How to Write an Effective Content or Editing Brief

If you have writers or editors on your team, you must brief them. It doesn’t matter if you have the world’s best writers or highly skilled editors; without an effective content brief, your team will feel like they’re throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks – and you’ll have results to match!


Why Do You Need a Content or Editing Brief?

Your content is only as good as its brief. That might be an exaggeration, but without a strong brief to guide your writer or editor, your content won’t reach its potential.

High-performing content is thoroughly planned and structured, and its writers and editors know its objectives, audience, and other aspects that are so much more than an article title.

The best content marketers know that a poorly executed brief results in confusion, leading to unnecessary time and money spent. It can potentially cause brand-damaging levels of inconsistency, frustration among your team, and mediocre results.

Briefing content effectively will also make things easier for your team. Knowledgeable writers and editors know that using a well-thought-out brief is how you write successful business content, so they’ll thank you for making their jobs easier and the content more consistent and strategic.

What Makes a Good Brief?

An effective content brief leaves no room for uncertainty. Not only should it tell your team what you want from the content, but it should also tell them how to execute it.

Telling a writer to produce a four-page blog post on the benefits of using hand sanitizer gives them some steer. But there’s too much room for interpretation and error.

Instead, it’s better to write a brief that tells your team how you want the content structured, who it’s aimed at, how long it should be, the tone it should convey, which keywords and links to use, and much more.

6 Things to Include in Your Brief

Here are six things you should include to ensure your writer or editor knows exactly how to execute the content perfectly.


1. Lay Out Your Overall Goals

Every piece of content your business creates should have a goal. For example, content produced to rank in search engines will probably be executed differently than content designed to encourage email sign-ups.

So, telling your writer or editor the objective of the content before they get started is crucial. Your content’s objectives could include:

  • Sales 
  • Engagement 
  • Link clicks 
  • Donations 
  • SEO 
  • Email sign-ups

 

Whatever the objectives are, your team must know the purpose before they can write or edit content that meets those goals. 

You might want to include some additional information about how you’d like those objectives met. If the content’s objective is to boost your business’s performance in search results, include the on-page SEO tactics you’d like your writer or editor to fulfill. Let’s look at an example.

 

Example

Objective: SEO 

  • H1, H2 & H3 tags
  • Keywords
  • Internal & external links
  • Alt descriptions for all images
  • 120-character meta description

2. Capture Any Key Requirements

Every business is different. The content you want depends on your objectives, as we talked about above, and your requirements can (and should) change from content piece to content piece. Requirements you might want to include are:

  • Word count (maximum and/or minimum)
  • Keywords
  • Internal links
  • Products/services to reference
  • Tone
  • Calls to action

 

Example

Word count: 1000

Keywords: 

  • best sanitizer for restaurants
  • best hand sanitizer US
  • scented hand sanitizer
  • best quality hand sanitizer

Internal links:

  • www.supersmellingsanitizer.com
  • www.supersmellingsanitizer.com/stawberrysaniziter
  • www.supersmellingsanitizer.com/lemonsanitizer 

Products: 

  • Strawberry Hand Sanitizer
  • Lemon Hand Sanitizer
  • Touchless Hand Sanitizer Dispenser

Tone: Friendly and informative

Call to action: Shop now


3. Set a Delivery Schedule

Your writers or editors will need to know when you need their work to be complete, so they can prioritize effectively. Providing a simple deadline within your content brief should be just fine.

Remember to make your deadlines achievable so that the work isn’t rushed. It’s best practice to include a time and a date. If you set a deadline for January 3, your writers or editors could interpret that deadline as midnight on the 3rd or 11.59 pm on the 3rd. That’s almost a difference of a whole day.

 

Example

Deadline: 01/03/2023, 12:00


4. Provide as Much Detail and Clear Instruction as Possible

Giving your writers and editors a detailed outline of how you want the content to be presented leaves as little room as possible for error. 

It’s endlessly helpful to give an overview of how the content should be structured, including what the headings and subheadings should be throughout the text and how many words should be written in each section.

This doesn’t have to be rigid, though; you can leave it up to your writers and editors to make tweaks when they think it’s appropriate.

