Should you hire a content marketing consultant?
You might think hiring a consultant is the best way to jumpstart your content marketing—but that’s not always the case.
Today, you’ll learn:
- Why content consultants can create more bottlenecks than they solve
- What to look for when hiring a consultant
- Exactly how much you should expect to pay
Let’s get started.
Editor’s note: Content marketing consultants are a great asset when you’re prepared to generate content yourself. But if you’re looking for help with the implementation side, too, send us a message.
What does a content marketing consultant do?
If you bring on someone to help with content, their job typically entails three main areas.
Learn and assess. First, a consultant will study your brand identity, target audience, and current inbound marketing strategy. They’ll want to see what’s working and what isn’t.
Strategize and plan. Next, the content marketing expert you’ve hired will create a broad strategy and specific plan for your content. This might include information on campaigns or even specific pieces of content.
Teach and assess. Finally, the consultant will coach you on the process and help you improve content. They’ll probably review a few of the pieces you publish and check analytics to see how those pieces perform.
I should also point out what a content marketing consultant doesn’t do. Most consultants give recommendations but don’t handle the deliverables themselves. You shouldn’t expect a consultant to:
- Research or prepare briefs for quality content
- Write articles, produce videos, record podcasts, or do any creative work
- Edit, proofread, or prepare content for publication
- Upload or schedule articles
- Optimize what you’ve already published
- Promote what you’ve created
- Act as a content marketing manager, like setting deadlines and coordinating work
If you don’t feel ready to take on everything on the above list, you should understand the alternatives to a consultant to see if they’re a better fit.
Should I hire a content marketing consultant?
Let’s get to the question you’re probably wondering—is a consultant a good choice?
Perhaps the best answer to the question is what your current content marketing looks like.
A consultant works best alongside companies with an in-house content creation team or a group of vetted freelancers ready to implement their recommendations.
If you hire a marketing consultant without a team, you’ll quickly find yourself with a new bottleneck—implementation. A consultant’s job is to think of ideas, not put them into practice.
If you don’t have a team yet, here are a few ways to start instead of bringing on a consultant:
- Bring on a content marketing agency. An agency will bundle strategy and implementation tailored to your budget. (If you’re enjoying our content style in this article, hiring our agency might make sense.)
- Hire a freelance team. You can hire freelance writers to create content your consultant recommends. Read our complete guide on hiring freelance writers.
- Hire an in-house team. An in-house team is the most expensive but is another option if you’re committed to a continual content marketing campaign. You can have an in-house consultant or hire one on contract.
If you decide a consultant is best, what kind of budget should you expect?
How much does a content marketing consultant cost?
Now that you know what services to expect, how much should you budget? As with any service, there’s a range of prices you can expect to pay.
Here are some common price points:
$300–500/month. You might find this price—around $30–50/hour for 10 hours a month—on sites like Upwork. Few consultants will have experience at this price point, and many will be freelance writers looking for their first “consulting” role.
$1,000–3,000/month. At this price range, you can expect to work with a content consultant with experience. They might not have blue-chip companies in their portfolio, but they’ve worked enough to offer helpful content strategy insights.
$5,000+/month. The next range of prices will be for consultants who have extensive experience or some sort of industry recognition. As with any consultant, there’s no upper limit for content experts at the top of their game.
How to choose a great consultant
You’ve decided you need a content marketing consultant. But your experience lies in being a business owner, not a content expert. How can you make a decision?
Here are the six most important factors when choosing a content marketing consultant.
1. Specialization in content
If you want great content, don’t hire a general digital marketing consultant. Look for someone with specific expertise.
In 2006, digital marketing strategy might have been simple enough to justify a single expert. But today, every piece of digital marketing is complex enough that a generalist online marketing consultant most likely won’t deliver results.
2. Experience in content marketing strategy
Many people vying for content marketing consulting roles don’t have experience with strategy. A freelance content marketer may be a great writer but probably has never directed a campaign.
This is a good reason to stay away from the cheapest consultants—they often aren’t consultants at all.
3. Similar goals as yours
Content marketing is a broad field. Content can increase sales, boost your social media presence, improve brand awareness, maximize search engine rankings, help you with public relations, and more.
Each goal holds value for the right brand. But for best results, you need to find a consultant who’s after the same thing you are. Don’t hire a social media marketing expert to create an SEO strategy—or vice-versa.
4. “Skin in the game”
Beware of a content marketer who doesn’t touch content marketing themselves. If they trusted their abilities, wouldn’t they apply the knowledge to their own business?
In my experience, a consultant’s value is closely tied to what they’ve achieved themselves. Only hire a consultant whose work you already know and appreciate.
5. Knowledge of the kind of content you want
The standard content marketing specialist focuses on written content, like articles and eBooks.
But today’s content extends to every marketing channel and includes video marketing, podcasts, and even interactive elements. If you’re interested in multimedia, choose someone with experience in the field.
6. Experience with similar clients in similar industries
Look for a consultant with experience in your industry, ideally with similar clients.
For example, a digital marketer who has only worked with SaaS companies (software-as-a-service) might understand growth marketing and lead generation. But those skills might not translate to creating world-class eCommerce content.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s wrap up with the pros and cons of hiring a consultant.
Who could benefit (and not benefit) from hiring a content marketing consultant?
Let’s break down who should and should not hire a content marketing consultant.
You’ll benefit if…
Your content budget is many times your consulting budget. Most of your budget should go to creating great content, not ivory-tower strategy.
You have a content team. You’ll need a content marketing team to implement the strategy your consultant recommends.
You want to take content to the next step. A marketing professional can take your content to the next level.
You won’t benefit if …
The consultant will do everything. Consultants rarely implement their content marketing strategy, so a plan without a team will flounder.
You already have a content marketing plan. A consultant will create a strategy and plan. If you already have a plan you intend on following, a consultant is the wrong move.
You’re expecting less marketing effort. A consultant will paradoxically create more work for your team, not less.
A simple alternative to content marketing consulting
We’ve laid out the pros and cons in this article.
If you bring on an outside consultant, you’ll also need to vet an entire team simultaneously.
But there’s a simple alternative—bring on an agency.
An agency lets you benefit from strategy and implementation bundled together in a package tailored to your needs. If you’re interested, send us a message.