A creative brief is essentially a document that outlines the project you are undertaking for a client.
It is a vital record that should be completed before you commence any work for your client as it helps to ensure your and your clients’ expectations are aligned.
You set out questions for your client to answer about the project so you develop an in-depth understanding of what they want, and how they want to achieve it.
How important is a creative brief?
In short, very important!
It is exciting to land a client, and no doubt you just want to sink your teeth into the project straight away. However, if you start writing without gaining a clear understanding of the wants and expectations of your client the final product you deliver may be rejected. This is not a nice feeling at all.
That is why a creative brief is so important.
It ensures you and your client are on the same page, and the final product is exactly what they want.
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Ensure you and your client reach a mutual understanding on all the points in your creative brief before you move onto the actual project.
How do you design a creative brief?
I have a few different templates that I use, depending on the scope of the project.
For example, I only need a few details to form a creative brief for a 500-word article, as opposed to the in-depth information I would need for an eBook. Therefore the template I would use for an eBook has substantially more questions for my client to answer.
When it comes to format, I use a word document however you can create a brief in any file type you would like. As long as your client can retrieve it and alter it if needed.
Whilst it is important to go into detail, you don’t want to write pages and pages of a creative brief. You want to move onto the actual written assignment, so keep it BRIEF, but descriptive.
Grab a copy of your FREE Creative Brief Template below.
What should you include in the creative brief?
As you become more experienced in freelance writing, you will adapt each creative brief to your client. However, I find that I include the below components nearly every time.
Describe the company/business.
Knowing whom you are working for is essential to writing appropriate assignments. It is difficult to represent a company, business or individual if you do not know what they themselves represent. Ask your client what their founding philosophy or business objectives are, and to provide any other background material they think may be helpful.
Summarise the project.
It is important that you have your client provide a brief summary of what the project is.
Is it an article, blog, eBook or do they want you to keep their social media updated?
Objectives of the project.
What does your client hope to achieve from this assignment?
What are their goals? For example, lead generations, increase website traffic or grow an email list.
How many words, or how often will they need content uploaded?
Who is the target audience?
You need to know who you will be writing for so you can adapt your style and language to appeal to that demographic.
What is the age?
What is the tone and style?
This is where knowing whom you are writing for helps.
The style and tone you deliver your final product in should be consistent with their established brand, as well as the expectations of your client.
Some clients will want you to write in a conversational tone, whilst a more formal or technical tone will be needed for others. You can always ask for examples of prior projects to guarantee your assignment remains consistent with their established content.
This is very important.
You need to negotiate deadlines with your client, and be aware of what timeframe they expect from you.
You can set out some milestones so that your client feels included in the project, and they receive regular updates over the course of the project.
If you are working on a big project, like a novel or eBook you can set out payment milestones. This could be pay $x amount upon completion of rough draft, or a monthly payment.
People tend to become uncomfortable when asking for money. But you need to remember that you are the boss, an entrepeneur.
Broaching the subject of payment prior to starting the project will avoid hassles later on.
Once again, setting out yours and your clients’ expectations in a clear and concise manner will avoid confusion. It is also handy to have documentation on an agreed upon price for those slippery clients who try to change their mind later.
SEO or SMO?
Does your client need your assignment to be Search Engine Optimised (SEO) or Social Media Optimised (SMO)? This is important to know for if they rely on SEO tactics, then you need to focus on keyword density.
Will your work have a byline, or is it to be ghostwritten?
Obviously the above-mentioned components do not need to be included with every single brief, especially smaller projects. They are to provide a guide for establishing the expectations of your client, so you can deliver a high-quality project that meets their needs.
Make sure you grab your free copy of the Creative Brief Template by subscribing below.
It is a great tool to help establish yourself as a professional, as well as ensuring you produce work that meets client expectations.
Filling out a creative brief for each and every client is a great habit to form. You can use them to build upon a writing contract, and help with quotes. I would love to hear how you use a creative brief, or if you don’t use one what steps do you take to learn your clients expectations?