For businesses that advertise online, content marketing is one of the most powerful tools available.
However, you may not have the budget to fully outsource your content marketing plan. It can quickly become expensive if you try paying writers, SEO experts, social media managers and others to help you build out a successful content marketing strategy.
Fortunately, content marketing is more than possible on a limited budget.
These are four different ways you can use content marketing, even if you don’t have a major marketing budget backing you up:
1. Start With a Blog
While content marketing can be expensive, the approach has a very low barrier to entry. In most cases, you can start a blog for your brand without paying a cent by using free platforms like WordPress.
Ideally, you should post at least once a week. You can do the writing yourself or delegate the work to your team members as needed. When you have money to spare, you can commission freelance writers as needed to produce extra articles or lighten your workload.
If you have unique skills — like a background in graphic design or data science and visualization — your blog will be a great place to show them off. You can use simple graphics or a chart to make content much more engaging. These graphics will provide valuable assets for posts on platforms that prioritize visual content, like Facebook and Twitter.
To a point, a higher frequency of posts tends to generate better results regarding traffic and brand awareness. For example, marketing software developer Hubspot recommends that brands wanting to grow organic traffic should post three to four times a week, or even daily. However, this level of posting may not be practical for you or your team.
Consistency can help build your brand identity and encourage regular readers. While posting more may help, it can be better to follow a posting schedule you can keep up with instead.
To generate content ideas, you can use tools like Google Adwords Keyword Planner, which helps you identify which keywords on a given topic will generate the most traffic.
Additional tools like Google Trends can also help you by showing you which phrases or keywords people are searching for.
You can also look at what the competition is doing. Competitor blogs may help you identify which keywords people in your industry are targeting — and what may be worth writing an article on.
2. Optimize Your Site
Once you’ve got the basics of your blog down, you can expand your content marketing strategy as your budget allows. If you have money to spare, you can commission articles from freelance writers or pay guest writers.
You may also want to hire a web designer who can help you ensure your blog is as easy to navigate as possible. If you work with a user experience (UX) consultant to improve the overall user experience your business offers, they may also have advice on how to streamline your site and blog design.
If you find your blog-based strategy is working well, you can also hire a freelancer to take over the entire content creation process — though you may need to stay involved in post planning and article idea development.
3. Get on Social Media
Social media is a critical marketing channel for any online business, but it is especially important for brands relying on content marketing.
Creating content isn’t enough to build a successful content marketing strategy. You’ll also need to promote your content as you publish it — and, on occasion, highlight the content you’ve published in the past.
If you already have your blog established, you can simply link to each new post once it’s online.
If you don’t have team members to spare or money to hire a social media manager, starting small will be key. You may want to focus on just one or two of the major social media platforms to avoid spreading yourself too thin.
4. Take Advantage of Email
Email marketing is another valuable channel you can use to promote your content.
For example, you could offer a newsletter on your company site. In this newsletter, you can send every-other-weekly or monthly updates about your blog’s content to your subscribers. These updates could be excerpts from your latest articles or articles in your archive that will encourage readers to click through.
Readers who missed your articles when they were first published or when you highlighted them on social media will get another chance to read. These reminders will help grow the number of semi-regular readers and potentially bring people back to your website after they’ve fallen out of your business’s marketing funnel.
5. Get Published
To further expand the reach of your content marketing strategy, you can get your articles published outside your blog.
Industry publications and local magazines are often looking for writing to publish. They may be happy to take on a relevant article from an industry professional who has expertise to share.
Getting your article published in one of these magazines or journals is a great way to make your brand seem more trustworthy while also putting your writing in front of a larger audience. Over time, this can help build brand awareness and grow traffic.
Building the Foundation of a Content Marketing Plan
Content marketing can be expensive — but it can also work just as well on a budget. Building a blog, maintaining a newsletter and staying active on social media are some of the best low-to-no-cost ways to build a content marketing plan.
If you find you have extra money to spend, you can also easily upscale your approach by hiring writers, social media managers, web designers or other professionals.