Working with Freelancers: Why you need to review your brief templates from time to time
If you’ve worked with freelancers, you’ve encountered this at least once (and if you’re new to the game, sit tight, your day’s coming). You enlist your freelancer to employ their mad writing skills and turn out some copy that will knock your socks off.
What they return does not even remotely resemble with you had in mind.
It happens to all of us at some point and, honestly, it is time consuming, frustrating ordeal.
So, where’s the disconnect?
Start by taking a good look at your creative brief.
Your creative brief should work for you, not against you.
Your creative brief is what we use here at Writer Access to capture all of your fabulous ideas and clever concepts. It is a handy dandy tool that lets you communicate your needs to your writer.
Now, we get it. Completing your brief each time can be a bit of a pain, especially if you are ordering a lot of content on a regular basis. Many clients create their own templates and just use the same information for each order.
That’s great because it saves a ton of time. It’s not so great because changes in need may not find their way to the template. Sometimes the brief may not contain all the information the writer needs to complete your order.
So why update your brief template regularly? Here are a few good reasons that could cause delays in you getting your content.
Information errors that are brief template killers.
Your brief is chock full of information – or it should be anyway. It tells your writer exactly what you need and how you want it done. Ideally, your writer should be able to open your order, review your creative brief, and get right to work. There may be one or two clarifying questions, but most of what they need to work should be right there.
And this brings us to our first brief template issue – information errors.
Out of date information.
Make sure that all the information on your brief is current. This means your company info, URL, blog, and locations as well as specific content needs like audience, style, and linking.
Leaving out vital information is a very common issue that can cause delays in you receiving your content. For instance, do you want a call to action (CTA)? If so, let your writer know and include your company name and URL. In fact, it’s a good idea to include the company URL anyway so the writer can get a feel for the brand personality.
Does your brief say you don’t want a CTA above the fold when in fact you do? Even a simple type like that can completely change the copy and require needless revisions. Review your brief to make sure your company name is correct and spelled correctly. Also make sure that your instructions are accurate.
Including information that is not directly relevant to the current order can create a great deal of confusion and lead to revisions. If you include an excerpt of an article to use as an example of the tone that you want, make sure you add a sentence or two before it, telling your writer. And delete any information that is not relevant.
Your creative brief is not a great place to paste and entire article. That muddles the order and makes it difficult for the writer to locate the actual order instructions. Instead, attach the article or include a link to it. That way the instructions are clean and easy to review but the writer still has access to the additional information that they want you to use.
Bottom line, you want the instructions to be clear but concise. Your writer should be able to review them quickly and begin writing right away.
Vague directions won’t get you the results you want.
Most clients have pretty specific things in mind when they order their content. The problem is, many don’t communicate that through the brief. Vagueness will get you nowhere. You won’t offend a writer by including your notes or even an outline of what you want. If there are certain things you want to see covered in the copy, include that in your brief.
You lose precious time when attachments are missing.
Attachments are a great way to give your writer additional information while keeping the brief template clean and clutter free. However, if you are going to add them, make sure they get attached.
Organization is essential!
Organize your brief so it is easy to read. One huge paragraph is very difficult to decipher. Use shorter paragraphs, bullet points, anything that will make your instructions easier to digest. If you have required keywords, include them in that section, but keep in mind that they system requires them to be included in the content just as they are.
So, if you have “attorney New Orleans” as a required keyword, your writer will have to include that exact keyword in your content – and it won’t flow well. Instead, add a stop word, such as “attorney in New Orleans” and save your writer from a migraine.
Make a standing date to review your brief.
Make it a point to review your content on a regular basis. This will depend on many factors and only you can make that call. However, if you place a lot of orders throughout the month, you may want to review your template every month or every other month. If you only occasionally place orders, then once a quarter will probably suffice.
WriterAccess freelancers are some of the best in the industry. If you haven’t used us before, why not give us a try? If you haven’t placed an order in a while, come on back!
Stephanie M is a writer living in East Central, Alabama, but she didn’t always lead such a peaceful, carefree life. A few years ago she made a daring escape from the “cube farm” at a Federal Agency in Washington, D.C. (after eight very long years) where she worked. as an analyst focusing on disaster response, technical writing, program management, and FOIA.