Eric van Hall • CopyRobin
09 August ‘22 • 10 min. reading time • Blogposts

Briefing a copywriter? Create the best brief for a copywriter.

09-08-2022

Are you going to outsource the writing of your texts and brief a copywriter? Make sure that you pay a lot of attention to this explanation. After all, for outsourced texts, the following applies: crap in, crap out! Without a rock-solid brief, even the best copywriter cannot write good texts for you.

That is why, in this article, we discuss the conditions that a good brief should meet. Think of it as a handy checklist for your copywriter’s briefs. Make use of it because it will save you a lot of time and hassle when outsourcing your texts.

Conditions for a good brief

Every day, we see dozens of briefs for our writers. And on every brief they receive, they can provide feedback. As a result, we now know very well which criteria a good brief for a copywriter must fulfil.

1) Provide sufficient background information about your organisation

When you start working with a new copywriter, give him or her sufficient background information about your organisation. Of course, you don’t have to do this every time. We use this form for the intake of new customers.

Please answer the following questions for the copywriter:

  • How big is the organisation?
  • What services and/or products does the organisation provide?
  • What are the mission and vision of the organisation?
  • What is the organisation’s purpose?
  • What do you want to achieve by using a copywriter? For example: being found on Google, radiating authority and/or expertise, generating leads, etc. 
  • How often do you need new texts?
  • What type of texts do you want to have written? For example, news items, blog posts, web pages, newsletters, etc. 
  • Have you already formulated a content strategy?
  • Can you describe your target audience(s)? Are they individuals or companies? Men and/or women? What age? What level of education?
  • What tone of voice does your organisation use? Informal, formal or different?

By doing this right once, you avoid having to give this information to your writer each time you offer a new assignment.

2) Describe concretely what type of text it should be

describe-concretely-what-type-of-text-it-should-be.jpgIf you want to brief a copywriter, describe specifically what type of text you want the writer to write. Is it a blog post, article, newsletter or web page? Be as clear as possible about what you want the writer to deliver, as this will affect how the text will look. Where possible, provide links to sample texts and/or useful resources.

Reading tip: How to master content planning.

3) Clearly indicate the scope of the assignment

Is it a product page of approximately 250 words or an e-book of 15,000 words, for example? This makes quite a difference. Therefore, consider in advance what the scope of the assignment will be and indicate this clearly in the briefing. It is common to specify the approximate number of words. Keep in mind that an A4 page is about 400 words.

Examples of text lengths in number of words:

  • A product text: 150-350 words.
  • A short blog post: 350-600 words.
  • A medium-length blog post: 800-1,200 words.
  • A long blog post: 1,200-4,000 words
  • A white paper: 2,000-5,000 words.
  • An e-book: 10,000-30,000 words.
  • A novel: 75,000-200,000 words.
  • This blog post: 2,392 words.

Length and content are inextricably linked

Now, you should not focus too much on the length of a text. Various studies have shown that for your ranking in the search engines, the quality and relevance of your content are much more important than the length.

The quality and relevance of your content are much more important than the length.

The pages on the first page of Google contain an average of about 800 words. For a better ranking, your article should contain about 1,100 words. But this length only becomes important if the content of your article is good enough. It is just as important that the text sheds a lot of light on the main subject. And there must be a clear focus on the keywords for which you want to rank high.

Remember that what the visitor reads on your page should also match with what they are looking for. If they search for “robin”, a page with information about the bird’s lifestyle and breeding behaviour will rank higher than a blog post about which birds you have seen in your garden in the past month.

The more specific the topic, the longer the post.

The optimal length of your article also depends on the breadth of the subject. The more specific the topic, the longer the post. This may sound contradictory, but it is also valid: when you write about a very broad subject, nobody expects you to go into all the details in depth, and it is okay if your text remains a bit more general and therefore shorter.

4) Explain why you need the text

An essential part of a perfect copywriter brief is why you need the text. Because if the writer can write the text with your “why” in his or her mind, that certainly contributes to the quality of the end result.

Examples of a “why”:

  • Our website does not get enough visitors.
  • We would like to encourage one-time customers to make repeat purchases.
  • Too few people know that we also sell products y and z in addition to product x.
  • We want to highlight our newest product line.
  • We would like to relieve our phone help desk.

5) Explain what the purpose of the text is

Tell the copywriter exactly what you want to achieve with that text. Do you want to inform, motivate or inspire your readers? What should the call-to-action be? In other words, what do you want the reader to do after reading the text? Click through to another page? Contact you? Sign up for your mailing list? Buy a product? Always explain clearly what the purpose of the text is.

Examples of goals:

  • More requests via our contact form.
  • Placing an order.
  • More subscriptions to our newsletter.
  • More downloads of our white papers.
  • More comments under our blogs.
  • More social shares of our articles.

When the writer has a good idea of the goal, he or she can work towards it in the text. They can then write the article in such a way that the text encourages action and leads the reader towards the call-to-action. This is the action that follows after reading the text.

6) Provide as much useful information about the content as possible

explain-what-the-purpose-of-the-text-is.jpgAssume that the writer doesn’t know anything about the subject and therefore provide him or her with as much useful information and resources as possible, such as blog posts, white papers, studies, reports, etc. And, if desired, the name and contact details of an expert he or she can interview.

If you have specific wishes about the content, it is important to share these.

