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Repurposing Evergreen Content

Tips on repurposing your blog’s evergreen and timeless content.

Our archives are rich with material.

Last week, we talked about driving traffic to your blog’s archives, and some of you left helpful tips for promoting your older posts in the comments (from asking your readers to choose their favorite posts to using anchor text to related posts).

Our archives are rich with material.

Our archives are rich with material. Images by Cheri Lucas Rowlands.

To further this discussion, what about repurposing your most timeless content? Think of a post you published in the past that might fit into this “evergreen” category. If published tomorrow, could it be as fresh and relevant as it was when you first posted it?

Consider these kinds of posts:

  • Your suggested itinerary and backpacking tips for trekking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
  • Your photo essay of daily life on the streets in Havana, Cuba.
  • A longform piece of memoir on the birth of your first child.
  • Your crafty DIY gingerbread house how-to.
  • A Photoshop tutorial on cropping and straightening.

These posts cover very different topics, but they’re all examples of evergreen content: posts that your blog visitors, especially new ones, will find useful and relevant, regardless of when you wrote them. Perhaps you published the gingerbread house how-to five years ago, but because the holidays come around every year, it’s got seasonal appeal. You should use this to your advantage.

Revisit old ideas. Reshape and create something new.

Revisit old ideas. Reshape and create something new. Images by Cheri Lucas Rowlands.

But repurposing content doesn’t necessarily mean copying and pasting an old post into a new one and hitting “publish.” How can you refresh your original idea? Can you replace the photographs with new ones? Can you offer a new angle or updated information? Maybe you revisited Spain last summer and stopped along the pilgrimage route you once conquered, took photos, and noticed details you hadn’t before. Or perhaps you’ve got a new set of crooked landscape shots on your camera that would work great for a tutorial on creating a level horizon.

Revisit ideas and use your old posts as fodder and inspiration. Put a twist on them to create something new.

More ideas for repurposing content — and using your posts as material

  • Create an annual habit: In a comment in last week’s archives post, Andrea Badgley mentioned referencing older content on Facebook with the status: “A Year Ago Today.” This is a nice way to call attention to older posts, but you can also reshape this idea to revisit something — a moment, an event, an emotion — and commenting on what has changed. After all, memoir and personal musings are richer with perspective, so go ahead: reveal your new self. Infuse an older piece with a fresher voice. This approach works for other genres of writing, too.
  • Expand on lists or collections: Did you write a “50 Things You May Not Know About Me” post in 2008? How about adding fifty more and publishing a redux “100 Things You May Not Know About Me” edition? Or maybe you once published a cool photo gallery of street art in Paris, and after your recent vacation to Montreal now have graffiti snapshots you could add to create a bigger, two-city set?
  • Compile the best from a series: Many of you have established a series on your blog: Tuesdays for guest posts, Wednesdays for book reviews, Fridays for our photo challenges, and so on. Consider curating a collection of the best from these installments: A roundup of the best fiction you’ve read in 2013? A gallery of all your Weekly Photo Challenge submissions in one post?
  • Create a post based on material in comments: Refer to ideas and thoughts from your commenters (which I’ve done in this list). Or, look back at your responses to your readers — did you expand on your original ideas? Could you use material to publish something new? Longer yet focused comments often become great blog posts.
  • Use a sticky post: But what about repurposing your older content as is? In last week’s archives post, Timethief encouraged highlighting older posts that don’t require updates by simply tagging the posts as “sticky.” It’s much better practice than just copying an older post verbatim and passing it off as new.

What other tips do you have for revisiting and reshaping your own content?

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  1. Hmmmm! It’s a tough one. When I do leave a link to an older post, very few readers click on it. If I’m lucky some read my top posts which are posted with thumbnails.

  2. I love the idea of repurposing a post to give it fresh legs. Until now I’ve just been copying and pasting, or blurbing “A Year Ago Today” without additional commentary. You’ve got my wheels turning – I wrote last year about tipping at the holidays and that is one I can certainly revisit and this year. Thanks!

  3. I think this idea of repurposing goes really well with the theme of my blog! It’s called Never Stationary, and basically just revolves around the fact that as people grow and acquire new experiences, their opinions and beliefs evolve. Naturally, I’ll take previous posts, link them in the new post, but also do some sort of update on how my opinion has changed since the initial post.

    Very appropriate idea for this time of year: write something that has to do with new years resolutions (can be a spin – do it a month early!) or reflect on some that you made last year to bring up old content.

