Repurposing ideas, not just content

Using a journal as a content library

I fell out of journalling when lockdown struck, and I wasn’t going anywhere, as geography was a useful kicker to remind me to write up what I’d been up to. In the comments on last week’s post, Helga Henry reminded me how useful frequent journalling can be.

I’ve found the best technique to be short pieces, tagged and to-the-point, with the right thought in the right journal. For example, if I’ve had a particularly interesting, funny, weird or scary dream, it goes in my dream journal and I don’t have to worry about writing it in a way that makes it clear it’s a dream. I also have a journal called “Temper trap” where I can write down the little things that bug me, so I don’t have to inflict them on my Twitter followers. I should get back into that.

I use tags so I can easily categorise stuff and come back to it later. I use #hashtags for topic of entry (#health, #home, #events, #meta [for journalling about journalling]) and @tags for people and pets (@mum, @bailey, etc). I geotag where it’s relevant, and try to include images. For example, when logging a run, I’ll copy and paste the map from the iPhone Activity app.

By journalling the little events, and by judicious use of tagging, you can start to see patterns, but it also gives you a little database of ideas you can come back to if you’re looking for inspiration.

The idea of repurposing content is something I feel like I’m hearing more and more. There are lots of good examples of this especially in the podcast world, where people write out bullet-points or fully-fledged articles that they read on mic.

This summer I wrote a bunch of how-to-podcast stuff, and each article came with a video. The videos feel very different from the articles they accompany, and often carry a different takeaway, but it’s based on bullet-points from the text.

I like this approach as it doesn’t duplicate content as much as you might think, across formats. I think I’m good enough at adapting ideas to different formats so that doesn’t feel too difficult, but that might not be the same for everyone, I get it.

The latest episode of my company podcast is also a good example of this approach, I think. Also it has lots of puns in it.

So, if you’re running your own indie operation, you might want to tell people what you’re up to, what you’ve achieved, what challenges you’ve faced etc, or just the latest win you’ve had. If you don’t do it all that frequently, you run the risk of forgetting a particularly cool thing that happened, maybe because it wasn’t earth-shattering so you didn’t instantly remember it. But a journal can help you keep track of those little wins, that you might then want to talk bout.

Depending on your output, each quick win could be a tweet, a short video, even a podcast episode or a blog post. Or, even better, more than one. A loss or a lesson learned could be something you discuss with a guest or a co-host or someone in your industry, that can then become a podcast episode. Or you could learn that teachable moment into a short series of videos, maybe even a Udemy course.

Something to think about, anyway. I’m not necessarily suggesting you pick the bones of your life for #content, but that you keep a journal of your work stuff along with your life stuff, and give yourself the opportunity to sift back through what you’ve created over the past few days, ‘cos there might be something there that has legs.

OK, I think that’ll do it. It’s late and I want to go to sleep on my expensive pillows. Drop a comment on this post and let me know what you’re up to this week, otherwise the next time we speak it’ll be November and I’m not sure I can cope with that.

In a bit.