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Is hiring a content manager worth the cost (really)?

If you’ve read They Ask, You Answer, you know how critical it is to have someone chiefly responsible for content marketing within your organization, most commonly referred to as a content manager.

Marcus Sheridan makes the case for having a full-time member of your staff 100% dedicated to publishing two or three pieces of content on your company blog each week. 

Why does it need to be a full-time employee? It’s quite simple.

Marketers are perpetually bogged down with a to-do list that can be longer than the Nile River.

When they are constantly distracted and weighed down by a million tasks, content always gets pushed to the bottom of the list of priorities.

So, it’s nice-to-have a full-time employee who always has it at the top of theirs. 

They might not be writing every piece, but it’s their job to coordinate the content marketing effort, whether that means managing the editorial calendar and assigning content ideas to different team members, editing their work, or interviewing subject matter experts.

But now comes an even more important question: Is it worth it to have a full-time content marketing manager?

Like a lot of questions that get asked in this world, the answer starts with “It depends.”

Lifetime value of customer acquisition

The first factor to consider is the average lifetime value of a client relationship for your business.

Content marketing is the ultimate tool for building relationships with prospective customers.

By answering a question they have or educating them about a decision they’re trying to make, you’re taking advantage of a huge opportunity to form a relationship with them.

At IMPACT, our client relationships can last for years and result in revenue of tens of thousands of dollars.

Oftentimes it’s one Google search that leads prospects to one blog post that starts our client relationships.

From there, they read another blog post, and often another.

Perhaps they sign up for a newsletter, come to an event we put on, and eventually, convert into a customer.

It’s a long journey that all comes back to content. 

We also use content in our sales process, asking our prospects to read certain articles before moving from one stage to another.

To determine if a content manager is worth the cost, compare the salary of them, someone who writes blog posts that draw in inbound searches, which convert to leads for your sales team (your cost of customer acquisition) to the average lifetime value of your client relationships.

For most businesses, that cost of acquisition is going to come in way under the lifetime value every time, especially if you’re creating content on a regular basis that’s attracting the right kind of traffic that converts to leads and closed customers.

It all depends on the ROI you can tie back to your content.

If, over the course of a calendar year, you invest $40-$60k in an employee and because of their efforts, your company earns more than that from inbound leads, you’re in the land of positive ROI.

Where the ROI really starts to compound is when your content manager spends multiple years creating content for you and blog posts they wrote years ago keep bringing in traffic and leads (in addition to the new articles they keep writing).

Content marketing compared to other channels

Looking at it another way, let’s contextualize the expense of a full-time content marketing manager compared to some other ways people traditionally promote their businesses and drive leads.

Now, we’re not saying these as mutually exclusive of hiring a content manager — just offering them as points of comparison.


Trade shows, networking events, conferences — they’re generally a very expensive way to generate leads, but there are also plenty of businesses and industries where they are a necessary evil.

For instance, at a past career stop of mine, I marketed to the broadcast industry.

There are certain times and places where people in that industry go to learn about new products and services, and it’s hard to connect with them at other times.

That all being said, there are lots of businesses out there that spend a lot more than $40-60k at trade shows and events throughout a given year and struggle to draw a direct line from that investment back to any revenue.

Traditional advertising

Whether it’s radio, billboards, television, or print, traditional forms of advertising stand in stark contrast to content marketing when it comes to provable ROI.

Ask yourself when was the last time you made an important buying decision for yourself or your business because of an ad you saw or heard?

I’m not talking about a beer, soda, pack of gum, or even pair of shoes.

When was the last time you decided to spend more than $500 on something because an advertisement influenced your decision-making process?

In today’s day and age, people do research on their own time.

They investigate answers to their questions and seek to make informed decisions when and how it’s convenient for them. That means it’s usually online and content marketing agligns with this behavior. Traditional advertising doesn’t.

Paid media

Investing in paid media is a solid way to grow a lot of businesses, but what I mentioned in the last section (the cost of customer acquisition) comes into play in a big way on this one.

If you’re spending $5,000 per month on digital advertising instead of investing that money in an experienced and effective content manager, what happens when you stop paying that paid media bill?

Or what happens when your competitor outspends you and you can’t compete with their bigger budget?

What happens to your leads then?

With a quality piece of content, it lives forever (as long as you pay your website hosting bill).

A piece of content written in January can rank #1 in July and keep that ranking for years, driving leads and sales the whole time. Your sales team can use it in their sales process on an ongoing basis, educating prospects daily.

All the while, your content manager can keep writing new content to provide more and more ROI.

Other ways to create content

You can see why hiring a content marketing is a cost-effective way to grow your business and generate leads, but you might be asking yourself at this point, “Why do I have to hire someone full time? Can’t I hire a freelancer?”

A full-time content manager is a better investment than a freelancer. Here’s why.

Full-time content manager vs. freelancer

When you hire someone to write content for your business, whether they’re a freelancer or full-time, in order for them to create anything that’s of real value to you, you’re going to need to educate them about your industry and your business.

If the content they create is going to educate a prospect, they need to learn enough from you to make the content substantive.

If you’re spending the requisite time to educate a freelance writer about your business to help them create quality content for you, wouldn’t you rather be investing that time and effort in someone who you can trust to contribute to your company’s marketing in perpetuity? 

Onboarding an employee to any area of your business is an investment (financially and otherwise). That’s especially true for content managers, where they need to be able to speak with the voice of your brand.

If you’re going to spend that time and money, you want it be worth it in the long run. You can’t afford to cycle through that process on a regular basis.

The reality is that freelancers come and go and other opportunities present themselves. If you’re training one, you’re likely to be training another in a few months.

Then there’s the volume factor to consider.

We recommend our clients publish 2-3 pieces of content every week.

For a freelance writer who charges somewhere in the range of $300 per article, that comes to $31,200 for two articles a week for 52 weeks out of the year.

A starting salary for an entry-level content manager in many major cities is around $40k.

If you’re going to invest that much in a freelancer, why not just hire them full-time?

You can get the same output in content — plus whatever additional responsibilities they can fit into a workweek (managing social media, marketing automation, creating video content).

They’re also always available exclusively to you and your needs. They’re never going to tell you they’re too busy with other client work to get back to you on something.

It’s all about the provable ROI

Content marketing is ultimately the best way to scale the growth of your business.

Investing in quality content will give you the ability to draw a straight line from the content you’re publishing to traffic, leads, and sales. 

If I’m a business owner spending money on marketing, I want to know how I’m going to get a return on it.

The only way to consistently create quality content that produces the kinds of results our most successful clients have seen is having a full-time content marketing manager.

That’s where the ROI is.

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