One of the areas many clients struggle with is defining exactly what they want from their content. It’s often the case that they can’t figure out exactly how much to tell the copywriter, and how much they need to include. It’s not as easy, in most cases as saying ‘I want ten articles’, unless your site has a specific, narrow focus – but there’s some key steps you can take to look at how to get the best out of your copywriting service that will make the assignments you set whizz by.
The Seven Elements of a Successful Brief
1) Your guidelines – if you have a formatting guideline that you expect to be followed, place this prominently against every element you’re dictating. There’s nothing worse than a copywriter not realising that you don’t want your titles capitalised because it messes with your css, and can create extra work on your end. If you’re having them create guest blog posts for you, it doesn’t hurt to either remember to ask them to format for you, or consider sending them the formatting link.
2) Be explicit about frequency and use of keywords – if you want them in the title, say so. If you’d like them to appear no less than (x) times, tell the writer that. Most SEO articles for example have a 1-5% keyword ratio – some copywriters manage to exceed this and still make the content natural, but other SEO copywriters struggle with this.
3) Set the tone – do you want first person conversational? Instructional? Question and answer? FAQ? Technical? – if you’ve got a specific use in mind for your content, let your copywriter know – they might already know the best tone for it. I, like many copywriters, prefer to write either strictly technical and instructional or conversational, but other copywriters might specialise in legalise or whatever else you need.
4) Length – don’t be vague here – over 250 words might seem like a good idea, but giving your copywriter an upper boundary will mean that you won’t feel cheated when the content is 250 words more or less. Copywriters are taught to work to content counts – so give them one that you feel is reasonable. The average article is between 400 and 600 words, the average blog post less – the average press release around 450.
5) If you need an image, mention that too – if you’ve got a preferred location for these, tell your copywriter, otherwise they might source something you can’t use. Ensure too that the copywriter provides the licence with the images, just in case. While they’re checking the licence, ensure that you ask them (if required) to Copyscape their work. Often it’s not necessary, but if that’s in your guidelines, you’re protected too.
6) Do they need to post it? In the case of most blogs nowadays, it’s easy to let your copywriter log in and post it for you, but that should be included in the brief. Busy copywriters use briefs to reference what they’re doing, so even if you’re repeating yourself weekly, it’s always good to let them know.
7) Deadline – this should always be included last, but bear in mind that your copywriter may have to ask you to move it by a day, or a week, so unless you’re looking for content for a very specific reason, consider when to book it, so you’ve got it in plenty of time.
Using these seven steps, you’re guaranteed to get most of your content exactly in the condition you specify – and if you’re stuck, ask your copywriter to help you develop the guidelines. Often, copywriters have seen the list of needs before and can give you an idea of what you need to do to keep getting content that they produce, without worrying about consistency later.
Copywriting services know how to satisfy their clients, but clear client briefs means that everyone is on the same page.