September 20, 2006
Liz published this at 9:25 am
Turning One Kind of Content into Another
In July of 1995, I met with president and the major partner/owner of a company in trouble. The company had one product earning and was losing 10% a year. They laid out the problem and asked my solution. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I told them.
I’d get on a plane to the UK next week; find the best product they had to offer; repurpose it to perfectly meet this market; and get it out there earning as fast as I could.
My blood sugar dropped when the partner replied, “You’re going to London.”
We made new products by turning one kind of content into another.
Want to write a book? You probably have one almost done in your archives.
Repurposing, Versioning, Tailoring, Yes
Repurposing content isn’t a new thing. I versioned my first book in 1989 — shhh, I know — and it wasn’t new then. Educational and nonfiction publishers (and TV producers) have been doing for years. It began because it made sense and served readers. (It still does.)
Publishers in small countries needed to share print runs or they couldn’t afford to print enough books to offer beautiful, color books to their customers. They would make versions for other countries, in other languages. That’s repurposing. The American market has different sensitivies, so we’d make changes from the Australian or British version. Or maybe that page would just make a fabulous poster. You get the idea.
I’ve been doing that for almost 3 decades — looking at what is there to see how many different things it might be, and which of those things are worth making. That’s where your book comes in.
Write a Book? Assemble the One in Your Archives!
Have you looked at your archives lately? If you’ve got a blog with 200+ posts, I’m betting you have at least one book’s worth of content. Go look. Here are the basic of what to look for and what to do.
1. Find your most popular topic.
2. Print out a critical mass of posts around one set of ideas.
3. Organize the ideas in a fashion that would work for readers who don’t know you or the topic.
4. Ask a friend or a colleague if this rough order is complete and logical.
5. Look for places the key information is missing and might need to be filled in.
6. Write an introduction, table of contents page, and a conclusion.
7. Hire a professional editor to edit it.
8. Ask colleagues to read it and to write something about it. Include those testimonials, but not too many.
9. Hire a professional designer to design it.
Why do it now? Because different audiences prefer different formats. That’s why I offer an email version of my blog as well as a variety of RSS feeds. Readers can’t carry computers everywhere and not every reader wants to read blogs.
If your information is solid, then you’re providing a service. If you’re a speaker, a book provides a platform to speak from. Whether you do it to sell the book or to give it a as a free prize on your blog. A book adds value and credibility to you and your brand.
Of course, there are details upon detail to talk about. I’ll go deeper in the next post, if you want to extend the discussion.
Thanks, Darren for another great Writing Project!
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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