How To Make Content Brief & Content Brief Generator tools
Content briefs instruct the members of your content writing team on the parameters of a project.
A well-written brief conveys everything necessary for your team to produce high-quality, high-value content.
A company’s SEO manager or editor, the content strategist, or even the creative director will put together a team’s content briefs.
Sometimes, this document is called the creative brief instead of a content brief.
However, some differences do exist between a creative brief and a content brief, though admittedly, the line between them is blurred.
Content briefs speak more directly to your company’s content writing team.
The creative brief outlines your company’s total creative vision for everyone involved in the creative process.
That is, a creative brief could include guidelines for writers, a style guide for graphic designers, and videography guidelines for video production (to name but a few).
Your organizational makeup determines which type of brief is more common. However, for this blog post, we’ll concentrate on the content brief.
Here are some of the elements you could see in a content brief:
SEO specifications, goals, and target keywords
Content type (blog post, white paper, landing page, case studies, etc.)
The overall content strategy
Read on to get a more detailed description of the above points.
When in Doubt, See Content Brief:
Why Are Content Briefs Important?
Creating a content brief is a task. There’s no doubt about it. However, before you unleash a long series of internal groans, consider this.
What would it be worth to you if you could cut down on the number of major rewrites and bottlenecks in your workflow? A detailed brief helps you to do that.
If all the writers on your team know what you expect, good content on target becomes the norm with your team and not the exception. On a related note, writing a content brief for your team helps you to clarify your thinking as well.
It’s difficult to convey what you want from your team when you don’t have clarity about the project. Planning and writing the content descriptions, intents, and goals force you to think about what you’re asking your content writers to do.
Who Uses Content Briefs?
Anyone who is on your content writing team will use the brief. This includes all the writers on your team.
However, the editorial staff, the marketing team, and management should also have a copy of the brief. Miscommunication can happen in bigger organizations, particularly if not everyone knows the content goals.
Sharing your brief cuts down on the content team getting mixed messages from management and editorial staff about the project.
Should I Use Templates For Content Briefs?
Templates save time. It’s as simple as that. All projects of a like kind, such as blog posts, have similar requirements. While each individual project has its peculiarities, the overall requirements should mostly be the same from project to project.
For example, if you’re creating blog posts, you know you need a list of keywords and SEO goals. You also know that there’s an intended audience and theme. You could go on ad infinitum.
Most content teams work on a tight schedule. Using a template keeps you on schedule.
Content Briefs Get You Better Content, Faster
Remember what we said about all those rewrites?
A content brief informs your team of your client’s expectations, reducing the likelihood of the client sending the work back for a rewrite.
Your briefs bring peace to your workflow because they cut down on unnecessary work, including over-the-top rewrites.
Additionally, as we mentioned, similar project types have similar parameters.
After your team sees a few content briefs of the same type, they’ll spend less time in preparation and more time writing.
Content Briefs Increase Consistency
Ideally, your content brief conveys your client’s content wishes to your content writers.
If it doesn’t, then it’s more likely that you’ll wind up with inconsistent content quality and brand messages.
Incidentally, it’s not just a rash of rewrites that tell you that your content creation team needs good content briefs.
Getting inconsistent results from your writers also points toward a problematic content plan.
The best briefs include stylistic examples and enough instructions to get all the writers on your team on the same page.
Here’s how you know your content brief works. When you read your content writers’ work, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the work of one writer and another.
More plainly, all of your writers can mimic the brand voice so well, it seems like one person wrote all the content, even though many actually did.
This consistency usually comes only from a clear and concise content brief.
A Word About Content Planning and AI
Nowadays, numerous AI tools exist that make content planning a lot easier. These tools have advanced so much, that it’s possible to save yourself hours.
AI makes keyword and topic research faster and simpler because it can analyze the data faster than your brain can – usually, in a matter of minutes at the most.
These tools help you with tasks like:
Creating keyword lists
Deciding on article lengths and word counts
Related topics and queries
You’ll save time and create content that aligns better with the user’s search intent if you use these tools.
Some of the best ones even allow you to check stats. These tools can count how often a writer used a keyword in his/ her content, check for the perceived value of the content, and more.
Including these elements in your content improves your online rankings over time, so it’s worth looking into.
How to Write a Content Brief
Below, you’ll find the key elements that your content brief should include, written in the suggested order that they appear on your content brief.
Depending on the type of content, some of these elements will be stronger in some content types than others. Experience and research will guide you when you’re trying to determine these factors.
It’s also worth noting that confusion or conflict may arise within the creative team despite having a written brief. When these occasions happen, it’s best to use the mantra “see the content brief,” which often solves the confusion.
Company or Client Description and Guidelines
Unless your writers work solely on in-house projects, their brief should include information about the clients they’re writing for.
The client guidelines section of your brief will include:
The company name or client
The company’s brand characteristics and voice
The client’s main competitors
Other relevant information
Target Audience/ Customer
When your writing team knows your client’s target audience, it’s easier for them to create content that speaks to that audience.
Here’s why that’s important. Let’s say that the overall theme of your brief is gardening. This is a broad field.
