Despite what you may have read elsewhere, content marketing (like most other forms of marketing) costs money. It is only “free” when you choose to give it away to your readers. Offering free content in return for an email address, for example, is an amazing inbound marketing approach to getting more traffic and leads. Still, it is an investment and can become – depending on your circumstances – costly.
What is the opportunity cost?
Content marketing takes time to perfect. As the Content Marketing Institute suggests, “content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” This is by no means a simple task because it requires different types of maintenance: creating new posts, finding inspiration for more posts, promotion, maintaining relationships, and outreach – to name a few.
It takes time to do a great job. Brian Clark’s blogging success story is a great example. Clark started blogging as “Copyblogger” in January 2006. He slowly increased the amount of content he published on his blog, going from 14 posts in the first few months to a new post every day only a few months later.
He increased consistency and started posting high-quality, timeless content. Though the traffic only trickled in at first, by maintaining a strict editorial schedule over time, he was able to bring his blog to the place it’s at today; the top marketing blog in AdAge’s Power 100 list, with millions of monthly visitors and 140,000+ subscribers.
Before making the leap to blogging or attempting to increase your current blog’s traffic, here are some questions to ask yourself.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What is your hourly rate? If you think content marketing is “free” and you’re not spending money to delegate these tasks, then you’re spending your own time on content marketing. You’re giving up time spent on the things you do best. That is the real cost of content marketing – time. It could quite literally be a cost (i.e. you’re running out of time/energy to the point where you have to reject business). Or, it could be an opportunity cost: the cost of the next best thing you could be doing at the time.
- When you are performing content marketing-related tasks, what else could you be doing?
- Could you be preparing a new product to sell?
- Should you shift your attention to offline networking?
- Do you think that other task would produce more or less results than what you’re doing right now?
- Are you the best person for the job?
- Are you as eloquent as the person you would be hiring to manage your content for you?
- Do you know how to promote articles?
- Are you as familiar with search engine marketing and optimization?
- Do you have the same sized social media Rolodex as an Internet marketer or an influential writer?
An alternative to doing it all yourself is outsourcing it to an expert. Wait, but then it’s not free anymore!
Brian Clark now updates Copyblogger daily with ease. He gets frequent guest post requests from other aspiring bloggers looking to connect with the influential Copyblogger audience. Many bloggers would be happy to get Clark’s nod of approval for a guest post. Not just because it allows them to share their voice on his blog, but because it validates their own perspectives on certain topics and helps build their credibility as well.
But getting great writers to give up their work for free is not easy. Your blog may not be big enough to generate that kind of attention from writers yet, especially if you’re just starting out. You’ll most likely have to pay in order to recruit writers to create original content. How much? Well, it depends. Onboardly outsources writing work for anywhere from $30-150/post, depending on the writer and the depth of research required for the piece.
Clark’s content is completely original. That is a prerequisite for most forms of content marketing: copying content does not pay. It doesn’t matter if you pay to copy the content or if you just reword content off of someone’s RSS feed. It just does not pay.
Once you’ve enlisted the help of some high-quality writers, you will be able to focus on things you like to do and the things you are passionate about.
How are you going to promote your blog?
- Are you going to (try to) learn SEO yourself? What is the opportunity cost of that?
- Will you use tools from SEOmoz? Or will you hire an expert?
- Are you going to buy advertisements on StumbleUpon?
- Will you create infographics or videos?
- Will you pay for a sponsored post or a link on an affinity blog or Twitter?
You get the point: all of this stuff costs money. It costs you money just to promote your blog/videos/podcasts in the first place. But today, you can’t really afford not to invest in getting traffic to your content.
You had your own reasons for becoming an entrepreneur. Was content marketing one of them? Instead of spending time on it, you should be focusing on running your business. Don’t settle for a half-assed strategy and minimal effort. By enlisting the help of a content marketing expert, you can add incredible value to your blog and brand.
Your content marketing campaign is crucial to your bottom line. Can you afford not to hire an expert to ensure you get the impact you work so hard to make? The reality is that you can’t. Using your blog as a means for customer acquisition, brand awareness, or establishing yourself as the knowledge leader in your space takes times and money.
Where to start? Sign up for our Acquiring Customers Through Blogging course today. Email email@example.com and mention “The Real Cost of Content Marketing” to get a 20% off discount code for the course.