Several years ago I watched a free training presented by Chalene Johnson, where she explained how to start with one piece of content and then use it in several forms for various outlets. With this efficient and productive approach, she gets the most mileage out of a single piece of content.
It’s a clever, creative way to improve ROI.
Chalene Johnson’s Content Creation System
Chalene is comfortable on video, so she starts with a live video as the primary content form. She decides what she’ll speak on and has several points to cover, and I don’t think she scripts it in advance. She probably writes out bullet points to keep her on track and speaks from those.
At the time of the training she recommended Facebook Live, but since then I’ve seen her and others do live video on multiple platforms at the same time. That might be like Facebook Live and Instagram Live or IGTV and maybe Periscope, too. With one live broadcast, she instantly reaches people in multiple places all at once.
Afterwards, that video is saved.
And that’s the beauty of her system. She can repurpose that saved video into multiple formats.
For example, she can:
- edit the video recording into segments to publish on YouTube
- use the audio from that recorded livestream to create a podcast episode
- have the audio transcribed and use that written version as the draft of an article or two to publish at her website
- pull quotes and video excerpts to use on Twitter
- create infographics and quote posts to pin on Pinterest
- design quote images for her Instagram feed
I don’t think she mentioned it, but she could create slide decks to publish on LinkedIN SlideShare and use the recorded video as part of a program or course.
One piece of content turns into gobs of material for all kinds of purposes and platforms. The impact she can have with just one focused creative idea and effort blew me away.
That’s a savvy use of one’s time and a remarkable return on investment.
Creative Content Repurposing for Writers
Maybe one day I’ll start with live broadcasts like Chalene Johnson, but that’s not who I am or where I’m at. Inspired by her training, I started to think about my own strengths:
What one piece of content could be my starting point?
What could I create to serve at least double-duty if not triple- or quadruple-duty to have the biggest impact possible?
How can I take the principle behind Chalene’s training and adapt it for where I’m at as a writer to increase my ROI?
Start with Written Content: Big to Small
As a writer, an obvious starting point for me was written content.
That’s what I did.
- Podcast: I ended up scripting my podcast episodes, so those are offered in audio form for those who subscribe to the podcast.
- Blog Article: The script is available as an article for those who prefer reading it at my website.
- Newsletter: Since it’s relatively short, I include that same content in my weekly newsletter, so people don’t have to go to my website or listen to the podcast to learn from my ideas.
- Instagram Quote: For the Instagram feed, I create a quote post with a brief excerpt from the article—enough so that people don’t have to go to the original piece in order to gain a valuable insight, in case they want to stay in Instagram rather than click away to my website.
- Instagram Image: To mix things up, I often take a photo that relates to the ideas, such as the image of a book I refer to in the article, and publish that in my feed.
- Instagram Story: Sharing the post from my Instagram feed in my Story draws a few people who are focusing more on that element of Instagram.
- Facebook: I repurpose one of the excerpts from Instagram into a post on my Facebook page, and that links back to the original article on my website.
- Pinterest: I create at least one or two pins for Pinterest.
- Twitter: I tweet a variety of links to the article on Twitter, using quotes and images to mix things up.
Start with Written Content: Small to Big
Sometimes this content serves as a way to test material and ideas to see if they would work well as part of a bigger project, like a chapter in a book, training material for a group coaching session, or a module in a self-directed course.
Occasionally instead of starting with the primary content and spinning that off in multiple directions, I’ll start with one of the smaller forms of an idea, like an Instagram post, to see how people respond. If it seems to gather interest and energy, I’ll expand that into more involved content such as an article or podcast episode.
I can go from big to small, or small to big.
When we figure out these approaches that spin one piece of content out in multiple avenues, we’ve made the most of our time.
We can look for creative ways to save time, as well.
Delete, Delegate, Delay
Think: delete, delegate, delay.
To open up time for activities that matter most, we can eliminate responsibilities and tasks we take on or continue out of habit or obligation.
Why are you always the person to pick up and deliver coffee to coworkers every Monday morning? Is it necessary to rearrange the display on the living room side table?
Some tasks, while a pleasant distraction from the hard work of writing, can be simply deleted from our schedule, freeing up time for creating something new.
Leave the vase and figurines on display and let people pick up their own coffee. You were nice to bless your colleagues but I wonder how much more they got done because you did that task for them?
How much might you get done with the time you devoted to that order, pickup, and delivery?
If we can find someone else capable of doing a task as well as—maybe better than—we can, delegate it.
For instance, could you hire a young person to mow your lawn or upload content to social media? During the hour or two you would have fired up that lawnmower or fiddled with Instagram filters, you can finish your book or reach out to agents.
By delegating a task, we free up time to do what only we can do or to do what we do best.
Chalene said that she delegates many of the tasks in her content creation system, hiring something else to edit the video and create the audio for use on her podcast. Someone else creates the Instagram and Pinterest images and infographics.
You don’t have to do it all. Investing in someone who can do some of those tasks—in a fraction of the time it would have taken you—can save so much time that you can end up doing even more with the pockets of time that open up. You can do more on the projects that matter, on the projects that only you can do.
We can also delay certain activities or tasks that can wait in order to attend to something more urgent or important, or both.
Maybe you really want to KonMari your bathroom closet to prepare for house guests. If they aren’t coming for two weeks and you have a writing deadline this Friday, delay the decluttering project a little longer and finish the article.
To increase your ROI, come up with an efficient content creation system.
You may be focused on a long-form project instead of smaller, short-form pieces like Chalene or me. Still, you can look for ways that one piece can serve more than one purpose.
In addition, we can periodically evaluate if we can delete, delegate, or delay tasks to attend to the most important ones that will move us closer to our goals and best align with our values.
- A Writer’s Guide to ROI series
- “How to Save Time on Social Media – Secret System Revealed!” Chalene’s 2016 content creation summary
- Repurpose Your Writing to Reach More People [Episode 129]
- Next-Level Writer series
- Write to Discover series
- All podcast episodes
You can subscribe to this podcast using your podcast player or find it through Apple podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify.