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HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re-Focusing

content re focusing 051 HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re FocusingNow that I have some time for creating content and blogging (which I thoroughly enjoy!), people start asking me the question: how do I manage to write so many articles and guest post so often. And how the heck do I come up with new ideas to cover my content marketing services?

Well, I have no secrets at all.

Below is the exact way I was coming up with new and new content ideas and writing new and new articles.

The keys: (1) learn to research + (2) learn to re-focus smartly!

So let’s see how you can re-focus your content to always come up with absolutely *new* and useful content.

1. One Research => Several Articles

Here are just a few tricks I am using to get inspired and research a topic:

  1. Get Inspired: Here’s my article on finding (linkbait) inspiration (in case you are stuck): use Google Images, Flickr groups, StumbleUpon (Stumble) button, etc.
  2. Start your research on Google: Here’s my article on how I do research online with some actionable tips and examples: (1) start from some very specific keywords (like [shopping online women] or [gender differences shopping]), use define: operator to get some more ideas on the topic (like [define:bargain hunters]). (2) Now expand your keywords to find more information (try using ~ and * operators to include more results, e.g. [~gender ~differences shopping] and [gender * shopping]). (3) Lastly, expand your tools (try Twitter search, for example, for recently discussed articles within your topic)
  3. What if you don’t really know how to start? Here’s my quite old (but still valid) guide on searching Google when you are not really sure what you want to find. Use it if you *feel* you want to write something but not really sure what.

content re focusing 01 HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re Focusing

So now that you have started your research, you are getting a lot of various interesting results: the exact article topic is forming. Not all of the results you get will be useful – likewise, not all of them fit your initial idea, but many of the articles and tools you are coming across are very useful and fun!

So learn to form several post ideas while doing one research. Open several (notepad) files and sort useful ideas and tools are finding by topic. Write several articles simultaneously.

That can result in a week of work, but in the end, you’ll get several absolutely awesome articles written.

Here’s a real life example

A couple of weeks ago I got really excited with various ways marketers are using Google Spreadsheets. While doing my research of different tools and scripts they are using, I was able to find some fantastic ideas. So, instead of writing one article, I wrote 4:

content re focusing 02 HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re Focusing

The result? Four detailed and useful articles at high-profile blogs (including Mashable and MarketingProfs) – all coming from one in-depth research!

Old Trick + Old Tool => New Content

Even if everyone knows the trick you were very excited to find, you can still apply your knowledge to make it a new idea! That’s why I love tools: if you know the tools, your content is always useful and fresh!

Here’s another example to demonstrate the point.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to aggregate all my guest accounts in one feed: The result is this page listing all my most recent guest articles. That wasn’t easy to figure out how to actually *create* author feeds where you didn’t have one. Therefore I was very excited to find Feed43 tool (that took me about 3 hours to figure).

But those 3 hours were not wasted: I wrote a huge tutorial on creating a master feed of all your your (guest) author accounts… and didn’t stop there.

A couple of weeks later, I was quite excited to “discover” that you can see all the pins originating from your domain by going to this URL:

http://pinterest.com/source/YourSite.com/

(Like: http://pinterest.com/source/seosmarty.com/)

I immediately saw the post opportunity, but was quite disappointed that it was obviously a well-known trick:

content re focusing 061 HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re Focusing

But wait! The pinterest.com/source/ page lacks one great option: there’s no way to track your content on Pinterest using an RSS feed!

I immediately remembered the RSS creation tool I discovered earlier. Since I already knew how to use it, it took me about 10 minutes to create the RSS feed for the Pinterest source page and 20 minutes more to play with the created feed (in Google Reader and other cool tool).

The result? My guest post was very well received on Mashable!

content re focusing 031 HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re Focusing

3. Old Content + New Format => New Content

OK, this one is widely used. I did a detailed post on content re-packaging here as well as a more specific one on re-packaging your content into an image.

Re-packaging is another great way to re-use your old research into the new content. Besides, content re-packaging gives you more freedom for promoting your content. If you turn your content into an image, you can promote it on Flickr and now Pinterest. If you turn your tutorial into a screencast, you’ll get great exposure from Youtube (and other video sites if you have more time).

And again an example!

Once I decided to look into and compare TOS of most popular social media sites. That took me at least a day of reading, dropping results into a table and then compiling a post. In the end, I was much more knowledgeable about what you cannot do on social media. But that’s not the only benefit.

content re focusing 041 HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re Focusing

If you work both hard and smart, you can achieve some great results and improve your content strategy greatly!

Please let me know your thoughts!

Post image by Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden

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 HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re Focusing
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  1. 15 Responses to “HOW TO: Write Lots of *Great* Original Articles: Lessons in Content Re-Focusing”

  2. Awesome post Ann.

    What I tend to do is use outlines. Think what the Table of Contents needs to be if the topic were a book. Gives a framework to your posts. And makes researching quicker too.

    And another tip I can share is: have a swipe file. Evernote or Readlater plugins. Every time you come across a good story, save it. Once a month, go through the stories. You can so often just merge two stories to create an epic blog post. Re-writing is quick writing.

    By Ankesh Kothari on Mar 20, 2012

  3. Ann

    I know you are all about guest posts but your content is amazing. This is an incredibly helpful post

    J

    By Julius Solaris on Mar 27, 2012

  4. Thanks Ann. It’s great to get a sneak peek into how another blogger does things. I like the idea of “content refocusing.” (I have been recycling older blog posts as infographics.) Also, the look at how you use Google to do research was invaluable. Thanks again

    By mikec (@blogboy2) on Mar 27, 2012

  5. I too wondered many times how do you manage to write so much :)

    love the post!

    By Dana Loiz on Mar 28, 2012

  6. Great post…thanks for sharing articles . I plan to use content curation frequently as I develop my new blog.

    By Socialkik on Mar 30, 2012

  7. When repackaging old content, it’s better to choose a previous post that can be connected in some way to a current issue in the industry so that it doesn’t seem so random.

    By MicroSourcing on Apr 11, 2012

  8. Great post – You’ve mentioned a couple of undeniable points in the post and shared great images to help with visual stimulation while reading. Thanks for sharing the tips and views, I enjoyed the reading experience.

    By Anton Koekemoer on Apr 13, 2012

  9. Great post! I’ve always wondered how you manage to write such in-depth posts. Now even your post on how to write posts is in my online bookmarks!

    By Rachael on Apr 20, 2012

  10. The article is very good and I learned many useful and interesting Nea who until now did not know. I follow your site often and loving much. Always there are many useful things for beginners.

    By Daniel on Apr 20, 2012

  11. Thanks for the great article. I enjoyed the reading experience and the views pointed out in the post. Made for a great read.

    thanks for sharing once again , Keep up the good posts.

    By Anton Koekemoer on Apr 30, 2012

  12. Thanks Ann your 2nd point is truly awesome. Using special character search gives us more result.

    By Kuladip Roy on Jul 12, 2012

  13. This is just awesome Ann. Very handy tips & useful for content writers & search specialists. I am a silent fan follower of you at SEJ & Internet Marketing Ninjas :) Thank you

    By Debajyoti Banerjee on Aug 15, 2012

  14. Ann, both the quantity and the quality of your guest posts are high, and learning how you come up with article ideas made for an interesting read. Thanks!

    By Alex Rascanu on Oct 29, 2012

  15. Amazing!!

    I just struggle to find what topics should I write about… and I find awesome little-known tools all the time.

    I will give your “strategy” a try and see what I get!! :D

    By SEO Diaz on Sep 5, 2013

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