Up, up and away! How upcycling will elevate your content to new heights

Content marketing is barely 20 years old, yet one of the challenges marketers already face is how to create new and original content. The solution is to get smart: upcycle your content so that it works harder for you

Speaking at Hubspot's INBOUND in Boston this month, Salma Jafri, host of the YouTube programme Content Marketing Tips, used the analogy of wrapping paper.

When she reuses wrapping paper because it’s too pretty to throw away, that’s recycling. When her daughter makes her a birthday card from an old piece of wrapping paper, that’s upcycling.

“Upcycling creates something equally or more valuable”, explains Jafri. “The birthday card my daughter gave me now has additional value, sentimental value. Even though other wrapping papers might find their way into the trash, the piece that was converted into a birthday card will now be saved because from it my daughter created something new and more valuable.”

Recycling delays trash. Upcycling prevents trash.

How to upcycle content

Content can be upcycled in a variety of ways, including by

  • Stitching pieces together (for example, by collating a series of blogposts into an ebook)
  • Breaking a piece of content down (such as by editing or reproducing a piece of video for different platforms)
  • Converting a piece of content into different formats (creating a meme, infographic and podcast from a single blog post)
  • Tweaking a piece of content so it is tailored to a particular industry.

The key is to add value and bring the piece of content back into circulation again. With upcycling, the magic happens when the content is created, not when it is distributed or promoted.

Benefits of upcycling

So what are the benefits of upcycling? Firstly, it relieves the burden of having to create new and original content. Secondly, it works a treat for SEO.

Thirdly, because you’ve diversified your platforms and formats, your content will have greater reach; you’ll attract new people native to each medium and format. Fourthly, upcycled content provides you with extended visibility without being annoying. You can say the same thing but in different ways. In this regard, the whole is worth greater than the sum of the parts.

And finally, it respects your audience’s different learning preferences. Some people will consume written content; others will prefer to listen to a podcast; and visual learners will favour video format.

How to get started

Map out an upcycling strategy that will work for your situation, taking into account the available resources and budget, your audience, and the frequency with which you can realistically create original content. In doing so, remember not all content is suitable for upcycling. Evergreen content and thought leadership pieces are ideal, whereas content based around a current affair is not.

Salma Jafri recommends you set out to create one piece of new content – in her case, video - say, each week, and from that singular piece of content to generate five to seven pieces of upcycled content, be they blogs, videos, online courses, podcasts, images, ebooks, infographics, charts, speeches, emails, newsletters, presentations, webinars, autoresponder sequences, live video, applications, quizzes, memes…

You'll know if your upcycling strategy is working if the upcycled piece holds its own as a stand alone piece.

You can get started by downloading Salma Jafri’s 7-Day Upcycling Plan.