A Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Content Brief For A Copywriter (+ A Free Template)


White board with the word audience



If you’ve ever worked with creatives, you know it can be challenging to find common ground. Writers, designers, video editors have their own experiences and ideas of what their work should look like. If you don’t give guidelines for them, the project might not turn out to be what you intend it to be.


And you can’t blame the writer because no one is a mind reader. Usually, the problem with why the final work doesn’t end up as you expect it to is simple — there was no content brief, or it was incomplete.


A content brief is crucial if you want to receive excellent final work without any additional changes. So, let’s talk about making a content brief for content writers and copywriters.


In this article, I’ll try to answer the most common questions about content briefs, how to write them, and give you a free template I use myself to write articles.


What is a content brief?


A content brief is a document created for a writer or a copywriter to explain and describe a writing task. You usually need a brief for:


  • Blog posts;

  • Landing pages;

  • Sales copy;

  • Web copy;

  • White papers;

  • Case studies;

  • Etc.


Whether you have in-house copywriters or outsource tasks to freelancers, they all need to understand what you expect from them. A copywriter brief does precisely that. It gives guidelines and information on a task to increase your chances of a better outcome and reduce the time spent revisioning and editing the final work. A content brief should describe task details and your desired outcome and work as guidelines for writing content.


It’s easy to say to your copywriter to scramble a piece of content from just a fragment of an idea. Unfortunately, tasks without briefs usually turn out to take much longer to excel than they would with a proper content brief.


What makes a good brief?


A good copywriter brief for a blog post, landing page, white paper, and any other piece of content is brief but informative and resourceful. A good brief should describe the main idea and directions for a task.


Depending on the nature of the project, it might include keywords, links, resources, examples, and other relevant information. This way, it’s up to a copywriter to get it right and work building words around it.


What makes a bad brief?


A bad brief would be either too short or too long and inconsistent. Saying, “I want you to write a landing page that would represent our business but wouldn’t be too salesy,” will get you nowhere.


Before you give a writer this vague idea, ask yourself, “Does the copywriter know everything about my business? What are our unique selling points that should be mentioned?” Etc. etc.


Unless you really don’t care what an article or landing page should look like, try to be more specific. Otherwise, you might need even more time to revise and edit the final work.


But what about long briefs? It’s called a brief for a reason. Of course, there are different projects, and some require more details than others, but in general, it’s better to be to the point and avoid unnecessary information. If you provide too much detail, you don’t leave enough creative space to build around it.


How do you write a brief?


Writing a brief shouldn’t be complicated, but it can be challenging to fit the whole idea, examples, and resources into one brief. However, content briefs are necessary. Not only do they give more clarity to a copywriter about a task, but a content brief saves your time, money and helps your website and social media be more consistent and effective.


Set the intent


Every piece of content has to have an intention. It can be to inform your customers, make a sale, convert a customer, etc. The intent differs so does content, and a copywriter has to be familiar with an intent to express it in writing.


For example, you need an article to attract organic visitors that could eventually become potential customers. This means the article might not even mention your product but create awareness, educate the visitor, and lead further. Explain this to the writer, so that they would know that the content should be informative and lead to further clicks on your website.


Include an SEO content brief


If you want your content to stay relevant, you need stable traffic. Promotion guarantees content spikes, but steady traffic is much more beneficial for a company in the long term. Organic visitors click on your web pages because they can easily find them on search engines. This way, your site brings potential customers without costing you an arm and a leg.


But you can’t do much if your content isn’t SEO-friendly.


User-friendly content, relevant information to satisfy searches, and necessary SEO adjustments to your content can already push your webpage to the top of its competitors. Of course, putting your site on the first page of Google or another search engine isn’t that simple, but SEO content gives it a significant boost. 31% of the traffic goes to the first page on Google, so you can imagine that being among the first results gives you an incredible advantage.


Write down the keywords a writer should use, how often they should use them, and mention relevant searches and questions. You can also optimize your links and anchor text to boost the content further based on the keywords. Make sure to check what similar topics and competitors rank for. It can be a great idea to include similar keywords and other topics in your content.




Google search console page



Give the number of words


This one might seem obvious, but word count depends on a few factors: the depth of the topic and SEO requirements. There’s no perfect number of words that your articles or landing pages should be, but generally, it should be longer than 300 words, according to Yoast.


