How to brief a writer – Part One

brief a writer

Something I have noticed recently is that the common questions I am being asked are around how to brief a writer efficiently. ‘How does the process work?’, ‘What do I need to have ready?’ and ‘how long does it all take?’

If these have been your thoughts, you are not alone. In this two-part series you will find a central place that will give you an idea of:

  1. The types of services that can be outsourced to a writer.
  2. What planning you should complete before engaging a writer and a downloadable brief template that I give to all my clients who need some direction.
  3. An overview of the process from brief to final copy delivered to your inbox.

Hopefully by the end of this article, the process no longer seems too big or scary, but something you feel confident to test out and improve your own fundraising or marketing campaigns.

The types of services that can be outsourced to a writer

Whether your campaigns aim to engage a warm audience or acquire new supporters, chances are you are going to need copy written. Whether it’s a letter, magazine, website landing page, social media post or more.

Knowing what services you can outsource so that you can focus on strategy is key. For writers who have experience in your field, who have written for welcome and nurture journeys, they can also be a great asset to your resources, as someone who can come in with external experience and tips on how to improve your own plans. Feel free to check out Climbing Vine Co. portfolio for just a glimpse of the types of work that can be done.

What planning you should complete before engaging a writer

Having worked in the production of appeals for a large not-for-profit, I know the value of a simplified process. If your campaigns and appeals are anything like the ones I have helped job owners create, you are going to want a clear, concise brief that articulates the job accurately but won’t spend you days to produce.

At the most basic level, a writer will be over the moon to receive a one or two-page summary on your project.

Attached I am giving you access to my very own writers brief template that I share with my own clients when they need some help with writing a brief.

Explaining the writer’s brief

If you are writing a brief, these are some of the factors you may find helpful to have decided and written:

  1. A short description of the project and it’s aim (or overall objective). Eg. A direct mail appeal to our warm supporters, inspiring them to give a recurring gift.
  2. A list of components you require the writer to produce. Eg. Letter, magazine and email.
  3. What your offer will be. *This one requires thought and possibly some internal stakeholder discussions to make sure your programs and prices match up. Eg. We will offer our supporters the opportunity to give a meal ($37 gift) to save a child from hunger. ** I should also note that the offer needs to be tangible to be effective. I can help you refine this though if you are having trouble.
  4. Any stories, research, statistics or project information that you would like the writer to refer to (or make it clear that you will be requiring the writer to find this information themselves at which they may charge additional hours for research).
  5. Your due date for first draft and final draft. This sounds simple but can be tricky to work out. If you require copy that will then be passed on to a designer, aim to have final copy due a week before you need it for the designer. Two weeks notice for a job is a great rule of thumb for seeing a first draft – this allows time for a busy writer to fit in new work with their current schedule.

Now that you are ready to brief a writer, you can get a clear idea of what the process from brief to final copy will look like in part two of How to brief a writer.



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