If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of embarking on a content marketing strategy for your business, then one of the major factors in your decision is probably the cost.
Perhaps you’ve relied on word of mouth until now and this is your first investment in your marketing. Or perhaps you’ve been using traditional marketing tactics, like advertising, and you want to know how content marketing stacks up as an alternative.
Or perhaps you’ve already decided content marketing is the right path for you, but you want to know what you’re getting yourself into, so you can plan ahead.
If any of the above apply to you, then this article will help.
The cost of content marketing is a big topic, so I’ve broken it down into the major areas where costs might occur. These are (click the links to jump to the relevant section):
- Hiring consultants
- Training and coaching
- Content creation/production
- Tools and systems
- Website costs
This list is not exhaustive, but these are the areas that are most likely to apply to a small business that’s just getting started with content marketing.
How much does it cost to hire a content marketing consultant/agency?
Most businesses that are embarking on a content strategy are going to need a little bit of help. Generally speaking, they’re not going to have all of the expertise that they need to set realistic objectives, to create their target audience profile, and create a content plan that meets those objectives and serves that audience.
So the likelihood is that they’re going to want to bring in some sort of content marketing consultant or agency to help them create their strategy. This might come in the form of a workshop, or it may be delivered as part of a wider consultancy project or ongoing retainer.
To give you an example of the cost for this, we offer a fixed-price Content Strategy Session, which is a half-day workshop, for £750. You can read more about what is covered in a Content Strategy Session in this previous article.
However, there are many other options available, ranging from individual consultants to larger agencies, which could be priced anywhere between £500 and £15,000, depending on the scope of the project.
Cost/price of hiring a content marketing consultant/agency: £500-15,000
How much does content marketing training/coaching cost?
Content marketing consultant
If you do go down the route of hiring a consultant to develop your content strategy, you might also look to include training or coaching in the scope of the project or retainer.
You may want training to help you manage and oversee the content production process, or perhaps you need more in-depth training on particular skills like content writing, SEO, social media marketing etc.
The training might be for you, the Managing Director, a newly recruited Marketing Coordinator or someone else in the team who has responsibility for marketing as part of a multi-faceted role. Whoever takes it on, you’ll want to make sure that they are fully equipped to handle the management and production of your business content.
Qualifications and courses
But a consultant is just one of the options available for content marketing training. Another would be some sort of qualification or course, the prices of which (surprise, surprise!) will vary…
If it’s an online course, developed by an individual or a business, the price could be anything from a few pounds to a few hundred pounds. If it’s from a certified body, such as the Chartered Institute for Marketing, then it will be more expensive, but it will give you a professional qualification that has equivalent credits to a university or college course.
The cost of the Digital Marketing qualification from CIM is in the region of £1800, with discounts for members.
A professional qualification might be the right option for you if you’re hiring a recent graduate as a Marketing Coordinator, or if you are developing an existing team member into the role, who doesn’t have a background in marketing.
Seminars, workshops and conferences
A less formal option for content marketing training would be to seek out organised seminars, workshops and conferences. The cost for these might depend on how long they are, how in-depth they are and who is delivering them. For a short seminar of 1-2 hours, you could pay £20-50. For a more detailed half or full-day workshop from, say, your local Chamber of Commerce, you might pay £100-500.
A high-quality marketing conference of 1-3 days could be anywhere from £500-2000. A great example to look at in the UK is CMA Live, a 2-day event organised by Chris Marr and his team at the Content Marketing Academy and held annually in Edinburgh. I’ve attended this conference on three occasions now and can highly recommend it. Tickets for the 2019 CMA Live conference are priced at £597+VAT, with an Early Bird price of £497+VAT.
Check out my blog with my takeaways from the 2017 conference, or my video roundup of the key themes from the 2018 conference.
- Related: Best marketing conferences in the UK
There are also online communities out there, which have built-in training resources and forums that allow you to develop your content marketing skills at your own pace, and ask questions as they arise. Such communities are a fantastic source of peer support and accountability. Again, I can recommend the Content Marketing Academy Membership Community, which costs £499+VAT per year (use my affiliate link here to get a 2-week free trial).
If you’re looking for one-to-one content marketing support, for yourself or a team member, you might also consider content coaching.
Our Monthly Content Coaching package at Content Boost is aimed at the person who is creating the content and involves a 1-hour coaching call per month, to help you make it the best it can be, ensure that it aligns with your strategy. It also includes ad-hoc email support for feedback or quick questions. This costs £225 per month.
