Why You Should Create Content With the End Product in Mind

Work smarter, not harder. I remember hearing Scrooge McDuck utter those words in DuckTales when I was but a wee lad, and those words have stuck with me ever since. Especially now as I make my living as a freelance writer and professional blogger, particularly now as I’ve come to embrace what John calls the “dot com lifestyle,” the notion of trading hours for dollars is one that we should try to avoid.

It’s not about the number of hours that you put in. Rather, it’s about what those hours are able to produce, both actively and passively.

Maximize the Output

You might remember when we talked about how you can maximize the value of the work that you do by re-purposing the work that you’ve already done. Your old blog posts could represent a real gold mine if you take the time to dig them up. In much the same way, you can take your old blog posts and re-purpose them into an e-book, adding value and giving them a brand new life.

The same can be said about taking that content and turning it into a YouTube video or a podcast episode. You’ve already done the work, so you may as well find every way that you can use it, right?

That’s just good content strategy, if utilized effectively, but it is a strategy that looks to the past. Much like what we see with some popular movie or comic book franchises, it’s almost like a retcon. You take what you had and you make it fit with today.

What if you went about things in the other direction, looking toward the future rather than gleaning inspiration from the past?

Talking to Strangers

Some of you may already be familiar with Malcolm Gladwell. The highly acclaimed author has written several best sellers over the years, including Blink, The Tipping Point, and What the Dog Saw. His latest book is titled “Talking to Strangers.” In it, he talks about the misalignment we experience between how some strangers may appear and how they actually are or how they feel. Is that person’s smile genuine or are they just putting on an act? Is that person with their arms crossed actually having a good time? He explores this through a number of real life stories.

What does this have to do with online content creation? Well, Malcolm Gladwell has had a couple of podcasts for a little while now, and he decided to use his nicer podcasting equipment to record several of the interviews he conducted as part of the research for writing the book. He used to record his interviews anyway for previous books, but these recordings were largely for his own personal reference. By utilizing the better equipment, he was able to capture better quality audio this time around.

And that got him to thinking that his audience may actually want to hear this audio. And so, for the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you get to hear the actual audio from the actual interviews that Gladwell conducted. Instead of Malcolm simply quoting the experts he interviewed, you’ll literally hear the actual words for the actual horse’s mouth.

This is quite different from nearly every other audiobook where the entirety of the text is read by the author or by a professional voice actor. It makes for a different experience, one that Gladwell describes himself as more like a podcast. And it’s all because he had that bit of foresight to record higher quality audio in the first place.

Your Content Projects

Part of the conversation has to do with figuring out how you can maximize the output while minimizing your input. A blog post can also be extended into an e-book, a YouTube video or a podcast episode. You can feature excerpts and extracts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

But, the other part of the conversation is to start with the end in mind. As you start your research, as you begin to put everything together, how do you envision the final product will ultimately be consumed?

Just as you might choose to storyboard your YouTube videos or start your book-writing process with an outline and chapter listing, you’ll want to make sure you collect the right pieces along the way to build toward your final product.