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Guide to Content Marketing for $200 a Month (or Less)

Content marketing to a budget

Most content marketing advice is aimed at businesses who have a decent content marketing budget. It is easy to see results when you can drop thousands of dollars a month into high-end consultants, top-tier writers, and expensive tracking tools.

But what if you only have a few hundred dollars a month to spend on content marketing?

More specifically, what if you only have $200 a month to spend on content marketing? Will you still be able to see the benefits of content marketing if you don’t have a baller budget?

Yes, you can.

Will you be raking in six-figure sales? No, probably not. But, the plan outlined here will allow you to start where you are and build slowly. As you find success and see what type of content your audience responds to, you can slowly invest more resources.

Does Content Marketing Have to Cost a Ton?

According to CMI’s B2B Content Marketing 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, the average business spends 26% of their marketing budget on content marketing.

The companies that are most successful with content marketing spend 40% of their marketing budget on strategizing, creating content, and promoting content.  

If you are just getting started, you may have a very small marketing budget. Does that mean that you can’t succeed at content marketing?

Not at all. It does mean you need to be much smart about where you spend your money.

Do’s and Don’ts of Content Marketing on the Cheap

Before we dig into the details, let’s cover some basic dos and don’ts of content marketing for less. Keep in mind, the goal here is to be successful at content marketing, not to waste your time and what little resources you do have.

Do:

  • Carefully analyze where you invest your resources.
  • Look at internal resources you can tap into. You may have a writer, designer, or videographer already in house.
  • Build a process–and make sure to include accountability for specific tasks.
  • As you see what works, focus on those areas. But don’t be afraid to test new strategies, just don’t go all in right away.

Don’t:

  • Try every strategy at once. Instead, focus your limited resources carefully on a few strategies.
  • Avoid trying anything new at all.
  • Outsource content creation to companies with extremely low rates. (There is a reason why they are so cheap.)
  • Get overwhelmed and get stuck. Delegate and tackle one task at a time.

It may take time to build a successful strategy, but content marketing is always a long-term strategy.

Six Steps to Content Marketing for Less Than $200 A Month

Ready to get started? Here are six steps to spend less than $200 a month in cash on your content marketing. Keep in mind, this does not count your time investment.

Choose Your Focus Carefully

If you are working with a limited budget, you need to choose where you spend your resources carefully. Instead of trying to create 15 different types of content aimed at 15 different buyer personas, choose one or two of your largest audience niches to focus on.

For example, if your product is an organization app for families, don’t produce content on an obscure feature. (Unless you think promoting that feature will drive sales.) Instead, aim to create content that helps save a major problem most of your audience has.

Similarly, if most of your audience watches videos, don’t spend all your resources developing an e-book.

When you have a small budget, you have to be conservative. Start by producing content that has a high likelihood of being successful. Work with the resources you have readily available. Once you gain a bit of traction, then you can begin testing other approaches.

Quality Over Quantity

If your limited resources mean you can only produce one really awesome blog post a month, then publish one really awesome blog post a month.

Sure, you would likely see better results if you produced two really awesome blog posts a month. However, one amazing blog post a month will drive more engagement than two mediocre blog posts. Do not overextend yourself.

You can, however, look for opportunities in the form of easier to create content. After you build a process for publishing one amazing blog post a month and make it as efficient as possible, look content you can create with less effort.

For example, would your audience respond to a Facebook live or Instagram live video? Could you host a live Q&A session?

Not all content has to be earth-shattering. There is a place for both in-depth, meaty blog posts and more casual Facebook live videos where you cover an important news topic for your niche.

Repurpose Content

If you have a small budget, you need to make the most of every piece of content you create. Repurposing content allows you to get the most mileage out of every piece of content.

Why does repurposing content work so well? There are two reasons.

First, not everyone consumes content in the same way. For example, some people are fast readers and prefer blog posts or ebooks. Other people spend a lot of time commuting and like listening to podcasts. People learn differently, and their lifestyles might make it easier to consume one type of content over another.

Second, some social media algorithms give preference to certain types of content. Plus, not everyone will see everything you post. Facebook, for example, tends to give preference to videos hosted on Facebook. Instagram stories get more engagement than regular posts.

By repurposing content into different formats, you are giving your audience what they want and giving your content more opportunities to be seen.

Here are a few ways you can repurpose content.

  • Create a podcast to cover a topic from a popular blog post.
  • Publish a transcription of your podcast as a blog post.
  • Combine several blog posts into a downloadable ebook.
  • Publish a short blog post about industry news, then do a Facebook live event to discuss.
  • Publish a transcription of a Facebook Live Q&A session as a blog post.
  • Create an infographic based on a blog post.
  • Record a speech you give at a conference, and publish the video.
  • Publish slides from a speech on SlideShare for download.

