How to make content marketing work if you have a small budget

Content marketing can be effective when done correctly. It can increase your traffic to your company’s website, drive engagement, and quality leads.

But here’s the most off-putting thing: 

The bad news…

Content marketing can be costly. Yes, depending on your marketing budget, business size, and goals, you can expect to spend anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 per month on your content strategy, creation, and promotion.

As you can see, if you’re aiming to rank better in search engines, create brand awareness, and increase return on investment (ROI), then you need to have a huge content marketing budget.

And another thing, you have to create high-quality content consistently to get great results. But there are ways to do content marketing effectively and on a shoestring budget.

The good news…

This article will offer tips on how you can make content marketing work without breaking the bank. The content marketing tips you’ll read here aren’t cheap but they are much more affordable for small businesses with a tight budget.

How to make content marketing work on a shoestring budget

So without much ado, let’s get rolling…

1. Conduct an inexpensive content audit

Assuming you have a blog that has several blog posts and has been live for some time, you may want to start by auditing the existing content. This involves checking the usefulness and relevance of your existing blog posts.

To do this most affordably, you can create a simple spreadsheet with columns where you list all your blog post pages, URLs, then specify the actions to take, like Edit, Remove, Keep, and Merge.

This means that if you find a website that needs to be updated, you tick the column with Update, and if it’s supposed to be removed you check the column with Remove.

Make your spreadsheet as simple as possible. A good rule of thumb is to make a Google sheet so you can track everything online.

If you have a huge blog or website with a lot of content, you can use Screaming Frog. It’s a free tool you can download online. Once you download it on your computer, it works as a desktop web crawler. It will crawl your domain and provide a list of all the URLs so you can audit your content effectively.

2. Generate content ideas smartly

Brainstorming content ideas isn’t a walk in the park. It can consume a lot of your time and money if not done carefully.

Don’t worry. You can generate unique and interesting content ideas without making a dent on your wallet while staying productive.

Here are a few practical ways to generate viral content ideas to write about.

Take a look at what people are saying on social media

Social media is a free tool yet effective when it comes to discovering viral content ideas. To discover buzzworthy topics, head over to Twitter and take a look at what people are talking about in your industry. If you have a Facebook page for your business, monitor what topics your followers are discussing.

Social media listening could help you discover topics that your target audience wants to read about or understand their pain points so you can create blog posts around those topics.

Check trending topics on Google Trends

You stand a high chance of driving more traffic to your online business if you create content on trending or topics that no one else has talked about yet.

Google Trends is a free tool that lets you enter your keywords so you can see what’s trending and what’s not. The tool can also show you how many times your keywords have been searched so you can understand their popularity before you add them to your content.

Use Ubersuggest to know what your target audience wants

To be successful with your online business, you need to give your target customers what they want to consume and not what you want them to consume.

To achieve this, you need to find out what they are searching for on the internet. You can use Ubersuggest to discover a ton of keywords people are entering on Google when looking for information online. This tool is also free and easy to use.

Spy on your competitors

These days, most authoritative blogs and websites are publishing content around trending and hot topics. You can take a look at the content published on other sites in your industry then make your content more useful, unique, and interesting. It’s simple.

You just need to take a look at the content gaps. For instance, you may notice some blogs that don’t use video or infographics on their blog posts. You can then create awesome blog posts around similar topics and add videos and infographics to make your content interesting.

3. Think content quality not quantity 

A mistake most marketers and bloggers make is to think that publishing 5 blog posts per week is what they need to achieve great results. Well, it’s not bad to churn out that number of blog posts per week but sometimes content quality suffers. Successful bloggers who publish around 4 blog posts per week use a lot of money and powerful tools to make sure each post is valuable.

If you’re on a tight budget, don’t get tempted to do what successful marketers do. Remember that successful content marketing is founded on quality content not how many blog posts you publish.

For that reason, you should make each blog post valuable. And that’s why it’s better to publish one awesome piece of content per week than publishing 4 poor quality blog posts.

But if you can post a ton, high-quality blog posts, then go for it.

A good example of a successful marketer is Brian Dean of the famous Backlinko. If you take a look at his content schedule, you will notice that he doesn’t publish many blog posts regularly.

The chap shares at least two or three killer blog posts per month. And that’s how he has been able to build a six-figure business. He makes sure each blog post is valuable.

4. Take advantage of free content from great creators

You can hire freelance content marketing writers for your content writing needs but this could make a dent in your wallet in the long run. The good news is that you can still get free content from awesome creators.

