Re-purposing is the act of taking creative work meant for one purpose and using it for a different purpose. What that means is that, when you’ve written an article, you rewrite it several times with new titles and different words. You maximize the value of the research you did for the first article by creating many more.
To create these different articles on the same topic, you rewrite them with a different target length, slant, personality, focus, or for a different market. Something needs to differ from your original article.
1. Change the article length
When you first research and write on a new topic, a how-to for example, the article you write will typically have:
1. An introduction with an overview.
2. A section with a series of steps to accomplish the task.
3. A section with common strategies for succeeding at the task.
4. One or more additional sections on sub-topics of interest related to the main topic.
5. A conclusion that restates the main points, praises the activity, or encourages the reader to act.
To rewrite the first article as a smaller article, rewrite it and drop one or more of the middle sections. To rewrite it as a longer article, rewrite everything but go into more detail. If you don’t already have more info ready-to-hand, you can practice the how-to yourself to get more ideas. This will often give you insights into things that can go wrong; another section for the new article.
2. Change the slant
An article written for a business has a different slant from the same article written for friends. Conservative and liberal slants result in very different articles. The more you write, the more slants you will learn. How about the bare bones slant, the armchair philosopher slant, the skeptic and optimist slants?
Remember university or college? When a paper was due, you could have written it from your own perspective, if you wanted a C. Instead, you considered your instructor’s preferences and prejudices, wrote with that slant and got an A. Look for any kind of new slant or bias you can put on your article and you’ll have found another version to write.
Some slants will come easy because you’ve used them before. Others will be harder to write and you’ll be tempted not to use them much. Resist that temptation. With practice, a slant that’s tough to write will become easy.
3. Change the personality of the article
This is a lot like changing the slant. Changing the personality of an article is like changing your own personality for a little while. How would your old boss write the article? How would your favorite relative? Or your least favorite relative? What about someone working in the field related to your topic?
As you can see, this type of re-purposing requires acting skills. You need to temporarily put on a different persona and rewrite your article.
4. Change the focus
You can change the focus of an article by either zooming in or zooming out.
To zoom in, pick one of the middle sections and write an article on just that. Repeat this for all of the sections of your original article. Then look at the new articles you’ve written for additional opportunities to zoom in on their sub-sections.
You might think zooming in will result in articles that are too short to use. All of these shorter articles will still need to have introductions and conclusions, so it’s not that bad. And there’s nothing wrong with short articles used sparingly. Many magazines have short sidebar articles alongside feature pieces. Some blogs also post short articles midway between their regular posts for the sake of fresh content. And many article publishing sites have incredibly low minimum word counts.
To zoom out, find the context of the article. Let’s say your article was about how to knit a winter hat. You can zoom out to focus on using the same knitting strategy to knit several different kinds of clothing. Then, you can zoom out again for an article on different methods of creating clothing.
5. Change the market
There are several ways to change the market (audience) for an article. One is by changing the website or magazine where it will be published. What does the publication prefer? That’s your new angle.
Another way to change the market is to write for a different age group. There are several: kids, teens, young adults, older adults and retirees.
6. Change the level of expertise
After researching your original article, you probably wrote it assuming your readers have at least a basic knowledge of the topic. After all, they’re reading a magazine or website focused on that area. Those magazines and websites also need articles aimed at new readers.
This is a variation of focusing in. This time you want to cover every detail. Assume that the reader knows nothing. Your title should also make it clear this article is for beginners.
If you find your topic interesting, you may choose to study more. You could become an expert and re-write everything you’ve done on the topic so far for a more experienced audience.
Save your research
Whenever you do research for an article, you should be saving it in a fact file. The simplest method is to have a file with the original article’s name and research appended to the end of it. If you gather more info, quotes, links and references as you write additional articles, add them to the same file.
I think you’ve read quite enough about re-purposing articles. Now you should give some of these ideas a try.
Article by Ivan Izo.