By Trenton Reed
As a copywriter who works in the inbound marketing space, I write thousands of words per day. From ebooks and blogs to website and ad copy, my days consist of me—headphones on, coffee cup full—churning and burning through multiple deliverables at any given time.
I love the breakneck speed of working at an agency (we do it for a reason, right?). But I’ll admit it: Sometimes, I don’t take the time to step back and analyze what I’m actually doing. I’m not saying that I’m not cognizant of the literal fact that I’m writing content. What I’m saying is that, as writers, it’s easy for us to get caught up in our day-to-day—and that we tend to overlook our own approaches to content creation.
Deadlines are deadlines are deadlines. And keeping the client happy is priority number one for copywriters, no matter the industries or specialities they dabble in. However, for the sake of taking a look at processes, let’s take a step back and consider the differences between revising and repurposing content. Because being aware of the distinctions may make you a more effective, efficient writer.
“Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.”
As this rather descriptive quote from the late, great mystery novelist Raymond Chandler illustrates, even the best writers must revise their content from time to time. The act of revising essentially entails revisiting a piece of content and analyzing it in a greater context. Revisions are made at the discretion of either a writer or a client. For example, a client may want you to revise a specific paragraph or sentence. Or you may be stuck on an assignment (hello, writer’s block).
Regardless, knowing how to revise content—and not rewrite it—can make your life a whole lot easier.
I’ve always advocated for the “word vomiting” that Chandler so eloquently describes. For particularly tough assignments, I suggest writing whatever comes to mind and worrying about revising the piece—or cleaning it up—afterwards. I almost guarantee that if you write with intuition, you can salvage something from this proverbial word dump. But it’s important to know how to revise. During this process, ask yourself the following:
- Does my content resonate with my target audience?
- Does my content answer any questions that were posed?
- Does my content make a clear argument or point?
- Does my content leave anything open-ended or inconclusive?
If you’re writing inbound content for clients, it’s important to be okay with revising content—because revisions are an inevitable part of the job for marketing professionals. Yes, you should work to get things right the first time around. However, for longer-form content (and let’s include blogs in this category for now), it’s equally important to be able to revise content to make it the best it can be.
Every writer has those days where the ideas just don’t seem to flow (Mondays, I’m looking at you ... ). Or there are situations in which clients may absolutely love a piece you’ve already written for them—and they’d like you to “write more of the same thing.”
That’s where repurposing content comes into play.
As wise marketers, you know that you can get penalized for repeating content online. Repurposing content takes more than simply rearranging several words and sentences. Instead, it’s all about recycling existing content by modifying it to fit a new use. Unlike revised content, repurposed content is generally based off a previously finalized or published product. The act of repurposing content manifests itself in many ways—but it almost always involves taking existing content and turning it into something new.
As the internet provides marketers with more and more channels to distribute our content, it’s important to include them in your inbound strategy. As my wise colleague Chris Hutchens recently wrote, there are numerous ways to refresh marketing content. For example, you can repurpose a blog into a podcast or a short video. Or you can turn an ebook into a Slideshare. And you can even take FAQs and translate them into Quora submissions. Regardless, repurposing content is about working smarter, not harder, and making the most of your ideas.
As marketers, it’s expected that we produce a plethora of content daily. And it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. However, by stepping back and being able to constructively critique your own writing, you can produce content that can be either rewritten or repurposed to drive results.