Content Marketing Cost in 2024

How Much Does Content Marketing Cost in 2024?

When you think of it, the question is very interesting. Why does a seller of nutrition supplements spend its money on telling people how to eat the right foods? Shouldn’t that money be spent on experiments in the nutrition lab, or if nothing else, on taking employees out on a retreat?

Yes, content marketing isn’t exactly an intuitive way of marketing. But as with every form of marketing, it’s a response to how people buy things. 

Think of a basic customer journey; it has 5 key stages: awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, and advocacy. 

What ends with a repeat purchase has to begin somewhere. And that ‘somewhere’ is a question. Literally, someone who’ll be your customer 3 months down the line, only has a question today. And if you can answer that question, you’ll be remembered. And when you’re remembered, you’ll get their business when they’re ready to buy. 

That’s the basis of content marketing. And in this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about it. 

Table of contents:

  • What is content marketing? 
  • Should content marketing be a priority for your business?
  • How much does content marketing cost?
  • What factors affect content marketing costs?
  • Budgeting your content plan: Is it worth it?
  • Tips to reduce the price of your content marketing

Let’s start with the most basic question. 

What is content marketing? 

As a business owner, you surely understand the importance of marketing. You know that products and services don’t sell themselves; they have to be sold. Now whatever you do in order to make them sell, is marketing. 

Content marketing, particularly, depends on using content, for the same purpose. More specifically, it focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, with an aim to build a positive relationship with anyone who could be a customer in the near term. 

Its primary objective is to attract, sell-to, and retain the target audience. How it differs from more well known forms of marketing (for instance, TV ads) is its indirect approach.

Let’s understand with the help of an example.

Sarah is the CEO of an eco-friendly clothing retail chain called “Green Threads”. As a business owner, she also believes content marketing can play a pivotal role in connecting her with the target audience. With that goal in mind, Sarah and her team regularly write and publish blog posts on the Green Threads website. 

These posts cover topics such as:

  • 10 Ways to Reduce Your Fashion Carbon Footprint
  • The Benefits of Bamboo Fabric
  • How to Embrace Slow Fashion

Sarah also manages Green Threads’ social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

On social media, she shares photos and videos of the brand’s new apparel collections made from eco-friendly materials. There are also behind-the-scenes glimpses of Green Threads’ manufacturing process.

This helps Sarah successfully connect with her target audience and build brand awareness about Green Threads.

Several key elements of content marketing become obvious from this.

Key things to know about content marketing

  1. Content marketing is a part of the overall marketing process. 
  2. It marks a shift in strategy from selling to creating relationships. Selling is a one-off act. A relationship can survive years. When you are a trusted provider of content you build trust and become a thought leader.
  3. The process is long-term. Think of it as a marathon and not a one-lap race around the tracks. It takes time to build trust and draw in a regular audience, and then for that audience to become customers, and then for the customers to become loyalists. 
  4. Content marketing offers an ideal way to weave a story around the brand. Content is the packaging that can communicate the brand’s values, mission, and vision to the audience.
  5. Content is useful not only for content marketing but also because it forms the backbone of SEO.

These features make content marketing a unique and powerful approach to connect with customers.

But as you’d have guessed, it’s hard work. It demands time, effort, and above all, lots of regular investment in creating and distributing great content. 

So, let’s try to answer an important question. 

Should content marketing be a priority for your business?

According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound report – 80% of marketers prioritize creating content.

Let’s look at some more statistics that underline the importance of content marketing as a viable strategy:

Those are impressive numbers. More importantly they show that:

  • Content marketing is already hugely popular
  • Marketers are happy to spend a lot on it
  • It works across industries
  • People love to consume content

But there’s more to it. If you want to know whether content marketing should be a priority for you, first understand what it can do for you. 

The benefits of content marketing

Benefits of Content Marketing

You can make your brand more well-known with content marketing

Consistently delivering valuable content is ample proof that you know what you’re talking about. You’d be hard-pressed to find a known brand that does not have dozens of pages of great content, unrelated to sales, on the Internet. 

Ask yourself, is brand awareness a priority for us? We’re not saying that the answer is an obvious ‘yes’. For a startup trying to make waves in a cluttered market, the answer could be ‘yes’, but for an SMB operating in a niche market, brand awareness is nowhere near as important as lead generation. For lead gen, email marketing might offer 10x the returns on the same marketing budget as content marketing. 

So, you’ve got to know your needs to decide whether content marketing should be a priority for you. 

Your brand will enjoy trust from people who can become customers later

Think of quality content as a crowd-puller. In fact, great articles, videos, and posts bring lots of people to your website and social pages who’d otherwise have never known about you. 

Helpful, interesting content keeps people hooked. When you’re solving problems and giving insights, they’ll want to stick around. Longer visits = more potential customers. Moreover, the best content gets people talking. Shares, comments, all that good stuff… It’s like free advertising. 

So, the question for you is: does your business need more website traffic, social media buzz, and potential leads? If so, content marketing might be your ticket. But if you need immediate sales, Facebook ads could be much better?

