Some marketers say that content creation begins with a single great idea, but the truth is that most digital content begins with some kind of transaction.
It might be the physical transaction of your fingers hitting the keyboard, or the mental transaction of brainstorming and organizing your thoughts. At the very beginning of it all, though, will be the all-powerful transaction of the dollar bill.
It takes money to make money, and the same is true when it comes to developing a content marketing budget that helps you meet your organic marketing goals. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money to accomplish your goals. In fact, content marketing is a great way to do more with less when it comes to digital marketing because you can create great content with any kind of budget.
Content marketers and small business professionals alike should be readily equipped with knowledge about their overhead costs, especially before launching any new brand awareness efforts. With hundreds of conflicting numbers, different marketing agency quotes, and high-end marketing automation tools, the perfect number is a lot less fixed.
So how much do you really need to for your content marketing budget?
Below, we’ll dive into some of the elements that make up your marketing budget and what you should consider as you run the numbers.
An Unbiased Assessment Of Content Marketing Costs
The good news is that the cost of content marketing is continuously moving downwards, partially because of technological advances and partially because of good old-fashioned competition. The bad news? It can still get expensive.
According to a survey by BrightLocal, the average SMB spends about $400 a month on digital content. Over the course of a year, that amounts to roughly $4,800. These numbers take into account various aspects of content marketing, including:
- Marketing Tools: Marketers rely on automation and publishing tools that help them streamline their content marketing process.
- Content Team / Freelancers: Many businesses need to hire content creators to help them develop and publish consistent content.
- Advertising: The average costs to advertise on platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook vary across industries and platforms.
- Analytics: Businesses typically invest in software that provides analytics on digital marketing campaigns to determine ROI.
The larger your business is, the higher your costs will be. For a larger SMB operation, your total marketing budget could look something like this:
- Marketing Tools ($300 per month)
- Content Team / Freelancers ($300 per month)
- Advertising ($150 per month)
- Analytics ($250 per month)
It is important to note that the digital marketing industry is rapidly changing, and therefore, costs may change month-to-month. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to do your research before investing in marketing tools or team members. Dedicating time to this research now will pay off substantially as you change your content marketing strategy from year to year.
Maximizing Your Content Strategy With the Right People
While marketing tools, advertising costs, and website management fees are generally the same across the board, deciding who implements your content will impact both your bottom line and your overall content goals.
Let’s take a look at the contenders.
In-House Content Marketers
An in-house content team is made up of staff members that work for your business. Although it may seem like a no-brainer, in-house content is all about sharing the workload equally. Is there someone on your team who could design amazing infographics? What about a social media whizz? A blogging bombshell? Don’t let these talents go unrecognized. Chances are, this will benefit both the employees and employer in much less conventional ways.
Unless you have a dedicated content writer on staff, in-house content production will only present an opportunity cost. What would your in-house team be doing if they weren’t taking a couple of hours to write a blog? You need to determine where your staff’s time is best spent. But if each of your employees has time to write one blog a month, then you can cut down on your content team costs considerably.
However, it is important to note that quality content production is no joke, and producing consistent, high-quality content can sometimes overwhelm an already busy SMB operation. Not to mention, if your employees just aren’t great writers, then you may not be able to produce the kind of content that your leads and customers need.
In-house content production is the best option for your business if:
- You have tighter budgets to work with.
- You are just starting out on your content marketing journey.
- You know exactly what type of content you want to produce.
- You have writing and editing talents within your in-house team.
Outsourced Content Marketers
Freelancers are some of the most valuable assets in the marketing world. Outsourcing your content marketing to freelancers will allow you to produce more content with better quality while taking the performance anxiety off your central marketing team. In fact, freelance copywriters, email marketing professionals, lead generation freelancers, and content marketing strategists are some of the most underappreciated and most integral parts of a well-rounded strategy. Hiring freelancers that have diverse experience allows your company to benefit from their ability to make suggestions, come up with new ideas, and even point out various kinks in your system to boost your budget moving forward.
If your business sells physical products, you can hire a professional to take Insta-worthy photographs for social media sites. Need additional content for white papers or case studies? A freelance content strategist can custom-build your content from the ground up.
Using your target market as a base, your content budget becomes entirely scalable with outsourced content marketers. Freelancers are a middle expense option for content production. But be warned: you get what you pay for. So consider hiring those that have the skills, experience, and knowledge to produce consistent, quality content for your business.
Consider outsourcing to freelancers if:
- You want more control over the quality of your content.
- You have a flexible budget.
- You’re looking for diverse, high-quality writing.
- You can benefit from a more diverse talent pool.
Fully optimized for all aspects of content generation, marketing agencies act as an extension of your internal marketing team. Not only do agencies write, implement, and strategize content, but they also own marketing tools and analytics that you have access to without investing in the tools yourself. As you might imagine, agencies are the most expensive content marketing option, ranging from a couple of thousand dollars into tens of thousands.
Marketing agencies are the best option if:
- You want a one-stop-shop for all content needs.
- You simply don’t have the time to dedicate to a value-driven content strategy.
- You have a large content budget and want someone to handle everything for you.
- You are already using an agency to handle things like web development and SEO.
Tips For Creating An Effective Content Marketing Budget
Let’s be honest; it’s not that hard to spend money on marketing efforts, especially when you’re passionate about quality over quantity. When your aim is to create valuable, sharable, strategic content, your price tag could migrate even higher up the scale. Having the smallest margin possible or the deepest wallet folds won’t necessarily boost your marketing effectiveness one way or the other. Content production has never been about the fanciest tools or the cheapest writer. Good content is all about intent. Make it count in your budget!
Here are just a few tips that you can use to get the most out of your content marketing budget:
- Trust the sleuthing powers of Google! Using SEO doesn’t cost a dime beyond a little research and writing, and should be considered a basic requirement of quality content.
- Don’t necessarily look for ways to scale your marketing down, but opportunities to uncover the best possible options for your unique operation. Just because something is the newest and shiniest tool around doesn’t mean it will be the best one for your team.
- LinkedIn is an amazing way to find content writers with experience in your industry. Publishing blog posts through on LinkedIn is free as well, which can help relieve the more strained aspects of your budget.
- Feel out your target audience. Don’t just know them, but actually personify them. If you had a heart-to-heart conversation with your marketing personas, what kind of content would they be looking for? Research, implement and adjust accordingly.
- Choose a format for your marketing budget. Do you plan on using a set number? A percent of income? A scalable number? It’s a good idea to consider this before you make the leap, especially if you’re planning to invest in content marketing for the long-haul.
Making a content marketing budget is hard, but finding the right people to help you implement your content strategy without surpassing your budget is even harder. WriterAccess specializes in connecting the best freelancers in the business with companies like yours who are looking to push your content marketing to the next level. With a revolutionary AI system that tracks down the most qualified writers for your industry, it’s never been easier to optimize content marketing efforts.
But don’t just take our word for it. See how the process works to determine if WriterAccess might be the best way for you to get the most out of your content marketing budget.
Writing for clients for over six years, Meagan S. is a proven professional with a strong educational background and an unmatched command of powerful, smooth-running prose. Her client-based writing strategy means that Meagan brings everything to the table, refusing to hold back or keep her best work to herself. Meagan is a serious writer with pieces that convert and call-to-action your audience for your optimal outcome. No matter the subject, Meagan can cover it. Meagan stays current with best SEO practices and keyword rankings, but most importantly realizes that the written word is made for people, not robots. Experience the personal touch that Meagan’s writing brings, with smooth-flowing and simply genuine prose that captures your vision perfectly.