When you repurpose content, try not to just throw up the exact same content. Instead, adjust the content slightly to fit the new format. For example, if you are writing a blog post based on a presentation you gave, add a bit more detail and include unique graphics. Small tweaks will help each piece of content offer value on its own.

Streamline Your Process

The key to doing more with less money is to work as efficiently as possible. Building a workflow process will keep you organized and help you make your process as efficient as possible.

Here is how to streamline your content workflow:

  1. Using Google Drive, create a shareable “Content Marketing” folder and give access to everyone who will be working on content.
  2. Create a doc titled “Workflow” and document each step and who is responsible for that step. Include links to additional documents, email addresses, etc. It should be comprehensive so that anyone could open it and understand exactly what needs to be done. Here is an example of a basic workflow I built for one of my clients. Notice the links to other resources. Content workflow
  3. Create additional documents as needed for related workflows (social media, email, promotion), templates, login information, and editorial guidelines.
  4. Work through your process over several months. Make sure to keep your workflows updated.
  5. After a few months, look for bottlenecks in your process. What steps could you eliminate or combine? Ask other team members for feedback about where they spent the most time.
  6. Work to eliminate those bottlenecks so you can produce high-quality content in less time.

Tools can be very effective at reducing inefficiencies, which is what we will cover in the next session.

Use Tools

When working with a small budget, the best use of your money is going to be for tools that allow you to work smarter and faster.

The right tools for you will depend on where your current resources are lacking. (For example, if you already have an amazing social media team, you won’t need to pay for social media tools.)

Here is a list of a few tools you should consider, based on your content marketing needs.

Content Marketing Tools for Teams With Tiny Budgets

  1. Social Media: Buffer and Hootsuite are the best-known social media scheduling tools on the market. Buffer has a free option, if you only have a few accounts, though it only allows for scheduling 10 posts per social account. Tools for content marketing
  2. Editing: Grammarly and Hemingway Editor: Nothing will replace a real, human editor, however, these two apps together will work as a stop-gap measure if you don’t have an editor. As an editor myself, I use them as a second set of eyes. Both have limited free versions or paid versions.
  3. Image Creation: My current favorite image creation tool is Snappa. It is super easy to use and offers tons of templates you can easily adjust. Snappa tool for content marketing
  4. Organization: There are dozens of tools you can use for organization, I highly recommend investing in one specifically made for content creation. WordPress has a few plugins you can use. GatherContent has tons of features that make it really useful for managing the content marketing process. If you work in Google Docs, Wordable makes it easy to connect your Google Doc to WordPress.
  5. Hiring: We will get into whether you should outsource certain parts of the process in the next section. However, I did want to offer a few tools you can use to look for freelancers. Copypress makes it easy to hire writers. Problogger and Mediabistro both have job boards that are popular with writers and designers.
  6. Analytics & Research: The cheapest way to track your content marketing efforts is to use Google Analytics. However, there is a decent learning curve if you aren’t already very familiar with it. BuzzSumo is a powerful tool that lets you see what type of content is performing well with your competition and allows you to create alerts, plan, curate content, and more.

Consider Partial Outsourcing

For $200 a month, you won’t be able to outsource the entire content process. However, you can outsource areas where your resources are limited.

Consider outsourcing the following areas of your content process:

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Design
  • Sound editing
  • Video editing
  • Layout (for ebooks, etc.)
  • Content project management

Outsourcing doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you have a solid writer, you might choose to outsource image creation to produce unique, useful graphics for your posts. If you have no social media presence, you might choose to outsource that portion of the process.

You Get What You Pay For

When you have a small budget, the goal of outsourcing is to get the most value for your needs. This means you don’t want to hire a writer who claims they can write an in-depth 2500 word blog post for $50. For that rate, you aren’t going to get a good product.

If you have a solid (but not great) writer in-house, then consider outsourcing editing to polish the piece. Or, if you don’t have anyone who can write well, consider focusing on video or infographics.

Content Marketing on a Small Budget

So, how do you build content marketing on just $200 a month? I suggest splitting your money between tools and partial outsourcing to cover gaps in your resources.

For example, if you have someone who can edit content, then consider investing in a strong social media tool. If you don’t have a strong writer, then consider investing most of your money in a strong editor.

Businesses with a large content marketing budget are going to have more success with content marketing. Spending $200 a month on content marketing should not be a long-term plan for most brands, but a short-term strategy that will allow you to create a process and show you can drive revenue.

Once you have a good idea of what works, you can choose to bump up your budget or stick with what is working.

About the author

Danielle Antosz

Danielle is a Chicago-based content marketer and writer who enjoys long walks through Ikea, defending the necessity of the Oxford comma, and drinking coffee with more cream and sugar than is strictly necessary.