Skip to content

How to Write a Content Brief - Free Templates and best practices from content marketers



Key takeaways:

  • A content brief is a document that helps you state your requirement and quality expectations of the article to be written by the content writer.
  • Use content briefs to control the creative freedom of the writer such that it aligns with your content marketing strategy.
  • Good writers understand the importance of content briefs and ensure it's given and followed. Thus, how well a content brief is followed is also a strong selection indicator for many brands to hire a writer.

It’s common for brands to assign an article to a writer, and they delivered work that includes irrelevant or generalistic content topics that don’t align with your business or industry.

A good content writer will ask you the right set of questions to create a good content piece for your brand. But most writers aren’t good, and good writers require a solid budget. Hence, many brands end up publishing generic content, a practice that will not reap ROI on your content marketing efforts.

There is no point in creating content if it doesn’t align with or add to your overall brand value. Hence, like most business processes, writing down instructions that you writers can follow to create content helps them deliver work that aligns with your company goals.

In this article, we will explain to you what is a content brief, how to design them and ensure they are well-executed by the writer.

We have also shared a free content brief template published in Merrative’s template section to help you get started.


What is a content brief?

A content brief is a document that helps bridge the communication and expectation gap between your brand’s content marketing goals with the writer’s capabilities.

An effective content brief should include below 10 aspects:

  • The main topic of your article
  • The target audience for your article
  • Top keywords you want to rank for
  • The main points or outline that you want to cover in your article that aligns with your business ideology on the topic
  • Any key quotes from your internal team or external experts that you want to feature
  • Quality control measures like plagiarism, Grammarly score, Hemingway Grade, SEO optimization tool scores, etc.
  • Reference articles for the writer to check for content depth expectations
  • Internal links list for the writer to add them as relevant
  • A brand assets kit for the writer to use as required
  • A submission checklist for the writer to follow before delivering the article to you

How does a content brief improve your content creation process?

Many editors and content marketers face the frustration of a write-up submission that doesn’t align with their expectations. Then comes the multiple revisions, or the editor rewriting the content themselves, which stretches the timeline.

This outcome is frustrating for both writers and content managers!

Thus, a content brief primarily helps you communicate what job you are trying to get done from the writer by making them write on the topic assigned.

A clear way to communicate is to jot down your ideas before they become too fuzzy. Doing so using a content brief format helps you plan and organize your thoughts, and transfer them to the writer for alignment.

"Freelancers aren’t mind readers. Some of my clients trust me to take an article in any direction that I see fit, and others have specific subtopics in mind. A content brief ensures that I meet the client's expectations." Anna Burgess Yang, Fintech Writer, and Workflow Consultant

Apart from communication, content briefs also help with other aspects of a content management process.

Content briefs help you identify and hire good content writers

When you have a clear content brief assigned, now it's the writer's responsibility to follow it. This practice highlights their professionalism and if they can mould their skills to fit into your organization’s content strategy.

It also creates a level playing field to judge a writer’s capabilities when you are trying to finalize between multiple new writers for hire.

If you’re a content writer reading this blog, understand that your ability to follow the content brief assigned to you during paid trials is an important factor in your selection process.

“The writer's ability to follow the brief can make or break the decision on whether to hire them. If they follow the brief to the letter, that means we will have much less work to do in the editing phase. That improves our processes and makes us more efficient. So, if they don't follow the brief closely during a paid test assignment, we take that as a strong signal that they might not be a good fit for our team.” Alex Lindley, Executive Director at Law Firm Content Pros

Channel the creativity of the hired content writer

You can send a content brief that is very simple or complex depending on the content format, use case, and expertise required. If you follow a content brief template, it will help your writer understand the places where they can use their creativity, and where they need to strictly adhere to instructions.