    What’s also nice is writing new posts as the world changes. If you wrote a piece on gay marriage and then DOMA was struck down a year later, re-link it and incorporate recent changes since the initial one was published.

    If you’re young (and even if you’re older!) consider writing a yearly reflection about your life as it changes. For example, I’m a high school senior and I’m doing this often, everytime my life shifts drastically. I’m anticipating college decisions, graduation, summer plans, etc. :)

    - Catherine, Never Stationary

    1. Catherine, your blog sounds really interesting! I’m heading over now to read up about it. I wouldn’t say my own is on a par with yours but there are similarities.

      I tend to reflect on changes, growth and experience and try to create the urge in others to follow in ways that i have seen succeed.

      As for re-living content. I love the idea of ‘a year later’ -but instead of just linking to the original post, why not write up a new post specifically aimed at whats changed in this year.

      Using anticipation in your blog is a great tool for this because you are allowing yourself to always revisit your material.

      If your blog is anything like this one comment you made, you’ve gained a follower

  4. Two things that worked pretty well for me recently:

    1. I wrote a post called “The Saturday Post” where I wrote about how no one reads on Saturday, lamenting the fact that some of my personal favorite posts were written on Saturday. So I called out some of my favorites, highlighting them, teasing them, and linking to them.

    2. I wrote a post called “How to Find My Blog” where I wrote about the search terms people have used to find me. There’s often a LOT of comedy in the search terms people are using to stumble on your stuff. Many bloggers do this type of post. So, I listed all of the funniest search terms people use to find the blog, made a joke or comment about it, then directed people to the post that the searcher most-likely landed on as a result of the search term. I shared about 25 older posts in a reasonably fun and engaging way by doing that.

    Only a small percentage of readers will ever click on that stuff. But it adds just a little bit more life to some of your older writing.

    I’m planning to write updated versions of “How to Find My Blog” as I continue to collect new eyeballs and new search terms.

    Thank you for writing about this. It’s a wonderful topic.

    1. Ive come to realize that most good ideas come in your time of leisure. Like on some of my saturdays, I will make some toast and look out the window and ponder.. suddenly some sense of purpose will make grounds. It is good to know there are others out there like me.

  5. Re-purposing content has, so far, been an act of desperation. traffic slows, and i link older content that has done well in the past. My drawings page for example…

    I know there are no new exciting drawings to show off, but i think by plastering links out in to cyber space i might generate a few more numbers to appear in my stats.

    I seem to have lost (or never possessed) the skill of re-invention.

    This is all rather honest of me.

    why don’t you go look at my drawings.

    1. but i think by plastering links out in to cyber space i might generate a few more numbers to appear in my stats.

      I’d try not to look at it as just posting links to any and all of your older stuff on the web just to generate some clicks. You’d want the stuff you’re resurfacing and promoting to be of value to your readers — I don’t think it’s an approach for content that, say, you aren’t wild about. In that case, better to conjure up new stuff, maybe?

  6. Hi Cheri,
    I have bookmarked this post as it contains some additional ideas I can use. Thanks so much for them and thanks also for the recognition link. It’s appreciated.

    In my 6 year old blogging tips blog and in my personal blog as well I re-purpose evergreen content that provides timeless value to readers all year round in several ways, one of which you have referred to.

    I like the idea of creating a tradition of publishing an annual year end summary post and/or a blog anniversary post. I also like the year ago today idea. I think these kind of posts help you review your goals, determine your path and progress, make changes in direction, and acknowledge the contributions others have made to your blog. In such posts you can feature links to evergreen content in posts that your new readers have yet to locate and regular readers ought to be reminded of. Here are 4 Year End Blog Post Ideas.

    Other ways of bringing evergreen content to life described in posts in my blogs are:

    use appropriate anchor text to link to earlier evergreen content posts in related new posts you publish.
    create an evergreen content category or tag to assign to relevant posts;
    use a custom menu to display a tab to your dynamic evergreen category or tag page;
    use an RSS Feed widget in your sidebar to access your dynamic evergreen category or tag page;
    use the Display Posts Shortcode on a static page to create list posts and include a tab to it in your custom menu;
    use the Display Posts Shortcode in a post rather than a page to create an index post to all your evergreen content posts;
    use columns or HTML tables on a static page to display links to evergreen content posts with or without brief excerpts and include a link to it in your custom menu;
    create a random post text link or icon to place in the sidebar or footer widget area of your theme;
    create a link in a text widget to specific evergreen content using an attention getting icon and/or try using a colored background or bordered box in your text widget to make it stand out;
    mark an evergreen content post as a “sticky” post and display it on the top of your front page or “blog” page;
    some themes have a front page announcement, greeting/notice boxes that can be used to display links to evergreen content posts if yours doesn’t then create a sticky post to display at the top of your front page or “blog” page .

