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min read | Content Marketing

What You Should Expect to Pay for Content Marketing


The question of how much you should expect to pay for content marketing seems to be a mystery to most. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to get a sense of how much you should be budgeting for content marketing and what a fair price to pay even is, especially if you’re not quite clear on your marketing goals.

Not to worry. If you’re thinking about investing in content marketing resources and are scratching your head over how much you should expect to pay for these types of marketing services, you’re not alone! That’s why in this post, I’m going to untangle this largely untalked-about topic and color the lines in for you.

As a general rule of thumb, most firms should expect to pay anywhere from 4% to 10% of annual revenue on marketing. If it’s closer to 4%, you focus on your website and content marketing.

Here is a breakdown of content marketing resource options and pricing:

  • Option 1: Hiring an in-house content marketing specialist/strategist/manager ($50,000/yr to $150,000/yr)

Having a full-time employee can be a great option if you have the adequate resources to support this role and function. These individuals will be talented in crafting your content strategy, and overseeing the execution of the strategy and will likely have creative and/or analytical core competencies for some of the deliverables (but probably not all). Knowing that many financial and other professional service firms function on a shoestring marketing budget, this can be a wonderful resource that definitely pays for itself over time. Visit payscale.com or indeed.com to search for these professionals and salary ranges in your area.

With this option, you should also be prepared to allow this role the ability shop out the skills he doesn’t possess (and that don’t currently exist within your firm) so that he can effectively do his job. Anything from graphic designers, SEO experts, and web developers to copywriters and photographers may be on his wish list.

  • Option 2: Outsourcing to a content marketing agency (typically $2,000 to $20,000 a month))

A content marketing agency will likely be your all-in-one solution for your content marketing needs and will supply the strategy with all the resources necessary to execute and manage your content marketing program. Content marketing agencies supply and manage the full team of talent required to run your content marketing program. Not to mention, they will either fold in the needed technical systems with their retainer or make it easy for you to select the right ones.

Due to the long-game nature of content marketing, agencies will most likely charge an upfront strategy planning fee and then propose a minimum 6 month to 1 year retainer for ongoing planning and services. This agency relationship and service is structured this way to ensure your content marketing program’s success.

  • Option 3: Hiring creative freelancers ($50-$300/hr; $100-$5,000 per deliverable)

This is an ideal option if you are on a tighter budget and have a very specific project/function you need to be done. These are your writers, graphic designers, social media experts, marketing consultants, photographers, etc. Maybe you already have a marketing plan in place that you (or someone else) is managing and you notice a gap in skills or there is just a particular function you would prefer to outsource like copywriting for your blog, managing your social media or email campaigns and designing infographics. Just note that original content creation takes time and talent and so a word of caution: you really will get what you pay for (translation: cheap = cheap and higher price = higher quality)

Hiring creative freelancers can be a great way to get started and maintain a particular area of your content marketing efforts on an ongoing basis. I have hired freelancers my entire career for various projects as an in-house marketer when I was starting my own business and even now if a special need arises. When you have the right freelancer, you’ll never want to stop using them because they are talented, on time, dependable, and a pleasure to collaborate with.

Naturally, I think every professional service business should be investing in content marketing. It is, after all, the strategic marketing approach that is laser-focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain your clearly defined ideal audience – and, ultimately, drive profitable action. That being said, pricing for content marketing truly does fall into a wide range depending on your needs, the content marketing professional’s experience, and geographic location. I will say that when you do find the right content marketing talent, they are probably worth far more than what you’re paying! – And you will see the value.