Content marketing is used by businesses of all sizes and in all industries. In some cases, businesses have large marketing budgets and are able to put hundreds of thousands of dollars towards content marketing initiatives. That’s certainly not always the case, however.
One of the questions I am often asked is: “What kind of content marketing can I do on a very limited budget?” One of the many positives of employing content marketing in your marketing plan is that it can be done on a budget and still produce worthwhile results.
Consider the following scenario: you have $1,000 per month you can allocate to outsourcing, and you have six hours per week (24 hours per month) that you can spend creating, editing or promoting content. How can you make the most of your budget and time?
Budget By Content Medium
First, you will need to plan ahead (as much as a year) to determine what media you want to use for your various content marketing projects.
Often times, the content medium will dictate how much money you spend on a content project – depending on whether you need to outsource the work or not. Consider the media below:
- Infographics: Do you have a graphic design team in house, or do you need to outsource this portion of your project? If you need to outsource, talk to designers or agencies to see how much an infographic will cost you. Is it an hourly or flat rate? This can affect the scope of your project, considering your $1000-per-month budget.
- Written Content: Written content can get pricey– fast, especially for more technical and research-intensive work. If you’re looking to produce a whitepaper for your content marketing, you may not be able to afford to outsource the lot of it, or you may need to spend a couple months’ worth of your budget to get this accomplished. Since the bulk of content is typically of the written variety, you will need to put some careful thought into allocating your funds and time.
- Video: Though video seems expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not, video shot on a cell phone or digital camera can work just as well as “television ready” video content. If you want a high-quality produced video, your $1000/mo. budget probably won’t cut it. But, if you can shoot the video yourself and edit it in-house, or even hire a freelance video editor, your outsourcing budget could go a long way.
- Photos: Photos, like video, can be expensive — but they don’t have to be. Even cell phone-quality photos can make great content — especially with all the filters and photo editing apps available.
Map Out Your Budget Allocation
Next, you should map out your budget allocation for the next six to 12 months based on the different media you are going to target. For example you may choose to do the following:
- Outsource the production of two infographics over the course of the year ($3,000)
- Outsource the production of two free guides (10-12 pages) for prospects and clients to download ($3,600)
- Hire an editor to edit and finalize one blog post per week for one year ($2,600)
- Hire a writer to create one article per month, for you to place on third-party sites ($1,800)
That’s a total of $11,000, leaving you $1,000 to spend on promotions (see below) or on creating another piece of content that comes to mind over the year ahead.
Make The Most Of Your Time
Though 24 hours per month may not seem like a lot of time, it can be – if you make the most of it. For instance, using the above content outsourcing example, you might spend your time on the following:
- Two hours per week: Drafting one blog post per week which you will hand off to your editor (above) to finalize. You will then publish on your blog. I recommend picking a specific day of the week for publishing and sticking to it.
- Five hours per month: Managing your outsourced projects listed above (the monthly articles for third party sites and the quarterly infographic or free guide).
- One hour per week: Draft and schedule social media messages to promote your new blog posts and other content. Write messaging specific to each social media network. Be sure to research and include relevant hashtags in tweets, pay attention to character limits and get a custom shortened link. Schedule messages for the week or longer.
- 15 minutes per day: Respond to tweets, posts, comments, etc. Interact with others about your content. Be social and converse with your audience. This may be difficult, as it is easy to lose track of time on social media. But in this example, we only have 24 hours per month to work with, so discipline is a must.
- One hour per month: Track and report your findings. Reporting content marketing efforts on a monthly basis makes benchmarking easier, and also allows you to tweak your strategy going forward.
This is approximately 24 hours per month. Admittedly, it will be difficult to stay focused and on track, but if you use an editorial calendar and schedule these tasks you just might surprise yourself.
Additionally, you can ask staff to participate in content marketing projects to maximize efforts. Some staff might be willing to write a corporate blog post once in a while if they understood the value it brings to both the business and their own personal brand.
Some companies have discovered outstanding writers where they would least expect it. Consider asking someone in the warehouse to write about deliveries, or an accountant to explain the financial aspect, or a sales professional to discuss the most frequently asked question in your industry.
You might even go as far as giving a small ($25-$50) bonus to the staff writer if the post meets certain minimum criteria like word count, use of an image, and so on. Or, you could have a contest based on post metrics like traffic, links, etc., as sometimes, a bit of friendly competition can get the creative juices flowing.
Make Use Of Extra Funds
In the example above, we managed to save $1,000 of your total budget. There are other ways to utilize your budget to help your content marketing campaign.
Depending on your content marketing campaign, it may make sense for you to purchase media to promote your content. You could spend some of your budget on Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads or promoted tweets.
Where you spend your budget will depend on the goals of your campaign and how much you can achieve in-house vs. what you need to outsource.
Scale To Your Budget
You may be able to spend more than $1,000 and six hours a week on a content marketing project. In that case, you can scale these activities to make your budget and availability work for you.
If you have a bigger budget, you may be able to repurpose your content into different media through outsourcing. If you have more time to dedicate to content marketing, utilize in-house resources the best you can, and devote more time to content promotion, distribution and interaction with your audience.
At the end of a content marketing campaign, it is imperative to measure for success, so you know what to do (and what not to do) next time. Go through your monthly reports and determine what social networks provided the most value, how well the medium(s) were received by your audience and measure the ROI of paid efforts. By understanding what works and what doesn’t work, you will be able to better optimize your budget and time the next time around.
There are many ways to slice and dice a $1,000 budget and six hours a week on a content marketing project — you will have to find what works for you and your audience.
However, one thing is for sure: it can be done, and it can be successful. Just because you don’t have an unlimited budget for content marketing doesn’t mean you can’t garner results. Through effective planning and measurement, you can make a limited content marketing budget go a long way.
What tips do you have for content marketing on a budget? Let us know in the comment section below.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.