Cost/price of content marketing training/coaching: £20-2000
How much does it cost to create/produce content?
There are two main options here: insourcing or outsourcing. Insourcing involves recruiting someone as an employee or utilising someone already in your team. And outsourcing means working with external companies.
Let’s look at outsourcing first.
How much does it cost to outsource content marketing?
You might decide to outsource if you don’t have an internal marketing coordinator, and nor do you, as the business owner, have time to undertake the entire content production process yourself.
How much does a content writer cost?
If you’re looking to work with a freelance content writer, the cost will vary, but the average day rate for a copywriter is £342 (according to the Professional Copywriters’ Network’s annual pay survey for 2018). And, as a rough guide, you might expect a comprehensive blog post to take 1 day to write.
Hiring a content writer can be expensive, but it should be considered a trade-off. Writing the blogs yourself will save you money, but it will cost you time that you could be spending elsewhere in the business.
How much does it cost to outsource blog publishing and promotion?
Then you’ve got the publishing and promotion of your content. There are a couple of options here too.
One would be to hire a virtual assistant. VAs generally work on an hourly rate, which tends to be in the region of £25-35 per hour (for UK-based VAs).
They can assist with various tasks related to the publishing and promotion of your content, including formatting and publishing the content on your website, scheduling social media posts and sending email newsletters. The VA will track how long they take and bill you accordingly.
The other option would be a blog management service. Blog management involves preparing the content for publishing, including proofreading and editing, sourcing images, formatting and search engine optimisation. Then, once the content is live, it is promoted on your social media channels and to your mailing list, and syndicated (or re-published) to other platforms, like LinkedIn.
In terms of cost, the main difference between a VA and a blog management service is that the latter is charged as a fixed-price package, rather than on an hourly rate. The prices for blog management at Content Boost vary depending on how frequently you want to publish your blogs, ranging from £135 for 1 blog per month, to £495 for 4 blogs per month.
Cost of outsourcing content marketing: approx. £500 per blog post
How much does it cost to employ a Content Manager?
The salary for an employed Content Marketing Manager could be anywhere between £20,000 and £40,000, depending on their experience level.
Whilst new graduates may come in at the lower end of that salary scale, you’ll need to balance this with the potential cost of their training and development, plus the additional time required from you for supervision and mentorship.
Regardless of your Content Manager’s salary, you’ll need to consider the other costs of their employment, such as holidays, sick leave, pension, insurance etc. And don’t forget downtime! With outsourcing, you generally only pay for the work that actually gets done. With insourcing, you’re paying for all of their time, regardless of how productive they are.
With all these costs taken into account, even at the lower end of the salary scale, the actual cost of an employee could be almost double their annual salary. Here’s a useful calculator that can help you figure it out.
For a more in-depth comparison of a blog management service and an employed Content Manager, check out this article.
Cost/price of creating/producing content in-house: approx. £35,000-40,000 per year minimum
How much do content marketing tools cost?
Whoever will be responsible for content marketing within your business, they’re going to need some type of system to work with. Once again, there are options to suit every budget.
Some of the things you might need tools and systems for include:
Collaboration and file sharing
A good example would be GSuite, which includes GDrive, GSheets and GDocs. These are excellent for collaborating on your content marketing, due to the fact that multiple users can make changes to the same document in real-time. This prevents any document control issues where you might need to keep track of the most recent version.
The current prices for GSuite start at £3.30 per user per month.
An alternative would be Microsoft OneDrive, which might be your preference if your company already uses Microsoft Office 365. Prices for this start at £3.80 per user per month (for an annual subscription).
Project management/content calendar
You might also consider using some sort of project management software, which will allow you to set up workflows for your content production process and create checklist procedures that your team can follow. It will also give you some visibility, as the MD, on the progress of your content production.
Our preference at Content Boost is Trello; this is a free productivity app that we use to manage the production of blogs, both internally and for our clients. Although it is free, it is a blank canvas, and therefore requires some know-how to visualise how you want to set it up, and time actually to build it. But to give you a head start, you can read how we use Trello here.
As well as general project management and productivity tools (both free and paid), there are also various content calendar tools out there, which have been designed specifically to manage the content production process.
The benefit of these is that your workflows and procedures come built into the application, which saves you having to build them yourself. However, they will usually incur a monthly subscription. Here’s a handy guide on the different options for content calendar tools and the associated costs.
