I recently was discussing potential service add-ons with a prominent SEO/PPC agency that I know and respect on behalf of a multi-regional company I support with some marketing consulting work. They suggested quite a few increases in their time and scope of work, most of which surprisingly centered around including inbound marketing techniques into their plan. It wasn’t surprising that an agency would propose inbound marketing techniques as a strategy for their SEO campaigns because inbound marketing go hand-in-hand but it caught me off guard nonetheless.
The reason I was so taken aback was this particular agency has a fairly substantial hourly rate. Based in New York City, marketing agencies often command a higher rate than counterparts or service providers in other locations simply because their overhead costs are higher. But herein lies the problem—a lot of what they were proposing could be done by agencies or other professional sources that were simply not as expensive but could provide just as good quality work in most of the proposed projects. Which brings up the topic in question today—how much should content cost?
The Value of Good Content
The linchpin of any solid inbound marketing strategy is quality content. So it went without saying that this agency allocated a certain number of increased hours to increase content creation. However, at an hourly rate of $150, this can make for some very expensive content. How do I know it is expensive? Well, frankly, because I know I can get good quality inbound marketing content for way less than that. Using a simple 450-600 word blog post as a barometer, I know that I can get a good post for between $50 and $75 a piece. And when it comes to content, I personally prefer cost per piece rather than cost by unit of time.
Now, nothing is expensive or inexpensive unless compared to something else. You can compare rates by providers or you can compare value of good content vs. subpar content. You can compare within the greater context of the proposed service—i.e., if the content creation is one piece, what are the costs of related content amplification? But you need to compare something in order to determine cost and value.
For my purposes, spending anyone’s time creating blog posts or landing pages at $150 an hour is just not worth it. I can get that done for far less. Plus, and this is really a post for another time, I have yet to see an agency create compelling or remarkable content. There, I said it. It never has any personality and it always reads like content for content’s sake. To me, and to those I advise, this content is pretty much worthless. It always sounds good in the proposal but the results are always, without exception, totally lackluster.
Where To Get Good Content
That having been said, your options aren’t simply “write good content yourself” or “buy mundane content from others”. I prefer a hybrid of writing my own content for companies I work with and buying some content whose topics and research I direct. One of my favorite platforms is TextBroker. I provide a lot of details and parameters to every piece of content I request and I get fairly good quality as a result. I always edit and make it more personal before using it—but it creates a solid foundation for when I simply don’t have the time to write something complete. Again, in understanding the time value of money, sometimes it just isn’t cost efficient to spend my own time doing the majority of the research and writing when I can outsource the content production.
So where does this leave you? If you really have absolutely no grasp on how to design or develop content ideas, partner with a blogger who can handle your content needs full-time. This is different than an agency because a blogger can find your voice and persona. They are also really adept at writing for readers and search engines, which means you don’t have to worry too much about adapting the quality to fit best practices.
If you “kind of get content” consider tasking yourself with occasional content writing responsibilities. You likely know better than anyone what the really juicy topics are in your industry and among your clients. You can work with online content platforms to help the flow of content when you cannot write but you will still have “your voice” on many of the posts.