Why (and How) You Should Upcycle Your Content

By Raka October 13, 2023

The certainties of life are thus: death, taxes, and some content performs better than others.

You know you won’t hit a home run every time you write a blog post. And yet you’ve been told that consistently creating content is important, so you keep cranking.

When you’ve done all that work and find the same 10 blog posts and same five content offers perched atop your lists every single month…isn’t that frustrating? We see it with clients and we see it with our own content, which is especially maddening because content marketing is what we do.

But what if the problem is that you’re trying to fight it? What if, instead of only trying to defeat the top 10 list with a newer and shinier infographic, you use that top performer to your advantage?

The name of this game is “upcycling.”

Upcycling versus recycling

To recycle is to break something down and create new products from its base materials. Great for consumer goods and the planet, but not always great for your business. Like creating one-off blog posts from each subsection of a single top performing post. In some cases, this can be a quick and easy way to get more from a dense piece. But if the complete post resonated with people and you hack the post to pieces, you might be hacking apart that reason.

Recycling content is not an outright no-no; it can make a lot of sense for a company to get more eyes on an excellent article by breaking it down in PowerPoint and putting that presentation on SlideShare. Just understand this content may not feel new to your audience.

The goal of an upcycle is to add value without degrading the product in any way. Note the distinction:

GOOD: Updating that “Social Media Image Sizes: An Always Up-to-Date Guide” post with new data as it changes.

BAD: Putting a new date on an old blog post and throwing it back on the home page.

WEIRD: Making buckets out of old tires.

I’m willing to bet you’ve seen the concept in use somewhere before today. At the very least you have that one cousin who constantly posts pics of modern farmhouse furniture upcycles on Instagram.

The thing is when your cousin created a rustic coatrack out of a rusty bicycle frame she was actually recycling. Remember, when upcycling you’re not looking to just create something new out of something old; you’re trying to send something old back up the supply chain with as little effort as possible.

Four ways to upcycle content

Here are a few ways we upcycle content at Raka:

  1. Republish: The GOOD example above is an honest one. Our “Social Media Image Sizes: An Always Up-to-Date Guide” post is one of our most popular posts every month, every year, and we make sure the post remains valuable by updating the data and stats. Don’t change the date on the post when you do this. Instead, alert your readers with an “UPDATED” note or similar callout.
  2. Reorganize: Do you have three or four blog posts that fall under one topic? Turn them into an e-book! Each post can be its own chapter, so all you’ll need to do is add an intro, a conclusion, and unite it under a cohesive design.
  3. Repurpose: So you’re already sharing your best content on a variety of channels. Good. But consider customizing it for different audiences. Turn your most quotable quotes into images for social, use the main points to create an infographic, discuss the topic in a short video. Your options are only limited by your creativity.
  4. Reach Out: Another buzzword flying around INBOUND was “co-marketing” and we completely get the interest. If your goal is to get more eyes on your content with minimal effort, joining forces with another company to promote the material together is an excellent way to do it. In this case, your partner’s perspective can add value in really unique ways.

Feeling inspired to get a big return from very little effort? Of course, you are—this is America! Now get out there and start upcycling. (Instagram photos of your progress not required. Sorry, Cous’.)