What is a Content Brief?A content brief is a guide or set of instructions prepared for content writers to give them direction and information on how to go about creating an assigned piece of content. Content briefs are sometimes called creative briefs even though creative briefs are not limited to written content and can be used for videos, infographics, landing pages or ad copies. Before we dive into several examples of content briefs, it’s worth noting that there’s no standard approach on how to write a brief. A quick message to the content writer with information about the title and word count may qualify as a brief. For instance, a well-meaning content strategist may say:
Hey Tommy, we need a quick 1500 article on Best Headphones for pianos. Do your best, mate! 🙂This is sparse information for many reasons:
- It fails to tell the writer about the company or what it does.
- It doesn’t tell your writer which topic should be covered or which question should be answered.
- There are no details about the site and its products or services. Perhaps the company produces its range of headsets and requires a mention in the article.
- On the content marketing side of things, it doesn’t brief the writer on the company’s objectives. For instance, which stage of the buyer’s journey does the content hope to target?
- Finally, the article may fail to bring any SEO traffic as the brief doesn’t provide any guidance on critical SEO information such as which keywords should be used, how long the content should be, or which internal links or external links to include.
What should be included in an effective Content BriefTo recap on from our article on “What should be included in a content brief,” here are some of the most important sections of a comprehensive content brief (check out the article for a full list of all the elements):
- Company description & details: this is particularly important if you are not working with an in-house content team. Tell your freelance writers or the content agency your work with about the company and its backstory. You can touch on its mission, vision, or unique selling points. This helps in writing the CTAs. You can also share links to the website, social media pages, press mentions, etc. This will give your content creators a good perspective on your overall content strategy.
- Topic description: what is the content going to talk about? You may also list the various subtopics that will be covered.
- Target audience: it’s all about describing a few qualities of the intended audience. Simply ask: Who do we want to read this article? Where are they located? What’s the best way to speak to them (tone of voice)? What are their pain points?
- Content purpose: the article may be purely informational. Or its end goal may be to promote the company’s services or products. Share the content marketing objectives for the piece of content to ensure that results conform to your expectations.
- Buyer’s journey stage: prospects go through multiple touchpoints with a company before becoming customers. A good content marketing strategy should be aligned with the buyer’s journey. During a typical buyer’s journey, they may research their problems (awareness), consider solutions (consideration), and reach a final decision about how to address their challenges (decision). For instance, a blog post that talks about their problems targets the awareness stage.
- Search intent: this requires you to think about how people will stumble upon the article. What will they search for? And why will they use those particular search terms? Your article may have a transactional, informational, navigational, or in-person visit intent.
- Tone of voice: tell the freelance writer the style of writing you prefer. If you love to keep your communications conversational, you may inform the writer to use second-person pronouns “You or your” and adopt a conversational tone of voice If you want your blog to be more personal or develop a personal brand, you may also request writers to use first-person pronouns such as “I, we, and us.” and a witty tone of voice. Some industries (legal, supply chain, accounting, mining, etc) may command a more formal tone.
- SEO Keywords: optimising a piece of content with relevant keywords gives you a better chance of ranking well on search engines. An SEO content brief should contain a well-researched list of main keywords and related keywords. For example, you may decide to focus on keywords your site already ranks for, or use competitive keywords analysis to find out keywords your competitors rely on.
- Content outline: writers don’t mind if you provide headings and sub-headings. It gives them a format to follow and allows them to cover all the important topics with no need for never-ending revisions.
- Word count: length is an important consideration for any blog post. The article should be of sufficient length to cover the topic in depth. Long-form content tends to outrank shorter articles as the article appears more thorough in the eyes of Google.
- Title: providing the title in the content brief template gives the writer an ideal starting point, even if it’s not the final title you’ll settle on. You may even specify the keywords to mention, leaving the writer to figure out the title.
- Links: you may indicate a few sources that the writer should rely on. You may also list a few existing articles on your site to which you’d like your writer to create internal links.
3 Examples of Effective Content BriefsIn this section, you’ll see 3 content brief examples in order of increasing complexity and details. The more details you provide, the greater the control over the final output. Control is not all that bad. You may want to give a new writer less freedom by giving precise instructions. As your writer becomes more familiar with your brand style, tone of voice, products or services, you won’t need to provide the same level of details in all of your content briefs. Let’s look at the 3 content brief examples.
1. Content brief example for “The Best Cold Call Script for SaaS”Let’s say a company called SuperSaaS Consulting Inc wants a new content piece for their blog section. The firm provides marketing consultancy for SaaS marketing teams. They intend to offer advice on how to write SaaS scripts that convert. The article targets the consideration stage where prospects are searching for solutions to their problems, such as writing the best cold calling scripts. This first content brief template contains the most crucial elements and is rather short. It may only take you 5 to 10 minutes tops to prepare if you have everything on hand.
Example of a short content brief template
- Cold calling script examples
- Cold calling script for digital marketing
- Cold calling examples
- Cold calling script for software sales
2. Example of a content brief for “How to find great SEO writers”In this second example, let’s assume we are publishing content for a company that provides SEO writing services to businesses. The intention is to write about tips that businesses can use to find great SEO writers. Businesses will search for this exact guide at the hiring stage, so the user intent is transactional. With this in mind, the article may advocate for the company’s services by mentioning the benefits of outsourcing SEO writing.
