By Andrew Neitlich

The beauty of “re-purposing”

By Andrew Neitlich

You may have noticed a transition in my advice over the past 2 and 1/2 years. The shift has been from talking about selling services to selling repeatable programs and products in addition to services. That way, you are building something of sustainable value, and making something once to sell it thousands of times.

In my case, I now design web-based programs and sell information via the web. I don’t have an advertising model, but rather sell information to targeted niche audiences. In 8 months of building, I now have 6 cash-flow generating sites (and a few duds, too).

Anyway, just because a product or site is a dud doesn’t mean that you can’t turn lemons into lemonade, and that’s the purpose of this blog.


Here are two examples:

1. I created a site that sold book reviews to parents. It bombed. But I had 22 wonderfully written book reviews/summaries. So I started marketing those on another site I have that caters to parents. They now sell as a bundled group of reviews, not as a subscription. Results are positive. A bomb has turned into at least a marginal success.

2. I’ve done some research on my marketing books, testing a variety of prices. During that time, I found that my profits are higher at the $200 price point for a marketing manual, even if fewer total people buy what I have to sell. I was going to raise the price from the current price of $50 now to $200, but then decided to combine all of my books into a marketing boot camp product that includes one-on-one support and tele-conferences. The price for that will be $495- $895 (tbd). So again — once you have a repeatable product or service, you can repurpose it and perhaps make even more money.

With websites that go for ad revenues, I suppose the same principle is true. You can take an existing website and:

– Change the focus; and

– Develop another website targeted to a new audience but based on similar principles.

Repurposing is an important strategy! What has been your experience with it?

  • pdxi

    One can even repurpose himself! When I started freelancing full time a couple of years ago, I wasn’t sure which services I was going to offer. I set out to do (X) but instead ended up doing (Y), which was ultimately more profitable and easier for clients to “get”.

    Just because you start out doing one thing and are met with failure, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a sliver of value hidden beneath it all. The trick is to constantly reevaluate your position and shift your strategy every so often.

    Or at least, that’s what I think :)

  • Agreeing with both of you here. I’ve shifted specialties more than once by looking in the proverbial mirror and asking myself what bills I willingly pay. Then researching on what it would take to offer that service or product, whether by resale or learning a skill, to others.

  • Anonymous

    Good point Andrew. I think many young start-ups force themselves to stick to their original business plans, even after they have determined that the plan isn’t working or bringing in enough money. I fell into that trap. When I started my web business in 1995, I first tried to just design websites for small and medium-sized businesses. The problem was I found that the web was so new back them that I spent too much time explaining the Internet to potential clients. The sales cycle was too long. I was a one-man show and was barely making enough money to cover all the bills.

    Then one day, I met a person who was involved with a large ad agency and they needed someone to make banners; yes those 468 x 60 animated GIFs that you used to see all over the web. At that time, I really needed the money so I started cranking out advertising banners in Photoshop. The agency loved my work and I was able to charge good money. I finally wound up giving the web design business to friend and changed my business model to provide banners and services to advertising agencies. Eventually I learned Flash and brought in two freelancers to work with me.

    If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to change and try different ways to do business. I could have stayed with web design, but I did better by going into a different market that was more exciting and paid better.


  • That’s sound advice Andrew. I am in the process of starting a business and optimistically hoping my initial plan of attack proves successful. If not though, I will be keeping this in mind. Not to geek up the conversation, but it’s similar to building a good webapp. I’m in the process of building one and am being extra careful to design for reusability so even if it should fail, I’ll have building blocks to use elsewhere and my efforts won’t be completely wasted.

    Of course, if it’s a success, I’ll do the same. At the end of the day, I have chunks of code that can be “re-purposed” as needed to help me shift to where the action is.

  • EagleEyesDesign

    Yep, sound advice.

    I’ve been fascinated by a mineral makeup company that only does business online. Aromaleigh.com. I read their forum daily. Over the years the owner Kristen Bell started out with just pet aromatherapy, then switched to fragrances, then finally added natural mineral makeup for women. And she adds and removes products constantly. She uses the forum to see what is getting raves and why other items are not thrilling the ladies.

    Other advice would be to sell services that are fun and addictive. Lush.com is similarly addictive. That keeps people coming back and telling their friends. Some gals spend thousands and purchase monthly. Not that I would know anything about that, ha ha.

    But for certain, keep trying new things and listen when you get raves. – Christina


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