How to Afford Both Content Strategy AND Writing on a Budget

Content marketing is an investment in your business and, like any business investment, you want to make sure you get a good ROI.

I see many organizations struggle to make the numbers work. And I’ve seen the anxiety this can provoke.

If you spend money on strategy, is there enough left to effectively produce and distribute that content?

If you eliminate the strategy work to save money, how will you know what content to produce and when?

Without a content strategy based on real information gleaned from your target audience, it’s a roll of the dice. You’ll only hit the jackpot if Lady Luck decides to strike.

And without implementing that strategy right, it won’t work.

Strategy and implementation are both non-negotiable.

But here’s something a lot of writers won’t tell you …

It’s easier and less risky to try to bring your costs down when you execute the strategy than when you’re developing it.

Prioritize the content marketing strategy — then if you need to lessen production costs, you can do that by using a variety of writing resources.

Deep yoga breath. You don’t need the same writer for every asset. It’s nice to work with one great writer — but it’s not always necessary or even feasible.

You can afford content strategy AND writing by using a variety of resources to bring your costs down when you execute the strategy.

You have options for writers.

In-House Resources

If you already have people on the payroll, you may be able to add content generation to their responsibilities.

In some situations, especially for SEO-focused content or really technical pieces, you can use your internal subject-matter experts (SMEs) to build out the content needed to execute your strategy. Some of your people might even enjoy the diversion from their normal tasks.

But do the math first to ensure this makes good financial sense.

Analyze the time they will spend on content generation and the cost of having employees diverting attention away from their key result areas.

Example: Software engineer

$100K annual salary

1 to 4 hours on a 500- to 1,500-word blog post

(Hourly rate x 1-4 hours) x (# of assignments) + opportunity cost = TRUE COST

The final calculation for what might possibly be a cost-saving solution (you already pay them a wage, why not add more tasks to their to-do list, right?) must also include the opportunity cost of that individual not working on key tasks they are uniquely skilled to do for your organization.

Are there others on your team who might have some free time to work with your SMEs and do the heavy lifting? If you have other internal resources with a lower per-hour rate than your SME, a hybrid approach to producing content could be useful. You could have these team members interview the SME and write the content based on that interview.

Just remember, this only works if you’ve got a solid strategy to work from, and the assets your team members are writing are part of that strategy. Divorced from a content strategy, you’re flushing money down the drain having your internal resources develop content that isn’t helping sell your product or service.

Note: I wouldn’t recommend using internal resources for any assets geared toward relationship-building or conversion. Leave those to the experts.

Junior Content Writer

Hiring a junior content writer is also a less costly option for producing content.

If you have more time than money to spend, this could be a good option for you because it allows you to use external professional resources, so you aren’t diverting your in-house personnel from their key responsibilities.

Junior writers typically have less experience, they focus more on speed than quality, and their writing won’t be as polished — so be prepared, you will probably spend some time editing their work.  

A junior content writer will work faster than your in-house team members are able to, though. It’s like a weekend warrior versus a trade professional. While YouTube videos and Google might help someone understand how to tile a bathroom floor, a professional will complete the job with the right tools in much less time.

The downsides to hiring a junior content writer who may juggle assignments from multiple companies in several industries are:

  • They probably don’t have deep expertise in producing high-converting content — so for conversion content or customer relationship-building content, they might not execute well.
  • They might hit it out of the park on the first draft, but the more likely scenario is there will be a learning curve.
  • If you sell a more technical solution, they might not understand it well, or have the expertise to translate it into language your target audience will connect with.

Experienced Senior Content Writer

If it’s in your budget, an experienced senior content writer is going to be able to execute your content marketing strategy most effectively. If they have experience in your specific industry, the results can be even better.

You’ll spend less time editing a senior writer’s work, and if they’re well-versed in conversion optimization techniques and human psychology, they’ll do a much better job on those key conversion and relationship-building assets.

As with any professional, the additional experience and expertise of a senior content writer might cost more initially, but it has the greatest potential to return dividends.

Build Your Team to Your Budget and Your Content Goals

Strategy and implementation are equally important. If you absolutely have to cut costs somewhere, however, you can do that on the implementation side by using different writing resources for different assets and tasks.

Prioritize the investment in your content strategy. Without it, you’ll waste your money producing content that isn’t connected to a clear purpose or well-targeted to your ideal customers

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