9 Tips on How to Write an Excellent Content Brief
Crafting an effective content brief can be a challenge, so we’ve gathered insights from content marketing professionals to help you succeed. From understanding your audience and outlining content to tailoring the narrative to your audience, here are nine expert tips shared by freelance writers, content specialists, and marketing managers.
- Understand the Audience and Outline Content
- Keep the Brief Concise and Clear
- Incorporate Internal Links
- Provide Specific Details
- Explain Purpose and Content Value
- Clarify Business Goals and Metrics
- Include a Content Benchmark
- Plan for Content Distribution
- Tailor the Narrative to Your Audience
Understand the Audience and Outline Content
For an effective content brief, you first need to know about your target audience’s characteristics, such as their age, gender, location, education, and interests. Through these details, you will get an idea about their desires, needs, and what type of content will appeal to them.
Now that you have a very clear picture of your audience in mind, you need to create a detailed outline for the content, which will include the objective, tone, structure, and style. It’s better to use bullet points and subheadings to divide the content into small segments.
Freelance Content and Copywriter
Keep the Brief Concise and Clear
The key to writing an effective content brief is brevity.
A brief that’s too long and detailed can be overwhelming and hinder creativity, while a brief that’s too short and vague can lead to confusion and a lack of direction. Keep the brief, brief—be clear and specific about the content’s aim and the target audience, and focus on the essential information.
Brevity doesn’t mean sacrificing detail; it means communicating the details in a clear and concise way. When you achieve brevity in your brief, your content creators let their creativity flow and do what they do best—create.
Incorporate Internal Links
Every content marketing manager wants to get the most ROI for any content they put out there. To achieve this, it is crucial to include your internal links in the content brief. These links could range from similar blog posts to product pages.
To win with SEO, however, you should add your pillar posts too. And if you are at a loss about which link to add, especially if you have a large website, do a simple Google search. Type in site:yourwebsite.com “keyword.”
For example, if you are writing a content brief for Terkel.io on a topic related to SEO, simply type in site:terkel.io “SEO” on the Google search bar and select the links that will work best for your content goals.
Provide Specific Details
Don’t be afraid to be as specific as possible in your brief. If you want certain keywords, include them. If you want to link to internal posts, list them. If there’s an idea or theme that you want to cover, tell them. Heck, if there’s something specific they should avoid, mention it.
This especially helps beginner writers gain a sense of EXACTLY what you’re looking for. They know what to include and they know what you don’t want. They can use that information to produce a more solid first draft.
Ultimately, it helps everyone because editors are getting exactly what they want. This reduces the amount of back and forth that can come with adding or removing sections of the post.
Explain Purpose and Content Value
I’d say, an effective content brief should always contain a why.
Why is it important to write this piece of content? To answer that question, you’d need to define your target audience, outline what they’ll take away from the piece, and how it contributes to business value for you. That is, what’s in it for the reader, and what’s in it for you as well.
Instead of having just one “why” section in the brief, you can alternatively put different sections within your brief—target audience, what they’ll gain or learn from reading (e.g. how to do a thing, a new way to think about a topic, etc.), and how you plan to tie the piece back to business value (like product mentions, internal links, clear CTAs, and more.)
With this approach, the writer will look at the brief and think strategically about what they’re writing from the get-go, resulting in a valuable, relevant piece of content that drives results.
Clarify Business Goals and Metrics
Explain the business goals of the piece of content. What is it designed to do (e.g., drive SEO traffic, get sent to customers in the sales funnel to help them decide, be used in an email campaign, etc.)? What are the metrics that’ll be used to determine the success of the piece of content?
A lot of content folks write a first draft without these kinds of higher-level goals in mind. Providing the writer an overview of the broader strategy behind a piece of content will help them be more strategic in how they execute and potentially minimize post-production work.
Include a Content Benchmark
Add a content benchmark to your brief. This is essentially a piece of content that reflects the style, tone, and overall writing quality you’re looking for. It could be a published piece on your website (which most content managers use) or an article on an external website, especially if you’re experimenting with a new content format.
This benchmark becomes the writer’s North Star. They’ll refer to it at different points to guide their writing process—which makes for a stronger first draft.
Plan for Content Distribution
80% of your content’s effectiveness comes from redistribution and amplification. So before you start your brief, make sure you have a crystal clear idea of all the places where your content can go, and include that in your brief.
For example, your next blog post can also be your next…
- Carousel series on LinkedIn
- Email drip campaign
- Webinar script
Times are tough and budgets are tight; make the most of your brief by asking for summaries of the content to use on social media, in your emails, or any other format your audience consumes. This saves you and your content team time when you ship your content out to the world—no need to come up with clever copy or a pithy summary on the spot, you already have it ready!
Tailor the Narrative to Your Audience
Create an ideal narrative that translates to the target audience’s requirements. Let the ideal customers get a sense of consideration with the answers/content we create.
For example, if you are creating content with e-commerce/finance businesses as the target audience, narrate the story from the perspective of that industry.
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