Ann Smarty is a blogger and SEO consultant and professional blogger. Check out Ann’s personal project My Blog Guest – the forum meant to connect guest bloggers to blog owner for plenty of mutual benefits. Ann also provides guest blogging services.
There’s actually no denying the fact that the concept “Build it and they will come” works. But unless content is marketed, it’s a wasted effort. Whoever tells you otherwise may be either lying or clueless. We need to promote our content bringing it into the spotlight for it to get noticed and THEN spread naturally. (87% of content marketers plan to increase or maintain their paid content promotion budget 
In fact, it’s much wiser to spend more time, money and effort promoting content than creating it (in most cases). Make the most of marketing every piece of content before you move on to create a new one: This is both productive and time-saving (because content promotion can be at least partially scaled whereas content creation mostly cannot).
There is another simple reason that you need to work out a budget before you even begin the process of promoting: it is very easy to overspend. When you run a business of any kind, every penny really counts. You can get in over your head with a single transaction, crisis, or missed payment. Any money that goes into functions like marketing, however tight your spending capability, has to be planned.
Creating A Marketing Budget
Your content promotion budget is going to be different than your overall marketing budget. You should be breaking down each category of marketing into its own little subfolder, and keeping track of each as they make up the whole.
I like to break content promotion budget into a monthly and a yearly budgets. I use monthly budget to plan out more affordable content creation and promotion tactics whereas yearly budget is kept for something more expensive.
For example, my yearly budget may consist:
- 3 infographics a year (~$3000 for only creation)
- 1 interactive a year (between $1000 and $3000 depending on how excited I get when working on the specs)
Your monthly marketing budget could look like this:
Content budget: $1,000
- Content – $400 (Unless you create it in-house. Content creation budget may also include content editing)
- Ads – $350 (These could include Facebook promoted stories, StumbleUpon paid placement, Reddit Ads. I found these three the most efficient for content promotion)
- Content assets: $50 (These include photos you purchase)
That is probably a lot more simple than your own budget will be, but you get the idea. That remaining is important to maintain, even if it is a small amount. Marketing efforts are notorious for going over budget, and you will want some wiggle room. Especially if you are working with a team that can only offer you a general projection for monthly costs.
In addition to providing a safety net, that remainder will allow you to experiment every month with new non-regular promotional experiments. For example, you can try:
It’s hard to tell what will work for you and what won’t so monthly experiments are essential!
How to save…
Another important part of creating and maintaining a marketing budget is being able to find affordable ways (or even hacks) for promoting without dipping into your funds. Any way you can get some free press, or at least low cost press, is great. So is finding low cost tools that will save you some cash.
These are definitely the lower-cost methods of promoting your content, no matter how limited your budget is:
Invest In Combined Tools
All in one tools are fantastic for saving on dough. You might not realize how much you are spending, because it is a little bit here and there. One client of mine was spending an astonishing $300 a month of business funds on tools, many of which did the same thing.
During an audit of all costs, we discovered this fact and switch from fourteen tools, several of which weren’t even being used, to three. This cut the monthly cost down to $45 per month. Tools like Hootsuite that provide social management and analytics, for instance, is a great investment. Something like Motiv, which handles contracts, proposals, invoices and time tracking saves a ton. Buffer is great if all you need is scheduling (They do have some analytics feature as well!)
Scaling Your Promotions
Viral Content Buzz RSS is one the best ways to make sure your content gets promoted on auto-pilot
Email marketing budgets also fall under these “scaled” solutions with monthly micro-budgets to maintain tools like getresponse.com that has an awesome “Auto Response” feature.
Use Free Tools
There are a ton of analytics programs out there, and some at a very reasonable price. But Google Analytics is still one of the best, and it won’t cost a dime for most people. Expensive blog services exist, but WordPress is free minus the simple hosting site and one time cost of a good theme. If you can get something for free, do it. If you can find someone who is willing to provide a service as part of a trade, you can do that as well.
That incredible idea you had for increasing conversions to paid plans through utilizing paid reviews? It ain’t working. So what do you do now? The worst thing you can do when a plan, no matter how sure you were it would be successful, is failing is to continue to use it.
It takes an average of a month for an aggressive marketing strategy, especially content promotion, to start showing a pattern of improvement. If you aren’t getting a return, try something else. Your budget is limited and precious, and you need to put it to the best use possible.
Have any tips about creating a solid content promotion budget? Let us know in the comments!