How To Create A Scalable Content Brief (+ Free Template)

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Good content lives and dies by the brief used to produce it.

Quality content briefs can keep work quick, consistent and thorough, while a poor or confusing brief can lead even the most adept writer astray.

We at FATJOE have years of experience with our Content Writing Services and over these years, we’ve come to recognize the importance of clear and consistent briefing when it comes to delivering great content at scale.

You can skip right ahead to download our free scalable content brief template, or you can read on to can follow our guidelines on creating awesome content briefs for your writers, so you can get consistency and quality, every time.

So, Why Use A Content Brief Template?

Why Use A Content Brief Template

Before covering what the brief should contain, it’s important first to explain why a structured and reusable content brief is vital. 

Scale Your Content Operations (Without Losing Quality)

The most important thing it will deliver is consistency. 

Using the same briefing template for all of your content will ensure you achieve a consistent tone and style.

This helps scalability massively as you can have multiple writers cover projects without any noticeable shifts in the tone or quality of the work they produce.

This guide focuses on producing a content brief template for a single business, but you can easily follow the same principle to create a generic, scalable guide for all sorts of content types.

Streamline Delivery and Revisions

Another advantage of a well-written brief is that it cuts down on any back and forth with revisions. If the writer knows exactly what you’re after from the start, it makes the whole process so much easier.

The more you can trust your writers to deliver, the less you’ll need to oversee the content manually.

This means you can move to publish faster, whether you’re creating the content yourself or for a client.

In time clients will come to recognise the consistency you deliver and will let you simply get on with producing high-quality content. 

Avoid The Need To Upskill Writers

Finding good writers is hard. Having to train them in SEO is even harder.

You can skip the need for this entirely by crafting a brief that functionally handles the SEO optimisation for them. Clear and concise instructions, carefully selected keywords and a set structure can all work wonders for SEO optimisation while still allowing them to write naturally. 

You want them to be able to write naturally, to have a voice and give the piece a clear human tone but without losing out on optimisation or scalability. A great content brief will allow you to do just this. 

What To Include

Writer having ideas of what to include

Right, now you’re sold on the value of content briefs; what should you include in them?

The Title/Topic

title of blog post

Bit of an obvious one, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

This may be as specific a title as “The Four Best Holiday Spots in the Peak District” or more open such as “Holiday Ideas in the North West of England”. 

A more general topic can allow the writer more scope for research and personality. Just be sure to let them know if there are any specific points to include.

Struggling for ideas? Try out our Blog Post Title Generator.

The Purpose

Again, it might seem obvious to you, but this is vital information for the writer.

Consider what you are looking to achieve with the content. Is it perhaps sales-oriented, or are you instead looking to educate the reader and demonstrate your knowledge?

Articles shouldn’t just be produced for SEO purposes (even if, honestly, this is why you’re producing them). There should always be an underlying purpose, and it’s important for the writer to know this to ensure they can help you achieve your or your client’s goals.

 

The Word Count

As a baseline, you need to include an approximate word count for the writer to aim for.

We would always suggest providing a range. This allows the writer some scope to either cover a topic in more depth or cut back on some waffle. 

How Do You Decide On The Wordcount?

It is widely accepted that longer-form content performs better for SEO purposes than short content. 

A study from Backlinko showed that long-form content between 1000-2000 words gets 77.2% more backlinks than short-form content. They do also note diminishing returns once you pass 2000 words.

This doesn’t mean you should always aim for this range, however. We highly recommend that you perform competitor analysis to see what sort of word count competing articles come in at.

An easy way to do this is simply searching for the keyword terms you are looking to target for your new post. 

Once you have the top 5-10 results, measure each post’s word count (free browser extensions can do this for you) and average them out. This will then give you an idea of what count to target.

If this is a bit too manual for you tools like SurferSEO include suggested word counts as part of their auto-generated content suggestions.

Remember, longer word counts aren’t the key to everything. Google prioritizes usability, and a short sharp post that truly answers the user’s question will always be prioritised ahead of a post padded to hit a certain word count.

 

Content Suggestions

This may appear obvious, but it’s important to bear this in mind.

You may well be an expert in your subject, but the chances are your writer won’t be.

Anything you can provide to them in the way of suggestions to include in the post will pay dividends with the accurate and helpful content they create for you.

It’s also important to remember whether you have any particular points you want the post to make.

If you have given the writer the general header “Social Media Marketing Trends You Can’t Afford To Miss” they’ll have a wide scope of suggestions to make. This is a good thing, but if you want to be sure a hook is included for your Instagram influencer program, you need to make sure to tell the writer.

It might be obvious to you, but anything like that needs to be provided to ensure the writer nails the piece the first time around.

