You know you need to budget more for content, but how much time do you need?

Lean Content Marketing Bristol


It’s a perennial pain point. Your team knows more and better content is needed in order to drive leads and nurture relationships with existing customers. But it just keeps slipping. Unless content is codified in someone’s job description, and properly budgeted for, it will keep getting shelved by all the predictable brush fires that come up in your day-to-day.

So first, the short answer. How much do you need to budget for content? If you look at it purely in terms of hours, the range we’d recommend is anywhere from one day per week, from one qualified team member, up to a small team of two-to-three full-time staff for a large business of 100+ employees. These are hours dedicated to solely planning and creating lovely blog posts, emails and more highly produced social posts that go beyond mere chatter.

The formula

We know, you need a number. How many hours a week should I enter into my budget for staff time? What’s the right balance between keeping it lean and not falling behind?

If you just want a starting point, back-of-the-napkin number to enter into that blank cell right now, here’s a way to take a swing at it. Answer these two questions:

How many full-time-employees does your company have?

Are you in “growth-mode”?

Don’t overthink this bit, just answer instinctively. Are you in a quarter or a year where you are actively expanding and seeking new leads, moreso than where you were a year ago? Yes or no?

Take the number of full time employees. That is the number of hours a week you need to budget to have dedicated to producing content. If you are in growth mode, take that number and multiply by 1.5.

If your number is less than 8, just write in 8. One day per week is a minimum to be producing and planning winning content, and less than that you’d be better putting the effort elsewhere.

That’s it?

Yup. That’s your base-line. Number of employees multiplied by 1 if you’re static, 1.5 if you’re growing with a minimum of 8. Type it into your sheet, click save, and read on.


Acting on the budget number

Odds are, if you’re a small or medium enterprise, you’re looking at a fraction of one staff member’s time. If you’re part of a larger firm, you’re looking at a small team of 1-3 full time staff.

Now the trick becomes actually pulling that off. This is especially true when you’re content “department” is less than one half-time staff.

Everyone’s job description involves several areas, and we all need to balance the pull and push. But the reality is, all too frequently when the brushfires hit, it’s the content and marketing tasks that fall outside of staff’s core duties that get pushed aside. The challenge is to not only tack on the content tasks on top of existing workload, but to make sure that person feels empowered to push back in defense of that time, to say “sorry, I have to get this posted,” and not let the content slide.


Make the role explicit

Make sure your team is tracking the time spent on content projects, and make sure they know it’s okay to push back to defend that time. Make yourself available to load-shift for them if they need other tasks off their plate.

Write the percentage or their time that should be spent on content directly into their job description.

If that number is higher than 30%, make sure the role is explicitly in their job title. Hire specifically for this skillset.


Clear and measurable goals

Make sure each project contains measurable success criteria, and that there are larger, explicit goals for them as part of their overall performance reviews. Specify output goals, such as “fortnightly blog post and supporting social content.” But also engagement goals, such as 20% increase in list membership. Each campaign should have measurable goals, but the person crafting those campaigns should have a big-picture target to work toward, as well.

Don’t let anyone else delay their work by being unavailable. They will need support in planning the overall strategy and goals. If that falls to you, make sure they aren’t waiting for an answer. Help them with clear to-dos, so they can give you back big a big “Ta-da!” If these projects require signoff from some busy mucky-muck up the chain, do what you can to support your content writers in getting the answers and signoffs they need.


What do you get for that money?

Budget half for planning, and half for execution. Writing briefs, researching, meeting with managing directors to map out the calendar and agree messages: all of that takes time, and you should not pretend it doesn’t. It should take roughly two hours to actually produce a major piece of content, such as a blog post or newsletter.

A functional minimum is one major piece a week, meaning four hours total time dedicated to planning and writing that content.

For larger companies, don’t expect more hours to simply scale to more output. You’ll be generating more, but you’ll also be spending more effort on each product, to elevate it and make sure all your assets are worthy of your precious brand.

In small firms, it’s especially true that there just isn’t the staff time or the right skillsets available on your existing team to put toward content creation. And adding new staff isn’t the first option for a new effort. If you want help with a trial campaign or an overall strategy, let’s meet up and see how we can help. Drop us a line.