Once you’ve made the decision to outsource content creation, you’ll want to develop a process that is simple, consistent and produces great results every time. Achieving this is largely down to the quality and accuracy of your content brief, a document that allows professional writers to understand your requirements quickly, and respond to them accurately.
Our content creators at OYM are in no doubt that a clear brief for a piece of work both speeds up the writing process and produces better results for the client. Drawing on their experience of the good, the bad and the ugly in content briefs, we asked them to create a simple guide to writing an effective content brief. Here’s the result.
Need to Write an Effective Content Brief? Here’s the Guide
Blogs are, by far, the most common task for content creators. We’ve used them as an example for our guide, therefore. As you’ll see, though, it’s pretty simple to use our question format to translate it into a brief for a podcast script, a webinar, or even a ‘how to’ video. Our guide is made up of 7 key questions content writers need answers to in order to produce blogs with the highest ROI for clients.
1. How Long Should Content Be?
Blogs are getting longer. Content exceeding 2,000 words is now getting the most shares. On average though, most company blogs are between 800 – 1,000 words. Content creators need to know the length because it will determine how the writing is shaped, and how long it will take to write. A lengthier blog has more space to develop an argument, whereas shorter blogs tend to be more information based.
2. What is the Topic?
Coming up with a ‘blog topic’ can send clients into a panic. Your content writer can provide a lot of help defining the topic, but they need a clear steer to get them going.
If you know the ‘kind’ of blog you want, you could include a link and ask for something like it. Sometimes clients ask writers to take a look at a competitor’s site to get an idea for the topic. The topic description could be as generic as ‘Content Briefs’, or comprise a sentence like: “Lots of our customers are confused about how to order from us, so the blog should take them through the process.”
3. What Keywords Should be Included?
Keywords tell your content writer what you want your blog to rank for. This will determine the kind of content included. You’ll need a main keyword (which you haven’t used before), and up to 5 secondary keywords that may have been used previously. If you’re unfamiliar with keyword research, you can ask your content writer to do it for you but it will add to the time they’re spending on creating your content.
4. Should There be Graphs, Charts, Images?
Knowing what you want your blog to look like is really helpful to writers. They know how much information to translate into diagrams, or whether visual storytelling is what you’re looking for. Creating diagrams is a pretty simple process, but searching for high quality images can be time-consuming, or expensive, or both. If you have an account with Shutterstock (or any paid image provider), include the account details, as this will save time and energy.
5. What is the Tone of Voice?
Tone is all about how you speak to your readers. Your writer needs to know if they’re writing for experts, if there should be humour, and whether the style should be professional, friendly, or quirky. A helpful brief would be: “Friendly, emotive language. Humour but not overdone. You understand the reader’s pain points, but you have a solution.” The MailChimp Content Style Guide is an excellent example.
6. External/Internal Links?
If you’re wanting to drive readers to a specific page, or pages on your web site, it’s important to let writers know this in advance. They can then weave the content naturally around these links. Adding links in once the piece is written can end up looking spammy, or unnatural. Do you want to link with specific external organisations, or brands? Be clear about how many external links and their purpose.
7. What’s the Aim of the Piece?
It seems odd to have this last, but – in fact – it’s how the writing process tends to work. You gather up the ingredients first, then you mix them together to achieve a specific result. Goals are unique to each business – here’s a couple of examples:
- Demonstrate to readers that our customer service goes the extra mile
- Show why we’re way ahead of competitors on price and quality in our region
- Explain how easy it is to set up the software and start using the product
If there are any specific resources that would help the writer to achieve your goal, such as interviews, statistics, professional credentials or customer feedback, include them in your brief. Writers may discover them independently but don’t assume that they will.
About OYM Content Creators
The OYM team has been creating content for a range of clients, large and small, for over a decade now. We write blogs, case studies, and white papers, but we also create architectural visualisations for property developers, SEO enriched copy for websites, and scripts for podcasts and webinars.