Their old content is a treasure trove of new ideas. But only a fraction of marketers take advantage of them.

With any new content you create, not only can you republish it and use it for other purposes, but you can also search for additional ideas outside of the main topic to create sequels, spin-offs, and other related content.

Think about it:

The average 1,500 word blog post might have one main topic or topic.

But there will likely be a handful of important points or topics in there.

And in each of these there will be more details and examples.

Any of these points can be your next achievement as long as you remember to use them.

I like to call it "the sequels and spin-offs" of brainstorming.

Let's see how you can use it next time you need to fill your content calendar.

1. Write continuations to old but still relevant content

The first way to use old content to generate new ideas is to consider which of your old posts might need a "Part 2" (or even a "Part 3").

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This is when the general topic of the content is still relevant but the rest of the information is not.

For example, think of instructions on image sizes for social media. This topic is always relevant, but the actual information changes frequently.

Example of a social media image guide

Updating the existing content for a topic like this would be overwhelming.

So much information changes and so often that it can easily become a project management and systems nightmare for the marketer tasked with keeping it up to date.

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Instead, many brands create an annual guide to doing this.

Once a year they release a new sequel referencing the latest installment in recent years and both audiences and marketers know when the next update will be.

The follow-up strategy is ideal for any idea where your ideal customer is consistently talking about the topic, but the details change frequently or dramatically.

This aspect makes it easier to write a new post than to edit the old one.

(I may be the biggest fan of content that is reused there, but sometimes it's easier to just start over.)

2. Turn tangential ideas into specific topics

The second way to create new content based on your older content is to create spin-offs.

Just like what "Frasier" did with "Cheers", you take a small chunk of existing content and give it its own time to shine.

Well done, you can build on the success of your original piece.

Spin-offs are a great way to continue the momentum of successful content no matter how old or out of date it is.

You will see YouTubers do this a lot when a video goes viral.

Since YouTubers know that the YouTube algorithm can be very topic-oriented, when they start a video they want to make sure they have other videos on the same topic that YouTube can also recommend to viewers.

A bonus perk is that once you have multiple spinoffs on the same topic, you can easily group them together into a playlist, series, or sequence depending on the format of the content.

For example, in the following screenshot you can see that on the YouTube channel Clean My Space, two different series of spin-offs are running simultaneously: one on cleaning habits and one on room-specific cleaning methods.

Content series example

When it comes to which pieces of existing content to convert into your own content, here are some things to consider:

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  • Sub-headings or subsections of the original content.
  • Bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Powerful stories, statistics, or examples.
  • Conclusions drawn.
  • Advice given.

Really, any idea or information that is not already the main point of one piece of content can become the main point of another.

3. Offer fan service by responding to feedback

A third way to turn your archives into new content is to look at what your target audience said in the comments or their social media shares.

Engaging audiences are full of new content ideas, between asking follow-up questions, requesting clarifications on specific details, and sharing their own stories, experiences, and perspectives.

Of course, to do this you have to involve an audience and listen to what they have to say.

Depending on your team structure, you may want to work in collaboration with your company's social media or community management team.

Customer support is also a great department to bring you up to date or that often replies to the emails sent through your company's contact form.

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However, once you consistently share your content with an engaged audience and pay close attention to how they respond, it becomes an ongoing feedback loop that you can turn to anytime for content ideas.

4. Go back and fill in any missing gaps

Finally, think about the plot holes in your content, or the things that you think are missing from a piece of content when you look at them in hindsight.

New content offers the opportunity to fill the gap.

This can also be informed through audience feedback, but often comes to you all by itself.

How many times have you clicked publish in WordPress to think of an entire section that you would like to add later that day?

Next time, don't let go of the idea.

Capture it and save it for the next time you create content. You can go back and fill the void.

For example, I once wrote a blog post about list building tactics that didn't mention opt-in testing.

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But when I made a quiz myself and saw how fun and effective they were, I wish I had. So I went back and made a special video about using them to generate leads.

Outsource strategically

You now have four new ways to get new ideas from old content.

But like any other part of your content strategy, you want to be as strategic as possible.

Let me leave you with a few memories:

  • Don't let go of ideas that don't fit your bigger content strategy. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
  • Don't be afraid to repeat yourself. Mentioning an idea and dedicating a whole piece to it are very different things.
  • Remember to add an internal links from your original piece back to the spinoff piece and vice versa.

More resources:

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Photo credit

All screenshots by the author, October 2020

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