How to brief a freelance copywriter

13 October 2022
4 minutes

Winning content starts with a good briefing

To brief a freelance copywriter and translators efficiently is the foundation for a successful and effective piece of content. However, if you are not clear on the requirements for a content brief, your creation process will cost all stakeholders (including you) more time, effort and energy than you would like it to, despite your good intentions. Furthermore, the delivered content will not be as effective as it could have been.

A good briefing contains more than just the basic details like number of words, audience and type of touchpoint (although obviously these are essential). With the right information, your freelancer will be able to create great content that creates an impact on your audience and does what it is supposed to do. 

In this blog, we will guide you through some essential elements of your briefing, so that next time you create one, you will be able to impress your content writer with the best briefing they have ever seen!

Outline the specifics of the content to brief a freelance copywriter

First of all, it is essential that you provide a clear context for your freelance writer. Obviously, your briefing should contain all the basics:

  • Word count (e.g. between 600-800 words)
  • Content type (e.g. social media, blog, whitepaper)
  • Is it part of a series? If so, make sure to provide context and examples.
  • Format of the document (e.g. Word, Google document or PPT)
  • Language (e.g. UK English, US English, Dutch)
  • Target audience/customer persona (e.g. marketing manager, small business owner)
  • Purpose of the content: what you are trying to achieve (e.g. lead generation, sales)
  • Message: what is the main message for the audience? (e.g. company ABC is the most reliable partner for XYZ)
  • Benefit: what is the benefit of your product/brand/company for the audience? People do not buy features, they want to know what these features can do for them.
  • Call to action: what do you want the audience to do? (e.g. visit website, call)
  • Search terms/keywords
  • Relevant sources of information (e.g. specific web pages, whitepapers)
  • Brand guidelines including tone of voice
  • Deadline
  • Would you like the writer to interview a customer or expert? Please let them know when this person is available. Keep in mind that freelancers are paid by the word. Discuss an hourly rate with your customer success manager if you expect extensive research from them.  
image of a person holding a note book and briefing another person

Sufficient background information

Additionally, unless the content writer already has sufficient previous experience with writing for your organisation, the quality of your content will greatly benefit if you can provide the following:

  • Information on the business you are in, like key information about the company including products and services, history, customer types. An elevator pitch or sales sheet is also a valuable inclusion, as this is a summary of all the important data.
  • Additional information on your audience, e.g. pain points, specific interests, specific needs.
  • Some background information about the market and the competition.
  • Glossary or terminology overview, so the writer can use the right language.
  • Stage of the customer journey this piece of content is aimed at.

In general, make sure your writer understands your company or brand very well. When writing a piece of content, it is important that it does not only fit in with existing communication, but it should build on existing assets and communication in order to further grow your brand. Therefore make sure your writer has sufficient background information about your organisation and your brand.

Share some successful existing materials, and if you don’t have any, make sure to share ones that are not so successful, and explain why. It is very useful to see what works, and sometimes maybe even more useful to see what does not.

Although this might sound contradictory to everything we discussed previously, sufficient information is essential, but make sure to only share what is relevant. A content writer who is briefed to write one 400-word blog, will not be happy if they have to read through hundreds of pages of information to understand the context. It is fine to provide extensive information, but make sure to indicate what parts are of specific importance as briefing.

Don’ts when you brief a freelance copywriter

Lastly, unfortunately there are also quite a few don’ts in content briefing creation. For example:

  • Sharing too much information without indicating what is important to know. The writer will most likely drown in the information and focus on the wrong topic as a result.
  • Sharing too little information. The writer will have to guess the context, which will result in extra feedback rounds (which is no fun for either side).
  • Trying to put too many messages in one piece of content. There is only so much your audience can absorb, so make sure to focus and sharpen the messaging.Providing insufficient context, always make sure to include sufficient information on the audience and the market, for example.
content creators that get briefed for a new content marketing project

The perfect briefing

All in all, writing the perfect briefing may not be easy, but it is definitely worth the extra effort. If you are in doubt if you have provided the right amount of information, just make sure to check in with your writer when they have had some time to go through the briefing. Every company is different, and so is every briefing. Just remember that the quality of your content will increase considerably with a great briefing.

Boost your content and create real impact with a 5-star briefing next time. It will pay off in the quality of your content, and your (freelance) content writer will thank you.

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