How to Write a Perfect Content Brief for Writers

A content brief is a set of instructions to guide a writer on how to draft a piece of content. I call this document a specification. So what makes a good specification or a content brief for writers? Discover in this blog post!

Do you know how much time gets wasted if a writer doesn't have a clear idea of what they're supposed to write? I've been long enough in content marketing to realize that a detailed content brief is key to making a great piece of content come to life. The thing is, if you don’t communicate what you’re looking for to your writer, then the deliverable won’t match your expectations. To make sure it doesn't happen, you need to prepare a document that communicates a direction that a writer should take to write content for your company.

At Kaiiax, a content marketing agency that I've co-founded we call this document a specification, the same thing they use in software development to provide requirements for programmers at the beginning of a project.


What should your content specification include?

  • Focus keyword
  • Suggested title
  • Buyer persona
  • Requirements
  • Structure suggestions
  • SEO keywords
  • Internal links
  • References
  • Additional requirements
  • Guides and rules

Let's discuss each of these points in detail.

Focus keyword or target keyword

The focus keyword is the main key phrase for which you want your content to be found in the search results. This phrase should be included in the title.

Your writer needs to have a good understanding of the search intent behind this phrase, that is, the main goal that the user pursues when searching for this query in Google. 

You need to specify search intent in your brief.

For example, if we want to write an article that targets a key phrase “Wireframe vs Mockup,” the search intent can be formulated as follows:

🔍 Search intent: A user wants to understand the difference between wireframes and mockups, two common terms used by product design teams.

Read also: Understanding Search Intent for Content Writers

Suggested title

A well-articulated headline helps the writer understand the “angle” that their content should take. This "angle" sets the tone for the content and sets it apart from other articles on the same topic.

The formula for an effective headline is:

📌 [Focus keyword] + [Promise] + [Some hype]

Some hype is needed to keep the reader interested.

Here are some examples of good titles from our B2B projects:

  • Microservices Architecture in Banking: What’s the Fuss About?
  • A Non-Boring Guide to How UX Research Is Supposed to Work
  • Regression Testing in Agile: 10 Signs You’re Doing It Wrong
  • Mobile Learning Design Principles: Let’s Steal Them From Social Media
  • Conversational UI: How to Create а Brisk Human-Machine Dialogue

I've got a ton of videos and blog posts to help you write great headlines: Sensory words, power words, copywriting formulas – check out all the links here:

Buyer persona

It is important that the writer understands who they are writing content for. Companies usually have a document that lists all the main Buyer Personas that marketers work with. If you write a brief for your internal writers, they need to know who these persons are, their background, the difficulties they face, and how they make decisions. If your brief goes to a freelancer, some information about the buyer persona must definitely get into this brief.

For example, let's say you're working on a content brief for an article about "How to build a minimum viable product (MVP)." Here is what you can include in this brief about your buyer persona.



BUYER PERSONA 1. Brian Cole 
An early-stage startup with a small team. They’ve already done some research, interviewed potential customers, and made some basic wireframes. At this point, their existing team doesn't have the required skill set to handle design work and they are searching for a professional designer to help them turn their idea into a functional MVP. They want to be able to test their idea on the market as soon as possible.
For Brian, design isn't about aesthetics. It's a tool that can help him achieve his business goal such as validate his new product idea. He's looking for a design company with the same vision.

Describing your buyer persona will help your writers better understand the target audience that this content piece is meant for and tailor their content to this audience.


Requirements

This section in your brief includes:

  • Job to be done — it's a lens through which you can look at your reader's circumstances at the moment, their problem, and the reason they want to solve it 

Job to be done formula looks like this:

[When _____ ] [I want to _____ ] [so I can _____ ]. 

For example:

When I need to prevent unnecessary expenses and detect the lack of market interest for my product, I want to learn about the differences and the main idea behind a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) and Minimum Viable Product (MVP), so I could build a product that will succeed.
  • Key message —  it's some knowledge about the company that we want to convey to the reader through this content. You can formulate it like this:
You did not become a product manager to deliver something your customers merely tolerate — you became a product manager to build something they love. At our company we design things people love, not tolerate. Let us know if you want to work together.
  • Direction — it's some information the format of the piece and what it needs to be about. You can be pretty creative about this direction. Don't try to follow a precise pattern. For example, you can write here: 
Let's give a deeper explanation of the terms a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) and a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Talk about who invented them, why, what was their meaning back then, and what misconceptions people have today. You can also add that this whole MVP-thing has turned into a buzzword competition where people are trying to invent new terms every year (like MMP, MSP), forgetting that the whole point of building a new product (whatever you call it: MVP, MLP, MMP, MSP), is to get a product/market fit. And this can only be achieved if people truly need this product (and of course it's better if they love it).

You can include here some pictures, and whatever else think will help your writer better understand what you need them to write.

  • Company expertise — it's the company's experience that the writer should incorporate into the context to increase the reader's credibility, and “sell” your brand. For example, for an article about a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) and a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), you can add examples of products that your company has designed to illustrate these concepts and also tell a story about how you helped you clients achieve a product/market fit.

Structure suggestions

To make your brief even more specific, you can provide an outline to give an idea of the structure of the content. Here is what your outline should include:

  • An idea for the introduction, which is the most important part of the story
  • H2-H3 subheadings
  • What should be inside each section and where to get the information
  • CTA – where the reader should go next

SEO keywords

The SEO keywords section includes phrases that a writer needs to add to the article. We usually include here:

  • Main keywords and the volume  of requests per month for each of these key phrases
  • People also ask — these are the questions from the People also ask section on the first page of the search results for our main keyword
  • LSI — these are words and phrases that Google considers semantically related to the topic

Internal links

We add a table with links to other pages of the site that are relevant to this topic and anchors (or link titles) that the writer should add to the article.

References

Here we add some helpful links with information that a writer can rely on when writing content.

Additional requirements

This section includes additional requirements that must be kept in mind when writing content. They include general rules regarding:

  • Spellings Meta Title, description, H1
  • Alt tag spellings
  • URL spellings
  • Use of external links
  • The originality of the text
  • Text lengths
  • And Deadline

Guides and rule

To write good content, a writer must abide by the house rules set by the company. In Kaiiax, these rules are expressed using:

  • Style guide
  • Strategic messaging guide
  • Content guidelines

In addition, we are adding additional guides to the brief that help the writer do their job:

  • How to write an outline
  • How to collect keywords
  • How to sell the expertise
  • CTA examples for blog

Get an example of the brief here. You can copy it and use as a template at your projects. 

Watch it on YouTube:


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