never see the originals. The only way to get that info to them is to repackage and reissue it.

    Bravo! Great idea!

    (Now, how do I remind myself of this?)

  5. Being exhausted was the topic Chris wrote about which inspired me 😉

    I mixed it with the technical aspects of creating a new platform because this might motivate the nearly fainted author more then solely being concentrated on content.

  6. I think this becomes necessary once you’ve exhausted a topic – to give an example, Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has been doing this a lot over the past few months.

    As long as you can mix up the recycled content with fresh news and fresh topics, you’ll be fine. But relying solely on recycled content could be a problem. Maybe then you could break out of the “post twice a day” model and do something different, such as start a forum or launch a product.

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