Having said all that, there’s nothing to stop you using a simple spreadsheet to manage your content production.
Other content marketing tools and systems
As well as tools for managing your content strategy and collaborating as a team, there are also tools that support the production of the content itself. These might include:
We use Canva for creating stand-out blog images, which has a free account, but for some extra features, you can subscribe to Canva for Work for $9.95 per month (for an annual subscription).
Social media scheduling
You might need the ability to schedule social media posts in order to promote your blog content. There are many options for this, but our favourite for clients is Buffer. Again, this has a free account, but you can upgrade the functionality (adding more social media profiles, scheduling more posts etc.) for $15 per month.
Internally, we use SmarterQueue, which allows you to “recycle” posts so that they recur automatically. This can be useful for promoting old posts from your blog archive on an ongoing basis. This costs $19.99+VAT (per month).
Another important channel for distributing your content is your email mailing list. For this, you’ll need an email marketing tool. MailChimp is a popular choice amongst our clients and is a good option for getting started, as you can create an account for free.
However, we prefer Seva (formerly ConvertKit), as we find the stripped-back, plain text style of emails gets higher engagement. It also has great functionality for building automated email sequences and sales funnels. It costs $29 per month.
Analytics and measurement
Tracking and measurement is an important aspect of content marketing, as you need to know how well your content is performing in order to inform your strategy. Most of this can be done for free.
One tool you must have installed on your website is Google Analytics, which provides vital statistics about your website performance and user behaviour. There’s no cost for this.
All-in-one content/inbound marketing tools
These are the ‘big daddies’ of the marketing world, integrating most of the functions listed above and much more, into one piece of software. This is brilliant for measurement, as it allows you to fully track the performance of all your marketing activity in one place.
However, these tools come with a learning curve, and can also get pretty pricey. One example is Hubspot, which does offer a free account with limited functionality, but full Enterprise-level functionality comes in at £1,960 per month.
If you can afford it, great, but they are not a necessity and are probably overkill for most small businesses who are getting started with content marketing. Once the monthly fees from individual tools you’re using start to mount up, then it might be worth looking at an all-in-one tool as a way to consolidate this cost.
Cost/price of content marketing tools: £0 to £2000 per month
How much does it cost to build and maintain a website?
Before you even begin to think about content marketing, you’re going to need to create a website. But it can be useful include its ongoing development and maintenance in the wider costs of your content strategy, as the two go hand in hand.
Domain and hosting
Firstly, you’ll have the cost of your website domain, which can range from £1 to £100 per year, and hosting, which is an additional £3 to £45 per month, depending on the size and complexity of your site.
Design and development
Then there’s the design and development of your site. I would expect a relatively simple, small business website to cost in the region of £500 to £2,500 from a freelance web designer or small agency based in the UK. Be sure to ask what platform your web designer builds their websites on; at Content Boost we only work with websites built on WordPress.
Maintenance – security, backups and updates
Whoever you get to build your site may offer some sort of maintenance package, which might include security, backups and basic content updates. Alternatively, you could sign up to a dedicated website maintenance company. This might cost between £50 and £100 per month, depending on what’s included.
Of course, you can undertake the website maintenance yourself, but working with a professional service gives you peace of mind that someone will be on hand to fix things if (or when) they go wrong.
Cost/price of website development and maintenance: approx. £0-150 per month (after design/build costs)
There are options to suit every budget
I would emphasise that all of the costs I’ve outlined above are estimations, and optional. The great thing about content marketing is that it can be done on any budget. The costs you may incur will be a trade-off, allowing you to spend less time producing content, help you achieve higher quality, or increase your output.
What is the cost of NOT doing content marketing?
You might be thinking “bloomin’ heck (or something more strongly worded!), this sounds expensive, can I really afford to do this?”.
The question I would pose to you is this: can you afford NOT to do it?
Can you afford to NOT be educating your customers, when the digital buyer has changed and wants to do all their research themselves before they make a purchase decision?
Can you afford NOT to be discoverable on Google?
Can you afford to be overtaken by your competitors and be left behind as a business?
Yes, content marketing may incur a cost for you as a company. But what you’re doing is laying the foundation for a sustainable, scalable business going forward, that is moving with the digital buyer and that will attract the right customers to you at the right time.
Over to you…
- What’s your biggest concern about the costs of content marketing? Leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.
- Based on the costs outlined above, what approach are you going to take to implement your content strategy?
- Think about who else in your business do you need approval from to get started – how will you present this information to them?