How to Budget for Content Marketing
What we click online – from the headlines that grab our attention to the videos that entertain us – are all different types of content. And although some of it is created purely for entertainment or informational purposes, much of the content published today is part of various companies’ content marketing strategies. In these cases, even though the content is still interesting or informative, businesses benefit in some way from creating it.
And anyone can create content. But it’s a whole other beast to create something that has real tangible value, something detailed and worth bookmarking, or something clever enough to be shared by thousands. And a big part of content marketing is luck; hitting the right crowd at the right time with little competition.
But let’s focus on the parts of content marketing we can influence – the strategy and the talent. The success of your strategy and range of your talent largely rests on your budget, and poor budgeting for content marketing can easily turn out poor designs and execution. It can quickly become a tangled mess with multiple types of content and multiple target audiences.
If you’re stuck with pocket change for content marketing, it can be difficult (but not impossible) to create material that has the potential to reach the masses. Ideally though, you should plan your content budget in a way that makes it possible to achieve tangible results, whether it’s in visitors, leads, views, or email sign-ups. In this post, I’ll cover some of the major types of content and the budget ranges for each type.
Ebooks and blogging
Budget: free – $200 per post
In 2015, almost every business that’s seen success with Internet marketing understands the importance of a blog. Blogs provide a venue for industry experts to educate current and future customers, as well as an opportunity for employees to share their own expertise. For example, on the blog you’re currently reading, we share actionable tips and tools for those who want to improve their online marketing.
Ebooks or tutorials work in tandem with blogs. As visitors comb through your blog, they can be directed to a download one of your free resources. In exchange, you might require an email sign-up, which will allow you to contact them via email in the future.
You can either write these posts or ebooks yourself (which will only cost you time), or hire a freelancer. Professional freelance writers are often paid by word count, and can run you up to the $200 range for large projects.
Budget: free – $300
Essentially free to create with Google’s alternative to PowerPoint, a slideshow presentation is a cost-effective way to create content. They’re easy to make, navigate, and share. They also have a nice mix of visuals and text to keep viewers engaged.
You can utilize this form to create educational guides, portfolio galleries, lists of items, or even just inspirational quotes relevant to our niche/audience. For example, Hubspot created the following quote-based presentation which racked up nearly 2 million views:
You might then utilize the rest of your budget to strategically advertise your slideshow within a highly targeted community, such as a feature or compliment to a relevant article on a site that has a high readership.
It should be noted there are actually slideshow specialists who charge around $150-300 to create extremely professional and sleek presentations. They’ll customize images, visualize your data, and create seamless narratives for strategic messaging.
Infographics, charts and media assets
Budget: free – $500+
The idea of an infographic has been around for centuries, dating back to 1626 (and probably earlier than that!). They’re basically a large image that creatively visualizes information, such as tips on how to remove pests from your garden or an exploration of how the internet changes your brain.
The resurgence of the infographic started only five or six years ago with the term specifically applied to digital infographics – not infographic posters – and have become so popular that sites were created specifically for the purpose of creating infographics, such as:
These tools are relatively inexpensive and if you don’t have an in-house designer, they can provide you with professional and clean templates. And although the results typically aren’t anything earth-shattering, they’re a great way to get started with visual content creation.
If you hire a freelance designer, you’ll typically be looking at something in the $200-500 range to ensure that you get experienced, innovative design. Agencies with a team of experienced designers can charge much more, but are typically utilized for large-scale projects and businesses.
Budget: free – $2,000+
Creating videos is one of – if not the – most popular and tried type of content online. It’s the easiest to consume, and allows you to guide, teach, and brand your company to viewers.
Budgeting for video is tricky, because there are free-ish routes and expensive ones, along with many hacks to mimic the qualities of well-recognized product videos like Apple’s:
You could use free screen recording software and video editing software to create a demo video if you have the budget for an editing product. You could also try to shoot a live video with a smartphone. And although a professional grade video produced in-house would be ideal, chances are that unless your business works in the film or video industries, you don’t have that luxury. But
If you turn to a professional team or freelancer, this will be your most expensive type of content. The budget scales with our project size, so short, 30-second spot highlighting your office should keep you within three digits, but another 30-second spot with professional actors, makeup, and multiple locations can easily reach five digits.
Many businesses – especially online ones that require on-boarding users – will hire animators to make an educational type of video stressing the benefits of their products and services. Generally, these types of animations can range from $500-$1,000 and require hiring a professional to record voiceovers and narration.
Budget: free – $xx.xx
Advertising and promoting your content is one of – if not the most vital part of budgeting in the content marketing process. If you have no budget leftover for promotion, your content could fall flat, no matter how great it is. You could always take your chances hoping that Twitter, Facebook, or reddit will land you among the viral content stars, but that’s often a fool’s dream.
You’ll want to pick a specific medium/network for our content, and generally allocate at least $250 into some type of promotion. The average CPM across social networks is in the $0.50 – $5.00 range, with Facebook often having low CPM and reddit having the highest. Your target audience will often dictate the type of platform you utilize, and if you poke around, you’ll find advertising insights for any platform you choose:
Alternatively, you can always pay for a sponsorship/placement spot on a niche website where many potential customers spend their time. Since budgeting is part of our planning phase, it’s worth looking into strategic content partnerships with relevant websites to our business.
The bottom line
The figures above should give you a general idea of what you should expect to pay for some of the more common types of content. However, it’s important to note that your audience should also play a role in the formats you choose. And while creating a budget for content marketing isn’t easy if you’re new to the process, a few rounds of trial-and-error should get you well on your way to planning and carrying out an effective content strategy.
If you have any questions about budgeting for content marketing (or any tips for those just starting out), feel free to let me know in the comments below!