You’ve written something good. Return to it.
If you’ve been blogging for a year or more, you’ve probably covered many topics. Good news: ideas don’t get used up. In fact, they’re probably due for a refresh and repeat.
It’s time to revisit the things you’ve already written.
If you’re resisting this idea, I get it. When I tell myself to revisit topics of previous posts, part of me immediately protests. But I wrote about that three years ago! I’ve already covered it!
I’ve got to get over it, and so do you. Here are three good reasons to rework the things you’ve already covered and to give yourself permission to repeat.
1. We didn’t see it the first time
How many of your readers only subscribed to your blog or found your content in the last several months? Chances are, it’s quite a few. They never saw that blog post you published two years ago.
Even if your total number of followers remains constant, people have cycled through. They always do. You’re reaching different people today than you were before.
Even your long-time subscribers may not have seen what your wrote the first time it came out. We’re all bombarded with a fire-hose blast of content every day. Your post may have landed on one of those days, and people missed it—people who would value what it says.
If you want to test this theory, try sharing an older post on your social media or with your email list and see who responds. It may well be people who have been following and interacting with you for some time.
2. We didn’t pay attention the first time. Or we’ve forgotten it.
Maybe we just skimmed it the first time, but it didn’t sink in. Maybe we were tired.
Or, the ideas you covered never made the transition to our long-term memories.
Even your most loyal readers won’t remember what you wrote three years ago. (Heck, sometimes I don’t remember the posts I’ve written a few months back.)
It’s the spotlight effect in action: we assume that people are paying much more attention to us than they are. If you’re worried that people will think you’re a one-hit wonder if you keep returning to the same topic, let it go.
Realistically, most of us should worry whether people remember who we are. In her book Brag Better, Meredith Fineman suggests, “Online, you should be introducing yourself all the time. Consider an introductory post in each medium at least once a month.”
(Yep, I haven’t gotten to that advice yet. But I should.)
3. We weren’t ready to hear/believe it.
You know the saying “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear?” I suspect the reality is more like this: the teachers are always there, but we don’t notice them until we’re ready to be students.
Sometimes an idea doesn’t sink in until we’ve seen it a few times, or events in our lives have shifted such that it now makes sense or is relevant.
We’re all different people than we were a couple years ago. Heck, with this pandemic, we’re different than we were only a few months ago.
Your audience has changed or grown, so offer your insights again.
For those who were paying attention
If you’re worried about being boring, try repeating with a difference.
There’s an entire chapter on repetition in Writing to Be Understood, but I’ll repeat here a few ways you can artfully reiterate your points within a blog post or book chapter:
- Repeat with a difference. Vary the wording with new iterations.
- Tell a story. Embody your concept in a story to give it more air time.
- Repeat in structural elements. Include core concepts in headings and call-outs.
- Use quotes. Reiterate the concept in a someone else’s voice.
Repeating across time is even easier. If you’re looking for content ideas, cast fresh eyes over what you have already done.
- Can you find a new story to illustrate the same point?
- Does an apt metaphor now present itself?
- Can you rephrase a core idea in a memorable or pithy way?
Revisit and Go Deeper
By revisiting and working with the topic, you may find new insight. Even if the topic remains the same, you have changed as an author. The world around you has changed.
My challenge to you: Find something you’ve written a while back and see if you can resurface and repeat it from a new perspective.
I’ll be trying this myself. Let me know how it works for you.