How to Brief Freelance Writers Like a Pro

How to Brief Freelance Writers Like a Pro

Great articles begin with expert briefs congerdesign / Pixabay On any given week, I receive anywhere a number of briefs for pieces of writing from clients.

On any given day, my home office is strewn with briefs (I have to read them in print!); empty coffee cups; and whatever else I’ve deemed necessary to survive another week in the tumultuous life of a freelance writer. Which is probably more cups of coffee.

I commonly get asked “what’s a brief?” and “what do I need to include in a brief.” Here’s a template version . But if you prefer explanations, then here’s a run-through of everything I think is required in a strong writer’s creative brief. What’s A Brief?

A brief is simply a set of instructions for a writer … or a graphics designer. They’re used throughout the creative world.

Briefs are typically documents and marketing agencies are particularly adept at getting them right. Which makes sense when you think about it because they spend a good chunk of their time briefing staff writers and freelancers on what they need to get done and when.

The format isn’t set in stone, however.

Your client could send you a series of WhatsApp messages at one in the morning, scribble some notes on the back of a business card at a conference, or bark some instructions down the phone.

That being said, you should really try to get your brief down in some way that can be memorialized — for your writer’s sake. Freelance writers commonly work with quite a number of clients. Things get very confusing very quickly. And when we forget what project client X told us about and when it needs to get done, the brief will be where we go to refresh our memories.

Written briefs are always good. Those delivered verbally should be recorded if possible. You could even do that yourself to make your writer’s life that much easier.

What should be included? Here’s a non-exhaustive list. What A Great Brief Should Contain – Your Checklist

Here’s my personal ‘must have’ list to deliver quality work for clients: Administrative details

Agencies that are in the business of briefing many writers many wish to include some administrative details on the brief in order to keep everything in check.

These might include: The purchase order (PO) corresponding to this writing project The writer’s name A link to the style guide if the publication or website has one. Article title Let’s use the example of an article here because it’s a relatively short lived project.You may have chosen a specific title for SEO reasons. That’s probably going to inform the contents of the piece. So tell your writer what you’re going with. Example: Title: How To Brief Freelancer Writers — The Pro’s Guide Article length If you’re working with a writer on a per-word basis, then you should tell your writer how long the article should be. My preference is to have both a minimum and maximum word count. This is a tricky one […]

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