When it comes to writing new content for your business, knowing how to write a copywriting brief will save you loads of time. Copywriting briefs are a great way to put into words exactly what you’re looking for, without endless Zoom calls and meetings with copywriters.
And copywriting briefs are mutually beneficial. As copywriters ourselves, we would always prefer a clear and concise brief instead of scribbled notes and screenshots of WhatsApp conversations. Even if you don't end up hiring a copywriter, writing down the details of a project will help you get a clearer idea of what you're looking for.
Here’s what to include in a copywriting brief.
You should firstly outline the general characteristics of the project: the name of it, a brief description of the activities, the personnel involved and any deadlines that have been set out (if applicable). It’s best to be as concise as possible, but if necessary you could also include some background information on the project. That could include the project objectives, the scope of it and any more details that you think are relevant to the writer.
Next, you should go through the details of the project and your company.
Type of content
Social media posts? Web pages? Blogs? Landing pages? If you're unsure about the format of the content, it might be worth asking the copywriter for their advice. As long as they understand your business and your aims with this project, they should be able to suggest some suitable forms of content.
Background information about your company
What do you do? What's your USP? What's your story? This provides some context to the project and helps the copywriter to understand your company. Here, you could also include some information about your target audience or ideal customer. This heavily influences the style and format of the content, so it's important to be as detailed as possible.
Format and purpose of the content
This is important because they really affect how a copywriter approaches the project. For example, landing pages tend to be written with the aim of converting a reader into a customer. Therefore, the language in a landing page is direct, concise and full of call-to-actions.
On the other hand, a blog could be your first chance to interact with new readers. Accordingly, the language of a blog should be more conversational and informational. You should be trying to educate the reader and provide them with valuable information, not necessarily converting them into a customer (yet).
Tone of voice
If you’ve already established a brand tone of voice then you should include the details of it in the brief. This could be in the form of a document, or it could just be an idea in your head. Either way, write it down. Include some keywords to help the copywriter understand your tone of voice.
Do you want to be seen as professional? Friendly? Corporate? Conversational? If you're unsure about how to describe your company's tone of voice, include some examples from other brands whose tone of voice you like, or some that are similar to yours.
A list of your competitors is another useful piece of information for copywriters to have. This helps them to understand what makes your business unique and how you can differentiate yourselves through copywriting.
For instance, let's say you're an insurance company. Brands in this industry tend to speak in a very corporate, formal way. A copywriter could distinguish you from competitors by employing a more friendly, conversational tone of voice in your content. Alternatively, you might want to stick to a tone of voice that is typical of your industry. It can work either way, and both options are valid.
Another important consideration for digital copywriting is SEO. If you already know which keywords should be targeted on each page then include that information. If not, you could ask your copywriter if they have a working knowledge of SEO. If they do, they will be able to research some relevant keywords for your business and structure the content around those keywords.
In the case of writing website or app content, it’s also important for the copywriter to be aware of its structure. Therefore including a sitemap or wireframes is a useful way for them to contextualise each piece of content and understand how it fits into the bigger picture. This is another factor that influences the final copy.
Now it's time to get into the nitty gritty of your project. Your copywriting brief should include a section on the specific deliverables of the project. How many blog posts do you need? What's the word limit? When's the deadline? Making these things clear from the start can really help copywriters to provide an accurate estimate.
As a company, this also allows you to understand exactly what will be delivered by the writer. It manages expectations and provides greater transparency for both parties.
Finally, it’s a good idea to include the logistics of delivering the project. Will it be written and sent using Google Docs or Microsoft Word files? Who should the content be sent to? Is there an agreed review and amendment process?
Whether you're a company or a copywriter, understanding how to write a copywriting brief will make the project run smoothly and save both parties time in the long run.
To get all of this information in a handy template, be sure to check out our free copywriting brief template.