There is nothing as exhilarating – or as terrifying – as creating your first marketing budget.

When broken down into steps, though, the task becomes much less overwhelming. In fact, you may even find it enjoyable!

So if you’re ready to create a realistic content marketing budget for your business, read on.

Step 1: Identify Your Marketing Goals

Before you can even begin to estimate a budget, it’s necessary to know what you hope to achieve.

You can do so by identifying your marketing goals. Just remember: SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals are best.

Make a list of both long-term and short-term goals. For example:

  • Convert X leads into customers within the next month.
  • Boost engagement on our site by XX% by publishing X blog posts per week.
  • Increase social media following by X% within the next three months.

As you move on to step 2, you may find yourself returning to step 1 on occasion. That’s fine. In fact, that’s encouraged. The greater understanding you have of your audience, the more realistic you can make your goals.

Step 2: Know Your Audience

You now have some basic goals laid out. The next question you should be asking is where and how to devote your marketing budget.

Here’s what I mean:

One of your goals is to increase social media following by X% within the next three months.

That still leaves some questions, like:

  • What social platforms should you be targeting?
  • How much growth should you aim for?
  • What strategies should you put into place to achieve this?

So finding out where your audience is and how to best interact with them is the next step.

Using tools like Google Analytics, you can learn more about your audience demographics such as age, gender, and location. This will give you an idea of what social platforms they’re using.

From there, you can do some research into how users that are similar to your own audience are using the platform. Are they engaging with advertisements? Do they engage with text versus images versus videos?

The more you know, the more realistic your budget will be.

Step 3: Calculate Your Budget

Once you have your goals laid out and you understand your audience, you can begin to build out a budget for each goal. Some will be easier to estimate than others.

For example, one of your goals is to boost engagement by publishing X blog posts per week. Let’s say you pay a freelancer $0.08/word to write three 600 word blog posts per week. That’s $144 per week, or $576 per month.

For your advertising goal, maybe you’ve decided on Facebook as your social media platform. Here’s where it can get tricky, since if you’ve never run campaigns before it’s hard to know what spend will generate what type of results.

So when calculating advertising budgets, it’s best to set a dollar range instead of an amount. That way you have wiggle room in the budget.

Step 4: Track and Adjust as Needed

If there’s anything that digital marketers do exceptionally well, it’s to track and adjust.

Just like you would with your own personal budget, you should do the same with your marketing budget.

While you should track all of your goals, it’s never more important than with advertising campaigns.

Let’s say you set a budget of $10 per day for your Facebook Ads. You run the campaign for a week and realize that you’re falling far short of your daily goal (as calculated using your monthly or quarterly or yearly goal). Here is where you’d need to readjust.

Hopefully, you’ll have created your budget using a range and starting on the low to middle end so you have that room to grow. Otherwise, you may find yourself cutting into other areas of the budget to make due.

What challenges have you faced as you create your first content marketing budget? Let us know in the comments below.