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The importance of a client brief

The importance of a client brief

You’ve done your due diligence and found a great copywriter who has loads of experience, has positive reviews and is within your budget. You’re feeling pretty happy with your decision and are excited to start working with them.

After contacting them and having initial discussions, you’re even more sure you’ve made the right decision.

But when the copywriter sends you a client briefing document and requests you fill in several pages of information, you start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision. After all, isn’t it the job of the copywriter to do the writing?

 

What is a brief and why do you need one?

Believe it or not, the fact that your copywriter has sent you a brief to fill in is a sign they are on top of their game.

A great copywriter is someone who will write copy that meets your needs — not theirs. Which is why they require a client brief.

A client brief is a bit like a road map. It contains directions, guidelines and pertinent information in order for your copywriter to come up with the content you are paying them for.

A client brief reduces the chances of ambiguity and misunderstandings when it comes to your content, eliminating the need for countless (and sometimes expensive) revisions and rewrites.

In short, the more information you provide, the better.

 

A brief is not…

While it’s important to understand the purpose of a client brief, it’s also important to understand what it’s not.

A brief is not:

  • A list of terms and conditions of engagement — that should be a separate document and something I will address in a future blog post
  • A contact of agreement:  — this too is a separate document which outlines the scope of the project, (including fees) which both parties need to sign.
  • A promise — while a good copywriter will produce great content according to your specifications, they cannot promise particular outcomes such as website hits and clicks, or sales.

 

What should you include?

There are no hard and fast rules about what a client brief should include. After all, every writing project is different. However, the following gives you a good idea on what type of questions you may be asked.

  • Your business: What is your business (e.g. what do you do, your core operations) and how long have you been in business?
  • Your brand: What does your brand stand for? What is your tone? What are your values?
  • Engagement objectives: What is the purpose of this communication? Are you looking for a specific outcome or action (e.g. increased sales), or do you want to increase your brand awareness, and increase brand loyalty?
  • Target audience: Who are your primary and secondary audiences (e.g. age, gender, socio-economic status)
  • Audience persona: What are their interests, concerns, or personality?
  • Campaign objectives: What are the key messages you want your consumers to receive regarding your brand or product?
  • Key messages: Are there any key messages you want to convey in your content? Are there any messages that must be avoided?
  • Key words: Are there any key words that must be used, or avoided?
  • Type of message: Is this communication a blog piece? Article? Advertorial? Report? Tender? News article?
  • Tone: What is the tone of the message? (e.g. friendly, authoritative, casual, formal, humorous, etc.)
  • Content channels: Where will the content be published? (e.g. online, blog, print, social media, advertising etc.) How will it be published? (e.g. bound report, booklet, loose-leaf binder, electronic)
  • Images/graphics: Are there any images or graphics that must accompany the content?
  • Style guidelines: Is there an in-house Style Guide that must be followed?
  • Research: Is credible research required for this communication?
  • Examples: Are there any examples of existing material that you like?
  • Brand ambassadors: Are there any brand ambassadors associated with your product/brand?
  • Scope of the project: How big is the project? (e.g. one-off report, blog or article) What is the word length?
  • Budget: What is your budget for this project?
  • Deadline: What is the deadline for the project?

 

You still need to be involved!

Once you have filled in as much information as possible, your copywriter will get busy doing what they need to do. However, don’t think that your job is over just yet! As you are the client, you will be required to provide ongoing feedback or ask any relevant questions for the scope of the project.

If your copywriter requests further information or clarification from you, it’s because it’s relevant to the project. They really aren’t messing with your head!

Oh, and if you have a deadline for this project, then it will be important to provide information, reviews or feedback in a timely manner, in order to meet that deadline. So make sure you factor that into the scope of the project.

 

Take the time to brief your copywriter

One of the reasons you engage a copywriter may be because you just don’t have time to do the job yourself. However, I highly recommend you take the time to fill out a client brief with as much detail as possible. It may take an hour or two, but in the end, the detail in that document could very well be the difference between mediocre copy and fabulous copy.

Speaking of fabulous copy…. if you’re ready to hire a great copywriter — and are willing to fill in a copy brief! — then please contact me.

If you’re still wondering if you should hire a copywriter, then 10 reasons why you should hire a copywriter may answer some of your questions.

Cheers
Nerissa

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10 reasons why you should hire a copywriter

Why you should hire a copywriterWhen contemplating hiring a copywriter, one of the first questions is: “what will it cost me?”

Fair enough that you want to know what it will cost you in monetary terms, but do you ever stop to think what you actually get back in return?

