Your business blog plays a pivotal role in content marketing. Writing highly researched blog pieces can be expensive. Industry experts can charge $150 at the very least for a simple 500 word article – many times, it can cost a lot more than this. Given the budget constraints, it is not reasonable to keep cranking out new blog posts every single day. But another school of thought views content marketing as a numbers’ game – the more words you publish, the higher is the chance of your blogs to be visible on Google search. This brings in more visitors and ultimately leads for your business.
Where do your readers come from?
The question ‘how frequently you should blog’ is pretty open-ended. The answer to this depends on where your readers come from. If most of your readers are subscribed to your blog and read your articles as and when they are posted, it is important to make sure that they are not “spammed” with new content too often. So no matter how valuable your content is, you may want to hear from your readers about what they think is the ideal frequency. In some industries, 3 articles per week is considered ideal. In others, even one article a day may seem inadequate. Frankly, the answer depends on your audience profile and what they expect from your blog. You could start by asking your subscribers. Alternately, you could experiment with various frequencies and measuring its impact on new subscriptions and percentage of readers who unsubscribe.
But in most cases, direct subscribers form a small subset of your overall readers. A majority of visitors to your blog content may come from third party referrals and search engines. These are readers who either ‘discover’ your blog post when it is shared on social media, or seek out your content when they are actively looking for related information on search engines. Such visitors may start coming to your site several weeks after your articles got published. Consequently, it doesn’t matter how frequently you post. What matters is how much value you add through your content – this influences the shares and links your content gets, which ultimately brings new visitors to your site.
Determining a blogging frequency
For the sake of this article, we will assume that your target is readers coming off from search engines and third party referrals. These readers do not care about your blogging frequency and assuming that your content quality stays high, there is technically no limit on the number of new blog posts you can publish. Your budget in this case is solely determined by your marketing budget.
Step 1: Allocate a per-article budget
The first step in this process is to know how much money you can afford to spend on each of your articles. An effective content marketing strategy does not stop with publishing a high quality blog post. Your returns from content marketing are the highest when you can spend money marketing your content. Let us assume that you sell marketing software that charges customers $50 per month. That’s $600 per year per customer.
Assuming a visitor-to-lead conversion of 10% and a further 1% conversion of subscribers into customers, you will need 1000 visitors to make $600 in annual revenue. To put this another way, you should be looking at a minimum of 2000 visitors a month to cross the $15,000 revenue mark from this blog post. At 50% margin, you could be spending up to $7000 to turn a profit on this investment.
Step 2: Determine your content strategy
A thoroughly researched content piece, inclusive of demo videos, infographics can cost anywhere between $200 to $2000. A bootstrapped business may look at minimizing costs by restricting content to text which can be cheaper and can cost under $300. At this price, you may publish more than 20 articles on your blog post. But that leaves little to no budget for marketing your posts. A good idea is to restrict your blog posts to under 20% of your budget. In this case, with a total budget of $7000, you are looking at around $1400 on blog content; or between 4 to 5 articles.
Step 3: Establish a marketing strategy
This leaves around $5500 for marketing your five articles. That would be around $1100 for each of your articles. This is a lot of money that can bring considerable success, depending on your industry and how competitive it is. There are several ways to spend this budget. One popular way to do this is to make use of Facebook advertising to make your post viral. As a matter of fact, some content marketers have been able to find success spending just $5 to $10 for each post they publish. However, it is worth noting that Facebook is a “discovery” platform and while you may meet your traffic targets with this budget, you may not necessarily reach qualified prospects who will convert into leads.
Another popular way to spend this money is on SEO, especially link building. It can cost a lot of money to build links from high authority websites. Hiring a PR or an outreach manager for a fee can help. It is also a good idea to hire someone who charges based on success. This helps you keep costs predictable and within your budget.
There are other strategies like viral marketing, PPC advertising and so on. These are not usually recommended since success with these strategies are either not definite, or costs can escalate real quick.
Step 4: Determine the marketing effort required
Let us assume you have chosen SEO/link building as your preferred marketing channel. The next step is to know how much marketing is required from your side. A good way to determine this is to make use of tools like Moz Site Explorer. Identify the top ranking URLs on Google for your target keywords and use Moz OSE to identify the number of root domains and URLs pointing to this top ranking URLs. This gives you an idea of the number of links you will need to build in order to effectively compete for the top spot.
Let’s assume that the top three URLs have an average of ten root domains pointing at them. Then, assuming that the average cost of building a link is $300, you may be required to spend around $3000 just for link building.
Step 5: Finalizing your blog frequency
By now, you know the cost of publishing a blog post (around $300 in our example above) and the associated marketing costs ($3000 in our example). With $7000 available for marketing purposes, you may be able to afford two articles.
Content marketing is meaningless with just content and no marketing to turn your content into a lead generating machine. But given the high marketing costs involved, a small business may not be in a position to afford a recurring content building strategy. But this can be counter-productive since you need a recurring stream of new content on a variety of industry-related topics to be viewed as high authority by Google.
The solution to this challenge is opening up your site for third party guest contributions. Guest blogging is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you make it possible for new content to be added to your site on a recurring basis with little outgoing marketing costs. At the same time, you make your site vulnerable to abuse from low quality guest posts that add little value and can be spammy in nature.
The solution is to establish a highly moderated guest contribution system that controls every aspect of the content ideation and drafting process. Let’s be honest – guest contributors seek link backs to their own websites and that is the sole reason for them to write for your website. Make this available to them (assuming their websites are of high authority themselves). In return, you may demand a highly researched and authority piece on topics you deem fit for your website. High authority websites attract a large volume of guest contributors which makes it easy for marketers to pick and choose contributors who add value to your site and readers.
To answer the question in short, a business that depends on referral and search engine traffic for readers should have absolutely no limit on the number of blog posts they publish. However, more articles do not automatically mean more traffic. You should carefully determine the number of high authority articles you can publish depending on the costs required to draft such content and market these published pieces. If the number of such pieces fall short of your target, it is a good idea to open your site to external contributions that are carefully moderated to ensure that only the highest quality pieces get through your editorial and are published on your website.