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how much does original blog content cost?

March 28, 2021 - Practitioner Marketing - , , ,
By: Chris Riley

Fixate created this awesome infographic that represents an ROI calculation for in-house content versus influencer-generated content from an agency such as ourselves. Note the magnitude of difference in cost. Many think that creating content in-house results in a greater ROI. In actuality, investing in influencer-generated content yields a greater return. Why? When you look at the cost of original blog content from a different angle and with more-detailed numbers, the reason becomes clear.

Since our inception in 2014, one major thing we learned is that when computing your cost and ROI for original blog content, you cannot talk about cost per post. When organizations create content in-house, a large percentage (by our estimate, over 70%) never gets published at all. Both tactical and political reasons explain this low publishing rate.

Tactically, most marketing teams experience pressure to complete many marketing activities and don’t specialize in creating original blog content. Even with a backlog, the effort to get content out the door (or focus on it) is difficult. As a result, they do not have the mechanism to ensure a regular monthly content volume that an agency provides.

Politically, when a marketing team engages with their internal engineering team, they are concerned about rocking the boat by NOT accepting a blog post by a team member. So, they get the content, say it’s good, and move on without publishing it. But, the value of their blog site suffers.

Therefore, you must calculate the cost of your original blog content as cost per published post. You won’t gain any value from the post if it isn’t published. And if you aren’t getting any value from it, then there is no chance of a return. We’ve compiled the numbers, hard and soft, of what to expect for the cost per published post, in-house vs. freelance vs. practitioner content agency.

Calculation Cost and ROI

Of course, any good ROI calculation needs a basis. Here are the assumptions based on 527 blog posts created in 2019:

  1. Quality matters. You are not just investing in original blog content for the sake of content. If that is what you want, use a blog mill.
  2. The average practitioner post takes: 
    • 3 hours to create, 
    • 0.5 hours to peer review,
    • 2.5 hours to copy edit, and 
    • 2 hours to review for SEO.
  3. Qualified practitioners average an annual salary of $110,000 + benefits and internal cost.
comparison of hard and soft costs for in-house, freelance, and content agency blog posts

Agencies publish influencer-generated content at an 80% rate for two reasons. First, if a post does not hit the mark (it happens), the content agency will replace it. Second, if a vendor rejects a post after it’s completed, it can usually be repurposed. In Fixate’s case, we have the ability to publish it on Sweetcode.io.

Don’t forget about opportunity costs — those things that harm or benefit your creation of original blog content that you don’t even know about.

Comparison of opportunity costs for in-house, freelance, and content agency blog post creation

Notice how creating blog posts in-house causes distractions from overall marketing strategy and results in a low blog consistency. Conversely, influencer-generated content from an agency presents the most opportunity gains including high consistency, credibility, and technical depth. 

So, when you work with a content agency, you invest in a process, not just content. When you produce original blog content in-house or with a freelance writer, you invest in individual pieces of content with mixed success in terms of completion and quality. The simple math with a content agency or freelance writer seems to equal an expensive cost per post. However, this calculation is inaccurate and misleading. Your hard and soft costs are actually much higher than the cost of an individual post. Need practitioner-created, ROI-boosting content for your website? Contact us.


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Chris Riley (@HoardingInfo) is a technologist who has spent 12 years helping organizations transition from traditional development practices to a modern set of culture, processes and tooling. In addition to being a research analyst, he is an O’Reilly author, regular speaker, and subject matter expert in the areas of DevOps strategy and culture. Chris believes the biggest challenges faced in the tech market are not tools, but rather people and planning.

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