It should come as no surprise that content creation continues to be a hot topic among marketing practitioners. For most organizations, a big focus area is to create blog content as a primary source of marketing content. A question I’ve always pondered is how much blog content is enough? This question appears to have an answer.
In a recent post from Michael Brenner with the Content Marketing Institute, he shared some compelling stats from several research studies that are summarized in the following statement:
Awesome! I have a good answer to my question, and the answer is based on real statistics and research. However, this newfound information creates a big problem for many content marketers. 11 is a significant number for a small business, and truthfully, it’s even a big number for many mid-sized businesses. More often, you’ll see companies blogging 2-4 times per month. The gap between 2 and 11 means that there’s a sizable hill to climb for organizations that want to achieve the kind of results the research calls out. However, the good news is that this hill isn’t as steep as one might think.
How to Create Blog Content at Scale
Creating blog content doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There are relatively simple ways to develop the scale required to pump out high-quality blog content on the cheap. We’ll cover several common strategies you can leverage below.
- Find a single freelance writer
Using freelancers is a common practice among marketing professionals. You can find them for any number of projects, including graphic design, SEO, and yes, of course, blog writing. Freelance blog writing can be an inexpensive way to achieve part of your blog volume goal. Aside from the cost, the benefit of using a single freelancer is that you can put some effort into building a relationship with them while getting the individual trained up on your industry and solution. You also will typically get a consistent tone and style since the same person is writing. The real con of using a freelancer is that they usually move on. They’ll find a full-time gig, find higher paying freelance work, or stop freelancing altogether. So, they are often a short term solution. Plus, in my experience, it can be challenging to find that freelancer you genuinely LOVE.
- Outsource blog creation to your digital or content agency
If you already have a digital or content marketing agency you work with, they will often help with writing blog posts, press releases, or anything else you need. The biggest pro to using your existing agency is that they can usually scale to meet your needs. Want 10 blogs, they’ll knock them out. The con to using your digital agency is that they won’t be cheap. I’ve seen digital agencies charge anywhere from 500 to 1500 dollars per blog – which adds up quickly. Plus, there is a funny little thing in the agency world called sub-contracting. Sub-contracting means that if they don’t have talent on the team to write your blogs, they’ll take your business and then find a freelancer to do it. Net, if you go this route, I’d suggest making sure that you’re getting full-time agency talent to do the writing. Otherwise, you might as well skip the middle man and go straight to the single freelancer option on your own. You’ll have more control.
- Insource to internal subject matter experts
One of my favorite ways to create blog content is to find an internal subject matter expert (SME) that gets excited about having a voice in the market. These people can be hard to come by. They often take the form of product management, product marketing, or sometimes even vertical / industry experts. Sometimes they are good writers, but more than often their work needs a little touch-up before it hits the public. That said, their topics are usually relevant and insightful – creating some of the best content you can hope for. The big con of using internal SMEs is that blogging isn’t their day job, so you’re at the mercy of their schedule. My best advice here is to get as many SME writers writing as possible. Just don’t count on having their articles completed on specific dates. Use them as you get them.
- Find an outsourced blog writing subscription service
Blog writing subscription services are a decent way to create blog posts in volume. The way this service works is that you pay monthly fees to get blogs written. The pro is that the service does produce regular content that’s optimized for blogs for a pretty inexpensive price. However, that is about where the pro’s end. If you have any technical or harder to understand topics, you really can’t count on this type of service. You’ll spend more time editing and giving direction to a myriad of authors than you will be publishing good content. I’d only look at this type of service if you have a super simple set of topics or services that are easy to understand. Writing about bubble gum, use them. Trying to explain a software solution in the B2B world, don’t even consider.
Of course, there is not a single thread for creating content. To keep up with the kind of volumes that make a tangible impact, most small to mid-sized businesses will need to employ more than one of the strategies above. The trick to making it work will be having a robust blog editorial calendar, and finding writers that deliver on time and with quality.
Coming up with ideas for your blog editorial calendar:
Speaking of creating a blog editorial calendar, a challenge just about all content marketers face is that dreadful moment of writer’s block. We all eventually feel like we’ve run out of things to write. That said, there are some great ways to get that creative engine humming.
Brittney Berger, a contributor to Mention.com, wrote a nice long list (47 ideas) of ways to come up with blog post ideas. Among them, she talks about speaking with your customer-facing employees like sales, support, and product. These teams have their finger on the pulse of what your target audience is thinking. I’ve personally had great success employing this strategy. Also, at Agency Loft, we believe strongly in giving new life to old marketing content with strategies that include repurposing, reusing, and repositioning existing content.
Taking all these brainstorming ideas into account, the best advice I’ve ever heard about creating ideas for blog posts came from a Jr. content freelancer that told me “Write for your audience, not for yourself.” Can’t argue with that.