Your brand will be seen as an expert in your industry

When you consistently deliver reliable information, people see you as the authority in your field. Being the trusted source pays off in due course.  When someone’s ready to buy, they’ll come to you first because they already know and like you.

Question for you: does your business thrive on being seen as the expert in your space? Does building trust with potential customers matter? If so, content marketing should be high on your priority list. But if attracting customers who are further down the buying journey is a bigger need, paid ads are better. 

You might still be on the edge. Knowing what ROI you can expect could be helpful. 

So let’s find out how much you can expect to pay for content marketing. 

How much does content marketing cost?

It varies widely, ranging from $3,000 to $50,000+ per month.

How much you actually spend, depends on many factors, which we will cover later in this guide. One of the important levers of budgeting for content marketing is to decide how you will get it done. 

You can approach content marketing in many ways.

  1. Build an in-house content marketing team
  2. Outsource to a content marketing agency
  3. Hire content marketing freelancers 

But what do each of these alternatives cost? We look at it in detail.

Content marketing cost with an in-house team

We start with an example of a typical lean, yet effective 4-person content marketing team for a medium-sized business.

Content Manager

Key Tasks:

  • Oversees the entire content marketing strategy
  • Coordinates with all team members
  • Manages the editorial calendar
  • Conducts performance analysis
  • Provides recommendations for improvement

Average Salary: $79,000 (Glassdoor)

Content Writer/Creator

Key Tasks:

  • Creates compelling written content like articles, blog posts, and website copy
  • Conducts thorough research to ensure content is accurate and up to date
  • Maintains consistent brand voice, tone, and style throughout all content
  • Works closely with the editor and other team members to refine content

Average Salary: $72,000 (Glassdoor)

Graphic Designer

Key Tasks:

  • Designs eye-catching visuals like images and infographics
  • Creates visuals for social media posts, email campaigns, and website banners
  • Ensures all design elements are consistent with brand aesthetics and guidelines
  • Collaborates with content creators to enhance the visual impact of their work

Average Salary: $64,700 (Glassdoor)

Social Media Manager

Key Tasks:

  • Oversees the brand’s social media presence across key platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Develops and executes social media content calendars and campaigns
  • Engages with the audience, responds to comments, and fosters a strong community online
  • Monitors social media metrics
  • Analyzes performance

Average Salary: $71,600 (Glassdoor)

Therefore, for a small but efficient team of in-house strategists, the content marketing cost would be about $250,000 to $300,000 each year.

A larger team would have an editor who manages multiple content writers. The editor and content manager work in tandem as team leads.

A very large team of 20 or more people might even have a dedicated team manager to coordinate efforts and get everyone on the same page.

Content marketing cost with outsourcing 

Many businesses choose to outsource content marketing. It’s either outsourced to a content marketing agency, or to content marketing freelancers. Let’s understand the costs of both. 

Cost of content marketing agency

It makes sense. As we have seen above, content marketing costs are quite high if you have in-house experts.

Many businesses cannot afford an overhead of $250,000 every year.

On average, hiring a content marketing agency begins with a few thousand dollars per month.

For smaller businesses, monthly retainers can range from $2,000 to $5,000.

This includes basic content creation, SEO, and social media management.

It can head all the way up to tens of thousands of dollars per month for more comprehensive strategies.

Full-service content marketing campaigns which include video production, influencer partnerships, and advanced analytics, could cost $20,000 to $560,000 or more per month.

Some agencies may also offer project-based pricing. The cost can range from $1,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the scope of the project and the hours it would require.

Suffice it to say there is a content marketing agency for every budget and depending on their stature they may work on a monthly retainer, hourly rates, or project-based cost.

Cost of content marketing freelancers

Freelance writers based in the US would charge at least $25 per hour. It would cost about $100 per blog post and $25 per social media post. 

You would also need a graphic designer to add visuals. Many freelance writers quote a composite price including visuals and outsource the task to someone they know.

The advantage of this method is that it not only allows you to cut back on content marketing costs but also seek out better professionals through Upwork, Fiverr, and LinkedIn. You might not start with the best person in the business but as you understand what is required you can approach better talented freelancers.

What factors affect content marketing costs?

Overall, the cost of content marketing can range from a few hundred dollars per month for small businesses to tens of thousands of dollars for large concerns.

The question naturally arises, why is there such a huge variation in content marketing costs? Why such a big difference?

It depends on a host of other factors.

Content Creation

This is the core expense of content marketing. While an in-house writer would set you back at least $60,000, a freelancer would work for $20-30 per hour.

The quality of content also plays a large role.

Higher-quality content often comes with a higher price tag. Great content requires extensive research and interviews with experts (who of course expect to be compensated for their time).

Some type of content requires specialized knowledge in medicine, coding languages, or business administration.

Naturally, they will cost more to produce compared to standard blog posts or articles.

Content Marketing Tools

There is a vast array of content marketing tools. Sometimes the list appears endless, even to experts. Depending on your requirements you have to choose a combination that optimizes your content marketing strategy.

This is a standard suite of content writing tools used by most content marketing teams. 

