How to Build Better Writing Briefs

Ever tried writing something without clear direction before?

It’s a freakin’ nightmare.

You don’t know who you’re writing for. Or why. Or really what you’re writing about.

I’ve been there, and I’ve learned that it just doesn’t work...even if you’re just writing an ugly first draft.

That’s why now, I start every writing assignment with a creative brief (which I plop right into the top of the Google Doc for reference as I write.)

It helps keep me on track, cuts WAY down on the time I spend editing, and makes my first drafts look like a final draft.

Today, I’m gunna teach you how I do it—so you can do it, too.

Whether you’re assigning a writing project to a team member/freelancer or you’re the writer in need of clear direction, you have to know what to ask for (and what to include) in a brief.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all guidance on this. I’ve looked. I eventually realized I’d just have to make up my own template.

Here’s what I always include in all my creative briefs:

  • Post title: 2-3 different options for headlines/titles

  • Post summary/objective: 3-5 sentences summarizing the topic of the post and what the reader should learn after reading it

  • Due Date: When draft one is due, plus due dates for revisions

  • Target audience: Who I’m writing for, what they already know, plus a few key pain points they’re facing

  • Product features/capabilities to spotlight: How the company I’m writing for can solve those pain points, plus the features/benefits that the target audience cares about

  • Goal word count: Ballpark range for how long the post needs to be

  • Style notes: Any words/phrases to avoid, important notes on grammar/style, preferences around formatting and layout

  • Competitors: List of brands not to reference in links or research

  • Focus keyword: The keyword phrase to naturally work into the post

  • CTA: What the reader needs to do at the end of the post to take the next step

  • Relevant articles to source: Inspiration articles, relevant articles from the company I’m writing for, research to cite, etc.

When I have all of this information, I put it right up top within the Google Doc I’m using and then insert a page break with a line. Everything below the line is the draft itself.

If there are pieces I don’t have (but need) before I can get to work, this helps me put together a shortlist of things to ask my client for and keeps the project moving forward at a good pace.

I made a free template for you with all of this info that you can grab and use right away. 

This isn’t proprietary information, so feel free to take this and use it in your next writing project (or share it!) I hope it’ll add some clarity and efficiency to your writing, as it has for me.

P.S. I was recently on the Hot Copy podcast with Belinda Weaver (and her extremely charming Aussie accent)