How to write a copywriting brief [with swipe-ready examples]

Updated: Jun 4


Commissioning copy but getting pants results? It could be a problem with your briefs.




Good briefs cover all the essentials and leave plenty of room for the imagination. Have your briefs got holes in them? Or are you a copywriting commando - no briefs at all?


A strong brief at the start of your project will make it less stressful and more successful, so knowing how to write a copywriting brief is an essential skill for marketers.


This article explains how to brief a copywriter for web copy, blog posts and publications, with swipe-ready examples you can start using today.



What is a copywriting brief?


A copywriting brief is simply a document where you – the client – outlines what you need from a piece of written content that you are commissioning.


You can send it to a copywriter to get a quote for your project.


Once you’ve hired a copywriter, the brief helps them write something that meets – and hopefully exceeds – your expectations.


Don’t forget, a copywriting brief is just one part of the briefing and feedback process. You’ll get the best results if you talk to your copywriter too, providing clear, concise and constructive guidance.


Why write a copywriting brief?


A copywriting brief makes your project more likely to succeed because it:

  • allows you to think about everything you want and need from the copy, so you are less likely to have to make changes during the copywriting process

  • provides the copywriter with everything they need to know to deliver copy that meets your needs and expectations

  • reduces the number of times you’ll need to revisit and amend the copy, saving time, cost and stress

  • allows the copywriter to quote accurately on the work, so both parties know the scope of work and agreed fee in advance

Even if you’re busy and the copywriter is experienced, a brief can save you more time than it takes to create, so it is worth doing.

How to write a copywriting brief


The information contained in your copywriting brief will depend on the nature of the project. Copy and content writing can include a wide variety of deliverables, including:

  • Websites

  • Web pages

  • Blog posts and articles

  • Ebooks

  • White papers

  • Newsletters

  • Publications

Below, you’ll find information on what to include in a copywriting brief for three of the most common copy projects: websites, blog posts and publications.


However, for any copywriting brief, you should include the following:


Background


Provide information about your business, any specific product or service you’re selling, your unique selling points, and why you need to commission this piece of content.


To save time, you can include links to existing information such as your website or annual report.


Audience


Your copywriter will need to know some details about the people reading the copy, so they can provide information and craft marketing messages that appeal to them.


Try to provide as much information about your target audience as you can, including:

  • Are they buying for themselves or for another business (B2C or B2B)?

  • What do they what to gain from using your product or service?

  • Why would they / wouldn’t they buy from you?

It can be helpful to create a customer persona to accompany your brief.


This is an outline of your target customer, personified as a single individual. It usually includes demographic information such as age, gender, income, profession, location…

It also details the day-to-day challenges they face, that your business can help them overcome.


Goal


What do you want the copy to achieve? For example:

  • Sales copy leading to an immediate purchase decision

  • Blog post to build brand reputation and customer trust

  • White paper to provide insights and value to readers

Tone of voice


Tone of voice means how the copy sounds. For example:

  • Professional and authoritative

  • Friendly and approachable

  • Confident and carefree

  • Assertive and disruptive

  • Sympathetic and straightforward

It is important to match the tone of voice to your business brand and your target audience. Otherwise, you might put people off.


For example, a fast-fashion brand targeting people in their early twenties might deliberately employ an assertive – even arrogant – tone to appeal to their audience.


But if a care home provider used the same tone of voice, it could be very off-putting to their demographic. A sympathetic and straightforward tone might be better to reassure their audience about this major life change.


If you already have tone-of-voice guidelines, include them with the brief.


‘Think, feel, do’


Closely related to your tone of voice, these are key questions because they get to the heart of what copy needs to achieve. What you say - and how you say it - will determine how your reader relates to the copy and what they take away from it.


Think: What do you want them to think about your brand/business/product/service after reading this copy? For example, that it is: Innovative? Indispensable? Affordable? Indulgent? Exclusive? Accessible?


Feel: What do you want them to feel about your brand/business/product/service? For example: Excited? Energised? Reassured? Confident?


Do: What do you want them to do next? For example: Make a purchase? Download a brochure? Sign up for alerts? Call or visit you? This is called your call-to-action.


