Do you often struggle to provide writers with the direction necessary to create quality content based on yours or the clients’ specifications?

Look, an excellent editor can make an average article tremendous and a good piece brilliant.

Yet, without a clear direction, it can be a messy situation. And you’ll spend more time than necessary while editing. Before your writers put down a single word, they need to understand your expectations or the client’s expectations.

This is where a well-written content brief comes in handy.

What is a content brief?

Let’s kick this off with a simple definition:

A content brief is a writing guide!

Source: topicseed

A document created to instruct writer(s) on how to create a piece of content – blog posts, infographics, video tutorials, etc. In some cases, it could be a Google Docs file. And it usually isn’t more than one or two pages long.

One thing to note – the format of your content brief may vary from project to project due to the following:

  • Content-type (case study, whitepaper, blog post, etc.).
  • If the content is going to be published on the company blog or for a client.
  • The purpose of the content (sales, lead magnet, etc.).

The information a writer needs to put together a case study for a pharmaceutical firm will vary from writing a how-to post for an Amazon marketplace service provider. While a couple of sections – such as headlines, word count, and keywords – might be similar, the pharmaceutical content brief would need to contain parts such as research methodology and scope of the study. 

Understanding how to write a content brief is critical to the success of your content marketing efforts. We’re about to tell you everything you need to know to make working with your content writers a total breeze. Let’s dive in.

Why should you use a content brief?

TL. DR: A content brief streamlines the writing process and makes the work of your editor easier.
A content brief does the following:

  • Sets out your expectations.
  • Ensure the final version, the writer submits aligns with your content marketing goals.
  • Saves you unnecessary long hours of editing.

But how do you put one together? 

How do you write a content writer’s brief?

Before taking a look at the must-have sections of a content brief, let’s review one I put together for my article on Influencer Marketing:

Headline:Influencer Marketing: The Ultimate Guide (Includes Influencer KPIs Checklist) 
Overview:In recent times, influencer marketing has grown exponentially to the point that it has become an important marketing channel. The foundation of this new and increasingly dominant category is that consumers do not trust most advertising anymore. Most of the existing posts on this topic in Nigeria and Africa are devoid of details and lack the necessary information. This ultimate guide aims to provide a detailed treatise on the subject within an African/Nigerian context.
Target keyword:Influencer marketing 
Secondary keywords:What does influencer marketing do
how do you become an influencer in marketing
does influencer marketing really work
why is influencer important in marketing
influencer marketing example
influencer marketing strategy
influencer marketing Instagram
influencer marketing Tik Tok
influencer marketing agencies
influencer marketing statistics
Searcher intent:Searchers will most likely be brand managers/digital marketing managers at medium-sized businesses looking for ways to take advantage of the influencer craze by big brands. 
Success criteria:Rank on the first page of Google for the primary keyword and at least two secondary keywords.
Target influencers:Any medium to high authority blog on digital or content marketing is a valid target for outreach.
Word count:3,400
Main takeaways:For influencer marketing to succeed, the influencer(s) have to represent your brand appropriately. This is why influencer selection is critical. If you choose influencer(s) who are a good fit with your brand and are relevant within your target audience, you have significantly increased the odds of success with your influencer marketing campaign.
Competition:What is Influencer Marketing: An In-depth Look at Marketing’s Next Big Thing
What is Influencer Marketing
Influencer Marketing 
What Will Influencer Marketing Look Like in 2020
Outline:The writer should create an outline based on secondary keywords and analysis of popular content ranking for the primary keyword.
Visuals:Type: featured image, and videos. Number of visuals and placement: include one featured image or video every 100 – 200 words. It must feel natural.
Other notes:Many digital marketing managers feel daunted by the various moving parts needed to create an effective influencer strategy. Most importantly, they want to be able to plan, budget, and track the effectiveness of the campaign properly. If done right, this guide will leave them confident and rearing to go and launch their next influencer campaign. 

The Content Structure

Think of this as a high-level guideline for the direction you need your writer to take. These sections give the writer a basic understanding of what the article must entail and the approach to achieving it.

The following sections make up your content structure:

  • The headline or title: A natural formula you can use for your headline is “number or trigger word + adjective + target keyword + promise/benefit.”
Sure!
  • An overview: A paragraph or two on what you expect the article to cover.

Your goal is to be clear and specific as possible. 

Competitive Analysis

As of 21st June, the Indexed Web contains at least 5.56 billion pages.

“What Are Indexed Pages?

Google is continually scouring the Web for new content, new websites, and new pages on websites it already knows about. For each site, Google indexes each page that it crawls for future reference and includes them in search results.

For a page to be listed in Google search results, it must first be indexed! When Google’s bots crawl a website, they create a cached copy of each page and adjust their indexes.

It is vitally important to have all of the content on your website indexed by Google to include it in their search results.”

In an ideal world, your chosen niche or topic would have little or no competition, and you’ll climb up Google’s search engine results page (SERP) with ease. In the real world, that never happens. Even if you are writing in a relatively unknown industry, you are likely to have competition than not have any.

To ensure you cover any competing pieces, you should have the following sections:

  • Competing articles: Run a Google search for your target keyword and take note of the first five posts. Then compare for word count, what’s similar or a reoccurring theme among them all? Also, make a note of what’s missing that you’ll need to cover in your article.
Competitive analysis
  • Word count: Always aim to be slightly higher than the word count of competing posts.

The insights you glean from the competitive analysis guide the writer and help with the other sections of your content brief.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is crucial – targeting and optimizing your content for the right primary and secondary keywords is a great way to increase organic traffic.

However, you need to ensure your keywords speak to the right pain-points. It’s not enough to get traffic. You need to get the right sort of traffic depending on your call-to-action or stage in your funnel the content piece aims to fulfill – schedule a call, subscribe for your newsletter, buy your products.

The must-have sections that fulfill your SEO needs are:

  • Searcher’s intent: This section is essential to your customer-content fit, especially if you don’t plan to produce mirage content. Your searcher intent should speak to your ideal customer’s pain points. What’s the reason behind their Google search queries?
Source: Customer Think
  • Target and secondary keywords analysis: Tools such as Ahrefs ensure your target keyword is worth it from a search volume perspective. You also see how hard or easy it is to rank at the top of the search results. When selecting your secondary keywords, you only want to look in three places:
    • The “People also ask” section in Google’s search results.
    • The headlines from competing posts.
    • The Related Searches in Google’s search results.

These are the keywords that Google’s algorithm considers having the most substantial relation to your primary keyword.

Ranking on page one of Google’s SERP doesn’t happen by mistake.

Visuals

No one wants to read a giant block of text. It’s best to include images or videos every 100 – 200 words. However, some clients prefer to source visuals themselves. In that case, this section might not be necessary.

If you need to include a section for visuals, some pointers to include for the writer are:

  • Number of visuals.
  • Type of visuals (videos, images, infographics, graphs).
  • You can also suggest your preferred sites for images. I prefer to use Pexels and Unsplash.

Final Thoughts

You now have a comprehensive content brief. But it’s not done.

You need to ask your writer(s) for feedback. No matter how clear you think your brief might be, it’s good to get your writer’s input if you missed out – either while doing competitive analysis or SEO research.

Once you have gone through this process the first time, it becomes much easier to do it the next time. It becomes a template you can use with your writers over and over again and save editing time.

If you don’t have the time to create one, you can download the template I use here.

If you’d like to receive updates whenever I write, you can join my newsletter –  Dozie’s Weekly Digest. You can use the unsubscribe link in those e-mails to opt out at any time.

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