If you’ve read our post, What is a Content Brief?, you already know the vital role they play in scaling content without sacrificing quality. Whether it’s in the form of a document or a spreadsheet, you need some form of template to incorporate into your content creation process.
Creating high-quality content at scale requires a well-crafted content brief template. Such a template provides a structured framework to guide content creators, ensuring alignment with the content strategy and meeting the needs of the target audience. Plus, it enables a writer to produce quality content on the first draft and not the third re-write.
Key Elements of a Content Brief Template
If you want to create your own content brief template, consider incorporating these elements
- First and foremost, a content brief template should have a clear and concise project description, outlining the purpose, scope, and goals of the content. It should also provide insights into the target audience, including their preferences, pain points, and aspirations. Understanding the search intent of the audience is crucial in developing content that meets their needs.
- Formatting and structure guidelines are essential for enhancing readability and user experience. The template should provide instructions on the use of headings, subheadings, bullet points, and paragraphs. It should also specify any formatting requirements, such as word count and any image requirements.
- Keyword research, topical coverage, and SEO considerations are integral to aligning the content with the overall SEO strategy. The template should include instructions for keyword incorporation ensuring that semantically relevant topics receive a proper degree of coverage.
- Including a section for questions to answer helps ensure that the content addresses specific points or queries that the audience may have.
- Internal and external linking suggestions help establish connections within the website and provide additional resources.
- The tone and style of the content play a crucial role in engaging the audience. Highlight the desired tone, style, and language and link out to your style guide.
- Clearly defining content objectives and key messages maintains focus and delivers value to the audience.
- Specifying the desired length of the content helps structure it accordingly.
- If applicable, the template should provide suggestions or references to relevant sources.
- Finally, it should include a clear deadline and delivery instructions.
By considering these key elements, content brief templates empower content creators to produce valuable and engaging content that aligns with the content strategy. It is an essential tool for content managers, freelance writers, and content creators in driving the success of content marketing efforts.
Content Brief Examples
Here’s a collection of content brief templates that can serve as your personal swipe file. Use them as inspiration for creating your own or use them as is, if you don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
Using templates like the ones in this post are a good start. However, manual content brief creation can take a significant amount of time and is prone to human error. So, if your content team plans on producing serious amounts of content, consider automating the process using MarketMuse Content Briefs.
MarketMuse AI-driven content briefs are designed so that writers can produce quality SEO-optimized content on the first draft and not the third rewrite. These briefs come with complete instructions so that writers understand:
- How to structure the article
- What questions to answer
- What topics to address
- What content to link to, both internally and externally
- And more
There are two views available, one for executives and one for writers, each formatted specifically for these use cases. Content Briefs are shareable via a special link so others can use it without loggin into the platform. Writers can work directly within the brief, getting scored against suggestions as they go.
Akoonu has a content brief template that agencies may find useful. Providing background about the company for whom you’re creating content helps give valuable context to a writer, as does the outline, messaging and persona journey. There’s a lot of information that goes beyond the scope of creating the piece of content itself, such as cost, production team, and usage plan.
So some might find this content brief to be overwhelming. Also, writers will find themselves jumping around a lot to locate relevant information; the outline is at the end of the brief, the search being targeted is buried in the middle, with citations appearing in yet another place.
This content brief template from AVO is very compact and covers most of the critical parts. Unfortunately, there’s no article structure for the writer, giving extreme latitude to how they approach writing the piece. There’s also no guidance concerning the types of questions the article should address – it’s all left up to the writer’s discretion
Lastly, there’s no consideration given to linking suggestions – so from an SEO perspective, the resulting output is unlikely to be optimized for search.
Brafton has a content brief template that provides most of the information a writer needs to create a quality piece of content. A couple of things to round out this template would be including information about the intended audience, why they’d be searching for this information, and what they expect to get out of reading the article.
For a writer, that guidance is more important than providing the search volume or keyword difficulty metric.
The content brief template made available by Column Five is bare bones, so much so, that you may have a problem creating consistently high quality content briefs. Yet, you’ll need consistently high quality content briefs if you plan on producing equally consistent content.
