Use Pre-Existing Content in a Way that Makes All Parties Happy

Amanda Dodge


October 10, 2013 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

Image of a person's hand holding a paper cutout of a reuse/replay icon; concept for using pre-existing content.

Shout out to all of the content marketers out there: you are awesome! You teach me new things daily and blow my mind with your unique takes on industry topics. As marketers, we’re naturally social people and come together to teach each other new concepts and share our thoughts on trends. Let’s continue to build bridges with industry heroes and peers. get inspired by each other’s work, and create new and adapt pre-existing content so that everyone is happy with the outcomes.

Curate the Content of Your Heroes

Curating the content of others not only gives them a hat tip but positions you as a hub for content. My RSS feed and bookmarks are full of curated posts with pre-existing content like studies, tools, lists, and guides.

Instead of creating your own List of Top 10 Cats, curate a guide of Top Lists of Cats. This makes you a resource. Curation is ideal for beginners because you’re showcasing the work of industry leaders and building trust, rather than asking people to trust you at face value.

Curated lists also help brands that are on a low budget. Not everyone has the resources to do in-depth studies, white papers, and surveys. Curating content still adds to the editorial calendar without breaking the entire marketing budget for a year.

Finally, these types of posts help you get noticed by the creators of the content and industry leaders. Through pingbacks and social media mentions they’ll see how you presented their content as one of the best and might even promote your curation through their own channels.

Respond to Statements or Opinions

Blogs that thrive on voicing opinions, particularly controversial opinions, can repurpose the content of others in their industry while adding their own take on the content.

Now, that’s not to say that liberal blogs should start to tear apart conservative blogs and vice versa – if they already don’t – the key is to repurpose content so everyone wins.

Look at what happens any time Matt Cutts posts a video, makes a statement, or sneezes. SEOs fall over themselves creating articles reporting and analyzing his every word. What did he mean by… What does the future hold with the launch of… The original content was created by Matt Cutts, but blogs everywhere create additional posts, videos, and ideas.

Responding to a controversial article or industry comment shows that your ear is to the ground about what’s being said. It also paves the way for you to establish your voice and opinions through content.

Turn a Thought or Comment into Something Concrete

We have all done it before. We’ve all sounded off on social media in a moment of anger, or joy, or wit. It doesn’t matter that it was posted on our professional accounts, the feeling was there, and the smartphone was in our hands.

There’s always a chance that your 140-character rant about the TSA or your 50-character appreciation for the smell of baked cookies might get turned into something bigger by a fan or an artist—one way to use pre-existing content.

We’re fans of Chris Brogan – especially on Twitter – and used one of his tweets as inspiration for our weekly comics:

A post that may have taken a few seconds to tweet out was illustrated and immortalized in our archives. Chris Brogan, Rebecca Kelley, Melissa Fach, and Chris Sacca have all been inspiration for Dave and Dan Comics. We love following their tweets and are inspired both by the industry insight and the random musings.

Some blogs regularly create posts filled with tweets from fans. The best tweets about X. What America has to say about Y. Using tweets and comments as inspiration crowdsources ideas and wins fans who will appreciate the hat tip. It’s always nice to know that someone is listening and thinks you’re keen.

Collaborate to Form a New Medium

Some people like white papers because the data is presented in clean paragraphs and each point is carefully explained. Other people like infographics, where tiny little people and pie charts lead the reader to a final conclusion. However, when faced with a pile of content, not every company has the resources – or possibly the desire – to present the data in multiple forms.

A company that focuses on copy could collaborate with a company that focuses on design to create an Infographic about the data. Or data collected by a company with a large poll-able audience could work with a content company to present that data.

Example: A Visual Guide to Page Level Keyword Usage

The original company is cooking the turkey, but other companies can use it for turkey sandwiches and broth. All parts are equally delicious.

Give the TL;DR Version

The “Too Long; Didn’t Read” version has become popular on sites like Newser that take content and give the gist of it in a paragraph or two. There are usually multiple sources linked throughout the article that the reader can click on the read more.

These types of posts can flourish on blogs that try to reach the masses. For example, a science blog can sum up scientific journals or politics blogs can give an overview of complex laws. If readers want to learn more they can, or they can enjoy the cliff notes version.

Bring them Over to Your Side

Fact: people love talking about themselves. Who could blame them when they’re so awesome? If someone in your industry just released a new study or book, invite to talk about their ideas in an interview or webinar. As you talk to them, they’ll review the concepts discussed in their book or study, which you can use to refresh pre-existing content and give your audience the info straight from the horse’s mouth.

Not only is this an awesome way to take advantage of pre-existing content, it also gives you a chance to network. You’re able to build face to face connections with industry leaders. These connections lead to collaborations and partnerships and business. Which, at the end of the day, isn’t that why you’re blogging? 

Don’t let your lack of ideas or small budget limit the different types of content you can create. There are plenty of ways to use preexisting content to your benefit and the benefit of the creator.

Author Image - Amanda Dodge
Amanda Dodge

CopyPress writer

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