It doesn't seem like that long ago we were fishing and while you were reeling in a big ahi tuna, you mentioned that you were spending more on content marketing than you wanted to.
I've had some time to think about it, and it's a challenging issue. No one wants to waste precious ad dollars, but everyone is telling you that you have to do content marketing if you want to succeed.
Ultimately, Bill, it comes down to data and ratios. If you're not bothering to aggregate the data that comes from your marketing efforts, then it's probably not worth throwing any money at.
The data will tell you a few things
If you can trace 300 dollars of sales to 100 dollars of blog posts, you're getting decent value from your input. But if you're hiring someone at 5,000 dollars a month and you're getting around 5K or less in returns, it's time to examine a few things:
Content marketing is a long game
This is important, because when you're paying someone money you generally want to see results right away. Content marketing is a long game, and the returns don't come in right away. It can take months. The catch is that instead of an adwords campaign that yield results right up until you stop paying for them, content marketing is spending those low-yield months building up a library of useful content and a base of loyal users or readers that trust the information you're putting out.
So if you're not tracking immediate ROI on your content marketing spend, make sure you've given it some time to do its thing.
Check the data
There's no magic switch for content marketing. So even if it takes a few months for good results to start showing up, you should be able to track the analytics and notice slight improvements in whatever key metrics you've identified for success.
If nothing is happening at all, it might be time to tweak or reexamine your strategy.
So what's reasonable?
Ultimately, as long as you're getting a solid ROI on your content budget, you can spend whatever you want. There's usually room to trim the fat though, so here's what we consider reasonable for an average budget.
Content strategy, $4,000 - $10,000 : This one-time document should at a minimum include everything here, but the more you pay should yield more meat. That might be graphic design style guides or even in-person consultations with your marketing team.
Monthly upkeep, $800 - $5,000+: At the bare minimum, an excellent writer putting out a few well-written blog posts can keep things alive. Otherwise, if your strategy calls for more than just written word (and it should), you'll pay more for podcast pros, video makers, graphic designers etc.