SurferAI add on pricing

The cost of scaling content – how much does scaling to 100 blog posts per month really cost?

You’ve heard and seen me and other people on LinkedIn publish posts about how much content they are producing per month. I’ve described our road and systems to 100 blogs per month in Userpilot and Trish Seidel’s story on the way to the same target – here and here respectively.

But the main question remains: the cost.

And how sustainable is it to produce 100 blog posts per week, really?

Well, first of all – There are different roads to 100 blog posts. And each is for a different budget.

In this post, I will look at 4 of them – analyse the costs, time investments, pros and cons.

The 4 different roads to 100 blog posts per month

The 4 different roads to 100 blog posts per month

I  have tried (and analysed) 5 different ways of creating 100 blog posts per month:

1) Traditional, in-house: with a mix of in-house editors + freelance writers –  the theory & the practice 😅

2) Outsourcing to an agency: cheap vs mid vs expensive agencies

3)  Programmatic SEO – using programmatic templates [I shared the template to generate content this way here]

4) Using AI tools like SurferSEO + freelance content editors to fix the outputs

Now, let’s see how each method works, and how much it really costs!

1) Traditional, in-house: with a mix of in-house editors + freelance writers –  the theory & the practice 😅

The “traditional” way of publishing, if you’re using the “content epics workflow” I’ve described extensively before here and in my book on Content Ops – seems simple.

You need a Head of Content to create your content plan + manage your editors and keep track of it all. A ft content editor will cost you around $5000 per month.

Then, for every 20 posts per month, you need one Content Editor. They then deliver 1 brief & one piece of edited content per week. You will find it extremely hard to find a decent content editor for less than $2,500 per month, even in the traditionally “cheap” countries like Armenia, Georgia, Serbia, Moldova, Macedonia, Pakistan, India, Vietnam etc.

You need 1 writer per every epic per week, so with 100 blogs per month = 25 per week = you’d need 5 editors and 25 writers. Each editor would then manage 5 writers per week.

5 full-time editors = $12,500 per month.

The average cost per blog post – now, this is tricky. I don’t know your content plan. The total cost for the freelance writers for your 100 blog posts will depend on the total wordcount

If you follow our pricing structure, and if your content plan looks anything like ours, it will be around $270 per blog post. (This is our data from Q1 2023):

post pricing

So – $270 * 100 = $27,000 for 100 blogs 🤯

Then, you need a native Proofreader + publisher to fix up any remaining language errors and tick off the SEO checklist before kissing your blog goodbye (and publishing it on WordPress + Social Media). A native UK/US freelancer will happily do that for around $25 per post. So for 100 blogs – that’s another $2,500.

But then, there are the tools you need (I wrote about content budgets before here):

As a *bare* minimum, you will need:

– Ahrefs subscription: from $79 per month

SurferSEO subscription – the cheapest option from content intelligence tools like ClearScope, Frase, MarketMuse- will cost you $149 per 100 content editors – so it makes more sense to invest in the “Advanced” plan and have 300 editors for the price of 100!

SurferSEO pricing

– Asana: $ 15 per seat to manage your content workflow – $15 x 6 (head of content + 5 editors – the writers can be invited as “guests” for free) = $90 pcm.

you can create your briefs for FREE in Google Docs (although keeping your briefs & SOPs in Notion is a lot easier would add $60 to your bill)

So – the Minimum Viable Content Toolstack = $318 per month

So in theory, the total cost of creating 100 blog posts in-house would be:

– Full-time staff fixed costs: $17,500 per month (that is, if you’re not hiring in the US, and you’re hiring remote workers who handle their own taxes)

– Freelance Content Writer fees: $27,000 per month.

– Content proofreading + publishing: $2,500 per month.

– Essential tools: $318 per month.

TOTAL: $47,318 (so $ 473.18 per post including all costs).

A lot? Not really. I doubt you’d be able to shave a lot off the full-time staff, let alone the content writers – which are your biggest expenses. You could probably shave off the proofreading costs, but that’s about it.

