Repurposing Your Articles

By Roy Stevenson

Repurposing has become popular lately with everyone wanting to be “green”. 

It means using an item for a different purpose, without making any alterations.  Using an old teapot as a planter is an example of this.

Or, in other cases, you might repurpose an item by altering it, and making it suitable for a different use.

repurposing a teapot

You might be wondering what this has to do with freelance writing.  I’d like to share a few ideas of how you can repurpose your articles. 

Repurposing your articles may not be “green” in the sense that you’ll be saving the environment, but you will be saving yourself lots of time – and opening up new ways to earn money from words you’ve already written. 

Here are a few ways to do it:

Repurposing with "Archive Sales"

The first and easiest way to repurpose your articles is by selling reprints.  Most freelance writers are already familiar with selling reprints, but you can step it up a notch.

I resell articles with a process that I call “archive sales”.  It’s essentially a more efficient way of reselling articles.

If you write in a specific niche and have become an expert in that niche, this works really well.  It’s easiest to explain with an example: 

Because I write in a variety of genres, I’ve built up an inventory of articles in certain genres.  One of those genres is “running and fitness”.

When I’ve developed a sizeable inventory of articles on running topics, I send an email solicitation out to my list of running magazine editors asking if they’d like the complete set of articles.

Here’s the email template of the query letter I send out:
Dear <Editor’s name>,

I’m a full-time freelance journalist specializing in running and triathlon training, sports conditioning, and fitness.  My work has appeared in more than <X> regional, national and international magazines including <list magazines here>.
Over the past years I’ve developed an inventory of “evergreen” running stories, which I offer to regional running markets like yours that are looking for well-written, well-researched, informative articles for their readers.

Many regional running magazine editors have taken my articles on a disk for storage in a “bank” of articles that they can use as needed.

Currently I have stories on the following topics available:

<List of articles available goes here>

Please contact me if you’d like me to mail you this disk to access as a resource for future articles to publish in your magazine.

Best Regards,
Roy Stevenson

This method can result in many reprint sales. 

It takes a little bit of time to put the articles on a disk and mail it out to the editors, but then you're done.  You'll just receive checks in the mail periodically when an editor prints one of the articles.
This technique works very well for me with running articles, and I see no reason why you can’t use this technique with most magazine genres.

If you’re tech savvy, you can also offer your archive of articles on a website instead of mailing out disks.  That way the editors can download the articles directly from your website, and make payment immediately.  You can still market directly to the editors via email and link them to your website.

Repurposing Into a Digital Product

When you have written a wide variety of articles on one topic, it’s time you considered repurposing them into some kind of resource that people can purchase.  The easiest and least expensive way to start is to create a digital product like an eBook, a Special Report or a Manual.

Once you’ve gathered up all the articles on that topic and put them in a logical order, you can decide if there are any gaps.  If you’re lucky, each article will form the nucleus of a chapter.

Most likely, you’ll need to do some rewriting to make them all work together.  But with most of the content already written, it ends up being a much easier task than starting from scratch.

I’ve created several digital products that originated as separate articles.  Some are eBooks, one is a special report and another is a manual. 

How many articles do you need before you can compile them into a book? 

Here’s a rule of thumb.  Once you think you have a good selection of articles, compare your list of topics with other books written on the same subject.  Do your article chapters measure up in number, subject matter and length?

This will help you to identify any gaps where you might need to add more chapters.  Or, it will tell you if you’ve got a sufficient coverage of the subject as they stand.

The advantage to digital products is that your main investment is your time.  If you market your product on your own website, all the royalties are yours.  Or, to get your product more widely distributed, you can publish it on one or more of the many online stores that sell digital products.

Repurposing Into a Printed Book

Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book.  Instead of creating digital products, you can turn that pile of articles into a print book. 

How to go about creating a book is beyond the scope of this article.  But these days there are so many resources available to help you.  You still need to go through the steps of putting your articles into a logical sequence, filling any gaps, and then rewriting as needed to pull it all together.

But with a core set of articles on a topic, the hardest part is done.  Sure, you’ll still have to do some writing, expanding on certain topics, and lots of editing to pull it together into a book. 

But this should not be a problem and will take a lot less time than you think because you know your subject so well, having already written so extensively about it. 

At least you won’t be dealing with a blank page like so many other writers out there. 

By repurposing your articles you can easily take the work you’ve already done and create something new and useful to others.

Related articles that will interest you:

The Art of Reselling Your Articles

Writing Enticing Query Letters to Sell More Articles

Getting Published:  The Many Ways to Sell Your Articles

Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of  Over the past ten years, he’s had more than 1000 articles published in 200 magazines, trade and specialty journals, in-flights, on-boards, blogs and websites and has traveled on assignment around the U.S. and to dozens of international destinations.