Making the most of your blog archive

Cherry-pick perennial winners

Blogs are linear by nature, constantly moving forward and leaving the past further and further behind. This means that old posts often languish in the blog archive, unread and unloved. Occasionally a new reader will cruise through your early content to learn a bit more about your blog’s history, but the vast majority of past posts just sit around taking up server space.

The Internet at large would have you believe that if it’s not hot, new and now, it’s useless junk. But this is simply not true: Your older content still has value. It can be utilized to reel in new readers, and to remind old readers that while you’re certainly awesome now, you were pretty darned awesome back in the day, too.

Here are some things you can do to breathe new life into archived posts:

Push them out in tweets

If you constantly struggle to find interesting, relevant topics to tweet about, or generally feel like a dolt no matter what you squeeze into those 140 characters, consider getting some archived posts into rotation. Create a list of pithy descriptions for your greatest hits posts — ideally two or three pre-written tweets per post to keep your feed from looking canned — and schedule them in between newer content.

Even if you’re fluent in Twitter and DON’T have to scramble for feed content, this practice is a simple, smart way to drive traffic back to your blog.

Reference them in related posts

Many blogs have “related post” widgets that highlight three or four archived gems at the end of each new post. But algorithms are imperfect and “related” is used loosely, so what you really get is a few seemingly random old posts tacked onto brand new ones. You, however, are not an algorithm and know your archive like the back of your hand. This means you can manually link to relevant older posts in the body of current ones, or add on short, bulleted link lists at the end.

You’ve likely written about certain themes and topics repeatedly, and directing readers to your past posts reminds readers about the depth of your expertise. And encourages them to click around instead of clicking away.

Re-post on holidays or when you’re vacationing

Know who reads blogs on major holidays? NO ONE. So why waste precious new content on those days? Posting something will keep your traffic flowing, even if it’s just a trickle. And interesting archived posts are the perfect placeholder for days when offices are empty and computers powered down. (As a side note, if the holiday in question is specific to your home country, it’s wise and gracious to give your international readers something to ponder.)

If you blog while vacationing, you’ll definitely keep the readers coming … but you won’t actually be vacationing. Consider lining up some archived favorites to publish automatically so you can relax and enjoy a little time away from your laptop.

Mention in newsletters or link roundups

Both newsletters and link roundups should focus mainly on current content, but there’s no reason you can’t include a “posts you might have missed” section. Because much as you might like to think so, most of your readers haven’t read every single thing you’ve ever posted. Nudge them. What can it hurt?

Offer them as guest posts

Guest posting is a fantastic way to reach audiences beyond your own and build relationships with other bloggers. It’s also time-consuming and generally low on the priority list. The next time you get a guest post request, consider offering a refreshed and revived post from your archive. Couch the suggestion carefully: You don’t want to imply that you’re far too busy and important to pen anything new but will happily recycle ancient, outdated content.

Make sure to select a post that’s relevant to the inquirer’s niche, and let them know that it’s a favorite, or was super popular when you first posted, or that you’ll tweak it to suit their needs.

Naturally, you’ll want to cherry-pick items from your blog archive for all of these purposes. Some old posts aren’t worth resuscitating, and you only want to tout your best content. But if you’ve got a couple dozen posts that were big winners when they first went live, they can be winners again … if you’ll only let them.


Also published on Medium.

Image by: theloushe via Compfight cc

Sally McGraw
Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer, editor, and blogger. She is the creator the popular daily blog Already Pretty, a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a Huffington Post contributor, and the author of several books about style and body image. Sally is also a ghostwriter and editor who specializes in non-fiction books and book proposals. She believes that writing is like solving a living, breathing, ever-changing puzzle, and finds the challenge exhilarating. Her favorite word is "crepuscular."