When we asked freelance writers in our network about the best content brief they came across, one writer shared an interesting insight on how she gauges creative freedom based on filled data:

“One of my agency partners has created a great template for all of their clients, which I love. It includes key details, such as primary keywords, secondary keywords, image specifications, internal links to include, external sources for inspiration, and other information, all in one place. If an item is left blank, I treat it as an opportunity for creative freedom. It's great having these details upfront before I start writing.” Alli Hill, Founder of Fleurish Freelance

Get the job done quickly

A content brief saves time for both sides – the writer saves time on researching your topic, while the brand ensures they get work done on time with minimal rework. Thus, the more you reduce the guesswork for the writer, the more time you have for getting good quality content from them.

“For the content manager, putting in the effort to write an amazing brief usually means a lot less work and stress to get to the finished product. My golden rule is: The tighter the deadline, the better the brief needs to be.” Andrea Hoymann, Head of Strategy at Brand Chemistry

Content briefs bring accountability

Many writers tend to take up multiple projects that include different brief requirements. Due to this, they may miss out on instructions or might not be professional enough to follow everything mentioned in your brief.

A content brief helps you ensure the writer provides everything you expect from the article written. You can pinpoint what was missed and get the work done.

For writers, this means that your scope of work is already decided. You get to choose if you want to pick up the project, know how professional the team is, and how much you should charge.

Thus, a content brief brings much-needed professionalism for both brands and writers by being the document for accountability.


Where can a content brief go wrong?

A content brief is a method to state your expectation to your writers. If the brief is misleading or misdirected, it can put down all efforts to waste.

It’s also important not to overwhelm your writers with too many instructions or irrelevant information that it becomes difficult for them to track. You need to make the life of the writer easy with a content brief, and not hard!

We asked freelance writers in our network to know if ‘content briefs are overwhelming’. Here’s what a writer shared about what a content brief should and shouldn’t be to ensure they work:

“Briefs don't overwhelm me when done right.

A good brief is never prescriptive. Instead, it guides the writer so they know which bits of information are pertinent to include, but still allows them the flexibility to shape the narrative in the way they see fit. The best way to describe a brief is that it should be like a map, not an itinerary. A map tells you how to get to the destination, but doesn't tell you what to do along the way. Those little "along-the-way" details are for the writer to figure out.

Throughout the brief, make use of bullet lists, boxes, headings, and short paragraphs so the brief is scannable and digestible. Otherwise, the writer might feel overwhelmed with it, and if that happens, your writer might decline a project for fear that they can't do an adequate job. By developing a brief that's easy to read, you set your writers up for success.” Dana Nicole, Content Writer, and Copywriter


What should go in a content brief?

Usually, content strategist or marketer creates their content brief template manually or use AI tools to generate them. 

However, at a minimum, it should include the following elements:


1. The primary goal of the content

So you want to fill up your blog page – but why?

What are you trying to achieve by writing content pieces? Is this to educate your potential customers? Or enables more sales? Or maybe get newsletter signups?

The goal of your content piece depends a lot on your content marketing strategy. If you are new, here are some recommended resources to understand how to develop a content strategy for your brand:

You can explore our content marketing case studies to understand how every brand creates content as per its industry, outcomes expected, resources available, etc.

Your content goal is also a good touchpoint to check if the content brief you are making reflects and aligns with the goals of your content marketing strategy.


2. Clarity on the target audience

Your writer must know who the reader is. Why?

Because the content targeting entry-level marketers is completely different from targeting a Chief Marketing Officer. So better clarity on the target audience will help the writer set the tone and article complexity accordingly.

It will also help you hire the right writer - because a content writer that charges peanuts will hardly be able to cater to thought leadership that corporate decision-makers read.

Learn more via this resource article on finding your target audience by Ray Robinson.


3. SEO Keywords

The primary keyword is an essential element in content creation as it helps the writer to provide direction to do some research and find useful ideas.

There are many SEO optimization and keyword research tools available for finding relevant keywords. You can explore Merrative’s tools section for finding and availing discounts on popular SaaS tools for SEO.

