Tips For Writing Impactful Content Briefs
Have you ever made the decision to use the services of a content writer, but found that what you received wasn’t quite what you had in mind? Have you had the experience where there is constant back and forth where amendments are requested to tweak the tone? Perhaps you’ve needed a full rewrite as the finished article just completely missed the point? If you recognise any of those situations, there are probably two reasons why:
- You’re working with the wrong copywriting company
- Your content brief didn’t quite hit the mark
Now, we’re not suggesting that responsibility for a poor article sits 100% with you. However, you may be surprised to find the difference that a good brief can make. The problem is that many people are unsure how to write one.
When you instruct a copywriter to work on your behalf, the unfortunate truth is that they are not telepathic. If you want to get the very best results then you’re going to need to know how to write a good brief, and we’re going to show you how.
What is a content brief?
If you’re looking at working with a writer for the first time, it may be worth taking a look at what a content brief is before looking at how to write one. A content brief is simply a document that contains instructions for your content writer.
Created by an editor or a content strategist, the content brief should contain all of the information that the writer needs to get the job done. When you know more about how to prepare a brief, you will find that the job will be done to a much higher standard.
How a content brief benefits you
When you write a good brief it does, of course, go a long way to assisting your chosen writer. However, there are other direct benefits for you too. When you know how to prepare a brief, it sees you working through a process. This process means that you can be completely sure of what you are looking at achieving from your content. When you are clear on this, you can be surer that your writer is too.
Quality writers are in demand and often they don’t want to get bogged down with just guessing. By providing a good brief you will see:
- That you have the writer’s attention and that they will be keen to work with you again
- The content creating process becomes transparent resulting in a writer who will engage with you
- Fewer queries from the writer – they have almost all that they need from the content brief
What it all boils down to are top quality writing and an improved working relationship. These are great reasons to fully explore how to prepare a brief, so let’s do just that.
How do you write a brief?
If you’ve asked the question ‘How do you write a brief?’ then what’s to follow will give you the ultimate answer. We’re going to look at all of the ingredients that go into making a good brief. We’ll then even take a look at a content brief example so that things are as clear as possible. Let’s get started:
Of course, your content brief will need to let the writer just how long the content needs to be. This may seem a little obvious, but how do you arrive at a word count? There are certain topics that may require more words than others to do them justice, but then there is also how Google views things to consider too.
One piece of research suggests that for an article to rank in the top 10 of search results, you need to be aiming for around 2,000 words. It was once the case that you could produce a 300-word article, fill it with keywords and watch it rank. However, Google has seen numerous updates to its algorithm since these days and the focus really is on the quality being provided to the user. An article that is richer in relevant detail will rank better than a short punchy piece (generally speaking).
A title and topic
A good brief will be clear on the topic that you want to write about. It will also have a great title that will see people wanting to click. If you’re struggling with a title, a content writer will be more than willing to help, but what if you’re struggling with ideas for topics?
We’ve already covered this here, but there are plenty of ways to generate ideas for your content such as:
- Carrying out research into your customers’ biggest pain points
- Setting up a survey on social media
- Taking a peek at what your competitors are writing about
- Reviewing old content and seeing if it can be repurposed
- Allowing your content creator to choose
When you look at how to write a brief, the topic that you want to cover needs to be explained. If you give a vague title the chances are that you will receive a vague article that may miss the points that you wanted covering. A title along with a great description of your topic will guide the writer to hit all of the points that matter.
If you want to know how to write a good brief then this is an area that can’t be ignored. If you don’t give your writer any keywords, they will not know what terms you are looking to rank for. Before you send your content brief across, be sure to carry out keyword research and provide a list of the results with it.
When looking into the keywords that you want t rank for, be sure to check out how competitive they are. Realistically, are you going to rank for these or is it better to target other words instead? Be sure to look at long-tail keywords. Often these are missed by competitors but still have some good search volumes. Tapping into these can see you ranking much easier.
Consider the tone
When looking at how to prepare a brief, you’ll need to give details to the writer if how you want to sound. Have you taken the time to consider the tone of voice that your brand has and if this is how you want your content to come across? It may be that you want a laidback approach, a funny tone, or something more intense and serious.
It is always useful to allow the writer to take a look at existing content that you have. You can signpost them to the pieces that you think best represent your brand’s tone. If your site/blog is new, there may be nothing to show. When this is the case, it is even more important that you think about exactly how you want to sound. It could be that you direct the writer to another brand that has achieved what you are seeking to.
Details of your audience
A good brief will let the writer know who you are targeting. This helps them to understand why the piece is being created and the angle that they need to take. While a writer may already have experience within your industry, that doesn’t mean that they know exactly who your target customer is.
It could be that you are a web designer. A content writer could easily go away and come back with an article all about the benefits that you bring to small business clients. The problem is, you don’t work with small businesses! Letting the writer know this in advance is a huge help. Something else that can really help here is including a buyer persona in your content brief. This allows the writer even more detail about the audience that they are writing for.
When it comes to content, links matter. Whether you are linking to other, authority sites, or looking at internal linking, you need to tell your writer just what you want. A good brief will let the writer know how many authority links you want in your content. It will also let them know how many internal links you want to be included with each article. Don’t just leave the writer guessing.
Another area where links are important is when you want statistics included within your article. If you are a mortgage broker you might want to talk about interest rates and how they have varied over the years. You risk getting a general comment on this unless you specify otherwise. If you want your writer to get the exact details of interest rates over the last however many years, and then link to this, simply tell them.
Be clear on who your competitors are
A good brief will also let a writer know things that you don’t want to happen. An obvious point here is that you don’t want your content to contain any links to your competitors. A quality writer will likely have numerous clients that they are working for and there is always the chance that they won’t be fully aware of who everyone is competing against.
Something that can really assist your writer is a list of your main competitors. A clear instruction saying not to link to these will mean that there won’t be any mistakes that then need rectifying later (or worse, any that slip through, get published, and see you sending your customers to your competition!). It may well be obvious to you who the competition is, but don’t assume that your writer will always know. This comes with time as you continue to work together and they develop a greater understanding of your business.
If you want any images included in your article then your content brief should let the writer know. If you are wanting royalty-free images, the writer is likely to be using sites such as Pixabay and Unsplash. If you are wanting images from elsewhere, then just let the writer know.
Content that you like
We have already mentioned that, when looking at how to write a good brief, it is a great idea to direct the writer to existing content. We spoke about this being useful in terms of the tone of voice that you wanted the writer to aim for. However, it is also useful to provide some links to other content that you’re a fan of.
The content doesn’t even have to be linked to your sector. It can just be an example of something that you have seen and you like the style it is written in. What makes this even more useful is telling the writer, via your content brief, just why you like what you have read.
Content brief example
So, now you know what a good content brief contains, you may be wondering how it should look. It could be that your writer has their own templates for you to follow to ensure that they receive the right information. If not, this content brief example will help:
Title: How to boost e-commerce sales
Word count: 2,000
Keywords: Shopify, how to get more clicks, how to attract more visitors
Audience: New e-com business owners using Shopify
Links: 3 x authority links + 2 x internal
Any other details: Here is where you can provide details of competitors, content that you like, etc.
A good content brief, that contains all of the relevant information, is a vital part of making sure that you get exactly what you want. While a writer is capable of researching and getting to understand a business, without your guidance they are left blind with no understanding of what you’re seeking to achieve.
At Content Conga, we love working with clients that give us great content briefs. This helps us to deliver the very best for you and get it right first time. Fear not though, if your content brief isn’t quite there, we’ll never just guess. When we’re unsure, we ask. Why not give us a go for our next piece of content and let us show you what we can do?