If you have a blog, you can make people know that you accept guest posts on your site. Guest blog posting is a win-win endeavor. You get free content and the person creating the content gets links pointing to their site. It’s worth noting that accepting guest posts on your site could hurt your content marketing efforts.

If you don’t take the time to scrutinize each post published on your site, you may end up struggling with Google penalties because some people are doing it solely for backlinks.

So you want to vet each pitch carefully before accepting bloggers and content creators publish posts on your site. You can make people know that you accept guest posts by creating a guest post page on your blog with rules and guidelines to be followed.

You can also contact bloggers and content creators and ask them to publish guest posts on your site. When creating a guest post page, make sure you highlight the following key elements:

  • Tell potential guest bloggers what they get in return for publishing guest posts on your site.
  • The type of content you want, topics, and other important guidelines. In case someone sends you a pitch that doesn’t meet your guidelines, don’t even bother to reply to their email.
  • Indicate how guest bloggers should contact you. What information do you want to be included in a pitch?

5. Capitalize on the most inexpensive types of content

Depending on the content your target readers want to consume, you have more than 4 types of content you can publish on your blog. You can even mix different types of content to sweeten your blog posts. However, different types of content produce results differently. Besides, the cost differs.

To find inexpensive types of content, follow the steps below.

Find out the cost of each type of content 

Usually, you can publish the following types of content on your site.

  • eBooks
  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts
  • Videos 
  • Slideshows

The first thing you want to do is to find out how much each type of content costs. Of course, video content is more costly than blog posts.

Take your content evaluation a step further:

  • Get the price of each type of content from specialist content creators. Freelance writers charge anywhere from $100 to $200 per blog post.
  • Find out how long it would take you to create the content yourself.
  • Find out the cost of each type of content from other online sources.

Typically, you will find that hiring a freelance writer is a bit more affordable than working with an agency. Besides, you can get videos created at around $5,000 per complete video.

Now think about the most cost-effective way you can use to create each type of content mentioned above. Should you hire a freelance writer to write blog posts for you or do it yourself? Should you hire someone to create videos or infographics for you or do it yourself?

Sometimes going the do-it-yourself (DIY) way can help to save a lot of money but you might not get the quality right.

Find out the performance of your competitors’ content

Assuming you understand the content creation process, you may want to research the performance of the content your competitors publish in their blogs. You could create a spreadsheet to record the following key metrics:

  • Email subscribers
  • Social shares
  • Backlinks
  • Traffic 
  • Comments
  • Views 
  • Likes

Remember that these metrics should apply to the types of content mentioned earlier on this blog post. Once you have all the data, find out how much each type of content will cost you, and choose the most cost-efficient ones then focus on these for your content marketing strategy.

6. Repurpose exisiting content

Creating content from scratch can be expensive. But there is a way to make content marketing work if you have a small budget. You just need to be creative.

Instead of creating new content, you can convert your existing content into a different form. In simple terms, if you have videos on your YouTube channel, you can convert them into blog posts or infographics.

The good thing about repurposing your existing content is that you don’t need to research anything as everything is there. Repurposing content could help you attract a different audience.

Most bloggers turn blog posts into infographics when it comes to content repurposing.

A good example is Brain Dean. He created an in-depth on-page search engine optimization (SEO) guide and then embedded an infographic of the same content within the same post. You can also create infographics out of blog posts and publish them on their own pages.

Other successful bloggers such as Neil Patel and many others turn their published blog posts into podcast episodes. Technically, some of the easiest types of content to repurpose are blog posts into podcasts, infographics or eBooks, video into blog posts, etc.

7. Update your existing content

Giving your existing content new life is much more affordable than writing from scratch. Part of the reasons why many content creators struggle to update their content is the fear of becoming irrelevant and outdated. And this is especially true for bloggers in evolving niches.

Think about it. Blog posts written about tax laws in 2015 aren’t as valuable in 2020. The same applies to SEO. Blog posts written around SEO in the past 6 years are almost irrelevant now.

You can update these blog posts and still make them valuable now. It’s cheaper than creating new content.

How to make content marketing work on a small budget

As you can see, you can get the most out of your content marketing efforts even if you have a small budget if you follow the tips outlined in this blog post. Once you make good money out of the strategies shared here, you can then create sophisticated content marketing strategies that require a lot of money.

The good thing is that you don’t have to use all of the tips outlined above. Pick at least 2 that work well for you and focus on them ruthlessly, then see the results you get before you add another strategy to your bucket list.

This guest blog article was written by Charlie Svensson, who is a professional content marketer. He creates content around the topics of SEO, blogging, social media, education, and marketing. Charlie also offers custom essay writing service to students around the world.