Now, the REALITY CHECK: What the *real* content operation looks like (based on our example)

This whole workflow is all fun and games, and it’s possible (in theory), but I have NOT been able to execute it in practice over an extended period of time. There, I said that. At Userpilot, we’re currently averaging 53 original blog posts per month and…well, as many programmatic as we can do (due to limited time to fill in the databases).

This is why:

– Real people are not machines. I have not met a content editor who’s able to only write briefs & edit posts every day, 5 days per week, without burning out in 3 months or less. I wasn’t able to do it either.

Our Content Editors are only writing 3 briefs + doing 3 edits / week. The rest of the time, they do content updates and programmatic SEO.

– Finding good Content Editors (esp for technical B2B SaaS products) is *EXTREMELY* hard. We have only been able to hire 4 out of the 5 we were looking for. Training them and ramping them up is also hard.

– Someone needs to handle content updates – which is also why our editors are not exclusively writing briefs and editing posts.

Well, so here are our costs & outputs with 4 editors + 1 head of content (= around $15,000 in salaries – fixed costs per month):

Cost of tools: $1070 – we’re using Ahrefs, SurferSEO, Asana, Notion, and StoryChief as our basic tool stack. I wrote about it earlier in detail in this post.

Costs of freelance writers: on average this year – $13,743.75 for on average 53 articles – so for 100 that would be $25,931 (consistent with what I wrote earlier).

The total cost including proofreading – $15,393.75

So, in total, to produce 53 articles, we’re spending:

$15,000 + $1070 + $15,393.75 = $31,463.75

To produce 100 blogs, we’d need to add 3 more editors ($7,500) to the fixed salary costs of $15,000 up the writing budget to $25,931 + add $2,500 for proofreading = TOTAL BUDGET of $52,001 🤯

So as you see, the “realistic” version of this is around $4000-5000 more expensive than the “theory”.

✅ The pros of this approach:

+ full control over the process

+ you can produce really high-quality blog posts on really difficult technical topics

❌ The cons of this approach:

– extremely hard to hire good content editors within the $2,500 budget

– vulnerable to people-issues: burnout, illness, other capacity issues

2) Outsourcing to an agency: cheap vs mid vs expensive agencies

If you find the in-house approach daunting, you may wonder what it would be like (and how much it would cost) to outsource content ops to an agency.

The cheapest agency I have worked with is (say you come from me for a discount!). This is their pricing:

cheap agency pricing blog writers

To be honest – they are *not* great. But they are *cheap*. 18,000 words that’s on average 8 articles of 2,200 words. This is $187.5 per article. This is less than what we’re paying our freelancers for this wordcount ($225). So that would be $18,750 per 100 articles – but I have a hunch you could negotiate it further to around $15,000 – $16,000. That *is* a massive saving of $11-12 k compared to our inhouse spending.

BUT – there’s a big BUT – if you’re writing for a tech B2B SaaS – using a cheap agency like that without briefs would be a disaster. They couldn’t produce to the standard we typically expect.

So, if you needed briefs for those 100 posts – that would still add (realistically) around $22,500 to your budget for head of content + 7 editors (each doing 3 briefs per week) – someone still has to check & publish these posts.

So the total for an “easy” lifestyle “general blog” could be around $15,000 per month + the minimum of $318 for tools.

For a tech SaaS blog with much higher quality standards: expect around $37,818 still.

Cheaper, but not ideal.

Pros & cons of this approach:

+  you don’t need to manage the writers

– you still need an army of editors to supervise a low-level agency.

What about more expensive agencies, like SingleGrain, Grow&Convert, or Flying Cat Marketing (again, say you came from me for a discount)?

Grow & Convert, which works with client like Patreon, Leadfeeder or Crazy Egg charges 10,000 for a full-on service…which includes 3 blog posts.

