It’s ironic that something that demands so much detail should be referred to as a ‘brief’. Like most freelance copywriters, I don’t just work with one client. At any given time, I can be juggling website copy for several different industries and for businesses of varying size.
Working remotely, it’s even more important that a copywriter knows exactly who their clients are and this involves more than just a quick glance at their website. So how do copywriters ensure that what they create is relevant and specific to a business’ values and overall aims? Well, I’d like to introduce you to a copywriter’s best friend, the copywriting brief.
The Importance of a Tight Brief
All too often are copywriters faced with the reply of ‘Can’t you just write a post about XYZ?’ when prompting a client for more information about a project. Of course, we could just write a post about XYZ but the chances of it meeting the client’s requirements would be slim to none. And how long would it take to rewrite the post after being told it wasn’t any good?
A detailed brief means a copywriter is more likely to get it right first time, meaning clients get their final copy quicker. It also means that the copywriter has to ask less questions throughout the writing process. Taking the time to write a full brief for a copywriter in the early stages of a project saves everyone time, money and ultimately results in a far more effective piece of writing.
Saving Time and Money (For Everyone)
The truth is, writing a detailed brief takes time. However, it’s worth investing this time in the initial stages of a project as it can take just as long for a copywriter to rewrite a post that doesn’t meet requirements. Good copywriters find themselves in demand week on week and often have to schedule their writing tasks weeks in advance, which doesn’t leave much time for rewrites. An unclear brief can often result in a client having to wait several days for a rewrite to be done, which isn’t ideal for anyone.
Having a full brief in place also saves money in the long run. Most freelance copywriter’s fees account for research time so if a client decides to use that copywriter again in the future, the chances are their quote will be lower than before, seeing as they already know all about the business and what the copy needs to achieve.
It’s As Much About Relationships As It Is About Writing
As a digital marketer as well as a copywriter, I’ve done the outsourcing as well as having been outsourced myself. In my experience, the best copy tends to come from writers with which clients have the best working relationship, developed through good communication. For a copywriter, a job well done often means repeat work and from a client’s perspective, knowing a writer who will deliver great results is a valuable resource. What’s more, with content marketing now high on the agenda of many businesses marketing strategies, copywriting is now being thought of as a long term, on going investment.
Below, is the copywriting brief template I use to gather as much information as possible about a client’s background, industry and copywriting requirements. Feel free to use this brief as a guide for your own projects.
What does your business do?
How big is your company?
What are your unique selling points?
Who are your main competitors?
Who is your target audience?
Who is your typical customer?
Where are your customers based?
What solutions do you offer your customers?
What does your branding say about your business?
What tone should the content take?
Does you project have a deadline?
Is this a ‘one off’ project or a recurring need?
If the project is recurring, how often would you like your content? (E.g. one blog post per week)
What subject do you want us to write about?
Do you have particular page titles in mind?
How many words per page?
Do you have a list of specific SEO keywords?
Do you require blog content as well?
Where will these posts be published?
What are your experiences of writing to briefs? What do you consider to be a good copywriting brief? Are there any questions you’d add to the template above? I’d love to hear your thoughts.