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How much does blog content cost?

I know why you’re here. You are either,

  1. A writer who wants to know how much to charge a client
  2. Someone who works at a company that wants to see how much you should be paying for articles

Or

3. A content marketer who wants to know whether your current content costs are reasonable (FYI: they probably are, they just seem high compared to the cheap content agencies that charge $150 a blog). 

The conundrum

Like most things, cheaper means poorer quality. You get what you pay for. Brands have a finite budget and need to put their money towards the most effective channels, and this will impact activity decisions. Do we need to pay for photography? Can we cut PPC spend by lowering our CPA? Can we get content cheaper than we’re currently getting it?

What is poor quality written content?

  • Thin and full of platitudes; things everyone already knows 
  • No interesting points made and not backed up with relevant data (neatly hyperlinked)
  • Poorly written with unchanging sentence structure/rhythm, repetition of language and no creative use of metaphor
  • Lacking in character, voice
  • Littered with mistakes in spelling and grammar
  • Poorly formatted with no sub-headers, standfirst, bullet-point lists, calls to action
  • Visually uncreative – no embedded videos or suggested graphics
  • And, most importantly, content that hasn’t been defined by a data-led content strategy.

What is high quality written content?

    • Content informed by search insights, for example keywords and ability to rank
    • Well-written – clear and appropriate for the audience and without error
    • Usually long-form (but not always, it depends on how much content it takes to answer the query).
    • Good formatting (including paragraph headers, anchor text where appropriate, signposting and user experience (UX)
    • ‘Meaty’ – offer real value, real insights, real stats, specific/actionable guidance – not just the a bunch of platitudes that anyone could guess
    • People like pictures and video, and can help break up or supplement wordy content.

How do we measure the quality of content?

While some judgement is subjective and qualitative – a piece of content that just feels valuable – we can also quantify its value based on the brand’s marketing objectives. For example:

  • Does it drive traffic from Google? Does it rank for relevant commercial or informational keywords?
  • Did it get shared on social media?
  • Did it play a role in on-site conversions?

Here are some quick hypothetical case studies:

Content ActivityMeasurementValue
A piece of content costs £1,000It is posted on social media and boosted with £100.It reaches 11,000 people and receives 1,100 ‘likes’ and 10 shares. The cost per engagement is £10 and £1 per eyeball.
A piece of content costs £1,000.It is posted on your blog.It begins to rank for a few keywords and drives 50,000 page views over the year.Each engagement has cost you £0.02. It will continue to do this year after year (if maintained).
A piece of content costs £1,000.It is posted on your blog, social channels and newsletter.It drives 10,000 unique page views over the year and plays a role in 100 conversions.Each conversion is worth £100 to the company, so the content drove £10,000 of revenue. 

 

For example, if you’re reading this it’s probably because you searched for something like ‘how much does blog content cost?’ or ‘how much for website content’. How do I know? Because I used an SEO tool that we subscribe to. It helps me – as a writer/editor – to frame the article based on what people are looking for, so it reaches the intended audience.

How much does written content cost?

Written content can be acquired for as little as $5 on sites such as Fiverr.com and, I’ve read, as much as $25,000. Why the discrepancy? (One reason is of course the scale of the content, are you getting a 500-word blog or a 2000-respondent survey with downloadable PDF report?)

At a previous job, one colleague’s former employer used a ‘content agency’, paying £150 per article. A former journalist and current content marketer, they could see that the quality was low: bland, unformatted, uninspiring writing that was full of platitudes and common knowledge – the same as 100 other lazy blogs written by people who don’t know or care about the subject. And it showed in the site traffic which was low, despite the potential to reach large commercial audiences with content. The content she created took longer to make (and was therefore more expensive to the company) but it began to perform – driving traffic from search.

The simple answer to the question above is, it can cost as much or as little as you want to pay. But the useful answer is, that the price of the content will depend on what you want to achieve and what it will take to achieve it. For example, if you want to rank for ‘shgslkhslhsihsih’, it will be pretty easy. A one-line article should do it, so the cost should be negligible. But if you want to rank for ‘best snorkelling destinations’, you have to create something that Google thinks is better than this 1,600-word article on a high-domain-authority site with its 14 high-quality images. Ahrefs.com suggests that this article receives 3,700 monthly views and has earned 14 links. How much would you pay for that?

What does it take to create web content that works?

Content can be treated like sausages. You can just extrude cheap content made from reused and low-quality ingredients and get it done by just about anyone, or it can be treated like a suit. Measured up by and created by an expert who understands the desired effect and how to achieve it.

Quantifying the value of the creators’ skillsets is difficult, but the results will be impacted by them. For example, your editor and/or writers may be experienced journalists or copywriters who have experience in your field, and you’ll pay for that. Increasingly, SEO is playing a role in ALL on-site content (to ensure the content actually works). The time of an expert SEO costs money.

If you’re a brand who has baulked at a content bill or is considering paying a little more for your content, having been burned by £150-blogs that get no views, consider our own editorial process. A high-quality article takes around 13 hours to create, including client liaison, SEO, writing, client amends, proofreading and project management. At an average agency rate of £100 an hour, that’s £1,300 for one article.

Seems expensive, right? But most content marketers know that this is what it takes to create and deliver high-quality content that actually works. If the objective is to fill your website with articles, buy cheap articles. If your objective is to drive traffic from search or position your brand as thought leaders, your content may cost more. This is because a different amount of work and level of experience and insight may be needed.  

It may seem obvious that an agency who offer content marketing would seek to justify a ‘high’ cost of content, but the ROI is there in the data: exponentially higher traffic driven and links earned over the long-term. We are often approached by brands who are buying cheap content for £200 a blog and wondering why it doesn’t work. It is often with trepidation that companies agree to high-quality content, but soon see its power as the articles mature over months (earn links, get indexed, drive organic traffic).

Cheap content performance example from Google Analytics (short articles, no search insights, no original content (ie: interviews, new data etc.))

NB: The initial spike is traffic driven from a monthly newsletter 

High-quality content performance example from Google Analytics (well-written, long-form content informed by search insights)

While the absolute traffic is clear, the main takeaway is that the second example’s traffic is growing, delivering great lifetime value.

The key is understanding the goal

For us, we don’t just write articles because we’re asked to. We work to understand the role of the article for the audience. Who is the reader, what do they want from this piece of content and how are they looking for it?

The goal of an article should not be ‘to create 1,000 words about London’s bookshops’ but ‘to help book-buyers find the cheapest places for rare books’, or ‘teach literary history students more about the retail publishing’. 

Test and learn

Why not create three short article briefs and ask one cheap content provider and one normal content (marketing) agency to create the content. Publish them on your site and see how they perform. You may be wasting money by paying twice for the same content, but the results will help you save money for years and years as you’ll be paying for the content that works, not the content that’s cheap.

If you want to know more about how we make sure content drives results, just drop me an email or call the office.

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