A content brief is an important document that outlines the goals and objectives of your content. It also includes information about what you want to accomplish with it, who the audience is, and how they will benefit from reading it. This article discusses what a content brief is, why you should write one for your next project, and how to go about doing so.
A content brief is a set of instructions to tell another writer how to write content. Typically in the form of a blog post but can be done on landing pages, white papers, or any other projects which require content creation. If not done then you run into the danger of receiving poor content that doesn’t meet your requirements.
As a content creator, you sometimes forget other writers don’t know or care about your content the same way you do. Using a content brief within your content creation process will make sure everyone’s on the same page and understand what they need to write about, how it needs to be done, and why it’s important for your business or marketing efforts.
What Is a Content Brief?
A content brief is a succinct description of the type of content you’ll need to be created, who you’ll produce it for, and what you expect to achieve. Its purpose is to get you and your writers on the same page before you begin production.
A content brief can also be done in two forms, either as a written document or as a verbal dialogue, depending on the best way to interact.
Some businesses will always prefer to use a formal brief, whether because it’s their usual approach or because it works well for them. Sometimes a content team will instead choose to use tools like Discord, Skype, or other texting apps.
There are many ways to brief your writer. But if you were my client, I would suggest that you put the project brief in writing so they know what is expected of them and it can be referred back to unlike verbal.
Why Start with a Content Brief?
The importance of a written content brief is to cover the piece of content you need to be written, what has to be contained, and what you want your end result to be.
This is especially helpful when creating outsourced content for freelance writers because they don’t know who they are writing for or which keywords need to go where.
Without a brief, there would be no instructions, or style guide, for the writer to follow on how to write the article so that any search engine optimization (SEO) benefits are optimized.
The content would also lack a specified voice, which is necessary if you want the writer to communicate with your target audience in an effective way.
Any content marketing strategy should include a content brief, regardless of whether you’re going to outsource it. It’s the only way for you and your writers to be on the same page about everything that should go into an article or blog post before they start writing anything.
When to Use a Blog Content Brief
Whenever you are using other writers, whether internal or outsourcing the content creation to other agencies or freelancers, you should give them a brief on what to do.
Managing this beforehand will ensure what is created matches your need and will ensure editing time is cut down. With a blog brief, you can also keep track of what’s been updated and completed on your website.
Who Should Create the Content Brief?
The owner, content managers, or hired SEO team member should write the briefs for any new projects they are starting but if it is an ongoing project with another agency or other experienced writers then the brand owner should create the brief as this will give you an insight into how your content is being created.
If you have a copywriter on staff then some of this stuff can still be outlined with briefs but it’s also important that they are given creative license so they don’t feel like they’re working to a brief.
The Elements of an Effective Outsourced Article Content Brief
There are some key parts to content briefs and there are other parts that can be skipped, I do the below to ensure my content always comes back how I expect it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list nor one you have to follow but it does ensure that you and your writers are on the same page.
The SEO title is the title the blog post will feature when published, it has to be under a certain character count and provide a reason to click.
A huge factor in article success is to have a title that conveys the keyword, the search intent, and why you are the right answer.
A good title will get the searcher to your blog content and will give you the chance to convert them into a reader or visitor, they should get lots of love and attention and not be an after-thought.
SEO Meta Description
On an SEO meta description, you are providing the details of what the searcher will see on the search engine page underneath the SEO title, it is usually limited to around 160 characters in length before being truncated.
This is where you can use partial match keywords and tell them why this is where they want to go and more depth and detail to the title.
This should be written in an enticing tone that gets them excited about reading the content after they click on the result, make this good but don’t lead them on in a negative way.
This is really just to help the writer understand the information you are providing within your content brief and doesn’t need to be included in the final article.
It helps them to understand your focus on the topic and where you think this could or should go, this helps to align your request to the writer and give them a direction.
Who is the article for? It’s important to give your writer an idea of who the article is aimed at so they can create a high-quality piece of content that matches this need.
If you are creating a blog about cooking, make it clear if you want recipes or advice on how to cook certain foods and what level of knowledge is expected.
Make sure you provide a clear image of who you want it written for, a beginner with absolutely no knowledge, or is it for a professional who knows everything about the subject?
Primary Keywords or Focus Keywords
Typically you have one specific focus keyword for your post, it may contain many more but there is a single one you are intending to rank with.
I always want to include it specifically called out so that the writer can make sure to use it or variations of it within the overall content without keyword stuffing.
Try hard not to try and include too many keywords in any one post or you may muddle the information and start to go off-topic from the main point you intended to make.
These are all the additional LSI or semantic keywords that you would like to get added to the article, you can get them from tools like SEMrush. These can help provide content to search engines and help round out how the content reads.
These may many times just be variations on the main keyword or if the keyword is longer it may be portions that would make up the shorter tailed version of the keyword.
Expected Word Count
If there is a single post in the overall briefs sent then you would want to provide how long you want it to be, this is a good indicator of how much research or information you have on the topic.