Deadline


Be clear on the deadlines for the project. Think through the process and any internal sign-off you’ll need along the way. Good copywriters are often booked up in advance, so allow enough time to get the right person for the job.


Budget


If you are sending your brief out to get quotes from copywriters, include your budget in the brief.


It is a waste of your time to enter into discussions with a copywriter if your budget is too low to make the project viable for them.


Also, an experienced copywriter may be able to suggest cost savings or a reduction in scope to reduce the overall cost and deliver the project within your budget.



Ready to turn your embarrassing briefs into the envy of your peers? Here come the swipe-ready copywriting brief examples you can start using today.


How to write a copywriting brief: web copy


To brief a copywriter on web copy - as well as the general information above - you need to provide them with the following information:

  • Page title: The name of the page as it displays on search result pages and your site

  • Meta description: The snippet of text that people see on search result pages. You may already have this or you may want the copywriter to write it

  • Word count/s: How many words should they aim for? Are there specific word counts for different sections on the page?

  • Top tasks: What does the reader want to do on this webpage? They should be able to achieve it quickly and easily. (This is most relevant for home page copy)

  • Keywords to target: What keywords do you hope to be found for in organic search? Include the keyword, average monthly searches and competition ranking.

  • Place in the customer journey: Where are they in their buying decision? How will they arrive at this page of the website? What page have they come from? Where will they go next?

  • Wireframe / structure: If your content management system has set elements that make up a page, provide details, so the writer can picture different styles and formats available to them.

  • Available assets: If you have customer testimonials, videos, images you want to use, include that information too.

  • Analytics: If you are reviewing copy from an existing webpage – perhaps because it is underperforming – include relevant analytics that illustrate the problem, such as bounce rate.


How to write a copywriting brief: blog posts and articles


To brief a copywriter on blog posts and articles - as well as the general information above - you need to provide them with the following information:

  • Post title: The name of the post as it displays on search result pages and your site

  • Meta description: The snippet of text that people see on search result pages. You may already have this or you may want to copywriter to write it

  • Word count/s: How many words should they aim for? (Think 750 for general interest topics, 1750+ for SEO purposes)

  • Keywords to target: What keywords do you hope to be found for in organic search? Include the keyword, average monthly searches and competition ranking.

  • Stage in the customer journey: If you’re familiar with the four stages of the customer journey - awareness, consideration, decision and satisfaction – say which stage your reader is at. This affects the information your writer will include and the call-to-action.

  • Internal links to include: Relevant internal links can boost SEO so think about what other content you can link to on your site.

  • Available assets: If you have customer testimonials, videos, images you want to use, include that information too


How to write a copywriting brief: publications


To brief a copywriter on blog posts and articles - as well as the general information above - you need to provide them with the following information:

  • Publication title

  • Publication length (‘extent’)

  • Page plan: A page plan is an overview of what will be on each page of the publication. It helps your copywriter understand how their copy fits together and flows for the reader.

  • Word count/s per page: Unlike web copy, printed copy has to observe a set word count. Try to provide as much information as you can, such as word count per page, per column etc

  • Preliminary designs: If you’ve already had preliminary designs from a graphic designer, include these. It will help your copywriter to picture how the text will be used on the page.

  • Stage in the customer journey: If you’re familiar with the four stages of the customer journey - awareness, consideration, decision and satisfaction – say which stage your reader is at. This affects the information your writer will include and the call-to-action.

So there you go. Everything you need to know about briefing your copywriter, for less stress and more success in your marketing materials.


Looking for a copywriter to make your life easier? Get in touch today.



Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer, with more than 15 years in marketing and communications.

She went freelance in 2019, setting up Write on Tyne to help brilliant-but-busy marketers get more done.

The Content Marketing Association's Best Freelancer 2020, she's known for providing high-quality copy and content - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.


Get in touch about your project today.


About the author

Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer, with more than 15 years in marketing and communications. 

She went freelance in 2019, setting up Write on Tyne to help brilliant-but-busy marketers get more done.

 

The Content Marketing Association's Best Freelancer 2020, she's known for providing high-quality copy and content - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.

Get in touch to discuss your copy or content needs today.