Here I am, halfway into the 12 Days of KOTAW, and I’m exhausted, overwhelmed and a tad cranky. When I came up with this idea in October, I imagined each of these entries as a snippet of wisdom or humor — stocking stuffer ideas that I’d dash off in a half hour or so.
I thought I’d bang out a dozen posts in the time it usually takes to write one, add in a few extra hours for additional formatting and, presto, I’d have the whole project wrapped up and beribboned by December 1st. I’d spend the rest of the month baking cookies, trimming trees or — if I felt particularly ambitious — planning KOTAW’s 2014 marketing strategy.
It hasn’t turned out that way.
Fonts and Fame
Two sentences into the first piece, the 12 Days of KOTAW stopped being a project and became a labor of love. Passion took over as I wrote stories I cared about, anecdotes that I wanted — insisted — that readers care about, too. And then I got intimately involved in the production as well:
Let’s create a special logo for the series. No, let’s make it 12 holiday-themed logos! We need a picture of my mom! A bio for Ivy! Storybook fonts! Hello, sweetheart, get me rewrite! Hello, Hollywood — get Spielberg on the line!!!
Today, all I wanted to do was turn off my phone, disconnect my Internet service and write a single line:
“On the seventh day of KOTAW, Katherine rested.”
It made me laugh, but I was too tired to trust my judgment. Would people think I had a God complex? Or that I was stealing material from the Bible?
I would never, EVER steal another writer’s work. But would I, a voice called to me, repurpose my own?
Wouldn’t that be the easier, smarter, marketing-trendy thing to do?
Coal and Tar
Maybe. But I can’t and won’t. I’d rather write nothing than give readers a lump of coal in their KOTAW stocking. Or a fruitcake I know they’ll hate. Or a regifted label maker like the one that made the rounds on a classic Seinfeld episode.
So here’s my gift to you this holiday season, a gift I hope you’ll cherish for all of 2014 and beyond.
If you can’t give your best, give nothing. If you can’t improve on your original content, don’t.
I predict that repurposed content will quickly — very quickly — suffer the same fate as bad SEO. It will harm your business and mar your reputation. Because if you’re repurposing as a shortcut — feeding the marketing machine with the least possible effort or cost — your audience will turn away. And, if your audience turns away, so, too, will Google.
Every writer, every marketer reuses ideas. We have to. We revisit and re-imagine our work all the time. And we take more than a casual peek at the work of people we admire. But there is a difference between repurposing content and envisioning our work in a new way.
Soup and Sofas
If the blog you wrote honestly serves a new purpose as a slide share, video or list, go for it. But, if you’re just slicing and dicing content to make it spread farther, don’t! It’s like watering down soup or turning a couch into a sectional. Unless you know your audience craves weak broth and armless furniture, don’t serve it to them.
Give them a classic, and it will keep on giving.
Songs and Spaghetti
No matter how many times I watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, I cheer its title character for rescuing a scrawny tree. I never tire of hearing Boris Karloff tell me that, thanks to Cindy Lou Who, the Grinch’s “small heart grew three sizes that day.” When I dream of a white Christmas, it’s the one Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby made famous.
These are classics that never grow stale. They don’t need to be repurposed like last night’s leftovers. They remain as fresh and original as ever.
Create classic content today and rest on your laurels tomorrow.
It’s better to give than to receive, but I do want something from you: your comments! What is your brand’s blog strategy? Wishing you and your loved ones a fabulous holiday season!