For better or worse, rewriting content is a part of content writing. While every great copywriter tries to write from scratch using their own knowledge and the research they’ve completed for the project, often you’re asked to write an article that is nearly identical to another article that already exists. You have two options:
- Do everything you can to come up with new information not included in the other article.
- Rewrite the article in your own words.
The first may sound better, but often it’s impossible – or at the very least obscenely difficult. In addition, the previous article likely has useful information, and if you’re not willing to write any of that information in your own article because you’re determined to write something new, you’re doing a disservice to your readers.
That means that you’re probably going to choose the second option – rewriting the article in your own words. At the same time, you don’t want to plagiarize the article or make it clear that you copied the ideas from someone else.
How NOT to Rewrite An Article
When I first started copywriting, I had a personal project I wanted to complete about tattoo designs that I simply didn’t have time to work on because I was swamped with client projects. Thankfully I had someone in my life with ample time on their hands that wanted to practice article writing as a hobby. I sent them an article I liked and asked them to rewrite it.
I got it back, and at first it seemed perfect. But upon closer examination, I realized that she had rewritten each sentence one at a time, keeping sentence structure almost exactly the same and simply changing words to make it more unique. That’s bad content rewriting. You need to make sure that the article is 100% yours, even if the idea is taken from another piece.
How to Rewrite Content
With that in mind, here are five tips and strategies for rewriting content, in a way that will make it easier for you to use on your blog or website:
- Copy Ideas, Not Words
The most important thing to understand with rewriting is that you’re copying ideas. You’re not copying the actual content itself. Even though you’re rewriting from a single article, you don’t want to look at how someone wrote a sentence or what words they used. You only want to understand the ideas inside of the content, and then essentially write them from scratch using your own words. The best thing to do is read a paragraph first, then write an paragraph in your own words from memory without referring to the content again.
- Rewrite Paragraph by Paragraph, Not Sentence By Sentence
Similarly, to prevent you from accidentally depending on words that another author used, don’t go through the content once sentence at a time. Read entire chunks first. The mind has a tendency to over-copy someone else’s words when they focus too heavily on a small section. You want the new piece of content to be 100% your own words, and so going through the old piece of content in larger chunks should reduce the likelihood of accidentally coping their prose or specific word choices.
- Place It Below Your Content and Work Your Way Down
Rewriting content isn’t just for ideas – it’s also for speed. Some people find rewriting to be much faster, especially if they are unable to come up with much time for new content for their site. One strategy I use to rewrite content quickly is to cut and paste it onto the same Word document I’m using to write the new article. This allows me to briefly glance below when I’m trying to come up with the next paragraph idea instead of going back and forth and ruining my own flow. It also allows me to spot check for accidental plagiarism. Once I’m sure my content is unique, I delete the paragraph of the original content that I just rewrote and move on to the next one.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Make Changes
You should also remember that just because you’re rewriting something doesn’t mean that you need to rewrite it completely. If you have new ideas or disagree with something in the original piece of content, don’t be afraid to share it. Let your own voice be heard. Even though you’re “rewriting,” all you’re truly doing is using the article as your sole reference. You never need to stay true to the original article unless requested by a client.
- When it Doubt, Add More
Finally, if for some reason you’re concerned that your article is going to be seen as “taken” from the original website, then simply look for ways to add more content and make it uniquely yours. There is always more you can add, and more you can to do to make your article even better. Add additional points, insert your own ideas, and find ways to make sure that you’re not just rewriting – you’re improving. When the article you create is better than the article you “rewrote,” you’ve made a great article.
Rewriting is Part of the Game
Once you’ve been a content writer for long enough, you’ll probably find that you don’t need to rewrite anymore. At this point in our careers we’ve written enough content to have knowledge of almost every topic ourselves, as well as the ability to research quickly and avoid referring to content in the future.
But rewriting is still a part of the copywriting business. In fact, one of the most common rewrites we do is of our own work, when a client wants 3 or 4 different versions of the same exact article. It’s still best to use the above strategies to make sure the rewriting is unique, and to ultimately improve the ability of the content to provide value to readers and value to search engines.
Looking for someone to rewrite content for you? Contact Great Leap Studios today.