If you're serious about growing your business, creating great content is just part of the game.
While you can rely exclusively on paid ads from places like Facebook in the short term, consistent organic traffic is the name of the game.
One of the questions we get asked all the time is how much does it cost to create content?
While many people only consider the cost of the actual writing of the article itself, it's important to take into consideration all of the time, energy, effort, and tools that go into the process from idea to hitting the publish button.
In reality, this is probably the ultimate “it depends” question because it relies on a variety of different factors.
When we take all of these things into consideration we find that the true cost to write a piece of blog content falls somewhere between 35 and $60 per post.
That being said, let's dive in and evaluate a few of those factors and see if we can come up with a reasonable target number.
For the sake of this article, we’re going to value time at $20 per hour.
This is more than you generally would need to pay if you're outsourcing portions of this work, but it's less than how most people value their time, making it a good middle ground, but feel free to make adjustments based on how you’d like to value your own time.
Let’s jump in, look at each phase of the content creation process and how much they each cost.
Since the first step in creating content is coming up with the idea, that seems like a logical place for us to start as well.
Cost Of Tools
Rather than just randomly guessing at topics, we typically rely on a tool called UberSuggest to help us with this process.
As of the time of writing this article, we are using the individual plan that they offer, which is either $29 a month or $290 for lifetime access.
Generally speaking, we suggest that you create a minimum of one piece of content per week (or four pieces of content per month).
This gives us a rough cost of $7.25 per article if we are on the monthly plan and following this basic guidance.
If we’re on the lifetime plan this price drops dramatically.
In this case, it would be fair to suggest that will change tools, need an upgrade, or potentially sell the website at around the hundred article mark.
In this case, our cost per article would drop to around $2.90.
This cost would drop even further if we take full advantage of the three websites that we’re allowed to use the tool on the individual plan, but let's use this number for the sake of this article.
Cost of Time:
In addition to the cost of tools, it's important to consider the cost of the time it takes to come up with and evaluate an idea.
While we suggest coming up with several ideas in evaluating what once to help save time, it's fair to say that we would spend between 10 and 15 minutes deciding on each idea.
Based on the $20 per hour value we decided to use at the beginning of this article, our cost of time for this part of the process comes to $3-$5 for each article.
While this number may seem high, it's important to keep in mind that once you understand the process of coming up with ideas, this is a task that can easily be outsourced for a much lower cost per hour.
Total Cost Of Post Ideation
Once we take into consideration the cost of the tools that were using as well as assigning a real value to our time, the ideation phase of blog content will cost anywhere between $5.90 per article to $12.25 per article.
Keep in mind that this entire range can be reduced dramatically by batching content, outsourcing portions of the ideation phase, and using the lifetime subscription to live or suggest.
Now that we have a better understanding of the cost associated with coming up with a good post idea, it's time to move into the post-research phase.
This is where we take the idea that we validated and start to build the post outline before we begin writing.
This is one of the most important steps in the content creation process and can improve the overall quality of the post and reduce the amount of time it takes to write the article.
Ironically, many people seek to skip this phase to save a few extra dollars or a few extra minutes of their time and jump directly into writing (don't be one of those people).
Cost of Tools
When we start to research a topic, we use a combination of UberSuggest and a search engine, like Google, to help us get a better idea of what our post-outline should look like.
Since using a search engine doesn't cost us anything and we already counted the cost of UberSuggest in the ideation phase, we won't have any additional cost for either of these tools during this phase of the content process.
If you'd like to learn more about exactly how we use these tools help speed up the content creation process, you'll want to check out the seven-day content creation challenge here.
Cost of Time:
As mentioned above time spent in the post-research phase can dramatically speed up the creation of the post itself, so feel free to spend a little extra time here.
Once you get into the groove of post research, this process can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes to start building a good outline.
That being said it's safe to estimate 15 to 20 minutes for this section, giving us a cost of between five dollars and seven dollars per article (using the $20 per hour value discussed above).
Again, it's important to keep in mind that if this is done in batches or if you choose to outsource this portion of content creation (which can be easily done following the seven-day content creation challenge), this cost can be dramatically reduced without having to sacrifice the quality of your content.
Total Cost Of Post Research
Since we don't need to account for the cost of using any tools for this section, our total cost for the post research and outlining portion comes to between $5-7 per article.
The third thing we need to take a look at when we’re considering the cost of creating a piece of blog content is the creation of the post itself.