Usually, the content writer you hire should have sufficient knowledge about SEO such that they are able to use keywords naturally in their content written. They must know what are primary keywords, secondary keywords, long-tail keywords, etc, and how to use them across the content piece.

You can download our free SEO checklist for content writers that you can share with our writer or add as a part of your article brief (coming soon!)


4. Brief article outline with sub-sections

A clean outline will bring the most out of the writer more systematically. A complete breakdown of essential data such as (H1), (H2), and (H3) tags following long-tail-keywords can help a lot.

Read more about how to write an article outline from our collection (coming soon!)


5. Reference material

A simple addition of 2-3 examples of relevant articles can help a writer create a broader picture of what you expect from the content. 

Provide reference material that states:

  • The tone of the article you expect
  • Sources from where the writer can get data
  • Top articles you wish to outrank
  • Hint on the quality expectation or blog structure

The more references you provide, the better output you get from the writer.


6. Important dates

The content creation process can be highly organized by simply adding important dates in a content brief template. This includes soft and hard deadlines, tentative publishing dates, etc.


7. Any key quotes from your internal team or external experts that you want to feature

The inclusion of quotes from industry experts helps raise the quality bar of your article. The more popular the source and hot take the quote is, the more interesting your blog becomes.

By hiring content writers from Merrative, you get access to relevant industry experts for your blogs via our Industry Advisory Board community.

You can also check out platforms like Terkel, HelpaB2B writer, HARO, etc for sourcing quotes.


8. Quality control measures

It’s important you provide clarity to your writers on the quality control benchmarks you have set for blog submissions. This includes mentioning factors considered, and software tools used to check those. Some examples and tools available include

Plagiarism:  Copyscape, SmallSEOTools, Grammarly premium, Duplichecker

Grammar: Grammarly app, WordTune, Hemingway

Readability: Hemingway, Grammarly

SEO optimization:  Surfer SEO, Clearscope, Frase, Yoast SEO

Include the scores or grades that you expect across these tools so that they know you will be checking all these before approving the blogs.


9. Internal links list 

If you are writing an SEO article, then it's important to provide your writer with a dump of previously published blog posts and website pages for linking them to the article. Also, include how many internal and external links you expect the writer to add to the blog.

If you have specific links to add, include them separately.


10. Brand assets kit or Content style guide

Sometimes, you may have to write blogs that mention your product or service. For the same, including access to your brand assets is helpful to avoid constant back and forth with your team.

You may also already have guidelines on how you present the content in terms of tone, word usage, how you write about your brand, etc – all of this form a part of the content style guide.

It is better to add such media kits or style guide access on your website itself to make it easy for anyone to use the same for their coverage in blogs. Here’s how Mailchimp did it for reference – Mailchimp content style guide.


11. Call-to-action

What action do you want the reader of the article to take when they reach the article's end?

Many amateur writers and blogs published include irrelevant ‘conclusion’ paragraphs that make no business sense or any addition to the blog written. Always include a call-to-action to your blog endings that complement well with the intent of the article.

You can include interlinks to related articles, a prompt to sign up for your newsletter, a button for booking a demo of your product, a meeting with sales representatives, etc.


12. Submission checklist

In the end, add a small checklist of things you want the writer to ensure are absolutely followed before they submit the article to you.


10 Free Content Brief templates you can download

The content brief template is a crucial document for marketers as it develops clarity for writers. Hence preparing it from scratch that blends perfectly with your company strategies can be time-consuming.

So, here is the list of 10 free content brief templates that can give you ideas.

1. Free Content Brief Template by

Merrative content writing brief template helps to streamline your content writing operations and has proven benefits on our content marketing marketplace experience. It helped writers in all forms of writing.

If you are a brand, creator, or publisher, creating a solid content framework becomes vital for your content strategy with a well-defined template, writers can express their ideas with flexibility. That makes a merrative template an absolute option to get all relevant information about what your client expects from your writing task.