If there are going to be multiple posts, such as in a series, then you can choose to instead provide what you would prefer the average word count to be across the content itself and let them adjust as necessary.
Internal Links and External Links
In this section you can provide relevant internal links that you would like them to point at along with the anchor text to use, this will allow the writer to find a way to naturally bring the other links you want to be added.
If there are external sources you need or want them to reference and link to within the content then this is a place to add these to give the writer the chance to use them within the article as they write it.
This is just what it reads above, if there are good competitive posts in the SERP already this can be where you provide them to the writer to give them a chance to maybe look them over to see the direction they took the post.
This will help them in researching what they, and you, would like to use within your post as well as see how it may be different from the other posts out there.
If you need a specific call to action then you want to add it to the brief to ensure that they are prepared to fit the CTA into the post.
This can also let them know where in the post you are hoping the CTA is to be added so they can plan out the overall layout of the post.
This will be all other information you want to provide them that doesn’t fit into any of the other buckets you have created.
Sometimes this could include images or other useful things you plan to add or use within the post that you want them to know about.
The Tone of Voice and Writing Style
How do you want this article or post to be written, in first-person, in third-person, or something else entirely? Help them out as much as you can here to make it easier for them.
This is also a good place to let them know what tone of voice or writing style you typically have used within other posts so they can match up. You can include any words they should specifically use or not include this will help reduce edits later on in the process.
What is the timeframe you need the post to be completed in? You can include a date or just provide them the expected time frame and they will adjust it as necessary.
You may also want to add notes about what kind of timeframe you typically need posts by so that they know when your best times are for providing content so you don’t get behind.
What Are The Benefits of Content Briefs?
That all may seem like a LOAD of work but with time you get to be very fast and efficient at building content briefs, so much so that it can be done in under 15 minutes.
The biggest benefit is that they provide the writer with all of the information they need upfront to ensure there are no questions or confusion later on about what you want within your post.
Reduce Content Production Costs
A key to a good brief structure and consistent use will be an overall reduction in costs, as your writers will be able to complete more pieces within a shorter timeframe and give you the results you want.
Without content briefs, it can take much longer for your writer(s) to get what they need from their research as well as oftentimes miss key points or links that would make the post better overall.
By providing them with everything upfront you can reduce those costs and ensure they are only bringing in high-quality posts instead of ones that may never see the light of day because there are too many errors, flaws, or incomplete information within it.
Increase Consistency Among Writers
Another thing is that they help build consistency across multiple writers for any type of blog offering as well as projects where more than one person might be writing at once.
One issue many will face is that when they use outsourcing platforms, such as Passion Posts, is that they have many writers and your content will be sent to multiple writers to be written at the same time.
If not done then this will frequently lead to consistency issues and more than likely a lot of edit time spent along with back and forth between you and the writer or agency.
This is because each person will write something different, even if it isn’t much, which can lead to some posts being very similar while others are quite unique.
By having them follow along with your briefs helps ensure they all work from the same information overall.
Improve Content’s Search Rankings
Providing key SEO items like keywords, titles, and meta descriptions will allow the writer to work with them and use those when they create the post, which can help improve your overall search rankings.
This will also allow you to add in any additional information that might be useful for their research such as links or other keywords that may lead them into writing a better-quality article than if they didn’t have access to all of these items upfront.
Hit Delivery Deadlines
The last big benefit will come from the sheer speed you will be able to get the post back in your hands, as they can begin writing immediately after receiving your brief.
This helps move things along faster and reduces any waiting time on their end while also allowing them to send it over sooner rather than later so that you have more time to review it before publishing.
If you have writers who with a brief can’t hit your deadlines you either have a poor ability to gauge the time required or you need to look for a new writer.
2 Tools to Speed Up Content Brief Creation
If you are interested in ways to speed up your brief generation to save time then there are a few tools that can help with this.
One way is to use pre-made content brief templates for your writers, which you can find online and download as a word document, this is the lowest cost but more manual way.
Another option is to make the creation of content briefs within software tools that are built to help you pull the information out of the search engines and pop right into templates you can send in less than 10 minutes, for this I personally use Frase.
Frase.io Features Content Brief Generation
I currently choose to use Frase as it has been a perfect fit for me and I seem to just “get” it. Frase allows me to easily and simply create content briefs by just providing the focus or primary keyword.
After you start a new document with this focus keyword it will pull in all the content around the top 20 SERP results, giving you an insight into how your competition has written allowing for a concise brief generation.
SurferSEO Features Content Brief Generation
Many content strategists will use SurferSEO as it has a great feature inside the Content Editor which allows you to build an outline or shell of the post.
The outline builder is the most sophisticated aspect of the Brief. It includes proposed headings and unique paragraphs that were developed based on competitor content.
Click on sections to paste them into the editor one by one. In minutes, create a rich content outline for your writer.