Companies work with outsourced content creators, assigning writing tasks regularly. But no matter how hard they try to provide a writer with instructions, they often get content that misses the mark. Creative briefs can help solve this problem.
World-famous time management expert Brian Tracy insists that planning out the work ahead of doing it can save you around 25% of the time.
It means every 10 minutes you spend upfront planning a content piece for your marketing campaign can save over an hour of time completing it. The proper planning of a content piece for assigning to outsourced content makers will help you save even more resources:
- You won't have to deal with further explanations.
- You’ll eliminate poor writers.
- You'll get the desired result and save tons of time on proofreading and revising writers’ drafts.
This article will reveal the elements to include in briefs and share practical tips for more efficient work and communication with outsourced content creators.
What Is a Creative Brief?
A creative brief is a written strategy of your project, outlining the details such as scope, goals, timeline, budget, target audience, process, and other critical information.
Speaking of creative briefs for content makers:
A creative brief is also a set of instructions for a writer to understand how to draft your piece of content (a blog post, a white paper, a landing page, etc.).
That's what a brief for guest writers looks like at Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform:
As a rule, it's product marketing or SEO departments that write creative briefs for outsourced specialists when in need of specific content. However, in-house content teams can also craft briefs for guest writers or freelancers they hire to help with numerous content initiatives.
Why You Need a Brief Template for Outsourced Writers
With no detailed brief at hand, your company is at risk of getting content that doesn't meet your expectations. Such drafts will require extra resources for revisions from you, taking more time and money.
Plus, poorly written instructions frustrate responsible content creators:
These writers might not understand what you want, bother you with further questions, and be unsatisfied when you provide suggestions after they've finished the draft already.
The solution could be a brief template you'd fill in every time when assigning a new task to a content creator.
With its help, you'll:
- Clarify content requirements and prevent further questions from writers
- Avoid misunderstandings with a writer and claims against their work quality
- Get the desired result, with no need for heavy edits
- Eliminate poor writers
- Save time on revising drafts
Elements to Include in Your Creative Brief
Below are the main criteria to include in a creative brief and prescribe to content creators in detail:
- Topic suggestions
- Target audience
- Word count
- Issues to cover
- Intended result
1. Topic Suggestions
Provide a content creator with a topic of the future asset.
The ideal variant would be to give a ready title but tell the writer is free to suggest a few alternative title options.
Seasoned content creators may know how to elevate your idea better, providing powerful, strategic topics for your asset.
So don't limit them here; after all, it's up to you to choose the title's final version later.
Mention a format of your assigned asset in the content brief.
Is it a case study, a tutorial, a listed/how-to blog post, or a landing page for e-commerce?
Such information will help a writer structure the content in the best way possible.
3. Target Audience
Ensure to mention the target audience of a content asset when assigning it.
A writer needs to understand who'll read the article. It will help decide on the tone of voice, lexical items to use while writing, issues to cover, calls to action to choose, examples to use, etc.
Consider sharing your buyer persona with a writer, if applicable. Otherwise, mention their background, pain points, and how they expect to benefit from your content.
4. Word Count
Specify how many words you expect from a content creator to submit. It's a critical element, especially when dealing with SEO writing and Google algorithms: There's the optimal length for your article to get more chances for high rankings.
Additional Reading: ‘2022 Small Business SEO Report’
Conduct keyword research for a content piece you're going to assign and provide a writer with primary and secondary terms to include. The details in a creative brief depend on your writer's background:
If assigning to a freelance writer with no SEO background, mention main and additional keywords and explain where to use them.
If assigning a task to professional SEO writers or agencies, you can also provide search volume for every keyword so content creators would understand which one to use in headings, text body, meta descriptions, URLs, etc.
6. Related Issues to Cover
When conducting keyword research for a content piece, you may find some related subtopics you'd like to include. Let a writer know about it.
You may provide a detailed, bullet-point outline for a content maker to follow step-by-step. This way, you ensure they'll cover everything you need, and you'll get the final draft faster.
However, such an approach may fail when working with in-house writers of some content marketing agencies: They may find it too prescriptive and limit their creativity.
In this case, provide a list of subtopics you'd like to see in content — and let them choose how and where to include it.
7. Links to Include, if any
If you want a writer to include particular links (both internal and external) to the content, let them know about it in your brief.
It can be a list of links to use, including specific statistics, research, and studies. Or, you can mention that you need "up to five external links to reputable resources," "at least three links to other articles from our blog," or other specific guidelines.
8. Competition to Avoid, if any
Outsourced content creators don't know your competitor websites and your policy concerning them.
If you don't want them to mention any competition in content, provide a list of resources to avoid:
Include these up front within a confirmation email or landing page.
9. Instructions for Visuals
Your creative brief for outsourced content makers should provide the information about visuals:
- How many images to include (minimum)
- What types of visuals to use (stock photos, screenshots, videos, featured images, etc.)
- Size and format (PNG, JPEG, you name it)
- How to provide visuals (insert them in a draft, send them as separate attachments via email, provide a link to the Google Doc folder with images, etc.)
Be specific as possible when leaving instructions for visuals.
10. Examples to Refer
Share a few examples of published content you love, with brief explanations of what you like about them:
- tone of voice
- the use of research and statistics
Consider your previous content, examples from direct competitors, or any other piece related to your niche.
This information will help a content creator better understand what you expect to see and deliver it the first time around.
11. Intended Result
It's an element most marketers often forget to mention in creative briefs: What is the goal of the specific content piece you assign? Do you want to establish relationships with customers, attract new followers, or encourage readers to buy from you?
Explain the intended result of that particular content piece to a writer.
It will help them understand how to push your product/service, optimize the article, and what CTA to choose for better results.
12. Deadline & Contacts
Mention a due date in your content brief for a writer to organize time accordingly and provide you with a high-quality draft when you expect it.
Be realistic and set attainable time frames. If possible, make a deadline flexible for a writer and ask to suggest the approximate due date.
Also, add names and contacts for a content creator to address if they have further questions.
A Creative Brief Template
With all the above elements in mind, include them in your creative brief's template.
Below is the one you can use:
Or feel free to come up with your own one and save it to fill in every time you need to assign a task to your outsourced specialist.
Tips for Efficient Work with Outsourced Writers
Besides the information to include in your creative brief, what about a few extra tips on making your work with outsourced specialists more effective? Please consider the following:
- Write and format a creative brief accordingly. Be specific and consider readability: Use subheadings, lists, bold and red fonts to specify the most critical elements, organize a brief as a table, etc.
- Assign briefs in editable Google Docs and encourage writers to submit drafts in the same document. It will save time revising. And please, be decent and specific with editorial suggestions for a writer to accept and deal with them quickly.
- Respect a content creator's expertise: Don't force them to use keywords "a certain number of times;" don't think of writers as if they don't know anything, just because they don't know your product, audience, and marketing processes. That's why you actually create a stellar brief: To give all the details a writer may need to provide you with stellar results.
With all this info in the pocket, it would be a mistake to underestimate the role of creative briefs for efficient work with content makers, agree? The better and more detailed your brief is, the better result you'll get.
Writing a Creative Brief is a Thorough Process
When working with outsourced specialists on content creation, it's critical to craft a professional brief for every project to ensure getting what you need.
Given all the above elements to include in a brief, the process of writing it from scratch can be intimidating and time-consuming. That's why it would help to have a premade template and fill it in for a particular task accordingly.
Hire a trusted digital marketing agency to help with your marketing projects!