Repurposed Content: Heartfelt Gift or a Fruitcake Idea?

Repurposed Content: Heartfelt Gift or Fruitcake Idea? | KOTAW Content MarketingHere 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!


  1. Tina Willis says:

    Great job on your 12 days of Kotaw so far–especially for cranking out this great piece as part of your overall branding message. Great advice, also, not to recreate the same old content. Hard to follow, especially in my business, although I do my best to add a new voice to tired topics (actually wish rules and restrictions didn’t prevent me from saying more–more with my original voice). But thanks again and keep up the good work (psst–I give you permission to skip a day and resume the 12 days after some well-deserved rest).

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you, Tina! You made me smile, which is almost as good as rest! I know it’s hard to find new things to say and the constraints of the legal profession make it especially difficult. But you must have lots of stories to tell and perhaps could without revealing client names. If you ever have any questions or want to brainstorm ideas, just let me know. After I take a nap, I’m sure to have some.:)

      • Tina Willis says:

        No, I’m good. I’m working a series now similar to yours and have lots of other plans. But I do appreciate melding your thoughts into my plans, so thank you again for producing great content re: marketing and branding. I hope you enjoy your well-deserved rest!

        • Katherine Kotaw says:

          You are so far ahead of the curve among others in your profession I doubt any will ever catch up! I’ve often struggled in my efforts to teach lawyers the value of branding and, though I can’t take any credit for your marketing efforts, it makes me smile every time I read one of your posts or comments. You’re proof that branding works for any person, in any field. So count on me to keep cheering you on!

  2. Carol Lynn says:

    I just love this lesson. I also would have found it hilarious if you went with your original “and rested” idea. I think that could be considered satire and protected speech :)

    I also feel your pain when it comes to making more work for yourself. Why not have special fonts and formatting and logos?? Because you weren’t busy enough, you HAVE TO turn every project into a masterpiece! If it makes you feel any better I’m loving the project. Your stories are fun and meaningful and it’s a perfect glimpse into your life and brain (and pretty awesome places both of those are). So keep going, you’re halfway there!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you, Carol Lynn! I knew you would get the “rested” line. I think our humor — and work habits — are pretty in sync (without making us a boy band.)

      Your pep talk will get me through the next five days!

  3. Haha, this one had me laughing. Perhaps because I could relate to the “a tad cranky” bit – hence my latest “bah, humbug!” post. Thanks for powering through, we’d miss you if you rested before the 12 days were up!

    While I agree that you don’t want to just spread content to spread it, I do think you can reach different people on different platforms, so maybe if you turn your blog post or eBook into a slideshare or video, you will reach more people, and that’s not so bad, right?

    Don’t worry, it’s almost time for a day off!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      With support like this, how could I not power through?

      I agree that people prefer different platforms and, for every person you miss with a written blog, you might capture four with a video. As long as the purpose is to reach a new audience, it’s perfectly fine — great — to rethink your material.

      Thank you for giving me the boost I need to make it to Day 13!

      • Part of this is to encourage myself to get working on video. Tripod and microphone arrived. Just waiting on lighting and iPhone. Eeep!

        Glad we could all help :)

        • Katherine Kotaw says:

          You’re almost there! One bit of unsolicited advice (but something I wish someone had told me): If you someday switch from using an iPhone to using your computer to do video, your lighting needs will change dramatically (which maybe you already know from doing HOAs). Meanwhile, have fun. I imagine you will quickly fall in love with video!

  4. Adrienne says:

    Hey Katherine,

    Sorry I’m just now hitting this particular post but I feel ya girl. I haven’t been my cheery old self this month either and my spark is fading fast.

    Either way I think you did an excellent job with this one and I agree with your message. I hear that advice all the time to just repurpose an old post if you can’t find anything to write about. My only advice is if that topic needs updating then go for it but don’t post it cause you’re lazy. Post it because you can add something to it because we all know things change and they don’t work the same way they use to.

    Thanks for sharing this and I hope you’ve been able to get that much needed rest by now! You and me both girl.

    Enjoy your week.


    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you, Adrienne! Rest still escapes me, but your message gives me the cheer and energy to carry on!

      Hope your spark revives soon and your holidays are as festive (or as restive) as you wish.


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