Whether you have your own team of in-house writers, work with individual freelance writers or outsource your writing projects to a content development agency, you will certainly vouch for the importance of creating proper briefs for the same. It’s, after all, a determining factor that plays a big hand in getting the best out of a writer. But this is an aspect that is largely neglected by website owners or companies and it ultimately leads to a multitude of problems in the future. Every client wants their writers to convey their vision, mission and goals in the best possible manner. However, project briefs do not often go hand in hand with client objectives and this sets the ball rolling for some confusing times ahead!
For example, just saying to a writer that you need an article written on ‘wildlife’ is unbelievably obscure. What is it about wildlife that you want covered – tours, activities to do, photography, conservation or institutes? Even if you say you want an article on ‘wildlife tours’ or ‘wildlife activities to do’, it sounds vague. You should try to be as specific as possible based on your target market, readers’ interest and any other thing in particular you may plan to explore.
Always remember that the ‘control button’ is in your hands; you have all the freedom to decide what details you want the writer to include and what specific message the article should convey to readers. This is the only way to get the best value for your money when working with writers, whether hired or your own.
If you’re planning to create a crystal-clear brief for writers, you should understand the basic responsibilities of writers, the components that an ideal brief includes and what you, as a company, are expected to do.
Basic Responsibilities of Writers
Contemporary writers are expected to adhere to the basic blueprint given to them by the client. They have to align their content impeccably with specific purposes and objectives of the client. Writers are expected to be abreast of a couple of essential things while working on any content writing assignment.
Here are they –
> Website, company or organization of the client
> The specific domain written for
> Sub topics and areas covered under the domain in question
> Other specific requirements of the client
The situation can turn quite messy for writers in case they receive a vaguely incomplete brief from their clients. Endless clarifications and last-moment reworking are time consuming activities and may be impossible at times owing to insurmountable communication barriers.
The Ideal Brief
There is nothing as a perfect assignment brief if one looks at it that way. But a few essential components must be contained in any project brief to make life a lot easier for writing professionals engaged with the same.
An ideal brief should always contain –
> Proper guidelines with regard to the type of writing desired, i.e. blogs, press releases, brochures, descriptions, SEO, articles, web content and more
> The specific product/idea/website/domain that the client wants to focus on
> The expected word count for every individual content piece
> Specific deadlines with regard to delivery and draft submissions
> Ample information about the company, its founders, objectives, mission, vision, goals and other details
> Point of contact for writers in case of any confusion
> Specific writing and research style guidelines, if any
> Clear formatting and typesetting instructions
> Major sub areas and points to be covered under each topic
> Special instructions pertaining to target readers, promotional aspects, client objectives and the like
> Any other information or links that may prove helpful as reference and food for thought
This is what a standard brief for writers should include. Depending on the nature of the project, however, your brief might include a couple more components. Feel free to add more to the list to make the brief a best fit for your individual needs.
What Companies Should Do
Companies and individual clients should definitely look to prepare comprehensive (and illuminating) briefs for their writers. This saves a lot of time and prevents financial losses caused due to last minute changes and constantly evolving instructions. Alongside, it also immensely helps writers create content as exactly desired by clients without straying into unfamiliar territory.
Companies should always keep the following points in mind while preparing a brief for writers –
> Be specific about the writing angle that you want for your products or services, i.e. whether writers should adopt a formal or informal style or maybe attempt something more conversational and so on
> Try to educate the writer as much as possible about your own company history and why your products/services are a viable proposition for your targeted customers
> If you want your writer to take cues from your competitors, provide links and other information which will help them get a good idea of what you’re essentially expecting
> Don’t expect writers to understand prevalent formatting styles on their own; provide commonly followed guidelines for your press releases, blogs, SEO articles and descriptions
> Put yourself in the writer’s shoes when you read through the document at the very end
> If you desire a subtle thrust on particular content areas or ideas encased within a general topic, point this out to the writer in question at the very outset. Refrain from relying on implicit understanding in this regard
> When dealing with SEO, list out your own keywords or at least specify the kind of keywords the writer should target for the assignment
> If you have your own ideas regarding titles, be sure to convey the same in the brief along with a few helpful suggestions
> Always make yourself available for discussions and consultation as this can put a spanner in the works otherwise
> Follow up with your writer at least once or twice even after they claim to have understood your brief to the T!
The 3W and 1H cardinal rule must be followed while creating project briefs, namely the what, why, where and how of the assignment. Preparing a fantastically illuminating brief is possible with the investment of a little time and effort on the part of companies. This does a good job of enhancing the overall project productivity while certainly boosting your writers to a greater extent.
Do you create briefs for writers when you want a specific content writing assignment completed? Please feel free to leave a comment.