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I am a big proponent of encouraging other freelance writers to get more out of one piece of content. We’ve had a few posts on this topic. I shared my 3-from-1 rule, and a previous guest contributor shared how an old piece brought new money. Then there’s reprints, which our guest contributor Carol J. Alexander touches on today. Reprints are just one of the tips that Carol passes our way. She also reminds us of other reasons why there is more cash waiting in that one article.

freelance income

How to Repurpose Your Writing For Extra Cash
By Carol J. Alexander

Several years ago, I interviewed a coffee roaster for a magazine article on how to roast your coffee at home. The roaster, Monty, kept me at his shop for over three hours roasting, tasting, and talking coffee.

I had a great time spending that afternoon with Monty, but it seriously cut into the hourly rate I wanted to make on the story. So, I had to make that interview pay in other ways. How? By repurposing everything I learned that afternoon. Let me show you:

First, Keep Your Rights

If you want to be able to repurpose your work, make sure that you keep the rights to your content. Read any contract or agreement you sign carefully. I prefer to work for first North American rights. Sometimes you can repurpose the work if you have shared rights. Most publications want shared web rights and archival rights, too.

Find More Angles in the Story

In addition to that initial magazine feature, I used more of what I learned from the same interview to write a post for a natural health blog on making cold brew coffee. Since that was a paid post, and I didn’t have to count anything but writing time, I made a pretty good rate on that.

Some time later, Monty opened a coffee shop in town and I wrote a story about his business for a local lifestyle publication. Again, I already had most of the information I needed for the story. This new article just required a short phone call to verify a few details about the new shop.

Sell Reprints

Any of these stories about Monty and his coffee could be sold as reprints to other markets once the contract terms are fulfilled. Regional print publications are the best places to sell reprints. Think about it. A magazine in Portland doesn’t really care if the same story ran in a similar pub in Miami or Houston. Most regionals don’t pay as much as national publications, but I have stories that have sold 8-12 times.

Write a Book

In 2014, I used about 25 blog posts from my blog to create the bulk of the copy for my book Homestead Cooking with Carol: Bountiful Make-ahead Meals. Of course, I added recipes and some additional chapters on the topic, but with most of it written by repurposing blog posts, the thousands I have made on book sales since that time have more than compensated me for those original posts.

Roland Denzel, fitness and nutrition coach, did the same thing, and more. He turned his blog series, 30 Days of Real Food, into an online challenge to build his mailing list. He then published his book, The Real Food Reset: 30 Days to Lose Weight, Kick Cravings, and Feel Great!

Teach a Class

After seeing the success of his online challenge, Roland and his wife, Galina, turned that material into a 90-day program at a local gym with 15-30 students. They then turned that program into an online course, available on their website, with about 75 students going through it to date.

By repurposing the content, Roland’s blog post series has garnered more than $5,000 in sales so far. Some years, profits from selling reprints have made up one-third of my income. And my own book sales, now residual income sent straight to my savings account, have helped to build a nest egg for when I want to take a break.

If you’ve been writing for a while, don’t spin your wheels coming up with new topics to write on, spending time on new research and interviews. Take a fresh look at your already published work and re-spin it for a different market.

carol j alexanderCarol J. Alexander writes and edits from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her work has appeared in Grit, Hobby Farms, Urban Farm, Home Education and over 70 regional parenting magazines. She is the former editor of Shenandoah Living Magazine and the current editor of a niche food blog. She shares her writing wisdom on her blog Be a Pro Writer. Find her on LinkedIn.