How to write an amazing copywriting brief

How to write an amazing copywriting brief

Want to make sure your content matches your business needs? Start with a strong copywriting brief

Top-tier copywriting starts with a clear, comprehensive brief — an outline of the task at hand. If your copywriter doesn’t know what you’re looking for in a piece of content, what the point of the piece is, or the important information you want them to include, they’re not going to do a good job. 

Even if they’re able to write anything at all, they’ll find the task tedious and frustrating. And the likelihood is, they won’t produce content that you’re happy with!

Why are briefs important?

Communication is inseparable from how we interact with one another — in all areas of life. Would you expect a waiter to know your food order without telling them? Would you expect an estate agent to find you your dream house without first sharing your preferences with them? 

No — of course not!

The same goes for copywriting. Completing a brief is akin to telling your copywriter exactly what you want from your article, press release, product descriptions, or website copy. It not only gives them a starting point, but also informs them about the purpose of the piece, who the intended audience is, the word count you’re looking for, and the key details it needs to include.

It also provides them with guidance on your brand’s tone of voice (ToV), whether you’ll be needing metadata, royalty-free images, or other media, and any keywords that they should include in the copy.

How long should a brief be?

How detailed a brief needs to be will depend on the type and length of the piece, whether the copywriter has worked with the client or brand before, and the complexity of the topic amongst other factors. It’s important to keep in mind that a longer brief doesn’t necessarily mean a better brief. 

Sure, if a brief is too short, a copywriter will have major issues producing the right content for their client. However, it’s possible to overload a copywriter with information. An over-long brief runs the risk of including superfluous, tangential, or contradictory information, which can be confusing and misleading. This can actually make it harder for a copywriter to do their job or make them feel like the client has a vision they’ll never be able to perfectly match.

Briefs make client and copywriter relationships easier

It’s also important to mention that briefs make it much easier for clients and copywriters to communicate with each other about the work. Briefs help the client lay out their needs in simple, clear terms that both parties can understand. If there are any issues with the work not meeting the client’s expectations, the copywriter and client can look back at the brief together to figure out what went wrong. 

Having everything down on paper provides an excellent checklist for assessing whether a copywriter hasn’t followed instructions or whether a client has simply changed their mind about what they want — forgetting that the copywriter won’t automatically know this too! This makes briefs all the more important when clients are paying for the work to be completed, as it will help a third party assess whether a copywriter has or has not completed a job to the agreed standard.

What should a copywriting brief include?

Instead of just explaining what to include in a copywriting brief, we thought it might be easier to show you! 

Whether you’re a copywriter looking for a brief template to give to your clients or a client hoping to get in touch with a copywriter with a ready-to-go brief, our template below should help…

This brief is for our imaginary client – Rosie’s Ice cream Shop. Business owner, Rosie, is looking for a short blog post for her website. She wants it to be a helpful, enjoyable read but also boost her site’s SEO. She’s happy for the copywriter to get creative and run with their own ideas, but is specific with what she wants the title of the blog to be. 

Rosie has never hired a copywriter before so is new to the brief-writing process. This is the copywriting brief that Rosie and her writer came up with together.

Example brief

Copywriting brief example

All the information on the right is specific to Rosie’s content order. It tells the writer exactly what Rosie wants, the areas that Rosie is fine for them to get creative with (e.g. Making their own H2s), and also what she doesn’t need (e.g. images). 

The writer has a structure to work with and a clear idea of the aim of the article.

Can you just have a phone call with your copywriter?

If you’re a company with an in-house copywriter, you might be comfortable with verbally discussing the content that they’ll be creating. This usually works out fine for a few reasons. They might have a role in planning the content, they will know the brand inside and out, and they will know that you can work through issues with the content together. If you’re used to working this way, you might not need to create briefs.

However, in other instances, is it ever acceptable to skip the brief? Short answer: No. If you’re working with a freelance copywriter or a copywriting agency, briefs are crucial (for all the reasons we’ve already discussed). While it might seem like you could chat about everything usually covered by a brief over the phone, these conversations often have a lot of ideas bouncing around and don’t usually end with a set of clear guidelines. A copywriter could take notes as they chat to a client, but this leaves room for mistakes and misunderstandings — which can end up wasting everyone’s time further down the line.

Whether you’re a copywriter or client, trust us and save yourself the heartbreak — use a brief! Even if the conversation starts off over the phone, make sure there is a brief (or at least notes) that both parties can view and sign off before any writing begins.

Three women working

Looking for expertly-crafted content?

If you’re looking for an experienced, professional copywriter to create your articles, blog posts, press releases, or product descriptions, contact the Zipcopi team today. We’ll chat through the brief-writing process to ensure your copy never disappoints. We can also match you with the best writer for the job. 

Drop us a line to discuss how we can help your business with its content needs.