Knowing that your client’s target audience consists of a hobby- and backyard gardeners produce one type of content. It probably uses everyday language. A blog post for this will be in first-person from the vantage point of the home gardener or homesteader.
On the other hand, if the target audience consists of owners or managers of lawn and garden stores, the tone will be different. It’ll likely include much more industry jargon and marketing information for the store.
As you can see, both audiences deal with the overarching topic of gardening, but the scope and tone of the articles will feel different.
Your brief should explain the target audience’s
Target audience persona
And other motivators
Intended Result/ Purpose of the Content
The intended result for your content aligns with at least one stage of the buyer’s journey. More specifically, it should entice the user or potential client to take the next step.
For example, if the purpose of the content is to build the client’s mailing list, then the intended result will be that the person reading the post will join the client’s mailing list.
Outline the intended results in your brief. This helps the writers gear their content toward the intended result.
Buyer’s Journey Stages
You should gear your content brief towards the buyer’s journey stages to create the most effective content. Each buyer goes through some specific stages before they buy something.
Those stages are:
The Awareness Stage: At this stage, your buyer has only begun to realize that he/ she has an issue to solve. Usually, the buyer is researching their problem to better understand it. Informative blog posts, eBooks, and case studies may be produced by your team to address this stage of awareness.
The Consideration Stage: At this stage, the buyer has a fairly good idea about what to do, but isn’t ready to commit to a vendor just yet. They’ll compare brands and solutions here, and your content plan should address this.
The Decision Stage: Brand-specific queries often happen at this stage. The buyer will make a few more comparisons, read customer testimonials, and watch product demos at this stage. You’ll create content that speaks to this.
The Loyalty Stage: You’ll hit the loyalty stage if the buyer buys from you and loves your product or service. This is where you create content that includes user guides, newsletters, and more.
You can go wrong if you include a call-to-action (CTA) that is out of sequence with where the buyer is at in the buying process.
For example, if the buyer is only in the awareness or consideration stages, a CTA that insists on a big purchase will have a low conversion rate.
If you know where the content is supposed to land on the buyer’s journey, then include that information in the content brief.
Brand Style and Tone
Every business has a brand voice. Many times, the brand voice is based on marketing archetypes.
Getting the client’s brand voice right is important to reach and connect with the intended audience.
Your content creation brief should give your team details about the client and the client’s brand voice. Provide your writers with samples of successful brand voice writing and a style guide.
Going back to the gardening example that we spoke about earlier, imagine the brand voice of the everyday backyard gardener. Now, imagine the brand voice of the manager that works in a lawn and garden center. If you imagine the brand voice for each, it’s probably pretty clear, and each is pretty different from the other.
The instructions you give your team for creating the brand voice for the client should be equally clear.
Set a Style Guide
If the client has specifics they’d like to address from a stylistic standpoint, put this in your brief. These types of elements may include preferred fonts or capitalizations.
For example, let’s go back to the garden supply store example. This store is called Hometown Gardening. From a stylistic standpoint, this client would like any product that’s mentioned after the formal name to be capitalized. (These are products produced by the brand.)
Here are some examples:
Hometown Garden Sod
Hometown Garden Gardening Tools
Hometown Garden Pest Repellant
This client may further want the words “sod,” “gardening tools,” and “pest repellant” to remain uncapitalized if they do not follow the company’s name “Hometown Garden.”
These examples represent some of the types of instructions you’ll see on a client’s style guide. Make sure this information gets written into the content brief. As always, instruct them to “see content brief” when they’re in doubt.
In this section, let your writers know if the client wants the content in first person, second person, or third person.
Additionally, outline how this voice is used in different scenarios. For example, if you want your writers to address the readers of the content as “you,” then say that. If you want them to refer to others in the third person, include that information, too.
In the gardening example, the reader would be “you,” and the gardening suppliers (in relation to the reader) would be addressed as “he, she, they, the vendors, etc. in this scenario.
Topic Suggestions/ Details to Include
Your brief will lay out some topic or theme suggestions. Very often, this comes in the form of the title that you provide for the writer for the content.
If you have experienced SEO writers on your team, they may have some suggestions to improve the topic, without changing it drastically.
If there is some flexibility for them to change things up a bit, then let them know in the brief. If not, put that in the brief.
The best topic suggestions provide just enough of a guideline to keep your writers from going off on a tangent, but enough freedom to allow their creativity to flow.
Content Length: Word Count Considerations
In terms of ranking for specific keywords, there is often an ideal length for a blog post, article, or other online content. In light of that, including a minimum and a maximum number of words for the content ensures that your writers produce what you need.
Additionally, the information on your clients’ competitors’ websites often determines the ideal length of the content to be produced. Some SEO AI tools will also predict how long the ideal piece of content is for a specific theme or keyword phrase.
You may have to look at both the client’s competitors’ content and the AI suggestions to decide how long a piece of writing should be. For example, your AI tool may suggest that you write a blog post that is 1600 words long.
