One of the benefits of hiring a blogging service is that you can actually reduce your costs by having someone (or a company) that's better equipped for online marketing to do it for you. But, you only end up reducing your costs if you get the right price and you know what you are getting for that price. So, just how much should a blogging service cost, and what features should that cost include? It does depend, but all in all blogging services should reflect your specific needs and the involvement of the provider, among other things.
What are Your Business Blogging Needs?
Someone who just wants a contributor to help write posts once or twice a month has very different needs from a company who needs a business blog started from scratch and needs posts to be written three times a week. Obviously, the former won't pay the same price as the latter, so knowing where you fall in that spectrum will determine not only your price, but what you would be paying for. Knowing your business blogging needs is critical, as this ensure that you choose the professional blogging company that actually meets your needs, instead of just one that has the best price or the best sales pitch.
To illustrate, a client only needing a contributor may pay a per-article rate, something between $20 and $50 per article. However, the latter may pay a monthly fee, anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars a month. The latter will depend on the length of the posts, the amount of keyword research needed, web development for the blog, time and labor costs, and whether or not the client opts for analytics or social media promotion to coincide with writing the blog posts.
What Should Come with a Monthly Fee?
Per-article rates for a blogging service are cut and dry. You're paying for a post, and you really should pay anywhere between $35 and $75 per post, whether you go through a professional blogging company or an individual writer. Anything less than that, and you risk getting mediocre content. Anything more, and you probably could get a bigger bang for your buck.
Speaking of that bigger bang, what should come with a monthly fee if you choose a retainer option? What should you know about prior to choosing a blogging service? Here's what we think a good retainer option should include (plus a few add-ons):
- Blog Setup - This could mean everything from setting up the domain name, choosing a theme, organizing topics and keywords etc. We warn against paying for a separate domain name for your blog (it really should be blog.yourcompany.com, or yourcompany.com/blog), as a separate domain would only hurt your SEO instead of helping it.
- Deadlines - They should be set somewhere in the agreement.
- Word Counts - We think anything between 300 and 1000 words is fair, although best practice dictates that 600 to 800 words is best for posts. However, if you want anything longer than 1000 words, be prepared to pay a little extra.
- Images - We think this should be a given, since its a blogging best practice to include photos with every blog post. Why pay for this? Or, better yet, why go with a blogging service that won't do this on their own?
- Keyword Research - We think this is also a given, but some may charge to do really extensive research, or regular keyword research.
- Support - Any retainer should come with some sort of support in the cost, whether its a monthly or weekly phone call, or a few emails to address issues etc. However, a good blogging service would also include a clause or extra fees so you don't abuse the privilege.
- Analytics - Analytics costs will depend on which services is used. Since Google Analytics is free, you might end up paying for the time and labor to analyze the data. If your blogging service uses something like HubSpot or Marketo, then prepare to pay a few hundred dollars extra for the luxury (albeit an incredibly valuable luxury).
Do You Just Want Blogging, or Do You Want Something More?
Even if you just want blogging services for now, you should also think about whether or not you want additional content marketing help in the future, such as newsletters, social media, press releases, case studies etc. Business blogging is the one thing to do if you could only do one thing to be found online and to remain fresh in the digital landscape, but you might be thinking about doing more once you see that your business blog has positive results, or when you have enough blog posts to create additional content. These additional services may not be included in the initial cost, but some blogging services may also provide these services, or may offer content marketing packages that bundle business blogging with these additional services.
Don't Pay for SEO. Pay for Something that Will Provide Value
If you just want blog posts to populate your website so you rank on the search engines and rank for the keywords, then you don't want a blogging service. You probably want an SEO company, or a freelancer to write posts for you. A blogging service is much more than a writer, but a company that understands content marketing and knows that business blogging must address the needs of the audience and provide value to potential customers. If a 'blogging service' wants to give you posts without knowing anything about your audience, and says that it focuses on SEO and rankings instead, then you will waste your money, no matter the price.