The Costs of Content and Why You Should Pay Up

Content marketing remains essential to a business’s success. Nearly every Internet-savvy business owner is well-aware of the necessity of producing content to gain visibility and grow brand awareness. However, as content floods all corners of the Web, businesses are beginning to see that not just any content will satisfy their hungry audiences ― only fresh, exciting, high-quality content will do. Unfortunately, high-quality content comes at a cost.

While setting up a company blog may take five minutes, filling that blog takes years of effort, and in business, time and money are forever linked. New businesses just taking their first tentative steps into the content pool would do well to understand just how much they should spend to produce the content they need to succeed ― or they might drown in expenses before the year is through.

Performing Content Research

Not every business’s content needs are exactly the same. In fact, the type of content, the amount of content, and the location of the content can vary widely from field to field and from brand to brand. Thus, even before a business starts brainstorming blog ideas, it should devote some time and money to understanding the requirements of its content goals.

Usually, researching a business’s needs involves performing a complete content marketing audit, which will review existing site content, social media efforts, website optimization, competitors’ activity, and more. Marketing professionals analyze astounding amounts of data to present a complete picture of a business’s current content standing. Then, this picture can be used in the next step of content creation: developing a strategy.

The cost of content research depends on the extensiveness of a business’s past content efforts as well as the scope of the business’s content goals, but most businesses new to content can expect to pay a professional firm between $5,000 and $10,000 per audit.

Developing a Content Strategy

Having a plan is almost always the difference between success and failure, so a content strategy is crucial for any business’s content marketing victory. While some high-profile content marketing firms will create intricate timetables and strict deadlines for certain content milestones, the only truly essential step in the development of a content strategy is building the content calendar.

With just a simple desk calendar found at any office supplies store (and eligible for points from rewards business credit cards to help) any business can create a simplified content calendar. At least one month in advance, every piece of published content should be created and scheduled, so businesses have a regular routine for production and promotion. The calendar should rely on topics and styles that resonate with a business’s audience, as discovered in the preliminary research stage.

If a business chooses to develop the calendar alone, materials and manpower can cost as little as a few thousand dollars a year. However, professional treatment replete with comprehensive strategies will likely cost upwards of $20,000.

Creating Appropriate Content

Now for the fun part: making the content. Undoubtedly, creation is the most flexible and freehand of all the steps in content marketing. Businesses can choose to participate in creation to any degree; for example, they may be strict on tone but allow professional creators to choose the topic and format of various pieces of content. Alternatively, businesses may receive guidance from marketing firms but decide to execute the content themselves, in-house. The possibilities are endless ― and make budgeting for creation particularly personal.

Prices depend on the complexity of the content ― e.g. the desired format and the required research ― as well as the creator’s experience level. Opting for freelancers and copywriters is inarguably the cheapest option, with low-cost freelancers (like those on Upwork and Elance) asking between $50 and $300 per piece. Outsourcing to an agency is a bit pricier, at about $2,500 or more per month, and hiring an internal content marketing specialist could cost upwards of $70,000 per year in salary, plus benefits.

Promoting Content

When content is published on the Internet, and no one is around to hear it, it definitely doesn’t help achieve a business’s marketing goals. Even after the content exists, the process is not finished. Promotion is an active endeavor that allows a business’s hard-earned content to receive views, particularly from its target audience. Most often, promotion occurs on appropriate social media sites, like Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, but link-building with other blogs is also an effective means of promoting content. Don’t just hit all social media sites, focus instead on ones you know your target audience favors.

Mercifully, promotion isn’t especially expensive, and a monthly advertising budget of about $1,000 is plenty to build a strong online following. Social media managers may charge around $75 per hour to monitor a business’s accounts and post timely responses to eager fans, which is an entirely reasonable rate for such a significant step in content marketing.

About the Author: Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content throughout the World Wide Web. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to provide high quality content that readers will find valuable.