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How to brief your new copywriter in four easy steps

A good brief sets your design project up for success. Here's how to do it.

It happens every once in a while — your agency’s been humming along, working with an incredible roster of freelance writers and then ☁️ poof! ☁️ No one’s available for an urgent job.

It’s a headache. Not only do you need to find a new writer, but you also need to give them a fully detailed brief — something you likely haven’t done in a while. After all, your usual writers have worked with you for so long, you only need to give them the bare minimum amount of information and they’ll produce incredible work.

By the time you’ve finished trying to write down exactly what you’re looking for, you start to wonder: would it have been easier to just write the content yourself? Thankfully, briefing your new copywriter doesn’t need to be a minefield of to-ing, fro-ing and confusion. Instead, you can provide your copywriter with a full brief in about as much time as it takes to prep and eat your breakfast.

We’ve been on the receiving end of hundreds of agency briefs, so we know a thing or two about what separates a good one from a not-so-good one.

In this post, I’m going to run you through my four easy steps to providing your new agency copywriter with a fantastic brief so that they can accurately scope and quote your project. As a copywriter myself, this is the information that I’d need in order to produce exceptional copy for an agency client.

Let’s do it.

Step 1: Tell them about your client

The more information you can provide, the better! You can start with the basics, such as:

  • Your client’s company name (bonus points: the meaning behind the name)
  • What they do
  • Where they’re located
  • When they started operating.

If you have any additional collateral, such as brand guidelines or a business plan that you’re permitted to share, you can also send those along to your new copywriter to help them start to build a picture of who your client is.

Step 2: Tell them about your project

There are a whole host of reasons that your client needs copywriting. Maybe their business is brand new and you need clever messaging that cuts through and helps them stand out in a crowded industry. They might be rebranding and need to update their website content to reflect their new direction.

No matter the reason, the more context that you can provide to your copywriter, the easier it will be for them to scope your project.

Include details about:

  • Where the copy will live (for example, a printed brochure, social media, their business website, etc.)
  • What you’d like the copy to prompt readers to do (for example, make a purchase, or submit an enquiry)
  • Any other stakeholders who will be contributing to the project, such as your design team or brand strategists
  • Any deadlines that you’ve given to the client.

Step 3: Tell them about your client’s ideal audience

In scoping the project, you’ve almost certainly had a conversation about your client’s best customers. If they’re unclear, we’d recommend pushing back and asking strategic questions to uncover exactly who the copy will be talking to. If your client’s target audience is ‘everybody’, then the copy won’t be very good.

Ask them to have a good think about the customers who they loved working with. What are they like? What do they do? Why did they choose their business over the competition?

Or, if that’s too tricky to pin down, you can ask about their less-than-ideal customers. What are they like? What do they do?

By building out a picture of your client’s ideal customer, you can ensure your copywriter knows exactly who they will be speaking to and trying to attract.

Step 4: Tell them about your client’s brand

Brand voice is the trickiest part of the copywriting process to nail — but it’s the most important to get right. If you haven’t completed a brand strategy with your clients, it’s important that you still provide your copywriter with some direction about the voice that your client is trying to convey.

The key to getting your client’s brand voice right (and having it reflected correctly in their copy) is being able to clearly articulate how they want the world to feel about their business. Every decision you make can flow from there.

To help business owners communicate their brand, I ask them questions like:

  • If your company was a person, could you sum them up in three words?
  • What kind of words do your customers use to describe you (both good and bad)?
  • How are you different to your #1 competitor?
  • Why did you start your business?

Questions like these usually help clients get to the heart and soul of why their business exists. If you’re briefing a copywriter, have a think through your client’s brand and send them any information that you have — I guarantee they’ll love you for it!

And that rounds out my top four tips for how to brief your new copywriter. If you’re constantly onboarding new copywriters to your agency (and spending hours of time briefing them!), hopefully this process will help you to breeze through the process.

If you find you’re getting stuck writing your brief, never fear! A good copywriter can walk you through this process, providing plenty of support along the way. Need a copywriter for your next agency project? Let’s chat.