  1. Copywriters save you time

 Outsourcing work (whether it be your accounts, cleaning or copywriting), frees up your time. Instead of wrestling with the time-honoured question of “there” or “their”, you can get on with building your business, sourcing more clients, or simply taking time to have that cup of coffee.

  1. Copywriters save you money

 Hiring someone to do the job properly first, is more cost effective than trying to do the job yourself and ending up with a sub-standard result. When it comes to business, particularly small business, time is money. Time spent fluffing about with ineffectual content, is time (and money) wasted. 

  1. They have fresh eyes

Hiring a copywriter external to your business is a great thing. They are able to look at your business with fresh eyes. They can quickly get an unbiased ‘feel’ for your business. They can determine if there are conflicting or confusing messages. They are able to identify what is working and what is not working.

  1. They can communicate clearly and objectively

Copywriters are experts at communicating. They can spot spelling and grammatical errors instantly. They can identify any industry-jargon that may be confusing to potential clients. They can also write objectively, something that can be difficult when you are too close to your own subject matter.

  1. Copywriters are professionals

Good copywriters are professionals. Many have qualifications in journalism or writing. Many have worked (in previous lives) in the marketing and communication field, thereby bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to their current careers. Like all professionals, they usually invest money and time into developing their careers and businesses.

  1. Some copywriters are specialists in their field

Some copywriters specialise in different industries. While they can still write for the ‘general market’, hiring a copywriter who specialises in your particular field is a smart move. Not only are they well versed in the type of language used in that industry, they are likely to have a lot of background knowledge and experience in that field, and know exactly how and where to source information.

  1. Good copywriters can write across a variety of different industries

Good copywriters should be able to write across a variety of different industries for a variety of different audiences and media platforms. So if you have a ‘general’ writing task, it shouldn’t matter if they specialise in a particular area if you want to hire them for a ‘general’ writing task.

  1. Copywriters are creative

Copywriters can turn boring sentences into something that pops. In the digital age, fresh new content is vital. Hiring a good copywriter means that you will always have new content for your website, thereby making your site high-quality and favoured by Google.

  1. They can help with branding

Your brand is key to your success. Creating a brand helps customers identify with products and services they can trust. Engaging a copywriter can help you develop and strengthen your brand by ensuring your key messages and the way you deliver them are consistent. A good copywriter can also help you develop a Style Guide, to promote consistency in your writing, branding and marketing.

  1. Copywriters focus on writing

While it can be tempting to try to write copy yourself, how many other things are you trying to juggle? Can you honestly give writing your full attention and focus, or are you likely to be interrupted by other emergencies and tasks that simply can’t wait? If you employ a copywriter, their job is to write — nothing else. Which means your content is created quicker and easier than if you were to do it yourself.

If you’re ready to take your business to greater heights and want a great copywriter to help you get there,  contact us today. We’d love to help you.

Cheers

Nerissa

How to use the 5 Ws (and a sneaky H) for more engaging content

5 WsAs a journalism student, I was taught the 5 Ws of how to write a news story.

Who, What, Why, Where, When; plus the sneaky ‘H’ — How.

Who is the story about?

What is the main point of the story?

Where did the story take place?

When did the story take place?

Why is the story important?

How did it happen?

Fast forward some years (more than I’d like to admit), and I still use this formula when writing content. The only difference is the definitions of the above have been slightly tweaked to suit blogging and long-form articles.

By applying the 5 Ws (and the one sneaky H) you too, can generate engaging content for your brand.

Who

Who is your target audience? Who will be reading your blogs and articles? Who is affected by this topic? Who will benefit by reading this article?

Knowing who will read your content helps enormously when it comes to style and key messaging. It will also help determine what type of language to use. (e.g. If you are writing for a technically minded audience, you can probably use a bit of industry-jargon, whereas if you are writing for the lay person, you would consciously avoid jargon and technical terms).

What

What are you writing about? What are the key messages you want to get across?

When you understand the key messages your article or blog needs to convey, your writing will become more concise and to the point. No one likes to read articles that waffle on and end up saying very little.

Where

Where will your blog or article be published? Will it be in print or electronic form?

Having an idea where your piece will end up and the format it will take should give you some idea of your audience and will therefore help you target the piece. Knowing your reach (and who they are), will also help when it comes to promoting your own work via social media.

When

When will your article be published? Will it coincide with an event/launch/season?

Knowing when your article is due to be published will also help you come up with content. For example, some publications have longer lead times than others — (i.e. magazines and journals often plan three to six months ahead). Keep this in mind as you write. While you may be writing an article during summer, the content required may be winter-focused.

