One of the major draws of content marketing is the cost—in theory, you put a couple of great pieces of content together and they bring in web traffic, email signups, and conversions for years to come. It seems like a great deal, especially when compared to other digital marketing channels where you pay by the click.

In reality, a successful content marketing program has many moving parts. Your in-house team needs to be skilled in search engine optimization, writing, editing, content management, and then distribution and upkeep. Bottomline: an in-house content marketing team is a major investment.

Labor cost of an in-house content team

Labor cost of an in-house content team

The best content marketing does not come from placing content responsibilities on your current team. According to Orbit Media, the average blog post takes just under four hours to write. If you have one of your existing marketing team members writing two blogs a week, that’s a whole workday spent away from their usual duties. Beyond that, a quality content team is responsible for:

And if you’re looking to go beyond written text, you’ll want graphic designers, video editors, and even audio engineers for podcasts.

No matter how you slice it, that’s often a few too many hats for one, two, or maybe even three people. So just to staff a bare-bones content team of a strategist, a writer, and an editor, you’re now paying three full-time salaries. The average salaries for these roles are:

  • Content strategist: $65,589 (Glassdoor)
  • Copywriter: $56,592 (Payscale)
  • Editor: $74,885 (Salary)

So at base pay, you a can expect to pay $197,066 annually for a minimally staffed content team.

Cost of creating content

Cost of creating content

But how much is this small but mighty team producing? Going back to the four-hours-per-blog figure, a copywriter could in theory be cranking out 10 blogs a week—although that would be a grueling workload for even the most wizened wordsmiths. In reality, much of their hours will be taken up with Zoom calls, responding to emails, and other duties.

Not to mention content is more than just blog posts. Other media formats may connect with your audience better:

  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Resource pages
  • Interactive content
  • Quizzes

Developing all of these resources is a lot for any single copywriter to handle. If your staff writer doesn’t have video editing or graphic design capabilities, you’ll either have to forego multimedia assets or hire someone new if you wanted to branch out with other types of content.

Once your copywriter has written the content, an editor needs to check it for search engine optimization and publish the content to your site. A content strategist should be managing the content calendar, planning how the blog fits into a larger strategy, and generating relevant blog topics. All of these things take a bit of time to put together, so with an all in-house team your output is limited to what they are capable of producing in the time that they are paid for.

Cost of promoting content

Cost of promoting content

Now that your team has produced some amazing content, what are you going to do with it?

Distribution methods include company newsletters, organic and paid social media, employee email signatures, employee advocacy, paid media distribution, syndication, and curated content hubs. You’ll likely want someone on your in-house content team solely responsible for content distribution.

  • The national average salary for an email marketing specialist is $58,895 (Glassdoor).
  • The national average salary for a social media specialist is $47,141 (Glassdoor)

You may be able to hire one person with a hybrid skill set, but that’s still another $50,000 or more.

Other Costs

Outside of the human element, content distribution and production takes software, technology, and small expenses that add up.

Project management software, marketing automation software, and relationship management software all help manage content distribution and planning. These can cost anywhere from $100-$10,000 a month, especially when working with large-scale enterprise software like SalesForce.

Technology requirements can also affect your budget for content creation. Graphic design software, video editing software, and image or audio licensing add up. Graphic design software costs anywhere between $30-$300. A single Getty Images stock photo costs almost $9.

Finally, an in-house content team comes with the costs of maintaining a staff. They’ll need high-powered laptops to run those programs (over $1,000 per employee) and won’t last forever.

Costs add up

Costs add up

For your in-house content team to see content marketing success, you’ll need to invest in multiple key team members and tools so they can do their jobs effectively. Content production is time intensive and can feel like a lot of up-front work before seeing results. And while these costs vary, a shoestring budget sometimes gets you shoestring results.

Outsourcing any part of your content marketing process can usually save you money. Statistics show that 32% of all B2B organizations don’t have full-time content marketing staff. But according to Semrush, 84% of their survey respondents have a content marketing strategy. That huge disparity is thanks to outsourcing. Outsourcing parts or all of your content strategy can help reduce payroll costs (salaries, benefits, office space), and free up your nimble team to spend more time on high-level tasks.

How much do freelancers cost for content strategy

Freelancers are an amazing business tool because they’re meant to swoop in and fill gaps in your internal teams. Maybe that means writing a few articles a month, making a one-off video, or perhaps it’s developing your entire content strategy.

The cost of freelancers varies by experience. According to a ClearVoice survey of copywriters, respondents charged the following per word:

  • $0.01 –$0.10: 14%
  • $0.11–$0.25: 18%
  • $0.26–$0.50: 18%
  • $0.51–$0.75: 13%
  • $0.76–$1.00: 25%

That means an 800-word blog would cost anywhere from $80-$800.For content strategy, it’s hard to only pay by the word. A content expert can come in and audit your existing content and help you create a content marketing strategy and keyword strategy. These tasks would likely be a project-based freelance rate, which could be anywhere from $500-$5,000. The price is steep, but still well under the $200,000+ you’d be paying for an in-house team.

Create content despite the costs

Whether you want to take the plunge and make a stellar in-house content team or ask for help with writing or executing, content marketing is a powerful tool in your digital marketing arsenal. Well-crafted content can help users discover your business, trust your product, and convert at higher levels. According to Focus Vision, 52% of buyers are more inclined to purchase from vendors after reading their content. So committing to creating it is an important first step.

If you don’t know where to start with content marketing, get help with your content strategy with a content marketing strategy session from ClearVoice.