#11 Making Content Reusable

#13: Making Content Reusable

I’m a huge fan of reusing content.

Sometimes I’d splice video clips into other videos. Or extract bite-sized pieces of information and quotes that I’ll chuck out on Twitter or use in other stories. Or create a wrapper around related stuff – like those “The Best of…” music albums. Or revisit and update old content – like Rough Cuts on Okto.

To paraphrase a bank’s slogan: “Let’s make content work harder!”

But how to…

  1. Reuse content that’s created for a particular audience and medium?
  2. Keep track of different types of content & its reuse possibilities?

It boils down to breaking up, codifying and documenting content.

Breaking Up: Look for Reusable Components in Content

In object-oriented programming we’re taught to create programs via “objects” with attributes, and code the interactions between the objects.

E.g. A table supports a laptop. The table and laptop are objects with different attributes. Their interaction consists of one supporting the other.

The idea is to look for components. Once we’ve found it, we can document them with metadata such as Tags, Descriptions, and Use.

Let’s see how we can apply this to articles, images and videos.



I can think of three ways to reuse an article:

  1. As it is
    Articles could be part of a bigger article. I generally link to an existing article (See #8: Used Someone’s Work? Be Nice, Link Back) as a resource or use them as part of a themed aggregator, much like those “Best of…” music albums.
  2. Memorable quotes
    Mine the article for Pull Quotes. In print publications, this is normally done to entice readers and highlight key topics. Best used in microblogs such as Twitter, Tumblr or Posterous.
  3. Facts
    Similar to mining for Pull Quotes. I find that these facts could easily reused with impunity in other content.

Once I’ve decided on the components, I’ll document them like so…








#6: Fact of interest postcards

Customer Reverence. Give customers a short postcard with useful info on it. Don’t sell anything.

Tech Ticks

100 Tips, Content




Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.
– Thomas A. Edison


Science, Edison, Utility




11% more cases involved women in…


Crime, Singapore, women




I reuse entire images. Thus I’m interested in filtering out images suitable for a story, video or photo essay. Nowadays I upload my images to Flickr. It’s got a nice tagging and set system which I use to categorise my images.

One of my images on Flickr

I use two types of tags:

  1. High level (e.g. “Food”, “Scenery”, “People”) to describe that image’s category.
  2. Descriptive (e.g. “Warung M Nasir”, “Nasi Padang”) to describe that image’s specifics.

I contextualise the images in Sets (it’s like a photo album). For example, I could create a set for images from my trip to Beijing as “Beijing Trip” and batch tag the images with “Travel”, “Beijing”, and “China”. Descriptive tags would be specific to the image e.g. “Forbidden City”, “Great Wall” etc.

I keep a ledger of high level tags and revise them every now and then to suit my content needs, like so…









My uploaded images


Food, People, Travel




Most of my video content consists of raw footage: video interviews, events and some full length videos.

Reuse starts with the storyboard or interview transcript. I codify each part with tags, short description, start and end times, and where it’s used. I can find what I want by filtering via tags, and read the description to jog my memory. This helps me gather a pool of data that I can use in other content.

An Interview Transcript







Used in…



Could you tell us what you have in your cab?

Basically my stuff are all communication tools, it’s very efficient and useful for people who are on the move. I’ve WiFi in my taxi, the speed of which is about 21 mbps. It’s fast enough for anyone to read, download and reply….

Rafee talks about what’s in his cab, and how everything is fixed up for the passenger.

Communications, Equipment


Documenting the video








Interview with Rafee

Rafee is a cab driver who uses tech comms in his cab. This interview talks about his motivations, problems and overcoming them.


Technology, Communications, Science



Final Thoughts

This is how I organise my content so that I can reuse them.

I won’t kid you, it’s damn hard work. But it makes it so much easier when I’m searching for content to reuse.

There are different ways of organising content. In fact, Content Management Systems should make it easier. Regardless, always keep track of your work and look at how past content can be reused to enhance your current project.


A day, a tip | 100 days, 100 useful content tips

Tip categories: Create, Source, The Truth, Spread & Be Nice.
Got an idea, opinion or critique?
Please share it with me @ContentTicks.


Credits: Featured Image from michelebandgeek

Others from Skybe077

2 thoughts on “#13: Making Content Reusable

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