Working the Angles of Content Creation
Agonizing over content creation for your website? Don’t drive yourself nuts. Learn the angles and repurpose old posts into new ones.
Cynics say that the best ideas have been plucked to death. To me, an incurable optimist, originality is constant and ongoing because human society is always in continuous regeneration. And yet, even for pros, creating fresh new ideas can be a struggle. That’s why pros learn “the angles” of content creation because it’s a matter of survival.
Philosophers have written (and rewritten) hundreds of essays on how history seems to repeat itself. Most take the harsh view that humanity can not take measures (usually something simple) to alter a predictable outcome (usually something gloomy). However, Carlos Castaneda suggested that if you open your mind and learn from history, you can change what may seem like a predictable outcome.
Yet, when thinking of angles, you can make the task of content creation a bit more manageable. And it helps your search engine optimization to boot!
One of the most basic rules for optimization is to keep your website stocked with fresh content. All that matters is getting Google spiders to visit your website and notice new content. As a result, you’re more likely to gain better search visibility and (hopefully) increase page ranking. Consider also that you can do both IF you can manage to increase your total word count. That’s why we put so much emphasis on content creation and why angles can be part of your content growth strategy.
The bottom line, if you want to keep your website fresh – keep writing, keep posting. If originality is a frustrating climb, don’t sweat it. Just take time and look at your old content, and look for ways to reuse it! Literally, by rewriting and re-posting, you can take a different perspective, add another idea, feature other benefits.
You may stop here and realize that I’m talking about “spinning,” and I’d say, “Yes, absolutely.” Then you may worry, “Isn’t that spam? Will Google ban you for it?” And I can confidently reply, “No.” Spinning is not spam, and Google will not ban your site – as long as you do the job correctly!
The concept of “Angles of content creation” is not all that original.
I call it “Angles of content creation,” but the old PR guys – the ones I trained under – had a name for reworking stories: they called it “working the angles” or simply “angling.” The task wasn’t just to repeat the story. You had to build a whole new account from the same list of facts. Here’s a great visual. Consider the process of “angling” in the art of cutting lumber.
A master plank cutter studies a log of prime lumber carefully before he cuts it into planks. He explores the grain and other features to predict how it will produce specific characteristics in the final product. He may cut into knots or grain to make interesting patterns. He may include rot or burns for a splash of color. He may cut straight along the grain to produce solid and rigid planks.
Nothing interesting about “Dog Bites Man…”
Another example comes from an old news desk editor to told his interns: “Nothing is interesting about “dog bites man, but the whole damned world wants to know about the man who bit the dog.” Actually, that happened once – read about it here. And you thought it was just a film. But that’s a bit of a digression. The reality is you’d be surprised what a bit of topic flipping will do for your creativity.
The original version of this blog post debuted with that headline. I’ve rewritten this post at least twenty times since it was first posted in 1999. Every once in a while, as I flipped angles and twisted things around, I’d wind up with more content than would fit into one blog post and PRESTO, I’d have two or blog posts!
But let’s ponder more practical examples. For instance, what if you have a list of “things you must do in Italy.” If it were me, I’d build another list titled “things you MUST NEVER DO in Italy.” A client of mine took this lesson to heart and generated FOUR different versions dealing with places, food, and historic landmarks to go with her “things.” You see? Angling is more than just spinning opposites. MOST of what you should do is spin up nuances with every rewrite. So now I’m writing about “Low-cost things to do in Italy” or “How to travel Italy without going broke.”
Angling story ideas for your Silo Strategy.
In my master content creation toolkit, “angling” is a discovery process that helps you extend content development. You can deepen certain types of messaging and reach further into your audience, but more importantly, you cater to what I call the ‘rabbit hole diggers’ – the ones who search for deeper details and hard-to-find ideas. While you’re thinking about the rabbit hole, think about angling as a way to deploy a “content silo” strategy. Content silos can increase keyword utilization, grow domain and page authority, and entertain human readers – all in one fell swoop! Read this article about my 5-Point Content Silo Plan.