  • Grammarly: Priced at about $12 per month, it helps improve writing by checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
  • Copyscape: It is a plagiarism detection tool priced on a per-word basis. It costs about $0.11 per 1000 words.
  • Canva: A must-have if you wish to generate visuals. Canva allows users to create visually appealing graphics, presentations, and social media posts without design expertise. At $10 per month, it is value for money.
  • BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo helps your team discover trending topics and identify popular content. It is priced at $200 per year for content creation. 

Besides you might need:

  • Ahrefs or SEMrush for keyword research and competitor analysis
  • Buffer or Hootsuite for publishing social media content across platforms
  • Adobe Analytics or HubSpot Analytics for insights into content performance. 

You can expect to pay between $600 and $5,000 per year for a full suite of tools.

Audience Research

Content marketing is not journalism. It is not aimed at the world at large. You are always writing for a specific audience.

But how do you know who your audience is? How to understand what they would like to hear about?

In the case of Sarah, the owner of “Green Threads” how does she at all know who to connect with?

Is her audience 20 and a college sophomore or a young professional who is 26 or a stay-at-home mom aged 38? 

It’s important to have the answers, because content aimed at a 20-year-old is very different from that meant for a 38-year-old.

If your own business does not have enough data about audience research then it has to be acquired from elsewhere.

There are a host of companies that offer B2B and B2C data but it is not cheap (at least not the trustworthy providers).

Content Distribution Channels

How would your audience view the content?

For most, it is through a website, blog, and social media.

A website would require a Content Management System like WordPress.

While WordPress is free the useful plugins are not. You would need Yoast SEO for optimization and a service like MailChimp for email marketing management. 

A well-designed site would cost at least $2,000 to $6,000.

Website copy costs about $3,000 for a small website with 4-6 pages.

Investing in paid advertising channels such as Google Ads is also a recurring expenditure. While it is difficult to pin down the exact cost of Google ads or Facebook ads, a single ad can cost between $20 and $400 depending on the keyword and timeslot.

So many costs and they are all variable.

It is easy to see how a budget can start at $3,000 and balloon to $50,000 after all the bells and whistles are added.

Budgeting your content plan: Is it worth it?

Content marketing is a powerful tool. However, it works best when used alongside other marketing tactics that deliver faster results.  

So, a better question is: what percentage of your marketing budget should be allocated to content marketing. 

To answer, we need to understand how inbound and outbound marketing can work together:

Inbound Marketing (has long-term focus):

  • Content Creation: Create content like blog posts, videos, or social media content that attracts potential customers.
  • SEO Optimization: This ensures your content ranks well in search engines.
  • Social Media Engagement: Build a strong presence on social media and connect with your audience, share your content, and build relationships.

Outbound Marketing (has medium and near-term focus):

  • Email Marketing: This allows you to reach a targeted audience directly with personalized messages.
  • Paid Advertising: Using platforms like Facebook Ads or Google Ads to target specific demographics and interests.
  • Public Relations & Influencer Marketing: Partnering with influencers in your industry can help you reach a wider audience and build brand credibility.

Now, let’s consider an example of how Green Threads (a retailer of eco-friendly apparel) might allocate their marketing budget. Here’s a breakdown of

Let’s say their total marketing budget is $100,000 annually. They might decide to distribute it as follows:

Inbound Marketing: $40,000

  • Content Marketing: $15,000
  • SEO: $15,000
  • Social Media Engagement: $10,000

Outbound Marketing: $60,000

  • Email Marketing: $25,000
  • Facebook Ads: $25,000
  • PPC Advertising: $10,000

In this scenario, Green Threads place a higher importance on email marketing and Facebook ads within the outbound category. That’s not without reason, due to the ability of email and Facebook Ads to drive sales.

Remember, the ideal budget split will vary depending on your specific business goals and target audience.

But let’s face it, creating high-quality content can take time and resources.  The good news is, there are clever ways to stretch your content marketing budget further.

Tips to reduce the price of your content marketing

It’s an obvious question since so many small business owners do not have large budgets.

These are a few tips that would allow you to streamline workflow and cut back on overheads.

Repurpose your content

Take, for example, a comprehensive guide on sustainable fashion practices produced by Green Threads. You can split this guide into several blog posts, each focusing on a specific segment of the original content. From these blog posts, create a series of short videos for social media and infographics for platforms like Pinterest. This approach allows you to extend the reach of the original guide without significant additional costs.

Benefit from user-generated content

Encourage your audience to contribute content. For example, Green Threads might ask customers to post photos wearing their eco-friendly clothing and use a specific hashtag. This method provides the brand with free content to share.

Barter with influencers

Working with influencers does not always require a large budget. You can offer them products in exchange for creating content about your brand. For instance, Green Threads can give a free outfit to an influencer who then makes a post wearing and talking about it. This can cut costs while still reaching the influencer’s followers.

This approach not only saves money but also helps sustain your brand’s growth effectively.

A word of advice

Content marketing has unquestionable merits. The point is whether it’s the right use of your marketing budget. In this guide, we’ve helped you with information that can guide you as you ponder over this question. 

Remember the end goal, and then compare the expected ROI of content marketing with other channels like Facebook Ads and email marketing.