Time saved in creating the brief will be spent on rewrites and meetings as writers try to figure out exactly what’s required from the minimal direction that this brief offers.
The people at Content Folks have put together a content brief template very focused on giving writers everything they need to create SEO-optimized content.
My one suggestion would be to change from a keyword to a topic focus. People write about topics and not keywords. Telling a writer the topic to be covered in an article is a better approach than saying they should use a specific keyword.
Content Marketing Institute
This content brief template from CMI offers teams a very high-level view of an individual piece of content. While this can help make sure all the players are in sync, it leaves a lot of leeway for interpretation. Depending on your point of view, that may, or may not, be a plus.
Like the CMI content brief, this template from Digital Marketer is very concise. Digital Marketer calls it a blog assignment brief, but whatever term you use, there’s not much there.
Just like the CMi example, there’s lot’s of, no, let’s call it too much, room for a writer to interpret the directions. Chances are slim that the blog post will be optimized for search, as there’s no mention of search intent to match, topics to cover, questions to answer, links and anchor text to include.
This creative brief example, from Imprint Content provides writers with background information that can be useful when creating content.
However, this template lacks the details necessary to craft quality content consistently. The structure of the article, the topics to cover, how in-depth it needs to be, what questions to answer, and what links to include, are all left up to the writer.
Ink and Copy
Ink and Copy’s content brief template is one that’s no-frills but manages to cover most of the important areas. My concern is that the brief encourages a keyword approach to creating content. One of the things they include is, “KW variations to add”. Again, you write about topics, not about keywords — adding keyword variations isn’t going to improve the quality of your article.
One nice aspect to Jori Ford’s content brief template is that it includes instructions for filling in the main areas of the brief. This is vital as consistently high quality content briefs invariably help create quality content. It’s also one of the few that pays attention to brand voice, tone, and style.
Narrato’s content brief template does a solid job of covering all the bases, from target audience through to the links you should use. But there’s no indication that anchor text should be included along with linking suggestions.
Also, the content writer is not provided with a structured outline of the article. But what’s this about “using” secondary keywords, anyway? A real content creator wouldn’t do that – they’d rather leave that to the SEO hacks that produce “SEO optimize” drivel.
Orbit Media Studios
This blueprint from Orbit Media Studio seems more appropriate for smaller teams, where the writer is part of the marketing team. Much of the instructions for creating the content seem more like reminders — use short paragraphs, get contributor quotes, etc.
Other aspects of the template, such as influencer marketing, email marketing, and social media promotion, are typically outside the scope of work for a writer. However, depending on the situation, and with a little customization, it may fit your needs.
Portent’s template includes something rarely seen in most content briefs, competitor examples. Providing this can cut down on research time while providing additional guidance to writers.
Adding in external links would improve this template – it reduces the chance of writers linking to poor quality sources.
Dropping the primary and secondary keywords and incorporating topics into the article structure would also be beneficial.
Like some of the other examples, this content brief example is very compact. While there’s a certain appeal to having short briefs, the downside is that they frequently fail to provide adequate direction to writers.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t include any information concerning the intended audience, search intent, article structure, or questions that are expected to be answered.
For those who don’t like creating content briefs, Zapier’s template looks appealing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even offer the bare-bones minimum for a writer to consistently create high quality content.
There’s no guidance on article structure or why people would search for this information. There’s room for internal links but no mention of anchor text, which is vital for SEO.
Instead of providing secondary keywords (which hardly help) this brief template should include the topics to cover embedded within an outlined structure.
Content brief templates, like the ones in this article, can work well in cases where content demands are minimal. The challenge in using manual content briefs, even with the help of a template, is that they require time to create and can be prone to errors. Often, content teams turn to shorter briefs to save time, only to find out that the resulting content lacks consistent quality.
Creating content briefs manually with the help of a template is better than nothing at all. But ideally, you should aim to move as quickly as possible towards automating them.
What you should do now
When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:
- Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
- If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
- If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.