Example of a detailed content brief template
- In-depth keyword research
- Uniqueness checks
- Experienced writers.
|SEO Keywords to use||Where to use them|
|SEO Writers||Title, Description, Н1 heading, text|
|Freelance blog writers||H2 section heading, text|
|creative content writer||Text|
|how to hire blog writers||H2 section heading, text|
|freelance SEO content writer||Text|
|best blog writers||Text|
|Upwork blog writers||Text|
|blog writer online||H3 section heading, text|
|Blog Writer||H3 section heading, text|
Sources: use the following sources as references, and find more sources from your own research.
3. Example of a content brief for an article on the “best headphones for pianos”In this brief, we’re looking at a well-detailed content brief with a complete outline. This may be the format to pick if you want to control the final output with more finesse. So, let’s have a peek at the expert-level content brief. Keep reading to learn about a tool that can allow you to cut down the time it takes to prepare such a brief.
Example of an effective content brief template
Structure and formatting rulesText formatting rules
- At least 1 subtitle per 300 words.
- Avoid highlighting all keywords in bold.
- Break up paragraphs with 3-5 sentences.
- Keep the text uniqueness at 90%
- Include lists, bulleted lists, and tables as needed
- Link to relevant sources, and include source links for statistics
- Divide the article into sections of 100 to 300 words
- H1 heading should have the primary keyword to the left if possible.
- Capitalize all words in the heading unless they are conjunctions (and, or, but, so, etc ) or prepositions (in, to, off, on, etc ).
- If possible, H1 should not contain a punctuation mark. Allowed punctuation marks include : , “”-.
- Up to 60 characters.
- H1 header should be different from the Title.
- The title should have the primary keyword located as close to the start as possible.
- The title should not end with a full stop. Allowed punctuation marks include: , “”-.
- End the title without a punctuation mark, but if it’s a question use “?”.
- Length from 30 – 60 characters
- Avoid using introductory words in Meta Description, such as “In this article”, “In this content”, etc.
- Use the primary keyword or its synonym. It’s preferable to place the keyword closer to the start or middle of the description.
- Write in 2-3 sentences between 120 to 156 characters, including spaces.
- You may use any special characters that can attract attention in the SERPs.
- Use keywords naturally in the article.
- Keywords may be misspelled. Use the correct spelling in the text.
- Use keywords whenever possible.
- Not more than 70 characters per heading.
- Readers should understand what the section talks about from the heading.
- Keep the article easily scannable by writing descriptive headings.
SEO requirementsWord count: 1,500 to 2,000 words Title: use the long-tail keyword “best headphones for piano” Meta-description: include the keyword “headphones for piano” H1 tag: use the keyword “piano headphones”; maximum 100 words
Slug to use: /best-headphones for piano
Internal links to include:
- links to existing reviews of each headphone
Sources: use the following sources as references, and find more sources from your own research.
- give the reader an idea of what the article is about in 1 to 2 paragraphs.
- mention that we’ll compare our “Performance 2.0 Headsets” and how they stack up to the competition.
Content outline & keywordsH2: Quick Tips on Selecting Headphones
- 250 words
- Find up to 6 tips to share from sound to build quality
- Keywords to use (keyword frequencies): – headphones for keyboard jack (1 to 2 times) – headphones for piano jack (1 to 2 times)
- Describe the top five headphones.
- Mention their price, materials, Extra features, Sensitivity, Drivers, and more.
- Use list format with H3 for the following headsets: 1. Performance 2.0 Headphones 2. Sony MDR-7506 3. Yamaha HPH-50B 4. Philips Fidelio M2BT 5. Tascam TH-02
- Keywords to use (keyword frequencies): – Yamaha piano headphones (1 time) – Headphones for Casio keyboard (1 time) – Sony piano headphones (1 to 2 times)
- Create a table comparing the main features of the headphones
- Arrange the headphone brands in columns with rows giving more information
- Rank the headphones in terms of features such as comfort, sensitivity, etc.
- Tell readers where they can purchase our Performance 1 Headphone at a discounted price
- Mention our limited time offer to drive more sales
- Can you plug headphones into a piano?
- What headphones do you need for a piano?
- What headphones do you recommend for digital pianos?
- Do you need special headphones for keyboard?
How to Create Detailed Content Briefs with ZenbriefCreating a detailed content brief sure seems like hard work. For instance, you may need to research similar articles to figure out the typical word count, the outlines followed by your competition, and their content quality. If you publish more than 5 articles per month, preparing detailed content briefs may be time-consuming and nearly impossible. Zenbrief makes this process easy. Enter a topic and it will automatically generate a pre-filled content brief that contains the main information you’ll need to publish expert-level content. After entering the topic, the software generates a full brief with the keywords and their frequency.
Main topic detailsLet’s say you write an article about “Effective Content brief examples.” Zenbrief will use AI to figure out a target word count and a target content score that you should aim for, in order to get a chance to rank well on Google. Depending on your content strategy you may edit those values to fit your goals. You may then add key information to your content brief, such as:
- The target audience
- The writing style (tone of voice, point of view)
- A deadline to deliver a first draft of the content
- A content outline (we’ll see how the brief makes it easy for you to do so)
- Sources such as internal and externals links