This is often the only thing that people focus on but is only one small part of the bigger picture.
Cost of Tools:
When it comes to considering the cost of tools for post creation, we are going to consider the actual technology needed.
For example, if you're reading this article you already have a device (computer or mobile phone) that you can use to write or piece of content, so there's no need to consider this.
Instead, we will take into consideration the cost of using a writing service to create this content for you.
Most of these types of services will charge per word that they write. For each blog post that you create, we generally suggest that it falls somewhere between 1300 and 2000 words.
On average, the posts that we create for our niche sites come in around 1500 words so we will use that as our benchmark.
You've probably heard us talk in the past about iWriter, which is our go-to to create content for a variety of our different sites.
For a 1500 word post, we typically pay $35 (this can vary slightly based on the quality of the writer).
Taking a look at a few other services, their pricing structures are similar so it's safe to say that we can use this $35 estimate as our average if we choose to outsource the content.
Cost of Time:
Just like with the cost of tools, we have a little bit of an either-or scenario when it comes to the cost of time and how it takes to write a blog post.
If we choose to go the outsourced route, we don't need to spend any time writing this ourselves so we can forget this cost.
On the other hand, if we do choose to write it ourselves we need to take into consideration how long it will take to write a post of about 1500 words (so we can compare accurately to the cost of outsourcing).
Using the structure that we outline in the seven-day content creation challenge, we are typically able to write and edit a post of this length in just about an hour.
If we include another 15 or 20 minutes (to account for people who don't write quite as frequently as I do) we would be looking at a cost of between 20 and $27.
Total Cost Of Post Creation
As mentioned above, when it comes to writing blog content we need to consider either the cost of time or the cost of tools (outsourcing).
One other thing that we do need to consider is multimedia, such as images or videos.
The inclusion of these things inside the blog post can be extremely beneficial not only to organic rank but to the overall user experience.
While you can rely on something like a paid stock photography site, we prefer to use either photos that we have taken ourselves (your camera phone can do wonders) or free alternatives such as pexels.com.
Meaning this doesn’t add any additional cost to the creation process.
In this case, we’re looking at a price somewhere between $20 and $35 per article.
The last thing we need to consider when it comes to the true cost of creating blog content is the publishing process.
After all, we can do the best research and write the best piece of content in the world but if we never hit publish it doesn't do us much good.
Cost of Tools:
When it comes to finally hitting publish, we don't rely on any paid tools for this.
All of the sites that we build use WordPress (a free and open-source content management system), which allows us to publish our content for free.
One thing you may want to consider is the inclusion of a tool like Grammarly to ensure your content passes the test of even the toughest grammar “enthusiast”.
While they do have a paid version, their free version (which integrates directly with Google docs) is generally more than enough to get you 90 to 95% of the way there.
Cost of Time
As they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch and unfortunately, publishing blogs isn’t an exception to this rule.
Thankfully, by following the steps that we lay out inside of the seven-day content challenge and free tools like Google docs, we can make this process as efficient as possible.
From the time that we first copy the entire document to the time that we can finally publish on our brand-new blog post, the entire process will typically take between 10 and 15 minutes.
This process includes things like double-checking the formatting after copying and pasting the post, uploading any images or videos that go along with the post, and giving it one last SEO check before hitting the publish button.
Again, using the $20 per hour estimate we discussed above, this process would come out to between five and seven dollars per article.
Total Cost Of Post Publishing
Since we don't have to consider any tool costs to go along with the publishing process, the total cost of publishing a post will fall somewhere between $5-7 per post.
That’s A Wrap
When we total everything up, the true cost to publish a blog post falls somewhere between $35.90 and $61.25 per post.
While that may seem like an overwhelming some, there's something else that we need to consider and that is how much each post has the potential to earn.
The posts that we write for our niche sites are all designed to bring in a minimum of between 500 and 1,000 unique visits every single month.
If we take into consideration the earning potential of these articles the return on investment becomes very clear very quickly.
For any of the sites, we've chosen to monetize with ads we typically average well more than $10 per 1000 visits.
If we just use that $10 number as our baseline, we can see that even on the high-end of the content creation cost we are able to recoup our entire investment in between 6 and 12 months.
From there, we begin earning a substantial profit every month on every article.
Keep in mind that our actual earnings per 1000 visits are substantially higher than this and that there are other ways to monetize and help recoup the cost of the blog articles even faster, such as selling digital or physical products, which speed this process up even more.