Why

Why are you writing your blog? What do you hope to gain from publishing your piece? Why is the topic important?

Do you want to increase awareness of a particular cause, showcase your business/talents or do you want to generate more business? Having a clear idea of what you want your writing to achieve will ensure that you write it with the end in mind. There is no point writing something simply for the sake of writing.

How

While the question of ‘how’ is slightly less important, it’s still worth considering.

The ‘how’ of your content may be one of a few questions:

How will the reader benefit from this content?

How are you going to promote your piece?

How can you leverage this piece of writing to generate more clients/customers and brand exposure?

So when you plan out your next blog post or article, ask yourself the 5 Ws and that sneaky H, and see how your content will benefit.

If you are wondering whether your business needs a blog, there are 4 things you must consider before going ahead.

If you already have a blog, and would like help planning and writing for your business, please contact us. We would love to work with you.

Cheers

Nerissa

Building credibility as a writer

Building credibility as a writerAs a health writer, I come across thousands of health articles every year. Just googling the term ‘health blogs’ brings up 628,000,000 (yes, 628 million) results.

That is a huge amount of web pages.

More and more people are turning to the internet for information, particularly health information. The internet can be a fantastic resource for information on health and wellness. However, there are countless websites containing inaccurate, unreliable and even dangerous information.

The problem with online health information

Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) is just one of these websites filled with inaccurate information. This free-content encyclopedia, offers information on a wide range of topics, including health and wellness. It is the most popular general reference site on the internet with 439 million unique visitors every month, as of June 2015[1].

However, its popularity does not assure accuracy, as a 2014 study discovered. Researchers found that 90 per cent of the information for costly medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer, major depressive disorder, osteoarthritis) was incorrect. [2]

A further study found that information on Wikipedia relating to drugs was often incorrect and outdated. [3]

What is even worse is there are thousands of bloggers out there writing about health topics, who either don’t have a background in health, or don’t bother to fully research their subject matter.

I’m sure the same could be said for the majority of industries.

An opportunity to build credibility

If you are a freelance writer, lack of high-quality information provides you with an enormous opportunity to build your credibility.

Not all information found on the web is inaccurate. However, if you know how to source information from credible sources, you can use this to your advantage.

Knowing how to search the internet efficiently, source research studies, read and interpret research studies, and quote your references is a valuable skill, so do not underestimate it. In a world where unreliable information is everywhere, use your skills to stand out from the crowd.

A case study

Building credibility as a writerRecently one of my clients asked me to write an article on orthorexia. If you are unfamiliar with that term, orthorexia describes those who are unhealthily obsessed with healthy eating. I had some basic knowledge of the subject, but needed to do quite a bit of research to garner enough information to write an article about it.

One of the sources I used was the website written by Dr Steven Bratman, MD, who first coined the term ‘orthorexia’. He is a world-renown expert in the area. I used information from Google analytics, as well as information from the Dietitians Association of Australia and the U.S.-based National Eating Disorders Association. In total, I had seven references to back up a 1,000-word article.

Somehow, Dr Bratman discovered the article I had written and read it.

On my client’s website where the article was published, he wrote: “This is really an excellent article on orthorexia — and I can be quite critical! Well done.”

He then tweeted the article twice, stating: “Nice article on #orthorexia.” and “In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is an excellent article on #orthorexia”.

Taking the time to thoroughly research the article, and attribute my sources resulted in a high-quality, accurate article, and the world-renown expert in the area singing its praises. My client was pretty stoked, particularly as her article was shared and her website received extra traffic.

You have to be happy with that.

Regardless of what field you write for, thoroughly researching and referencing your articles is a very easy but powerful way to build your brand and your credibility as a writer. And the more credibility you build, the more work you can generate.

We would love to help you out with high-quality, fully researched and referenced blogs or articles for your business. Just contact us.

Cheers

Nerissa

References:

[1] Wikipedia: About, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About, accessed 22 July 2015

[2] R T Hasty, R C Garbalosa, V A Barbato, P J Valdes Jr, D W Powers, E Hernandez, J S John, G Suciu, F Quereshi, M Popa-Radu, S San Jose, N Drexler, R Patankar, J R Paz, C W King, H N Gerber, M G Valladares, A A Somji, Wikipedia vs Peer-Reviewed Medical Literature for Information About the 10 Most Costly Medical Conditions, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2014, Vol. 114, pp368-373 http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2094583, accessed 22 July 2015

[3] T J Hwang, F T Bourgeois, J D. Seeger, Drug Safety in the Digital Age, The New England Journal of Medicine, 26 June 2014, Vol. 370. pp2460-2462, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1401767, accessed 22 July 2015

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