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How to Assess a Client Brief

When you receive an order from a client on the Textbroker platform – or view an Open Order from the main order pool – a client brief should be expected. This provides details about what the text should be about, what information should be included, who the target audience is, where the text will be published, and what it is intended to achieve.

In this post, we take a look at some of the main steps you need to go through as a freelance writer, in order to assess a client brief properly and get the information you need before you can start work on a writing project.

Reading a copywriting brief and assessing it is an important part of the onboarding process because you need to fully understand the task before you can determine how to complete it. As a freelance writer, it is essential that you look at briefs carefully, as they can have a significant bearing on the quality of the content you produce. Here are the steps you should follow:

1. Read the Brief Carefully – in Full

The first step an author should take when they receive a client brief is to read it through, in full. Some briefs utilise established templates and over time, authors may become familiar with these templates, but it is still important to take the time to read the full brief, as even small changes to the template can make a big difference.

Reading through the entire briefing in full can help to contextualise all of the information contained within. It is vital that writers do not become complacent when dealing with multiple orders from the same client, as there may be subtle differences in requirements that may not always be obvious when taking a quick glance.

2. Pick Out the Key Directions and Requirements

Next, you should try to identify the most important directions and requirements, as this can help you to plan your written content. For example, you might want to think about language requirements, such as whether the text needs to be written in UK English or American English, or whether the text should be written in first, second or third person.

A brief may include specific instructions about the format for the text, the subheadings that need to be used, the structure of the article, and any internal or external hyperlinks that need to be included. Try to pick out the most important requirements and directions, and keep these in mind as you progress through the content creation process.

3. Think Carefully About the Target Audience

After you have got to grips with the brief, you need to identify the intended audience for the content. Of course, the exact process for this will depend on how detailed the client brief is. Some briefs will clearly explain the target audience, while other briefs can be more ambiguous. Nevertheless, there are still steps you can take.

For instance, if the client brief provides information on where the content will be published, you can explore that website and get an idea of what type of content is published there and who it is likely to be aimed at. Alternatively, you could contact the client and ask for more information on the audience and their level of knowledge.

4. Pay Attention to Keyword Requirements

Many client briefs will provide keyword requirements in basic terms, such as the keywords that need to feature and the number of times those keywords should be used. This information is often based on research carried out for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes, so following these instructions can be absolutely critical.

Beyond this basic information, some briefs also offer further instructions, such as explaining precisely where keywords should be used. As an example, it may be necessary to include the keywords in the opening paragraph or in the subheadings for the article. Make sure you know what the requirements are before you begin work on the text.

5. Carry Out Some Basic Research on the Topic

Once you have an idea of what the text is going to be about, who it is going to be aimed at, and what it is intended to achieve, you can start thinking about any research that may be required to complete the project. The nature of this research will largely depend on the topic, your own level of knowledge, and how advanced the requirements are.

A good starting point is to carry out enough research to know whether or not you are capable of completing the project. Some client briefs will include a list of sources to use. However, if there are issues in this area, it may be necessary to ask the client for links to some sources to get you started.

6. Read Samples or Similar Content

Once you have a good idea of what the brief is asking you to do, and you have carried out some preliminary research to ensure you are able to complete the project, you should take the time to read through any sample content that has been provided or any similar content that you can find on the internet.

Reading sample content can give you an idea of the kind of tone you should adopt and can help you to understand the level of prior knowledge that is assumed in content of this kind. It can also provide inspiration, although it is important to retain your own voice and use plenty of your own ideas too, in order to avoid plagiarism accusations.

7. Ask Questions and Try to Gain Clarity

Finally, it is worth contemplating all of the information you have and taking the time to ask questions about anything you are still unsure about after assessing the client brief fully. The quality of briefs can vary substantially, and even the best clients may forget to mention things, or they could even make errors within the brief.

It is always better to gain clarity on any areas of uncertainty rather than trying to guess the answers yourself. Ask clients to explain any points of the client brief that you do not fully understand, and enquire about any information that is missing. Remember, asking questions now can save time and effort on revisions later on.

Final Thoughts

Although different clients will have different approaches when it comes to providing writers with instructions, the steps outlined should help you to assess the vast majority of client briefs and then gather enough information to know whether you can complete a project and how you should actually go about achieving this.

Textbroker also includes a ‘Rate Instructions’ feature, where you can provide feedback on client instructions. This allows you to score the brief in terms of the clarity of instructions, the level of research that has been requested, the keyword requirements, and more, with a view to helping clients to optimise their future briefs.

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About our author

JMMedia is a freelance author who has been writing for Textbroker since 2012. He specialises in the creation of SEO-friendly content on a variety of topics, including online marketing, music, travel, history, video games and sport. Away from work, his interests include reading, listening to audiobooks, and playing football.

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