I sometimes take on simple projects with as little guidance as a single keyword, but most businesses simply can’t justify a project “brief” so truly brief. The key to a successful project is a solid brief to guide your writer’s work, but many businesses aren’t equipped with the information they need to create a good one. This guide will get you going.
What Is A Content Brief?
A content brief is a document a business sends to a writer before they begin working on a project. The brief is an important writing tool because it explains what the project is about and how it should be approached.
Creating a project brief is an important step in the process because it helps to simplify communication prior to the project’s start. Rather than going back-and-forth with a writer trying to explain all the various elements, a brief puts it all in one place for easy reference. This saves a substantial amount of time.
What To Include In A Content Brief
How many details you include in your content brief will vary depending on your requirements. Here are some of the fundamental elements that make up a content brief. Some will remain consistent across every brief you generate for your business (like your brand’s description).
It’s important that writers know who they are writing for. Understanding your business will give them an idea of the perspective they should take on in the article. You should also explain your brand’s personality as it will impact their writing style, vocabulary, and the overall tone of the piece.
Answer questions like:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Who do you serve?
- What is your mission?
- What is your personality?
Every brand has a “personality” and every piece of content you produce should be consistent in representing that personality. If you have not chosen or defined a personality type for your brand yet, this article on brand personality types would be helpful to read.
Length: A brand description should be concise and straightforward. One or two paragraphs is all it will take for most businesses.
Your brand’s description tells the writer who they are writing as and your intended audience tells the writer who they are writing for. They need to know who will ultimately be reading the piece in order to get a grip on what they need to say and how they need to say it.
Some projects will have multiple audiences. For instance, a description of a city posted on a real estate agent’s website could be read by people in the area looking to buy a home along with people interested in moving to the city or simply visiting the area from out of town.
In this example, the real estate agent could choose to define all of these potential audiences so the writer speaks to all of them in the piece or they may only define a portion of the potential reader base. For instance, they may only care about speaking to potential home buyers in the area, so they will put that in the brief so the writer dials in on that audience segment.
Length: As short as one sentence to as long as a small paragraph.
Topic and Keyword(s)
Perhaps the most important part of a content brief, you need to dedicate a section to explaining what you want the writer to write about. I have accepted and successfully completed projects with just a single keyword or even a simple title idea, but I also take on projects with multiple paragraphs of specifications. How long this section is will depend on how many requirements you have to fulfill.
If you have minimal specifications, I suggest giving your writer a potential title idea. Creating a working title for the project will quickly summarize the topic you want covered and it will give your writer a jumping-off point. Alternatively, you can just describe your idea in a couple of sentences. For instance: “I want an article explaining the 11 different gardening zones in North America.”
If you have more specifications, you’ll want to describe them in an organized fashion. Start with a short summary (similar to the one sentence example just given) and then list out the additional details. Those details might include length, keywords, and specific sub-topics you want the writer to touch on.
Length: As short as a few sentences or as long as multiple paragraphs.
Good and Bad Examples
If you’re working with a writer for the first time, sending examples of content that showcases a tone/writing style similar to what you’re after will help speed the project along and minimize the need for revisions. You can also send more specific examples from competitors that showcase the level of detail or type of information you want included in that particular project.
Sometimes, examples of what you don’t like are just as helpful as examples of what you do like. If you have a style or approach that you definitely want the writer to avoid, you should include a link to it so the writer is clear on what not to do. This isn’t always necessary, so if nothing immediately comes to mind, you probably don’t need examples of what you don’t like.
Length: A few sentences or a collection of up to 5-10 links.
Content Brief Template
If you are looking to start a writing project, you can use this handy template to make sure you include all of the details you need to.
You can view and download the above template by clicking here. If you still need a little guidance, check out this example that I have filled out. When in doubt, never hesitate to ask the person you’re hiring if any other information would be helpful. For me, keywords are the most helpful information I can get, but links to content they like is also extremely beneficial.