 

Example

Title: Four Benefits of Using Hand Sanitizer

Introduction (approximately 100–200 words): Reference the rapid hand sanitizer industry growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Explain why hand sanitizers are superior to other personal cleaning methods, which may surprise the reader.

Benefit 1: You can use it on the go (250 words).

Benefit 2: It reduces waste (250 words).

Benefit 3: It’s quick and easy to use (250 words).

Benefit 4: Quality sanitizer is kind to your skin (250 words).

Conclusion: Provide a summary of the four benefits of using hand sanitizer, point the reader to our hand sanitizer solutions, and end with a call to action that links to our product page (200 words).


5. Link to Examples/Style Guides

Don’t have a style guide? You need one! Here’s how to create a style guide and the top 10 things you need to include in a style guide to simplify the process for you.

It’s also helpful for writers and editors when you give them example content for reference.

Include a link to an article that inspired you in your brief. Or, search online for an article with a similar tone, format, or type of information to what you hope the finished article will resemble.

 

Example

Example articles: 

  • https://kmherbals.com/blog/the-benefits-of-highquality-aromatherapy-hand-sanitizer/
  • https://www.purplle.com/magazine/article/hand-sanitizers-that-work-as-the-best-hand-cleansing-elixirs
  • https://www.weldricks.co.uk/news/advantages-of-hand-sanitiser

 

Style guide to follow: 

  • www.supersmellingsanizter.com/brand-guidelines

6. Ask for feedback

Your content briefs can change over time, depending on what’s working well and what’s not. Ask your writers and editors for feedback openly and regularly so you know what they think is the most effective way to approach content briefs. After all, your writers and editors use the content brief, so they’ll know best.

Question Comments
Was this brief easy to understand?
How can we improve this brief?
What did you like about this brief?
Do you have any other comments?

Example Brief

Title: Four Benefits of Using Hand Sanitizer

Objective(s): SEO and sales

Word count: 1000+


Keywords: 

  • best sanitizer for restaurants
  • best hand sanitizer US
  • scented hand sanitizer
  • best quality hand sanitizer


Internal links:

  • www.supersmellingsanitizer.com
  • www.supersmellingsanitizer.com/stawberrysaniziter
  • www.supersmellingsanitizer.com/lemonsanitize


Products to include:

  • Strawberry Hand Sanitizer
  • Lemon Hand Sanitizer
  • Touchless Hand Sanitizer Dispenser


Tone:
Friendly and informative

Due date: 01/03/2023, 12:00

Structure:

Introduction (100–200 words): Reference the rapid hand sanitizer industry growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Explain why hand sanitizers are superior to other personal cleaning methods, which may surprise the reader.

Benefit 1: You can use it on the go (250 words).

Benefit 2: It reduces waste (250 words).

Benefit 3: It’s quick and easy to use (250 words).

Benefit 4: Quality hand sanitizer is kind to your skin (250 words).

Conclusion: Provide a summary of the four benefits of using hand sanitizer and point the reader to our hand sanitizer solutions (200 words).

 

Example articles: 

  • https://kmherbals.com/blog/the-benefits-of-highquality-aromatherapy-hand-sanitizer/
  • https://www.purplle.com/magazine/article/hand-sanitizers-that-work-as-the-best-hand-cleansing-elixirs
  • https://www.weldricks.co.uk/news/advantages-of-hand-sanitiser


Style guide to follow:
www.supersmellingsanizter.com/brand-guidelines


Brief Checklist

Ready to write your perfect brief? Here’s a checklist of items to include:

 

  • Title 
  • Objective
  • Audience 
  • Tone 
  • Desired word count
  • Keywords (if applicable)
  • Links
  • Call to action
  • Deadline 
  • Structure (a breakdown of what should be included in the content piece)
  • Example articles
  • Style guide
  • Feedback questionnaire

Ready to Scale?

When you’re ready to take the next step in fine-tuning your staff’s writing skills, Proofed is here to help. Our editors provide quality feedback on every document they work on. So, besides improving flow, concision, and clarity, they offer educational advice in each edit to ensure your employees receive practical advice on how to improve their writing. 

Schedule a call with us today and discover why we’re trusted by hundreds of organizations, from award-winning start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

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