Consistency is key when it comes to content marketing. Regularly creating fresh, engaging content helps build a loyal audience. It’s also great for your website’s SEO. But actually creating a steady stream of awesome content is a whole other story. If only there was a helpful guide on how to plan content… perhaps tailored for small businesses with small budgets!
There are tons of how-to content marketing articles out there. But I’ve noticed that most of them assume a certain amount of time, creative resources, and budget that many of our clients just don’t have. Not every business can make videos or lay down podcast tracks. Sometimes even creating a single graphic for social media is a challenge.
If you’re among the many who struggle to strategize (and stick to) a content plan for your small business, these tips are for you. You’ll soon be able to plan an entire year of enjoyable content.
Whatever Your Budget Is,
There Is A Flexible Package For Your Content Writing Needs!
1- Focus on the Most Cost-Efficient Types of Content
There are tons of different types of content you can produce. Often, there are 4-5 or even more types of content that your target audience enjoys. This means that you can use any combination of those types to grow your audience.
But here’s the thing… Not all types of content give the same return.
They all cost different amounts and will generate different average numbers when it comes to traffic, subscribers, shares, etc.
Evaluate the cost of different types of content. The first thing you need to do is establish a baseline cost for every type of content you might be interested in producing:
- blog posts
- stock photo collections
Obviously, the cost can vary based on the exact thing you’re looking for, but try to get a fairly accurate range.
There are 3 ways you can do this:
- Get a quote from a freelancer who specializes in that type of content.
- Determine how much time it would take to make it yourself, then multiply that by your hourly rate.
- Use estimates from other public sources.
Technically, you could get a quote from an agency, but those are usually much more expensive than a freelancer. Since we’re trying to conserve your budget here, start with freelancers.
2- Focus Your Efforts
While there are obvious advantages to testing new marketing strategies and exploring new platforms, at some point you need to focus your efforts.
Just as AdWords can give you an indication of what is working and what isn’t, it is also important for you to be constantly monitoring your organisation’s progress and focusing your efforts on what works best.
It is suggested that in scrutinising your ROI ‘your main goal […] is to trim the fat, ceasing investments into strategies where you aren’t seeing a positive return, or at least a promising early start.’
When your budget is tight this can be a great way of making the money you do invest go further, improving your efficiency and adding clarity to your key aims.
3- Consider Outsourcing Your Content Writing
If you really want to reach a lot of target audience, your content production has to be massive. Think social media posts, blog posts, email marketing content, website and landing pages. It’s okay to outsource your content marketing to other people.
But you must maintain quality when you outsource. The most important thing to keep in mind when outsourcing content is to have a content marketing tone and style guide. You also need to communicate your needs and desires in a clear and concise manner.
Outsourcing content can be a way to maintain scale without blowing your budget, but you do have to be smart about how you go about it. Working with the cheapest writers available typically results in sub-par content quality. That leaves you scrambling to rework content before you publish it, which increases expense.
Working directly with freelancers can be more expensive than you plan as well. If you’re considering outsourcing content to stretch your budget and save yourself time, consider keeping a content creation company on standby.
4- Go Viral
Although sometimes creating something viral can be as much about luck and timing as the content you create, it still remains a cost effective way to get your brand out there and make audiences sit up and take note.
Creating something like a viral video enables you to get noticed quickly and provides a platform on which to build future success.
A good example of how video can work wonders for your marketing without costing the earth is the success of Fatherly. At only a year old, this online resource for millennial Dads has enjoyed phenomenal growth since its inception, part of which it owes to conquering the viral world.
By using an eclectic mix of amateur footage, user submissions and product footage Fatherly has cleverly built a huge network around its content, without spending vast sums on filming.
5- Repurpose Existing Content
Another way to stretch your budget is to optimize and repurpose content. If you’re going to put the time and effort into creating a piece of content, transition into the mindset of creating a content experience. Ways that I’ve created multi-purpose content include taking one interview and creating an expose or mini-series, a Q&A, a how-to or checklist, a video and associated social media and email accompaniments.
Take your 5-10 top performing content pieces and turn them to an ebook, PDF or other long-form content with a compelling and relevant headline:
- Aggregate similar content pieces into a deeper whitepaper
- Pull out audio from existing video/video series into a podcast
I would guess that any brand’s content program will be divided by overarching themes, so in this system, be very clear about which theme content falls into, when it was written, if it leverages any outside sources and other pertinent information.
From this, I recommend an annual audit and refresh so that no content is ever more than two years old and all sources are up to date and still in good standing.
6- Focus on quality over quantity
One major source of wasted money is failure to maximize the results from each piece of content. Marketers see successful bloggers posting 3-5 times a week and assume that they should too.
However, if you don’t have the budget to publish 3-5 great pieces of content, it’s pointless. You’ll end up publishing 3-5 okay posts instead.
Growth from content marketing comes from quality, not quantity. Each post should be as valuable as possible. You’re better off publishing one absolutely amazing piece of content per month than publishing 30 mediocre posts.
If you can publish more than one great post—fantastic! But always start with quality.
A great example of this is Brian Dean at Backlinko. As of now, he has about 30 articles in total on the site (seriously), and he’s been going for years now. On average, that works out to about one post a month. He’s also built a 6-figure business from it!
How? Because every single post is amazing. Quality will always win.
7- Check Out Creative Commons Content
I love Creative Commons content. You can find just about anything, in any form of media. Most is free for general use on blogs, with credit. Some is royalty and attribution free. Others are allowed for commercial content.
While you don’t want to present these items as they are with no context, they can greatly enhance your content, or offer you ideas to build around them. I have spent many days going through CC sites and finding concepts that I later build into popular content. You can save a ton of time by going there first.
As these examples show, with a little thought and a clear goal in mind it is entirely possible to create a winning marketing strategy, without blowing your budget. By learning clever tips and tricks from those who have succeeded and thinking outside the box, any organisation can bring a spark to their strategy while still watching their spending.