How to brief a freelance copywriter – ten tips

Quality content counts for a lot, and managers often need to delegate copywriting tasks to creatives who’ll find the task much easier. But remember, a freelance copywriter’s time correlates directly with your organisation’s budget. That’s why you should aim to give him or her everything they need in a detailed brief that isn’t vague or ambiguous. With that in mind, here’s our ten tips for briefing a freelance copywriter…

#1 It might sound obvious, but make sure your freelance copywriter knows exactly who the client is. Giving them a shortened form of the name, as you know it, could have unfortunate consequences. This is because there are many companies with similar sounding names. For example, if you say you want a blog post for ‘Centrum’, meaning Centrum Holidays, and they write one for Centrum Hotdogs, you’ve wasted both their time and yours. Our tip is to include the client’s full URL in the brief to avoid confusion.

#2 Always give your freelance copywriter a word count. This is important, not just for design purposes but also for helping them make judgement calls on information priority and structuring. If they write you 1,000 words when you only wanted 200, it may cost you unnecessarily. A good idea is to check with a designer first to get a concrete idea about exactly what you want in terms of a word count.

#3 If it’s a sales pitch you want written, then always give your freelance copywriter a list of features and benefits of the product or service. Ideally, you’ll have identified a unique selling point (USP) to set your client apart as special in the marketplace. However, this is not always possible. Details of any promotion are ideal ammunition for writers. Plus, if anything is free, always let the writer know. After all, the word FREE is about as good as it gets when writing a sales pitch.

#4 If possible, give your writer contact details for the client in case they need to clarify anything. If you’re worried about them ‘tapping-up’ your client for themselves, then you can get them to sign a restraint of trade contract. This means you won’t end up being a conduit for correspondence between two people.

#5 Always tell your freelance copywriter exactly what you want prospective customers to do as a result of reading a sales pitch. This is vital for the call to action (CTA) at the end. The CTA is typically ‘contact us for more information’. However, it could be ‘add yourself to our mailing list’, ‘come and see us at this event’, or ‘order your FREE sample now’.

#6 If it’s a press release you want written, then always give your freelance copywriter the ‘who, what, where, when, why and how’ of the story. Press releases benefit from quotations as well, so you may wish to source quotes from a few different stakeholders. Importantly, these quotes perform the heavy-lifting of introducing some subjective language to emphasise quality or excellence. This is something the writer cannot do in the main body of the text because editors will have to rewrite it into objective language, reducing the likelihood of publication.

#7 Unless you’re confident you’re a strong writer, don’t draft something yourself and send it to your freelance copywriter for editing and proofing. This is because it could take them longer to edit than to write from scratch. Bullet points are ideal for getting your message across quickly and effectively.

#8 Always send your freelancer some information about your client’s experience and successes. This shouldn’t be a problem because most firms like to talk about themselves and how good they are. This isn’t the most important part of the copy, that’s the list of benefits, but it does form an important part of any sales pitch.

#9 To save money, always ask your writer about their day rate. If they offer one, then you can get a bundle of briefs sent over for one day’s work. This will not only get you a better rate, most likely, but can result in higher-quality, more consistent copy. That’s because the writer won’t need to switch styles any more than once or twice during the day.

#10 Try to make yourself available for phone calls and meetings with your freelance copywriter. It might be time out of your day, but this time will pay you back in the end. Incredibly, just a short call can bring about the same clarity as ten emails over two days.

If you need a freelance copywriter to help you reach your communications objectives, then give us a call now on 07733242769 or email