Change the angle of attack by adding a feature, a benefit, a concept, a human interest. With a new angle, you can set a new theme or reset opinions. New angles may help expand the artistic or emotional effect of the story. Seemingly negative points are often transformed because a new angle emphasizes a positive result. Average situations evaporate because a new angle produces a previously ignored or overlooked value.
A literal angle for a change of perspective.
Here’s an anecdote about literal angles from a retired PR practitioner who was once an account manager for Ruder Finn:
At the close of World War II, RCA Records announced releasing an “unbreakable” phonograph record. Until that time, records were made of clay and were very fragile. The new RCA record was made of durable vinyl, which made it kinda unbreakable, as you’ll see in this story.
To prove the durability of their new product, a publicity executive conjured up a stunt to drop both types of platters from the top of the RCA building in downtown New York. The date was set, and the press and public showed up in droves to see the platter splatter.
At the designated time, the president of RCA dropped the old clay record by its edge, and it zipped straight down to the street and disintegrated on contact. Then came the new vinyl platter. He dropped it in the same way as its predecessor and, to everybody’s surprise, it too shattered like an old dinner plate. Facing public impalement or worse, the panicked publicity executive asked the stunned president to drop another vinyl record, “…but as you would if you were going to set it on a record player.” The change in aerodynamics caused the record to drift down to the waiting crowd, where it bounced off the pavement intact.
Okay, so maybe that’s more about someone being clever, but the basic idea is there.
The 3R Process: Reuse, Reword, Re-post.
Effective angling for content creation requires some planning. And please remember – this is not a cheat. This method will not help you game the search engines. Instead, this is a creative aid to help you muscle through content creation. If you plan carefully enough (and are willing to put a little effort into the process), you can reuse a single story multiple times re-post them as separate and new articles. Let’s dig into the details.
Reuse your article.
Let’s assume you have a new widget and you’ve already written an article about how it works. Maybe you’ve included some features and benefits. How about one that describes using the widget that illustrates one of the features or benefits? How about an article about how the widget functioned in a specific situation? Maybe you can write another essay about how it compares with other widgets or a list of things that you’ll never have to do, thanks to your widget. And don’t forget customer testimonials — these are gold in content creation. The best part, every one of these articles reuses the same basic set of information. The difference is the situation. And remember, we’re not just reusing articles to fool the search engines. We’re creating content that searchers may use to decide on a purchase, so originality is still just as important.
Reword your article.
Rewording is a bit like reusing, but with a slightly different twist. Instead of thinking of different situational angles, change each article with different demonstrative angles: ask a question and use the original article as your answer. Rewording may not work for each article, but it may work for most of them. Let’s say the original starts as:
My widget helps make household tasks easy!
With a bit of work, your original article could be instructional:
How to make household tasks easy with my widget.
And with a bit more work, perhaps philosophical:
Why my widget makes household tasks easy.
Don’t forget those rabbit hole diggers who may appreciate a more direct approach:
What is my widget?
One original article hatches three additional pieces with this exercise, all using the same information; however, reword with care.
That means you want to pass Google’s “duplicate content” test. For this, I make sure reworded articles pass the “plagiarism” test. Google will not penalize a reused piece if it is AT LEAST 75% original. There’s some debate about that number (some say 60%), but you must reword for as much originality as possible. I recommend a tool like Grammarly to help the job go a little easier.
Re-post your article.
The next step is straightforward: re-post as you would your other blog articles, and make sure you add some social media to get the word out. If you managed to generate several versions or variations from the original, consider scheduling so that you publish one post every week.
Parting tips for your story angles.
When writing content for a product or service, there are essential facts (features, benefits, concepts) you’ll always want to include. The novice approach is to delegate much of this detail into bullet points in the middle of paragraphs. But searchers – especially those rabbit hole diggers – want more. That’s when you split those bullet points into new personal, situational, and demonstrative articles. Narratives like these are gold for content strategy because one aspect of a product (for instance) can quickly build a whole library of articles.
DO NOT simply re-post old articles and write about the same thing – over and over. Of course, YOU can if you want to, but imagine going to a party and saying the same joke over and over. Yeah. Cringe. Remember that rewording alone is not enough. You want to pass the “fresh content” test for the machine (e.g., Google) and human (e.g., your future customer).
That’s all for now.