The 3 things you need to know about your content budget

From AI to SEO, an honest breakdown and all about peanuts and monkeys

Look, I'll be honest, great content is f*cking expensive; it starts around € 30-50K for the first year and, for the second year, from € 15 - 20K. Getting it out there will cost you even more. Sure, you can get it cheap(er). Yet, content that moves any needle requires serious investments in strategy, production, and paid media.

‘If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys’ also goes for content. And having AI creating your content is not the solution.


Why and how your investment matters

Going back to the golden content rules: add value, be you, and sexy easy on the eye. Create content that lives up to these rules shows that you care, that you care about your brand, your business, and your customers

Cutting corners and wanting it cheap hurts your brand and your content. If you don’t have the time or the resources, it shows. The quality suffers, and your audience and Google and AI will notice. Nobody is waiting for more mediocre AI-echoing content.

Below, you’ll read all about

  1. The ballpark numbers for content production and the pre-requisites
  2. The split between the production and distribution budget
  3. Why AI is not the answer to your production issues


I would love to add the split between brand-building and activation budgets, yet that’s a topic on its own. That being said, in a nutshell, about 60% should be brand-building to sell your brand and products that fulfill your customers' needs, followed by 40% activation content to close the deal.


1. Content costs breakdown

Content is expensive. Content that claims leadership has a long lifetime and ranks well in SEO even more. These are the ballpark numbers for production costs for a continuous content presence over a few years – you need these years as content takes time before you have ROI.  There's no such thing as a one-off in content. That usually is called a campaign and, if done right, can have a temporary boost in reach or even sales. If you want to move the needle, you need that time. 

Please note that the team and technology or the paid media budgets are not included. Make sure you have the budgets allocated above for year one, two, and three. As said, it takes time, and stopping after one year because you don’t see results is stupid. If that’s you, I recommend not to start at all.


First year, € 30k to € 50k

  • Content strategy: € 7,5 to € 10k
  • Three or four hero content items: € 2,5 to €3k each, € 10k
  • Help content, about € 1,5k to € 2k each, you need around 10 items, € 20k
  • Video: are you sure it’s worth it? It starts around € 5k per video
  • Miscellaneous costs ~10%: € 5k


Second year and after, € 15k to € 20k

  • Two hero items: € 5k
  • Six additional help content items: € 12k
  • Miscellaneous costs ~10%: 3k




2. Balance production and distribution costs: 40-60

Cutting the crap, you always should spend more budget on the distribution as on the production. Having super sexy, hot qualitative content that doesn’t get seen is an absolute waste of money. And still, most brands ‘forget’ about the distribution budget or rely on organic.

The ballpark split is minimal, 40% - 60%. 

  • For social, an 20% - 80% split is even better, as you need paid for reach. 
  • If it’s thought leadership content published on your .com and feeding SEO, then spend a few bucks on SEO optimization by SEO professionals and creating social savvy assets. Just pushing the link on the LinkedIn business page or boring newsletter will not make any impact. 

So, spend a minimal 60% of your budget on the distribution, from paid social to seeding strategy, SEO optimization, and engaging your coworkers with distribution-ready social assets.   

The 40% is pure production, with the pre-requisite of a great yet simple brief. Sending a whatsapp or teams chat to your content producer will not do the job. Remember, sh*t in is sh*t out. At least include a clear objective and KPIs to measure the results.

Read more about long-term brand-building content



3. AI for production? A double-edged sword

AI is great, even fantastic. Amazing to create (personalized) assets at scale and for ABCD testing assets. The biggest plus is AI as a wingman to help you with research, collect insights, and give different points of view. With the recent AI updates, it’s even based on recent information browsing the internet and revealing its sources.

Relying on only AI for initial content production is not the best. Why?

  • People recognize AI-generated content
  • AI-generated content is an echo of what’s already out there, with no new insights, and lacks personality
  • Accuracy and trustworthiness of the sources

Yes, if you can write a decent prompt, using AI for your content production is exceedingly low cost, yet you pay the price in quality.

And it’s the quality of your content that resonates with your customers, not the quantity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying not to use AI for your content production; I’m not stupid. AI speeds you up and is very efficient as a wingman. What I’m saying is that using AI as a single resource for content production is not the way forward, as it produces mediocre content.


Summary: the true costs of quality content

Good content is expensive. Great content even more. And getting it seen by your audience at least doubles your budget.

If you are unwilling to invest in quality, it’s better to skip and not to do content at all. Mediocre, half-baked content harms can backfire and harm your business more than having no content.


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