    I hope we all have a wonder-filled holiday season full of inspiration for new posts that become evergreen posts.

  7. Great idea! I think I will seriously consider recycling a DIY post from my more established Simply Life site to my newer More Than Words site. It is better suited for the More Than Words site anyway being that it shares lots of DIY’s , artwork and things of that nature.

    Thanks for sharing!

    LaTrice

  8. This has definitely become one of my favorite post on blogging, nice ideas and I would definitely try to inculcate a few of them in my blog :)

  9. In the almost 7 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve found that linking to past posts doesn’t generate all that many clicks. I actually have much better results just rerunning entire posts.

    Based on the changing names in my blog’s comments, I believe that my audience has grown and shifted over the years. The people who read my blog regularly overlap a little with the people who read it three years ago, and hardly at all with the people who read it five years ago.

    So from time to time I republish an old post, because it will be new to many in my audience. I like to do this when I don’t have time to post on my regular schedule. I find that keeping a schedule encourages readers to keep coming back. I always add a sentence at the beginning declaring the post to be a rerun, though, for those who might remember it from the first time.

    A post I originally wrote in 2011 leads my blog right now.

    http://blog.jimgrey.net

  10. Interesting thoughts. I hadn’t thought about highlighting older posts, but this is certainly a good idea. I post book reviews sometimes and will link back to favorite books that I highlighted on my blog at the end of the year, but otherwise haven’t done much of this.

  11. I should do something – I’ve got 400+ posts and some of them published in the beginning were never read. But I am sure I have so many grammatical/punctuation errors in those posts – back then, I had a strong aversion for proof-reading! – that I am not sure if I should link to them/highlight them without correcting those mistakes. Maybe it’s time to proof-read? :P

  12. Didn’t I read this last year? Just kidding.

    Thanks for the inspiration. It really is amazing how quickly posts go stale, and it’s too bad that a few posts just wither in the past without reaching their potential. Some great ideas here that I’ll look into (google: anchor text). Happy holidays to everyone!

  13. I love the ideas of bringing up the past and how far things have changed or progressed over time. History has shown to repeat itself, it is important to reflect on the things of the past. Pay your dues. Revisiting moments and seeing how you feel a second time around can show you a lot about perspectives that you have come to having over time.

  14. Speaking of repurposing content as is, I’ve had some success featuring a random post bottom on the menu. Most of my posts are self-contained evergreen longform content, so it was neat to see a bunch of hits on pieces that were less popular at the time of publication. Plus I think it provides the appeal of surprise to the reader, like surfing a channel and coming across something new.

  15. Every year, on my parents’ birthdays, I hope to publish some pleasant memory of them. Since my site also publishes to facebook, my siblings will probably read these posts, and cherish them. Also, at New Year, I update a page I’ve created for the best of the past year. This page truly gets quite a few views, and folks almost always follow the links I Ieave there. I also made pages that linked to a couple of past series, and seems to be quite popular
    Last, I’ve found the “Top Posts and Pages” widget very effective if someone reads an old post, in bringing it back to the forefront. It sometimes starts an avalanche of new visitors to old pages.

  16. I’ve only been blogging for little over four months and all my posts are picture related, so I don’t have much to repurpose. But I love reading older posts from other blogs so I’m all for highlighting the best stuff from the archives.

  17. Mine is a cooking blog and I have found that putting evergreen posts together into a “menu” works well. Particularly if it centers around a holiday or event. I find I get quite a bit of traffic by doing this.

  18. Does this actually work? I also read the post about promoting archives etc to get traffic to older blogs I am sceptical. I find trouble getting readers to my current posts let alone getting people to read my older posts. Although I am well aware that it actually maybe me and the quality of what I write?

    Whilst seemingly valid information it strikes me that I need some special formula that is written in such a specific way in order to attract the attention of readers etc, perhaps my style of writing post, tagging it (which is another issue I have) and posting it just isn’t enough.

    Is the art of getting readers really that mystical?