by Steve Kellas

I recently spent some time working at a client’s premises as a freelance copywriter. This face-to-face collaboration can be a great to work, but it’s not always necessary. I often work via email and telephone without meeting my clients in person (a wonder of modern technology and working standards).

What most impressed me about this company was the briefing. It was thorough and made the project go quickly. It also meant that they were pleased with the results the first time around.

Why a better brief is better for everyone

I see a lot of copywriting briefs and have learned how to ask a lot of questions to get the information I need. In fact, I believe one of the ways to tell you’re working with a good freelance copywriter is by the number of questions he or she is asking you at the briefing stage.

Giving your freelance copywriter a solid brief makes good business sense. If you provide everything your writer needs upfront, you will save yourself (and your copywriter) a lot of time later on.

More than that though, putting together a better brief gives you the time you need as a business person, marketer or communications professional to clearly understand what it is you want to achieve with your copywriter’s help.

The clearer your brief, the better the copywriting will be.

How you can give a better brief

There were two things the client did with her brief to me that really stood out as best-practices. They are inter-related, yet each is essential:

  1. Have a goal: Somewhere in the back of your mind you have a reason for hiring a freelance copywriter; this is the time to articulate it. Maybe your current copy isn’t on brand, or it’s not written for web readers. Perhaps you have a new product or sales approach to talk about. Whatever it is, make sure that your writer (and you) know what the copy is supposed to do: articulate the brand tone of voice, provide a better reading experience for online readers, showcase or sell the new product, or convert readers to buyers. Whatever the goal, state it. You’ll thank me for this when you receive your first drafts.
  2. Keep it focussed on your goal: Strong copywriting is focussed on getting the reader to take action on the desired outcome. Your brief should follow suit. State your goal first in the brief and then keep the information you provide focussed only on that goal. The temptation will be to include everything you can think of. Avoid this. Only include the necessary information so that the writer doesn’t become confused or include content that is out of date or inappropriate.

Stuck?

Don’t worry. I appreciate that knowing what you want from copywriting before you see it can be a difficult job. But it is imperative to work this out ahead of time.

If you’re having trouble articulating what you want the copy to do, I suggest speaking with the copywriter and assembling the brief together. Your writer will ask you questions that will help steer the brief toward a solid (and agreed upon) goal.

This should make for a happy and productive copywriter relationship, and it will definitely give the copy itself much more power and persuasion.

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