This means that for a 100 blog posts written by such upscale agency (if they have the capacity for that at all) would be…$ 333,333 per month 🤯

Pros & cons of this approach:

+ very high quality & presumably equally good results

+ done-for-you & completely hands-off service

+ no need to hire and manage full time staff at all! Yay! This is basically your *outsourced* content department.

– EXTREMELY expensive! This approach would cost you approximately 8-10 x more than any other approach.

– very, *VERY* few companies have a content budget of 4 million (!) per year.

Well, what about programmatic SEO as an alternative approach then?

3)  Programmatic SEO – using programmatic templates [I shared the template to generate content this way here]

I’ve been writing about Programmatic SEO without programming for the past  9 months or so – here’s an introductory post

I also created *this* calculator: to help you estimate how many posts you can produce from 2 databases and however many templates you manage to produce (or “borrow” from me – I shared the template to generate content this way here):

programmatic SEO calculator

If you were to use just my generator, which contains 3 templates:

Best tools for [Use Case]

– [competitor1] vs [competitor2]

– [tool] alternatives

Say you have 10 competitors and 5 use cases:

You could produce 60 posts like that.

To produce 100 posts, you’d need more templates (which is doable, but takes time).

Now, it takes around 4 hours to produce a brand new template by someone who understands how this programmatic SEO method works.

But the crux of the issue is the databases:

programmatic seo databases

To produce content this way, you need to fill in those databases.

For 10 competitors + 5 use cases – that’s at least 50 hours of work.

You could outsource this work to clued up freelancers of course. I have done that for as little as $20 per row for use case databases, and $100 for tools databases (with screenshots and all).

So for our sample of 100 per month:

You’d spend $1000 on filling in the tools database and only $100 for filling in the use case database.

You’d need to hire a Senior Content Editor/ Head of Content (for approx $3,500-5,000) to handle the templates and manage the process + do KW research

So, pessimistically, this approach would cost you $5000 + $1100 = only $6,100 per month!

But there’s a caveat: you CAN’T produce all your posts that way.

You can only produce posts for highly formulaic keywords, that follow a repeatable pattern, like: “{tool} reviews”, “can {animal} eat {food}”, “best {solution} for {use case/problem}” etc.

Still – for BOFU keywords, it’s a great approach to reduce your costs and

Pros & cons of this approach:

+ significantly cheaper than any other method

+ you do not need to hire and manage an army of Content Editors, which are difficult to find & burn out easily

– limited number of keywords you can cover that way.

What if we wrote the remaining, non-formulaic keywords with the help of AI tools? 🤔

4. The *real* cost of writing 100 blog posts with SurferSEO:

surfer AI pricing

On top of the regular subscription ($149 per month, paid annually), SurferSEO costs $29 per AI-generated article.

The articles aren’t always great though, which I wrote about in a previous post – and require editing to make them of publishable quality.

I have been able to outsource that part for $100 per post, which, with a 100 posts – would mean $10,000. Not terrible but not great, on top of the $2900 + $149 I’d need to spend on SurferSEO alone.

But what if I hired 2 ft and 1 pt content editors and asked them to proofread only *two* content editors per day? That would mean… 2.5 x $2500 = $6250. And each would be handling 40 posts per month = 40 * 2.5 = 100 blog posts

So with SurferSEO, it would cost $6250 + $3049 = $ 9,299 = $93 per blog post!

Well, you’d still need at least a Senior Content Manager ($3,500) to manage the editors + do KW research – so the TOTAL would amount to $12,799

Pros & cons of this approach:

+ cheap

+ you don’t need briefs

– your content editors need to know how to fix AI-written articles

– your content editors might go bonkers after a while of this frankly pretty challenging work

– Quality might suffer, esp with a less experienced team

Now, here you have it – the comparison between the different ways to produce 100 blogs in a nutshell.


No matter which method you choose, producing 100 blog posts per month is going to be painful and expensive! 🙃

Posted in blog posts, content marketing and tagged , .

Emilia is a passionate SaaS marketer specializing in content marketing. She's currently the Head of Marketing at Userpilot, a Product Growth Platform for SaaS.