 

The Tone of Voice & Target Audience

Including clear instructions on the tone of voice you are after is vital, especially if your posts can vary a bit.

Is it an authority piece? A long-form article in which you want to establish your expertise in your industry? A formal tone would likely be needed here. At the very least, you’ll want to free the writer to use whatever industry jargon is suitable – no need to hold back.

Is it instead a chattier blog post? A quick summary of a recent industry trend? In this case, a less formal tone might be appropriate. The post can be chattier, use simpler wording and take the time to explain some terminology that might not be so familiar to someone dipping their toes in the given industry.

Ultimately it’s up to you what tone you want. You can have formal blog posts just as you can have chatty articles, but you have to let your writer know what you expect ahead of time. 

 

Keywords

All content is written for SEO purposes, and the foundation of SEO is keywords. 

Once you have your proposed topic or title in mind, it’s time to start to conduct keyword research.

This can be done manually. You can analyse the SERPs for your given topic(s) and assess which keywords are given the most prominence, which articles strive to use, and so on.

The problem is this is cumbersome and not at all scalable.

A Keyword Research Service can take overall topic ideas and turn them into an actionable report on which keywords to target.

You just then need to choose which keywords you think work best for which article and include them within the relevant brief.

If even this is a bit too involved, there are plenty of tools available that can automatically generate keyword suggestions on a set title which you can then pass along to your writing team. 

Alongside the keywords you want to target, you might want to remind the writers about SEO best practices to keep your articles as optimised as possible. 

While keywords are important for SEO, do remember that search engines prioritise readability and usability above all else. The era of keyword stuffing is over. No one wants to read an article produced only for keywords, and writers certainly won’t want to produce it. 

Structure

structure

At FATJOE we believe pretty much every blog post on falls into one of two types of content:

  • Question/Informational Posts – These answer a question or talk about a topic
  • List Posts – These give lists of things to do, to see, to try

These two types of content cover most posts you’re likely to produce and have slightly different layout requirements for optimal performance. Of course, affiliate sites have review posts, and news sites have news posts which need a slightly different approach. But for simplicities sake, we’re going to stick with the 2 main structure types here. (If you’re instead looking to produce a Press Release, you could check out our post and template here…)

Question Posts / Information posts

First up for Question Posts like this one, we find this structure is best;

Intro

  • Answer the question or state the topic you’ll be diving into
  • Establish authority or expertise (why are you qualified to talk about this topic?)
  • Preview what is to come – Short paragraph or bullet points

Body

  • H2 section headings Under the headings go deeper into that sub-topic/nuance/detail. (repeat as necessary)

Outro

  • Summarize – 1-3 paragraphs
  • Call to Action – Is there anything to do next?
  • FAQ (optional)

List Posts

For List Posts like this, we instead find this structure best;

Intro

  • Write what this article is about. Include the main keyword
  • Establish authority or expertise (why are you qualified to talk about this topic?)
  • Preview what is to come – Short paragraph or bullet points

Body

  • H2 section headings for each list item Under the headings go deeper into that list item. (repeat as necessary)

Outro

  • Summarize – 1-3 paragraphs
  • Call to Action – Is there anything to do next, another post maybe?
  • FAQ (optional)

Examples of other posts

If you don’t manage to include anything else bar the title/concept, include examples.

Examples are so incredibly helpful as they can express exactly what you want without you having to produce the piece yourself.

Chances are, if you’re looking to outsource your writing or scale content operations, you’re probably not a writer yourself.

This can make it incredibly hard to articulate yourself in a written brief.

Examples can make life so much easier as you simply point to an existing piece and go, “like that but for my brand”

Examples also make things easier if you’re instead looking to ensure consistency. Rather than laboriously laying out every single requirement for the tone and structure (which can get messy and confusing) a simple example can work wonders for helping the writer understand what you’re after.

Once you have a library of existing content across a few different styles, you’ll always have one of your own pieces to refer back to alongside the competitor examples.

As ever, just be sure to include any key points that set you or the article you want apart from the example. 

 

What Should The Brief Look Like?

There’s no need to overthink this. Just look at our Content Writing Service order forms. With only a few fields of information, we can turn around great content at a scalable rate. 

As a baseline, you’ll want the sections covered above included in a clear format;

  • Title/Topic: 
  • Wordcount Range: 
  • Key Points:
  • Tone of Voice:
  • Audience:
  • Suggested Keywords:
  • Structure:
  • Examples: 

 

Our Free Template Doc

Download our scalable, white label content brief template. Simply fill in the details before you hand a project to your writer.

Ready to start scaling your content operations? Take a look at our Content Writing services.

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