Dealing with a tight budget is one of the biggest challenges to an entrepreneur or new startup, particularly a small business owner with limited resources, limited capital, and an unsteady flow of revenue to boot. To an unacquainted small business owner, faced with countless financial challenges, the prospect of a “content marketing campaign” may seem frivolous. Why spend so much essential money on hiring a writer or specialist when there are more important needs to take care of?
It’s true that content marketing isn’t your top priority—securing the stability of the business must always come first. But investing in a content marketing program is a way of investing in yourself, and if you don’t make that commitment, you may suffer the consequences in the form of lost business and reduced brand visibility.
Fortunately, in addition to being nearly essential for any modern business, content marketing is financially flexible. If you have money to spend, you can go all-out with a spectacular campaign, but even when you’re working with a shoestring budget, it’s possible to gain the benefits of a campaign.
In the world of content marketing, there are two priorities you need to accomplish: quality and quantity. Quality is most important, as large volumes of thin or redundant content won’t do anything for you. But if you can produce large volumes of great, unique, valuable, well-researched content, you’ll be in a good position to drive thousands of visitors to your site.
There’s one big problem with achieving this. Finding the talent (or the time) necessary to produce good content carries a major cost—you could pay hundreds of dollars a post or spend countless hours pursuing that production. On a high-quantity scale, those costs skyrocket.
Still, there are strategies you can use to produce great content even on the smallest budget:
Instead of trying to learn new topics or perform bold new research right away, save some time by writing about what you already know. Chances are, you know your industry very well and you have some interesting opinions and ideas that other people would like to read. Produce content that communicates those opinions and ideas to your followers; it shouldn’t take much time or extra effort. Of course, as you develop your content strategy, you will want to push into new territory—this is only a temporary measure to get you started with a limited budget.
Instead of writing all the content yourself (or paying for someone to do it), work out mutually beneficial relationships with other writers and authorities in your space. Your blog represents valuable real estate that many online writers would love to use as a platform for their own content—let them! They’ll get the power of brand exposure and quality backlinks, and you’ll get free content that will attract people to your site. The only caveat here is that you’ll need to find writers and sources capable of producing great content aligned with your brand’s core mission and target audience.
In a modern content marketing strategy, written content is rarely enough. Audiences are demanding images, infographics, videos, and even audio pieces in addition to written material. Working with a videographer or graphic designer can be expensive, so try producing multimedia content with the resources you can easily obtain. Your phone has a camera, so start using it—take photos of your office, your equipment, or step-by-step photos to accompany a how-to article. Take video of yourself speaking, or as a demonstration of something relevant to your company. Sometimes the simplest productions work the best.
A content marketing expert with 10 years of experience will almost undoubtedly be able to provide you with tons of great content, but there’s going to be a hefty price tag. On the other hand, interns and recent college grads will be able to work for a much lower cost, but the quality of work will need a little supervision. Still, with proper direction and a little extra patience, even completely inexperienced youngsters can turn into great content marketers in their own right—and in addition to whatever you’re paying them, they’ll get valuable work experience and their name on any work they produce. It’s a pretty good deal all around.
First, a warning—Google hates to see duplicate content. Reusing an old post, in any deliberate or exact way, will probably earn you a penalty. Still, there are ways to recycle or repurpose older content, so long as you do so in new forms. For example, if you write a long research post covering a certain topic in exhaustive detail, you can break that up into smaller, more digestible chunks to serve as quick-reference blog posts. Alternatively, you can chain together some of your most popular blog posts into a larger, anthology-like compendium to offer as a downloadable whitepaper. Leverage the information you already have in as many forms as you can manage.
When it comes to recycling posts, a blog writing service or white label SEO agency (like us) can help to produce unique, high-quality content that is in-line with long-standing evergreen posts you already have on your website.
In the early stages of your content campaign, producing large volumes of great content is going to be an issue. However, if you have even just a handful of great pieces, you can focus your efforts on distribution to increase the reach and value of those selected works. For example, you can work on syndicating them on a greater range of different social media networks, or you can shop them around to the highest authority outside sources you can find (as guest posts). This will still take some time, but it can help you make the most of your limited initial runs.
If you have a great product and a bit of a reputation on social media, it shouldn’t be too hard to get your customers to produce some content for you. Offer a competition for your followers in exchange for their user-created material; for example, you could give away a valuable free product to the user who creates the best video showcasing your brand in some way. The video content they create can be leveraged as a part of your strategy, and you’ll get some great attention in the meantime. You could also host a forum or similar collaborative content area on your site, provided you have enough initial traffic to keep it going. In this case, you’ll have to get the ball rolling with some of your own material (and supervision during the first few weeks and months).
With a content marketing campaign, you won’t be spending much money on tangible items. You might need to purchase an image, and you might want to pay for some extra advertising, but for the most part all you’ll be paying for is the work that needs done—namely, writing and pushing your content. Because the typical and most conventionally successful options for this are hiring an agency or bringing on someone full-time, many entrepreneurs immediately write off the opportunity as being too expensive.
However, content marketing is flexible—it can be as big or small as you want, with only the mediums and channels you choose. Obviously, the more you do for your campaign, the better it will do, but if you’re just getting started with a minimum budget, all you really need is a minimum viable product—the least amount of work that will give you preliminary results. For most small businesses, this minimum viable product won’t cost much money, but it will be enough to turn a reasonable ROI.
As you become more experienced and familiar with content marketing, and as you have access to more revenue, you’ll be able to gradually scale up your efforts, adding in new mediums or new resources to help you handle the work.
Put these strategies into practice for your own content campaign, and you’ll find that you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars to run an efficient and effective campaign. Obviously, if you have the money to invest and you invest it wisely, the additional capital can help support your overall efforts. But if you’re just getting started or you’re a small business with capital woes, those financial hurdles shouldn’t stop you from starting to build a great content empire.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here.
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