The Merrative brief for a content writer is the perfect fit for your strategies. As it includes:

  • Sections to add your brand guidelines
  • Section for SEO keywords
  • Objectives and angle of an article
  • Target audience
  • CTA call-to-action
  • Editorial checklist

Download Merrative Content Brief Template


Content Brief template by


2. Fio’s Content Brief Template

Fio’s content brief is a well-structured template that considers the fundamentals of writing a good article across jobs to be done and content angle. It also has an example included along with a guide on content briefs for better understanding.

It primarily focuses on three structures of content strategy brief:

  • Audience
  • Brand
  • Context

Download Fios Template


Fio’s Content Brief Template


3. Optimizely Content Brief Template

Optimizely provides an all-around template and has all the essential data for the perfect SEO content brief template for your writer. It covers all the details that start with the title, and specifications include minute detail such as writer, editor, client, deadlines, first draft, final draft, and even publication record.

The brief, style, audience, and SEO section and their sub-section not only help the writer but also helps the publisher to focus on the small KPIs.


Download Optimizely Template


Optimizely Content Brief Template

4. Daniel Cheungs Content Brief Template 

Daniel Cheungs is an advanced form of a content brief that is more inclined towards an SEO content brief template. As a matter expert in SEO, he has designed this template primarily focusing on H-1, H-2, and H-3.

The template's first part consists of a briefing about who is the intended audience and what matters to them. The template requires experience in SEO to understand better.


Download Daniel Template


Daniel Cheungs Content Brief Template 


5. Brafton’s Content Brief Template

Brafton provides the most information to the writer so they can produce a creative copy. The template revolves around the topic, keywords, and SEO. The KPIs section is optional but crucial for assessing the performance of the template.

Brafton is a content marketing brief template that helps marketers and agencies with minute details.


Download Brafton’s Template


Brafton’s Content Brief Template


Free content brief generator software tools 

Today, there are many advanced AI tools available that help you generate a content brief and content outline automatically. For these tools, one only needs to add keywords and prompts - the rest is done by the tool itself. This helps you save time and write content that is actually searched by the audience online.

Here are some popular ones you can explore to help with your content marketing operations:

1. Copy AI

A free AI content generator tool that helps users with website copy brief templates,

marketing copies, social media posts, and content briefs in no time. It supports more than 25 languages and inbuild features of over 90 different forms of templates.  


  • Helps with a creative slowdown
  • Handy user interface
  • Beginner friendly for content generation


  • The free pro plan option comes with only a 7-days trial. 


  • The free plan $0 with no credit card allows you to write 2000 words per month
  • The pro plan comes with the pricing of $49 and allows the user to write up to 40K per month with advanced features such as long blog posts, and a complete landing page. 

Copy AI Pricing Page


2. Rytr

Rytr is AI-powered writing and content-generating tool that can help to generate a lot of ideas faster with unique fundamental analysis in no time. It not just creates effectual content ideas but can write most paragraphs for inspiration.

It has simple templates, a plagiarism checker, a grammar checker, a content management feature, and an SEO analyzer that covers most parts of the writing.


  • Quick response
  • 18+ tones and 30+ languages
  •  Free AI tool that writes over 5000 characters.
  • Content output can be better.


  • The free plan generates 10K characters per month.
  • The Saver plan allows users to write 100K characters and comes with a price of $9 per month.
  • The unlimited plan can generate unlimited characters for just $29 per month or $290 for a year.

Rytr pricing page


3. Jasper AI

Jasper AI is an advanced tool for content generation. It uses various algorithms to generate content suitable for your writing style. It focuses on fluency and leaves no margin of error compared with other AI tools.  

Jasper AI is a perfect tool for content generation, marketing campaigns, copy ads, blog posts, and article writing. It comes with over 2500 different styles of writing along with 11000 different tones for your content.


  • Generate Long-form content in no time
  • 99% authentic and plagiarism-free content 
  • SEO integration


  • AI statistics can sometimes generate irrelevant data
  • Pricing and use of words are a bit complicated.
  • The Jasper starter version cannot be accessed without a credit card. However, after successful login it allows the user to generate 20K words for a 5-day trial pack if the user likes to continue it costs $40/month.
  • Boss mode cost $82/month and allows users to generate 50K words.
  • Business mode is a customized plan for enterprises and agencies but for further insights you can request a demo.

