Everything we produce as humans is to some degree repurposed. For most of us, our lives are spent accumulating pre-ordained and accepted information, assessing other people’s findings and observations, which then to some degree influence our own. Original content is rare; we are all standing upon the shoulders of giants.
Original ideas do happen, but even when they do, most have their foundations in other people’s brilliant ideas, which have their foundations in other people’s brilliant ideas, and so on.
This has never been truer than it is now, in a time when most available human knowledge is curated by Google and laid bare on publically accessible websites, ready for absorption and inclusion in someone else’s content. I am no different; I absorb content from all sorts of sources, some of which invariably influences my writing, speech and behaviour.
Bearing all of this in mind, is it really such a bad thing to reuse our own old content? I suggest not. We don’t scorn classic novels because they tackle broad, well-explored themes. We celebrate them for their fresh interpretation and exploration of those themes.
So be generous to yourself and think of every piece of your content as a classic novel; most likely not unique in topic, but still worthy of reading and definitely worth revisiting.
In fact I believe that repurposed content can often be richer and more interesting than so-called original content, because the ideas within it have been examined and thought through twice.
Four reasons it’s OK to reuse your content:
1. Your content hasn’t changed but the world has
You produced your content within a certain contextual framework. New angles/ideas often occur to you when revisiting old content – the real world context for your old post might well have shifted, making your former arguments less potent or relevant. Repurposing your old content solves this problem and addresses new questions your audience might have.
2. Your audience has evolved
Your audience isn’t static – the people you reach this year are likely different to those you reached last year and so may not have seen your old content. Repurposing an old article has the dual purpose of engaging your new audience and re-serving it to the existing audience in a fresh format.
3. Same content, different format?
People have different preferences when it comes to consuming content, so it actually makes sense to recast a piece of content in a different format. Simply change up the medium used and you could engage with a new section of your audience. For example, you could take an old video and change it into a cartoon or photo strip with the key ideas in speech bubbles. An old article can be rewritten as a list. A video can be chopped down into gifs for social media – and so on.
4. There’s hidden treasure in old content
Even if you feel uncomfortable straight-out repurposing a former post, reading through your existing articles can give you inspiration. As you work your way through the old content you’ll probably find fresh ideas occurring to you that would make a good post. This can be especially true of list articles; sometimes a single listicle point is meaty enough to warrant a spin off article of its own.
Your content is good – so give it another airing!
Your content is good, and worthy of fresh exposure. So why not give it a new lease of life and send an updated more improved version back out into the world? Just check that any links and references are still valid, and include any new information that supports your original theme. Good luck!