How to Turn Written Content into Audio + Video Content

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If you’re thinking about making the leap into multi-media platforms like videos, podcasts and digital courses, you might be tempted to look at that huge, rich archive of beautiful blog content you’ve got sitting collecting dust on your site.

The good news is – you’re looking in the right place.

The bad news is – it’s not as easy as you might think.

It’s not impossible – and if you approach transforming written content into Audio-Video content the RIGHT way – it’s not even that hard.

But the way is fraught with peril, and many people moving into A/V for the first time make BIG mistakes when they’re looking to their written content for inspiration.

This is what way too many people do:

  1. Take a blog post and read it into a camera.

  2. Pop the video on YouTube, maybe with a bumper and some music.

  3. Pop the audio into iTunes or podcast syndicate.

  4. Share the links with everyone.

  5. Pat themselves on the back for being on multiple channels.

  6. Every time someone does this, a code monkey gets a toothache.

The problem with this approach isn’t that you’re putting your content on multiple platforms (and I would even say that doing a straight-up audio recording of your written content is a great move for accessibility!) it’s that you’re not considering how people USE different platforms.

Your audio and video content will be afterthoughts. And they’ll look and sound like afterthoughts.

Why can't you just reuse content directly?

You can’t take content from one medium, like the written work, and plunk it down, un-altered into a new medium and expect it to perform well for the same reason you can’t take a beautifully prepared thanksgiving dinner, pack it into Tupperware and take it to work the next day expecting the same experience.

The food is still delicious. But what you do right before eating it is different. What you eat it out of is different. Who you’re around while you’re eating, what you’re thinking while you nibble, how you spend your time after… all different.

Likewise, the EXPERIENCE of reading is different than the experience of watching or listening. People are in different moods, in different places – even doing different things!

You should be creating content for different platforms that BELONGS on different platforms. And is suited to what your audience will be doing when they’re watching or listening rather than reading.

But don’t worry – you can use all the hard work you’ve done up until now, and take the key elements and important points from your written content to turn it into something fresh that belongs on each the rich-media channels.

Finding the key element of your written content:

You do this by identifying the core value of each piece of written content.

Key elements can be things like:

  • Interesting quotations

  • Steps in a process

  • Items in a list

  • Idea statements

  • Opinions on a topic

  • Calls to action

Once you’ve identified the key element (or elements, you may well find several in a single written piece, and that’s awesome!) write them down on a fresh sheet of paper.

Then think about the platform you WANT that content to be on, think about how your audience uses them.

Every audience is a little bit different, but as a rule – audio formats are convenient for people to consume while they are doing other things like driving, cleaning or exercising, and video content tends to attract people who are on social media, or YouTube, when they’re sitting and fairly focused on the content in front of them.

The BIGGEST difference between audio and video content is that, more often then not, someone watching a video can IMMEDIATELY do a next thing, and someone listening to Audio can’t.

Video is closer to written content in terms of how people use it in this way – but because it’s visuals and sound rather than text, it causes a different mental and emotional reaction, especially when there is a person in the shot.

You’ve heard of the ‘know, like and trust factor’? Video provides that in a way that written content simply can’t.

What does all of this have to do with your content?

Fair question.

Look at your key elements again. If your key elements are steps in a process you’re teaching – is that going to be useful content for someone to hear over audio while they are carpooling? Not likely. But that idea statement that really sheds new light on a topic-  that is something someone could hear and really start thinking about, isn’t it?

This is where the fun begins.

For the key element in your content – picture someone listening and someone watching – do each of them get a benefit? Does it work in that medium? Would it be better somewhere else? For each piece of writing you are trying to transform, make a list of which of the key elements work in audio, which will work in video, and which would work in both.

Now, you re-write.

Re-writing your content for A/V

So, you’ve got a list of key elements that are going to be in your new audio or video script.

Look at your elements as almost an outline – these are the main points of your new script, and you need to build a body around them. Happily – you pretty much know how this works already! There’s a simple way to structure your content for video, which you can learn by watching this 1-minute video.

It’s in the ‘Content’ section of your video where you can include your key elements like list items and steps in a process, whereas your idea and opinion statements might be better as hooks, intros and final thoughts.

Video is fun because, especially if you’re on a platform like YouTube-  you can create several different calls to action based on what you want your viewer to do next. Watch another video – boom, link right on the screen. Click over to your website to read the blog post that inspired the piece? Great! There’s a link for that too.

Audio works very similarly, but there are some refinements, and it depends on the TYPE of audio you are creating.

If you’re making a podcast, you’re usually going to be very conversational in nature – either between you and your listener (Lore is an amazing example of this!) or between you and a guest. Key elements like idea statements and opinions can all be framed as questions that you will answer in your ‘conversation.’

If the audio you are creating is more educational in nature, like for an audio-course, then structure it like a teacher would structure a lesson plan – tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them, then give them an action or an activity they can do to validate their understanding. This last part is particularly important for audio content, because you are in someone’s ear when they are going about their day, you want to give them a solid thing to do in the ‘real world’ as well as options for connecting with you or taking next steps online.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to tackle turning your written content into kick-butt audio and video masterpieces? I hope so – and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below – I’ll be around to answer!


Guest post by:

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Megan Dougherty is the marketing, strategy and relationships half of One Stone Creative. If you’re getting into the whole idea of repurposing your brilliance, you can get 30 days of ideas, insights and instructions all for free by checking out the Great Repurpose Project!