The fact is, hiring professional content creators can add up fast. No matter how big (or small) of a budget you’re working with, it’s always worthwhile to try and find ways to reduce costs without compromising quality. If you find yourself trying to do just that, check out this advice for making your writing budget stretch further.
What's A Good Writing Budget?
There’s no set number to strive for when determining a writing budget. The amount you spend on content production will vary based on your goals, industry, and overall business strategy.
If you’re trying to make your budget go further, begin by analyzing how much you’re paying your writer(s) to begin with. To follow is a brief overview of the clients I work with most often and an estimation of their paid content needs.
If you have a hobby or passion, it’s very likely you’ll be encouraged to start a blog about it. In this case, you might hire a writer to help fill the site up with content, but a hobby blog should be just that: another hobby! Most people who run a hobby blog do it not to make money, but to share their love for an activity they enjoy.
With this in mind, rather than hiring writers, why not invite other people who are passionate about your blog’s topic? Many people will pay you in order to publish a “guest post” on your website if you have an engaged audience. Of course, if you’re looking to build a hobby blog into an income stream, you’re probably beginning to slide into the next category.
Content Needs: Minimal. As a hobbyist, you may need minor assistance with the occasional blog post, social media content, or a vibrant “About Me” page.
Niche Website Owner
A niche website is much like a hobby blog in that it focuses on a certain activity or topic. However, people who run niche websites generally do so with a focus on generating income. They may earn money by displaying ads, charging for guest posts, accepting sponsorships, and so on.
Running a niche website is a lot of work. Some niches are more competitive than others, which means you’ll have to spend more time and money in order to build an audience.
Niche website owners could certainly use the help of a professional writer because, oftentimes, the website owner isn’t necessarily specialized (or even particularly interested) in their niche. After all, a niche website is ran like a business, which means you should carefully research the niche you choose to ensure there is a large enough following and a big enough earning potential before starting your site.
Content Needs: Frequent. A niche website owner may hire out some or all of their articles, blog posts, and social media content.
Personal Brand or Small Business
I consider “personal brand” to be a very broad category because social media influencers, internet personalities, and the self-employed all tend to fall into this category. If your face and name are at the heart of your business, you probably fit right here. I think that real estate agents, consultants, and freelance service providers are excellent examples to represent this category.
Of course, the content needs of a personal brand vary widely depending on what they’re trying to accomplish. I think most personal brands strive to build authority and recognition, which can be done by offering a steady flow of valuable content that the target audience will find useful.
Depending on your market, you may have a very detailed content calendar that involves keyword strategy and link building opportunities spanning blog posts, articles, social media posts, and forms of non-written content as well (like videos and infographics). Small businesses are in a similar position.
Content Needs: Varied. A small brand may need help with some or all of their website and social media content and they’ll want to be involved in its production to ensure its on-brand.
Estimating Your Content Costs
The most straightforward way to determine how much money you may end up spending on content production is to think of how often you’ll be posting on your site.
The Cost of Blog Posts
In general, most people aim for blog posts at least 600 words in length and you could post anywhere from once a week to once a month. If you’re paying an average rate of $0.04/word for a freelance writer, you’ll spend at least $24 on each post.
Estimated Cost: $24 per blog post (600 words), $40 per article (1,000 words)
The Cost of Social Media Posts
Social media posts are short and sweet (generally under 100 words). You may post multiple times a day or a couple times a week. You can expect to pay $3 to $4 per post. Luckily, many social media posts will just be announcing your latest content published elsewhere, so you could use an excerpt from that content (or summarize it in a sentence or two yourself) to save money.
Estimated Cost: Up to $4 per short post (around 100 words)
The Cost of Email Newsletters
The average rate of $0.04/word may still apply for your email newsletters, unless you’re in need of a professional copywriter to craft a newsletter that sells something, in which case you could be paying $0.10/word or more. For general subscriber outreach, most settle for their regular writer.
Estimated Cost: $8 to $20 for a simple newsletter (around 200 words)
The Cost of Initial Website Content
Your on-going content costs should be substantially lower than your up-front content costs because your foundational content will already be published. We’re talking about your homepage copy, About page, Contact page, and all of the static text that is incorporated into your site’s design.
It is hard to give a single estimation for initial content costs because sites vary so widely. Some About pages are just 200-300 words long while others are 1,000 words or more. The length of these pages really depends on the information you’re trying to convey.
If you’re starting from scratch or re-doing your current website, I’d suggest listing out all of the static pages on your site, estimating the word count for each, adding it all up, and multiplying the total word count by $0.04 (or whatever your writer chargers) to estimate your initial content costs.
Estimated Cost: $100 for five 500-word pages (2,500 words of content)
How To Stretch Your Content Production Budget Further
Once you have a better grasp on what type of content you may need and how often you’ll need it, the next step to stretching your writing budget is getting smart with your content planning. Short of negotiating service fees, here are my top tips for spending less on content production.
Create A Content Schedule
It’s easy to overspend if you are buying content at random with no real plan as to when or how it will be published. Doing so also makes your content less effective because you aren’t able to plan keywords, links, and other opportunities efficiently. Here’s some advice about how often you should blog.
A content schedule should lay out when you’re posting what. For instance, you might publish a new blog post every Wednesday, send your newsletter out on Friday, and post to social media 2-3 times a week. This schedule will help you turn sporadic publishing habits into a consistent and organized strategy that is easy to budget for.
Plan Your Content In Advance
So, you know you want to publish a blog post every Wednesday, but what’s it going to be about? Meanwhile, you’re planning on posting to social media 2-3 times a week, but do you know what you’re going to say? What about your newsletter?
A content schedule tells you what you publish when, but a content plan tells you what that content is going to be about. This is when you should begin thinking about a keyword plan and all of the topics your audience cares to read about. Your brand will also impact your content plan because it will determine the perspective and tone your content takes on.
Generally, people use the term “content calendar,” which is a handy document that you can fill up with content ideas, corresponding keywords, crosslinks, and planned timelines to get your content production organized. As you can imagine, planning your content in advance can help tremendously with your SEO and organic marketing efforts.
Get Creative When Sourcing Content
There are many ways to get creative when it comes to sourcing new content.
For instance, user-generated content (UGC) is growing more and more popular as time goes on thanks to its ability to boost engagement while simultaneously generating unique, branded content for your business. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, HubSpot does a great job explaining it (with some highly effective examples from top brands).
Here are some other ideas worth working into your content calendar:
- Repurpose Existing Content: Publish a “roundup” style post that spotlights existing content. You can even do a roundup spotlighting sites, tools, and third-party articles your audience may find helpful.
- Let Others Do The Work: Offer the option for industry experts to publish a guest post on your blog. Guest posting is a great tactic to work into your content strategy on the regular.
- Go Behind-The-Scenes: Instead of paying someone to write a research-based piece, consider behind-the-scenes type content, which is especially effective on social media. For instance, have team members take turns writing short posts about themselves and publish one each month as part of a special content series.
Together, these ideas can definitely help you reduce your content production costs without underpaying your team or compromising on quality.