You can also just specify a subject and let the writer continue. But if you have more specific wishes about the content, it is important to share these. If possible, also write down a concise structure for your story, i.e., head, middle and tail.

Put the main points or arguments you want to get across in bullet points. This not only ensures that the writer will write a better text for you, but also that the content is actually your story.

Choose a subject

Still not sure what subject the text should be about? When you are going to brief a copywriter, this input is key. It is therefore important to take some time for this. Don’t worry, there are several ways to find a good topic:

  • Identify your customers’ biggest pain points by checking out the most frequently asked questions on a topic on Google.
  • Ask your followers on social media what they would like to read.
  • Check out your competitors’ websites and see what topics they cover. Feel free to be inspired by this content and supplement it with information that you think is still missing. This also improves the quality of your content.
  • Use tools like AlsoAsked to find the topics that rank well.

 

Reading tip: What is blogging? And does writing a blog make sense?

7) Be clear about the target audience

When drafting your brief, put yourself in the position of the reader as much as possible instead of thinking too much “from the inside out”. Don’t start from what you want to say to yourself, but turn it around. Force yourself to think “from the outside in” and imagine what your reader wants to know.

Force yourself to think “from the outside in” and imagine what your reader wants to know.

In any case, make it clear who is going to read the text. Are they men or women, or both? Highly educated or not? What problems do they face for which your organisation offers the solution? What are their fears, passions, aspirations and beliefs? Have you created personas for your target audience yet? Be sure to share these with the writer in your brief.

Also interesting to share:

  • What your service means to your readers;
  • What interaction they have with your company;
  • Their specific characteristics; and/or
  • And their main pain points.

In other words: introduce your readers to the writer as clearly as possible. That makes her or his work a lot easier and the result better.

8) Describe the tone of voice you want

describe-the-tone-of-voice-you-want.jpgWe all know that design, colours, logo and typography tell a lot about the nature of your organisation. But perhaps you are less aware of the extent to which the “tone of voice” of your content also contributes to the brand experience of your organisation.

Therefore, indicate as clearly as possible in which tone and with which “voice” you want to address your readers. Formal or informal? Do you use any slang? Do you like to joke? Or are you always businesslike and serious? Do you mainly want to inspire, or is the emphasis more on informing?

Indicate as clearly as possible in which tone and with which “voice” you want to address your readers.

It helps if you give a few examples of both the wrong and the right tone of voice for your texts, explaining why. If you already have good texts, it’s helpful for a writer to read them so as to ensure tone continuity. Feel free to provide this input in the form of URLs that are sufficient for matching the style.

Determining tone of voice

Are these your first texts? Then think carefully about who your (expected) target group is and with which “voice” you want to present your brand. Of course, you can change this if you address multiple target audiences. If you have a driving school, you probably want to use a different tone in communication with sponsors than with teenagers who are about to book their first driving lesson.

Choose language level

The language level of a text is also part of the tone of voice. There are six different language levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. These are the levels at which a person understands and can use a language. Level B1 means mostly simple expressions, and it’s the level that the vast majority of the population understands. Are you unsure about what level is best? Then choose B1. It’s the safest choice.

9) State your desired search terms (SEO)

If you want your text to be easily found on Google, first do some keyword research and share the results with the writer. Enter at least one focus keyword and possibly add a few extra keywords and/or synonyms.

Keywords only have an effect if you choose terms that have as little competition as possible. So always try to specify these if you can. It is almost impossible to rank in the search engines with the keyword “bakery”, for example. “Sourdough bakery Londen Kensington ”, on the other hand, gives you a much greater chance of success.

Preferably, also choose (partially) different keywords for each new text. If you are an architect, it is best to specify “architect” as a keyword each time, but then add keywords related to the specific article being written.

So, for example, don’t use “architect”, “architect’s office” and “floor plan” every time. Instead, have one text for “architect” and “have a house designed + place name” and another text for “architect” and “renovation”. This ensures that you are found on multiple keywords and that your own content does not compete with itself.

Reading tip: This is how you write SEO-friendly texts in 2022: a checklist.

10) Indicate how you will use the text

Is the text intended for your own website? A blog? Guest blog? Print? Make clear how the text will be used. What does that mean for the text? Do you need to search for or create images? Will there be embedded videos or other multimedia in the text? Do you place standard frames and/or widgets in the text? Or is there perhaps a maximum number of characters or words? Please indicate this clearly.

Make clear how the text will be used.

It is also useful to specify if you want internal links to be incorporated in the article. Do you want internal links but don’t know which links exactly fit into the text? Then indicate that so the writer can look at your site and add links at his/her own discretion.

11) Communicate a clear deadline

communicate-a-clear-deadline.jpg

Agree on a clear deadline with your writer. With a clear deadline, you avoid irritation and frustration for both parties as the expectations are then clear. Tip: give your writer enough time to do a good job. Just to add a (very true) Dutch cliché: hasty speed is rarely good.

12) Briefing a copywriter? Don’t forget the contact details!

Last but not least, when briefing a copywriter: indicate who the writer can approach with questions. This can be yourself, but maybe your colleague is the one who knows everything about the subject of the text. In that case, add his or her phone number, email address or another contact option. By doing this, no valuable time is lost looking for the right person.

Let your copy be written by CopyRobin’s copywriters and we will guide you through the briefing process for each assignment. Your clear brief and our experienced copywriters will create the perfect text together!

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