Content Creation

How to Bring Wandering Content Back to Life

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October 23, 2012 (Updated: February 3, 2023)

Once a blog article or piece of sharebait is completed, the revision process can be more difficult than starting from scratch. As a person put to the task of completing the content—whether that means gutting the theme or starting over from the foundational research—it can be difficult to determine how to most easily resuscitate content for the writer.

Here are some guidelines for editors and content managers to determine when to cut their losses and start over with fresh content, and when to send in the rescue party and rebuild a piece. For those pieces that can be saved, there are also tips on the easiest methods to bring unfocused, wandering ideas to the center stage within content.

When to Say, “Die”

Not everyone has the unique ability to smell failure, but everyone can learn it. By reading failed social pieces (those that were heavily promoted are especially good examples of what doesn’t work), a person can tune-in to tactics and styles that don’t draw a buzz. By studying others’ failures and successes, editors and content managers can learn what works just as innately as a content calculator.

While people are learning what doesn’t work, here are a few things that should be added to the list:

  1. Needlessly somber writing
  2. Writing that doesn’t address a social network’s audience (If writing is meant for general audiences, then the client’s audience should be substituted as the target)
  3. Dense, scholarly writing (Most people are surfing for fun rather than for enrichment)
  4. Usage of old trends (Including tired memes, old fashioned writing styles, last year’s slang, etc.)
  5. Irrelevant imagery
  6. Loosely related items on lists (If the included items aren’t riveting, then they should be removed and the list shortened)

When one or more of these offenses are present in a piece of content, it might be time to pull the cord. The determining factor is often the writer’s level of passion: if the reader feels interest and energy while perusing the piece, then there’s always some way to save the content. However, if it feels dull or confused, as though the writer was bored while writing it or just rushing for a deadline, then it’s not worth the effort.

Many people fear starting over. Especially on a deadline, tossing a bad piece of content seems foolhardy: yet, what really is foolhardy is frosting trash and calling it cake. Every content company should keep an ace writer on the docket that can take a failure and make it a win within a few hours. This sort of Hail-Mary writing should only be a last resort, but it’s a much saner choice than building a franken-sharebait from a bored writer’s muddled thoughts.

When to Do CPR

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Here are some clues that your content is worth saving:

  1. All of the research is solid, thoughtfully prepared, and interesting.
  2. The grammar mistakes don’t prevent a clear reading of the text.
  3. The writer crafted clever jokes into the text that couldn’t be re-captured.
  4. Your deadline is less than two hours away.
  5. The piece is merely too short or too long.

Many content issues can be resolved within an hour by a decent editor. The following guide can help content managers and editors to quickly deconstruct a blog or sharebait article in order to rebuild it as a strong piece of content.

How to Perform a Content Resurrection

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The content editor should read the piece from beginning to end: sometimes initial questions are answered artfully towards the end. The second time an editor reads the piece he or she should mark sections or sentences that don’t make sense with a pen. Also, the reader should mark the most interesting points in the piece with a highlighter to ensure they aren’t lost during revision.

If the content is blocky and dense, the editor can insert paragraph breaks after each solid idea, forcing sections into the content. This can demonstrate for writers where segues should be added, as well as a visual flow for readers.

While reading content the editor should also be crossing out sections that are unnecessary: in order to make the strong sections more apparent in a piece that is unfocused even well-written content should be removed if it’s unnecessary. Artful flourishes are sometimes responsible for making readers miss valuable points that would otherwise bring a piece of content together.

Once the extraneous writing is deleted, the strongest points are highlighted, and the confusing sections are noted, the editor can begin to rearrange the information. Information should be sorted thoughtfully, in order to provide the reader with insights throughout the piece of content.

When the piece is re-organized to be thoughtful and clear, the editor can send it back to a writer to be fleshed-out, or it can be rewritten by the editor. During the second review the newly crafted writing should go to a new editor to prevent error blindness, which occurs when writers or editors have handled a piece too many times.

Coaching Confused Writers

Writers who turn in misguided writing should be sent the original, a marked-up copy of the text, and the final version of the content. Responsible writers will study the changes to understand what was found unacceptable. If writers turn in messy sharebait or blogs several times, they should be directed towards linkbait writing guides, company guidelines, and grammar guides.

While most writers endeavor in earnest to provide their companies with stellar sharebait every time, there are a few lazy writers out there who need to be weeded-out. Additionally, even the best writers need occasional reminders on various points.


Retrieving a piece of wandering, aimless content from its road to content promotion failure can be difficult (or impossible). However, if editors and content managers work hard to recognize pitfalls and promotion problems in others, identifying and rectifying them in their own team becomes easier.

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October 23, 2012 (Updated: February 3, 2023)

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