Writing is the bread and butter of any content business. If you’re past the part of “you” writing the articles, want to outsource, and are struggling to create an easy-to-follow format for your team, you need to learn how to write a content brief that gets results.
In this post, I’ll show you exactly what a content brief is, how they help streamline your writing process, what to include in yours, and more.
What Is A Content Brief?
A content brief is a roadmap of what you want the writer to cover in their article. It should inform them of necessary details, content objectives, messaging, tone, and structure.
You aim to fill in as many blanks as possible and remove the guesswork for them. It’ll result in creating a blog post aligned with your site’s overall content marketing strategy.
What Do Content Briefs Help With?
An effective content brief can help you in several ways. Below are the most common aspects of how a good one will improve your optimization outputs.
A content brief is your writer’s best friend and North Star. It serves as a reference point throughout the entire content creation process.
You’ll get better results because your articles will meet the agreed-upon terms before writing a single word.
You’ll set a clear direction for your content while ensuring everybody’s on the same page and working towards the same goal.
You’ll create material that stays true to your overall content strategy while maintaining a cohesive voice with every post.
It also helps with reader retention as you build trust and authority because they know your content will be in-depth and informative when they visit your site.
It will keep them returning because they start seeing you as “reliable.”
Once you set the tone for your writer by outlining the essential details of a content project, your content brief can streamline the entire creation process, removing the guesswork because they know what to write already.
Your content production becomes faster and more efficient.
Because everyone is clear on the article’s objectives, your creations will better serve search intent and will be tailored to your target audience’s needs.
In addition, it ensures your helping the right people and answering their questions with every post.
It’ll resonate with your readers more, which wins you repeat customers, helps educate them the best you can and help them solve specific problems.
Why Use Content Briefs?
“The magic is in the brief.”
It’s your opportunity to pass on your knowledge of the content you want the writer to cover, cutting to the meat while sidestepping the fluff.
A good brief will:
- Make it easy for writers to fill in the blanks
- Give clear direction and guidelines for the writing process
- Aligns the writer with your overall objectives with every piece of content
Takeaway: Everybody’s on the same page.
When you establish an outline (e.g., which h2s/h3s to cover), your writer doesn’t have to think much about structure.
This way, they’ll spend less time per post.
Quality Content Briefs Help with the Editing Process
You’ll eliminate 90% of questions from your writers, which means they’ll waste less time asking you questions (and you’ll spend less time answering them).
The editing process quickly becomes slow and clunky if your team starts blowing up your Slack feed with questions that could’ve been answered in the brief.
When you remove questions at the root level, you’ll have more time to spend on high-quality work that grows your niche site.
Use Briefs In Negotiations with Writers
When hiring a new writer, make a stellar first impression with your content brief by making it insanely detailed.
Let them know that you have a steady stream of work coming their way, and every brief they get will resemble this one.
They’ll quickly learn your style and how you want things done. Plus, seeing all the keyword research you already put in helps you negotiate better rates because they’re not starting from scratch.
Staring at a blank screen is the worst feeling. An insanely-detailed content brief avoids that.
Takeaway: You can never go too granular with your briefs—default to including as much information as possible.
What Should You Put In Your Content Brief?
Of course, your site and what you’re creating will largely determine what you put in your briefs.
But here are some ideas to get you started:
This will be the first thing your freelance writer sees.
Typically, you’ll have general guidelines that won’t change, similar to a style guide.
Telling writers that they don’t have to write a conclusion at the end of the post is one guideline example. Including one image per h3 is another.
The best part is you’ll only have to write your guidelines once, and you can use them with every brief.
Your outline is what will change from post to post, depending on the type of content (e.g., a best list, a how-to, a product review, etc.)
For example, you may choose to create every article’s title, word count, and meta description yourself. Then explicitly state what to include in the intro, which headings to cover, and a list of FAQs to include.
You’ll craft a title for the article based on what the top-ranking posts do, search intent, and the specific problems your content solves.
It could mean using a different angle than what’s already been written. More than anything, your content needs to be helpful and accurate.
Your meta description will inform searchers what benefit they’ll walk away with after reading your blog post. It’s your content’s “30-second” elevator pitch.
It’s also a great place to include information you couldn’t fit into the title.
Sidenote: Even though search engines like Google often re-write your descriptions, they’re still worth including. They give your writers a great summary of what they should write.
Identify the word count of the top-ranking articles and aim for something similar.
If you’re a newer site, you might have to write a slightly longer article showcasing more details to capture more keywords and hit more relevant topics.
Header tags (aka subheadings) are your outline and the shell of your article.
For example, h2s break the content into smaller subtopics. Think of h2s as your content’s main points.
The h3s get used less, but they help break your sub-sections into smaller divisions giving your piece more of a hierarchical structure.
If you’re writing about complicated material, it helps to segment multiple times.
You can base these primarily on people’s frequently asked questions about the topic. You can find them in Google’s “People Also Ask” forums and from your existing readers/customers.
If you’re using a tool such as Clearscope, Surfer, or Topic, you’ll see these in their pre-populated outlines to make your own assumptions about the best header tags to include.
If you spot any additional topics that the ranking posts don’t cover but are relevant, include them and tell your writers the goal of each section or what are the main points.
These content gaps related to your primary keyword can make your article unique if nobody else covers the topic.
A Content Brief Template You Can Steal
If you’re stuck about what you should put into your briefs, steal ours.
Seeking Profit co-host, Emil sends out hundreds of briefs monthly to his writing team, and this is the exact framework he uses in every one.
Steal our content brief template here.
How to Write a Content Brief | Final Thoughts
Giving your writing team a detailed content brief will help you make outsourcing content easier for you and your writers. It lets you define article objectives, target keywords, tone of voice, and structure so your writers can “fill in the blanks” and make it easy.
Your writers will have a clear roadmap of where to take the article and what you want to see. As a result, you’ll see improvements in quality, consistency, and accountability.
Use the tips outlined in this post and achieve your content goals more quickly.
If you want more on how to craft a winning content brief, check out this latest episode of Seeking Profit!
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