However, the top-ranking blog post for that keyword phrase may have double that amount of keywords. Or half. In that case, it’s better to be a closer match to the content that already exists if you want to rank.
Include a word count specification in your content brief to ensure that you get content that’s the right length.
Content Format and Titles: H1, H2, H3, Etc.
Content format refers to the headers, subheads, and other markers within the content that make it easier for the reader to skim the content.
As you probably know, most people searching the Internet don’t do a deep dive into the content. They skim it. If they like what they see once they skim the headers and subheaders, they then might take the time to read the whole post.
Explain to your content team how you’d like the document laid out. For example, if they need to include five H2 subheads in the content, then let them know that.
If there is a specific order of themes within these parameters, let them know that, too.
For example, a gardening blog might need to look something like this:
H1: The Best Spring Plants to Grow
H3: Subtopic for spinach
H3: Subtopic for lettuce
In brief, putting this kind of outline shows your writers exactly what they need to include in their work.
Keyword Suggestions and SEO Considerations
It’s nearly impossible to imagine online marketing without mentioning search engine optimization or SEO. Your SEO efforts allow you to align with the user’s intent. This ensures you target the people who could use your goods or services.
The following sections outline some of the SEO and keyword elements your content brief may address.
In SEO writing, there are keywords that you want to rank for (primary keywords) and then secondary keywords. The primary keywords often dictate the content of the article, particularly if you look at your client’s competitors to see what they’ve written about.
These words can be harder to rank for, particularly in competitive niche markets. Using an AI SEO tool will tell you how hard a keyword is to rank for.
This information doesn’t necessarily need to go into your content brief for your writers. However, it is something to think about as you create your primary and secondary keyword lists for your briefs.
You may not be able to rank for your primary keyword right away, but there’s a chance that you’ll rank for one or more of your secondary keywords, so always keep a full spectrum of keywords in mind as you’re creating your work documents.
Secondary SEO Keywords
These keywords don’t have the same significance in terms of ranking as the primary keywords do. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not important.
These secondary keywords “explain” the function of the primary keywords to the search engines. For example, if your primary keyword is “apple” and your secondary keyword/s are “How to grow a home orchard,” then the search engines know you mean live apples and not the computer product.
It’s also important to reiterate that the secondary keywords have less competition than the primary keywords will have, so they’re easier to rank for. Chances are very good that your blog post or article will start ranking for the secondary keywords before it ranks for your primary keyword. Your secondary keywords could bring in a lot of traffic, so don’t overlook them.
When you include keyword suggestions in your content brief, be sure to also include the number of times you’d like the word to appear in the content.
SEO/ User Search Intent
We touched on this a bit already in the keyword section, but it’s worth elaborating on. Your keywords are the same keywords that users type or speak into the search engine when they’re on the hunt for products or services like yours.
This is a very niche process. Unlike TV or radio advertising, which blankets the population and hopes that at least a few interested parties see the ad and act on it.
Your content’s SEO weeds out the 95% of people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer.
As such, you have a better chance of getting a subscriber or a buyer if your content contains solid SEO. Your brief should contain instructions for your SEO goals that deal with search intent.
Examples of Content You Like
Few things help your writing team as much as good samples. If your client has a few successful blog posts, include those in the content brief. These give your writers a sense of the brand voice, the writing style, and other elements.
They also help to clarify areas of the content brief that may be a little confusing to the first-time reader.
Sometimes, the best examples of the ideal content will come from a client’s competitor. In this section of your brief, include links to the client’s competitors. These will be topically the same. However, seeing them allows your writing team to find the “holes” in the competitors’ content and create content that answers the questions that the client’s competitor’s content didn’t.
Links and Statistics
If you have any links your writers should include in their copy, include them in brief. If you have specific places you’d like the links or the statistics to be, be sure to mention this, too. This information informs your writers’ work and sets another parameter for them. This ensures that they turn in copy that fits the client’s goals.
It is estimated that blogs and articles that include photos get almost 95% more views than ones that don’t include them.
As such, you may wish for your content team to find photos to include in their content. If they must do an image search, then lay down the parameters for what kinds of images they can use. When in doubt, instruct them to “see the content brief” for additional guidelines.
If they need to use free images due to budgetary concerns, direct them to acceptable sources to find them. If they need to include video or infographics, be sure to include that or not.
Let your content team know how many images, videos, etc. they need to include in their work. If they need a caption, include directions for that, too. Finally, make placement suggestions for the photos. Usually, posts that have a photo once every 250 to 300 words or so look about right.
Content writing plays an important role in your client’s marketing efforts. As such, it should include a call-to-action or CTA at the end of the content. CTAs can also be included throughout the content to accommodate a readership whose attention spans are dwindling.
Your brief can outline what types of CTA would work for this content. It should also include a link. Your CTA should tell the buyer what to do next. This could include a request to sign up for a newsletter, to give you a call, or to order a product or service.
The content brief plays a key role in the success of your content writing team. While it may take some time to construct, it saves you infinite time in rewrites and workflow issues.
Providing your team with a detailed content brief streamlines your workflow, allowing you to get more work done and in a faster amount of time.