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Gridding: How to Create Multiple Revenue Streams From a Single Article with Minimal Effort

Thursday, March 21, 2024 11:19 AM | Frieda Wiley

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a writer or enjoy writing, you likely know that it takes a bit of mental equity to put pen to paper. Nowadays, not only has content remained king, but its “kingdom” continues expanding—largely fueled by drivers such as increased consumer demand and the enhanced use of artificial intelligence. As a result, consultants need to explore new avenues to work smarter and not harder while demonstrating their value.

One of our colleagues, Erica Holthausen, has written extensively on how writing can increase your credibility—a fact that writers can further monetize into additional consulting opportunities. But how can you do so efficiently without burning out? Gridding offers one plausible solution.

Gridding is a term I’ve borrowed from my journalism ventures. It describes how you can repurpose one idea, pitch, or concept without significantly increasing labor or workload.

Allow me to illustrate this concept by using an important milestone in my career as an example. In 2019, I wrote an article about sickle cell disease for the now-defunct-yet-still-highly respected Hearst media publication, O, The Oprah Magazine. At the time, the magazine was one of my dream clients.

The piece required me to identify experts and conduct a great deal of research to write the article. Ultimately, I had amassed far more information than I could include into an article of ~1,000 words—regardless of how concisely I wrote. Determined not to let those unpaid labor hours and omitted content go to waste, I pitched concepts based on the unused information to additional publications and organizations that might find it of value.

Doing so successfully required me to understand how to tailor my language and concepts to each organization’s perceived needs. For example, Oprah Magazine was a consumer magazine read by primarily women between 40 and 60 years of age. While the audience included professionals and people of affluence, most readers had limited backgrounds in science or medicine.

Therefore, I had to simplify my writing and focus only on information the readers would find relevant. Any other information was omitted (and I had quite a bit of it). I used the excised information to pitch various on the same topic tailored to medical trade journals. Because those audiences comprised medical professionals, I wrote my pitches (and subsequent articles) using sophisticated jargon typically used in the scientific community. Doing so increased the likelihood the editors would accept my pitches by demonstrating that I understood how to engage their target audience. And, of course, sharing that I’d previously covered the topic demonstrated my credibility and the newsworthiness of the piece.

One of my pitches focused on the ethnic idiosyncrasies associated with sickle cell disease, as it typically affects communities of color. Another article addressed issues with medication access, as the three new medications that the Food and Drug Administration had approved for sickle cell disease that year bore six-figure price tags.

Ultimately, I placed three additional pieces on this topic in separate publications. Not only did this more than quadruple my revenue from what began as a single article, but my increased familiarity with the topic allowed me to write faster and with greater authority. I could pull unused content from interviews, research, and content without doing much additional work beyond writing the article. The pieces also expanded my influence. One reader, who happened to be on faculty at the State University of New York (SUNY), invited me to speak at a global health panel hosted at her institution.

For all its glory, gridding does come with one important caveat. Some writing and consulting projects may have contractual stipulations in which the client claims ownership of all materials created. So, the prudent consultant must review the contract or consult an attorney before making that content work harder. In my case, Hearst required that I receive permission to use unused material, and I was fortunate. Not only was the editor on board, but she showed genuine interest in knowing what other organizations published my articles and the extent of their influence.

That said, gridding definitely gives more weight to the saying, “The riches are in the niches,” doesn’t it?

Frieda Wiley, PharmD is the founder of Medvon Media and Consulting, LLC, an communications and strategic consulting firm. An award-winning writer, best-selling author, ghostwriter, and speaker, her client history includes O, The Oprah Magazine, WebMD, the National Institutes of Health, Pfizer, Merck, and many other notable organizations. Her book, Breaking Crazy: Working From Home Without Losing Your Marbles, is available through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and wherever else books are sold. 

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