How to Blog When You Don’t Have Time
Managing your company’s marketing is tough, not to mention time-consuming. Just when you think you’re working in a steady rhythm, something unexpected gets thrown into the mix and trips you up.
Right now, that “something unexpected” is content marketing. The surge in demand for content has forced marketing professionals all around the world to somehow find the time and resources they need to produce, publish, and promote on a constant basis.
Starting a blog is one of the best ways to get a content marketing program underway, but the actual act of blogging is time-consuming. So it’s not uncommon to hear marketers saying “I want to write, but I don’t have time” or “I know we need more content, but I don’t have time to blog.” They know the benefits of content marketing, but they’re struggling to work it into their schedule. They want to do it, but they don’t want their other efforts to suffer.
If this situation sounds familiar to you, I’m here to tell you that you do have time to blog. No, I’m not going to share some productivity secrets or tell you how to better structure your schedule. But there is one thing you can do to get your blogging both underway, and it’s this:
Why Repurposing Content is the Key to Starting Your Blog
Some of you might be reading this and feeling wary. “You want me to do what?” Stay with me here, this will make sense in just a minute or two.
On a regular basis, either you, one of your employees, or even someone else within your organization is producing content. That content may not take the form of anything you call “content marketing,” but it’s still content. These are types of content:
- Email marketing messages sent to your subscribers
- Email messages sent to your customers (answering questions or providing solutions)
- Social media posts
- Product or ecommerce copywriting
- Documentation or manuals
- Internal newsletters, bulletins, or memos
You get the idea. Anything written about your company, whether it’s intended for an internal audience or an external one, is content. And believe it or not, there is fantastic potential in that content. But most importantly, this is content you’ve already produced, so the time investment required to form it into a blog post is minimal.
Writing a new blog post from scratch may take you anywhere from an hour to a full day, depending on a couple of factors. Repurposing existing content might take you just a few minutes. So this method can help you get blogging quickly, giving your customers content to consume and your site a better chance at ranking in searches.
How to Efficiently Recycle Your Content
Let me make one thing clear: I’m not talking about duplicating your content. It’s not a good idea to republish your emails unedited or put the transcript of a conversation with a customer on your blog. Repurposing or recycling your content typically means you leave the “core” intact, but change the outer shell of your piece to better match its destination (in this case, your blog).
So basically, instead of writing a new blog post from scratch, you might grab the content from your latest email, write an introduction and conclusion, make sure the language is right for your audience, add additional value (I’ll come back to this part), and paste it into your blog’s CMS.
Doing this process efficiently requires a few very important things:
- Solid source content. Whether it’s a fully written email or a short blurb on social media, the original piece needs to have a strong “core” that will allow you to expand it into a more substantial piece.
- Knowledge of your audience. I mentioned reusing internal content as part of this process. You might think an email about your holiday party would make a great blog post. But if your customers expect your blog to deliver industry news, they’re probably not going to appreciate photos of your team in ugly sweaters.
- Planning. As little time as recycling content for your blog takes, it’s still best to make a plan before you do it. How are you going to tailor the content for your blog? Why do you want to recycle it? What purpose will it serve?
- New calls to action. You’re going to want your readers to do something when they finish reading your blog post. If your source content had a call to action, make sure the CTA you use in your repurposed content fits its new medium — or that it has one at all.
Write Once, Use Twice
Once you start repurposing your existing content, you might burn through it pretty quickly. What do you do once your reserve has run dry?
Repurposing content, in the long run, depends on careful planning. Instead of realizing after the fact that you can reuse an email or special piece of copywriting, you should be planning to do so ahead of time. If you are committed to blogging via repurposing, you’ll need to follow the “write once, use twice” method.
For example, when you write an email, you should also be aware of when and how that email content is going to be reused on your blog. Or when you answer a question on a social media page with a detailed response, you should save that response somewhere safe, and be planning to incorporate it into a post.
The best way to follow “write once, use twice” is to use a content calendar that allows you to keep track of all of your upcoming blog posts, as well as any ideas or published content in other mediums you may have (like emails, social media posts, or other forms of content marketing). You can give our free Google Docs-based calendar a try, or use a tool like Trello (one of my personal favorites) to organize all your ideas in one place.
Add Additional Value
The biggest concern that most companies have about repurposing content is repeating themselves. Some companies have dedicated customers who follow them on every medium possible, and are bound to notice if they reuse content between blog posts and social media. Others have leads who may be in a particular stage of the funnel where it’s likely they’re going to consume both blog and email content, making it a very real possibility for repeats to be spotted.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t repurpose your content. First of all, if social media is any indication, your followers simply aren’t going to see everything you share. In fact, some studies have shown that sharing the same content multiple times can bring in additional traffic that you would have never picked up otherwise.
Second, there are a few simple ways to combat the possibility of your followers, customers, or leads seeing the same content twice, and they all involve adding additional value to the piece you started with.
Let’s use the example of a new product announcement that was posted to your Facebook page. You want to repurpose this into a blog post, but you think this is probably old news at this point. At the same time, you don’t have anywhere else on your website to talk about this upcoming product, so you really do need to put something on your blog. How can you make this announcement valuable without repeating yourself?
- Add some sketches, mockups, prototype photographs, or other teaser images of the product
- Add a paragraph or two talking about your inspiration for the product, or what motivated you to add it to your store
- Add in actual feedback from the Facebook comments on the original post
- Answer questions from the Facebook comments on the original post
- Create a mini-FAQ that you update with questions and answers as they come in
- List the locations where the product will be carried, and update it as time goes on
- Share any other behind-the-scenes information or facts that you didn’t include in the Facebook post
These are just a few ideas — and they take only five or ten minutes to implement. You can do something very similar for any other kind of repurposed content, whether it’s from an internal source or an external one, and it just requires a little bit of brainstorming to properly execute.
Who Needs Time to Blog?
No time to blog? No problem. By repurposing the content you’re already creating for other mediums, you can start filling your blog with posts on a regular schedule, give your followers and leads something to read, and add relevant keywords and content to your website at a time when it’s needed most.
Here are a few more resources you can consult to learn about the practice of repurposing your content:
- The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content (Buffer)
- 3 Strategies for Repurposing Content (Hootsuite)
- How to Repurpose Content Without Looking Like a Total Jerk (Search Engine Land)
One thing to keep in mind: reusing your content may not necessarily be a viable long-term strategy for every business. If you don’t have time to produce even then source content to repurpose from, or your content is falling flat no matter what form it’s in, you might want to consider hiring a dedicated content marketer, or asking for help from a marketing firm that offers content marketing solutions. But for a new blog, it’s a fantastic way to get started or provide some proof of concept to doubting bosses!
What do you think about the method of reusing your content to make up for not having time to blog? Is this a viable solution for your business that you plan on trying? Or are you already recycling your content in some form? Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or experiences in the comments below!