Jasper pricing page


4. Writersonic 

Writersonic is more inclined towards website copy briefs and unique marketing ad creation for businesses and agencies but performs well with blog posts and content briefs. It comes with workflow automation and social media integration that generates copy in no time.


  • Suited for small businesses to generate productive ad copy 
  • Cost-effective AI tool
  • Provides customer support for queries


  • The user interface is a bit complicated.
  • Long copies can come with roughly 10%-15% of plagiarism.


  • The Writersonic free trial pack allows users to generate 6250 words per month.
  • Short-form packs cost $10 for 30K words per month.
  • Long-form packs cost $13 for 47,500 words per month.
  • Writersonic pricing page


5. Frase

Frase is an AI tool that researches topics and writes optimized content for you within seconds. Frase focuses on SEO-optimized content.

Frase content brief software has an integrated tool that helps to improve existing content. It comes with 13 free templates suitable for landing pages and blog posts.


  • It provides reports of the competitor's website.
  • Generate an effective content brief


  • It comes with a heavy price.


  • Frase solo version cost $14.93/month and $144/year it allows the user to write and optimize 4 articles and 20K AI characters per month.
  • The basic version cost $44.99/month and $444/year it allows the user to write and optimize 30 articles and 20K AI characters per month.
  • The basic version cost $114.99/month and $1,164/year it allows the user to write and optimize unlimited articles and 20K AI characters per month.

Frase pricing page


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is an SEO content brief?

SEO content brief is a document that generally helps everyone involved in writing content and includes information related to keywords, H-1, H-2, and H-3 tags. It is similar to a content or article brief template discussed in this blog but is more directed to cover SEO guidelines.


2. What is an influencer brief?

An Influencer brief is a set of instructions and outlines created for creators specifically for social media campaigns. It involves all detail like the post format, social media platforms to cover, what to say, how to present the brand, etc.


3. What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document that draws a creative outline for an advertising campaign. This is usually provided by the client to a marketing firm. Or the marketing firm builds one after conducting a brief call with the client and sends them back for approval.


4. What is a blog brief?

A blog brief is an in-depth, informative document that includes the content goals, audience, and rough outline. It is the same as the content brief discussed in this article.


5. What is a social media content brief?

A social media content creation brief includes all the details that the social media marketer or content creator has to follow. It comprises of details like an overview of the brand story, content tone, metrics to track campaign performance, budget, etc.


6. How long should a content brief be?

The length and detail inside a content brief depend on how much creative freedom you want your writer to have and the deadline of the submission. The more specific your brand requirements and the closer the deadline, the more detailed your brief needs to be. Do keep the experience of the writer in mind, as adding too many details can confuse an inexperienced writer.


7. When should you give a content brief?

A need for a content brief is crucial if you’re wasting too much time processing article rewrites or writing content with subject matter specificity.

“Including outlines can be useful for longer or more technical content – think long-form articles over 2000 words, or eBooks, and data-heavy reports.” Luke O’Neill, fintech writer, and owner of Genuine Communications

8. What does a Content brief look like?

A content brief is a templated document that includes essential data about how you want the writer to write the article or content piece. You can view our content brief template to understand what it looks like.


Make content brief a part of your content marketing routine

Many experienced writers reject writing jobs because the brand did not provide a content brief for them to deliver their job. They understand that a content brief is essential to deliver quality output as per the expectations of the client. Hence, if you want such amazing content writers to apply for your writing jobs, ensure you include content briefs.

By hiring a content writer from Merrative’s marketplace, our team ensures you get access to such writers and enable content briefs as an engagement step to deliver work.

Explore our writer’s marketplace and contact our team today to get matched with your next star writer – Hire the Top 5% of Publishing Talent