But again, Google won’t be satisfied with a 300-word article if it doesn’t give enough information to the people searching for that topic. Content should be informative, have what a reader is looking for, and provide answers to their questions. If people leave your website because they can’t find relevant information, search engines will take that as a clue that your website isn’t optimized for readers.


But that doesn’t mean it should be 3000 words long if the topic doesn’t require that much information. So, try to look objectively at how many words your topic needs to be fully explained. And tell that to a copywriter so they could have an idea of how in-depth they need to go.


Think of the content structure


You might not know what the end article will look like, but it’s worth putting an abstract structure. Maybe there are headlines you want to use, parts to mention, lists, or questions to answer.


Intent, the goal of the content, and SEO parts give a copywriter a general idea of how content should be structured, but it can be useful to provide some heading and topic ideas.


Examples and competing websites


Examples are powerful. Not only do they give an idea of how the content should look, but they also can lead to better SEO results.


When you plan content, you should check out how similar topics rank on search engines to see what people search for. If your competitors rank for a similar topic, why not get inspired. That doesn’t mean you should steal their ideas, but using similar keywords and structure answering questions they might have missed can give a big push for your traffic.


Putting examples of similar content or competing websites gives a better idea of what you expect and allows the writer to use the information mentioned above more effectively.


Don’t forget to set the tone of voice


The tone of voice depends on whom you’re addressing. Some content pieces like white papers, product descriptions have a formal and informative tone, with little space for jokes and expression. But if you’re writing an article for your blog or a social media post, it’s always a good idea to be more conversational.


A conversational tone creates more positive associations in readers’ minds and makes you look more trustworthy, according to some studies.


However, the tone of voice also differs based on your audience. You probably wouldn’t use the same language to address teenage boys as you would to communicate to B2B customer management software users.


Try to be appropriate and relevant and let a copywriter know the tone of voice. You might already have some content written that way, so why not include the examples in the brief.


Audience


After defining your tone of voice, describe who is most likely to read it. You don’t have to go as specific as to age, gender, occupation, and hair color, but a few details on the target audience can be helpful.


The audience is a bit different than a tone of voice because when a copywriter is writing, they can refer to that audience to be more personal, using the set tone of voice.


How long should a brief be?


There’s no ideal number of words or pages for a brief. A lot depends on a specific task — as long as you give useful details and not just a few words that popped in your head right that second, you should be fine. Also, you don’t need to write half of the article, it’s better to give room for creativity.


Content brief template


Words would be just words if I didn’t give any content brief example. I’m a content writer, and after more than four years of working in the field, I’ve received many, many briefs. Some were good and turned into effortless work, and others not so much.


While your or a copywriter’s preferences might be different, here’s what I think a brief for this article should look like if it was a task from a client.


(A little tip for writers: even if you write the content yourself for your own blog or portfolio, writing a brief is an excellent way to have more direction and stay consistent).

Topic: How to prepare a content brief for a copywriter


The goal, intention: show authority, be informational.


Keywords:


seo content brief

what is a content brief

content brief example

copywriter brief


Questions to answer:


How do you write a brief?

How long should a brief be?

What makes a good brief?


The number of words: 1200-1800


Content structure:


  • What is a content brief?

  • What makes a good brief?

  • What makes a bad brief?

  • How do you write a brief

  • The intent

  • SEO metrics (main keywords, anchor texts…)

  • The number of words

  • Structure of the content

  • Examples and competing websites

  • Tone of voice

  • The audience

  • How long should a brief be?

  • Content brief example


Examples:

https://www.stateofdigital.com/brief-a-freelance-writer-9-essential-steps/

https://www.charityandbiscuits.com/blog/brief-copywriter-six-simple-steps-free-template/

https://damngoodwriters.com/post/how-to-write-a-copywriting-brief


Previously written articles:

https://www.writtenaway.com/post/6-reasons-to-hire-a-freelancer https://www.writtenaway.com/post/how-to-generate-blog-topics https://www.writtenaway.com/post/how-to-make-your-business-blog-more-relevant


Information resources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1094996817300579 http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=147717

https://yoast.com/blog-post-word-count-seo/

https://backlinko.com/google-ctr-stats


The tone of voice: Conversational, casual, but informative.


Audience: small business owners, marketers, project managers, creatives.


Egle-rackauskaite-writer_edited.jpg

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

My name is Egle, I’m a freelance content writer and strategist living in the Canary Islands.  

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