Pardon me, your brief is showing

How (not) to write a 'content provider wanted' copy

You needn`t be brief about your brief.

When you put out an advertisement for your content needs, you must:

  • not word it poorly

  • explain the essentials

  • avoid confusion

A confused client = a confused content provider.

Obfuscation will get you nowhere. As a content client, you must be absolutely clear about what you want. If you are not, do not post until the fog clears.

In my career, I have come across some hilarious, some weird and a few downright foolish client briefs.

Here are some real world examples of how not to write a brief, re-produced in their original form:

1) Headline: Looking for a complete rebrand-- need new copy, new logo, now look.

Need some rebranding, new copy, new logo, new look.

This will be a BIG project for the right team.

2) Headline: Need content writer

I need help with the written content on my website, i am a freelance photographer from australia living in canada and trying to get my professional work online. I'm not even sure exactly how much i will need, basically just a few bits of content like about me, what i do, how i do it? not sure what else is important to ad.

3) Headline: Killer copywriter for blogs and other related SEO beneficial content.

I have a client that needs an initial dump of content to help launch their new business. The business is all about fun and laugh out loud, cheeky tonality. We will be conducting a content strategy to determine what content needs to be created up front with an opportunity for ongoing content development. This business has big opportunity. Must be English Native, be able to demonstrate experience in using this tone of voice and be available in the next few weeks to punch out the first lot of content. If this is you, we'd love to hear from you and view your work.

I shall not deep-dive and analyze them but suffice to say, “it`s just not working”.

Killer copywriter for blogs”, for one. Is he/she looking for a gun for hire or a copywriter?

Then, bloggers are not copywriters. The quintessential meaning of “copywriter” is a person who has a flair for writing copy for ads. In today`s digital world, that definition may have got stretched a bit. But a blogger writes to inform - he`s a bit like the old-world “feature writer” - while a copywriter writes to sell his client`s side of the story. Too may times I have seen “copywriter” being used loosely to describe any and all kind of writing.

The Australian-Canadian photographer is clueless about why he/she wants to hire a content provider, except for “ a few bits of content….” (whatever that means).

In the 1st example, in addition to the fact that there`s a typo in the headline, all that we are being told is that “it will be a BIG project for the right team” (the all caps makes it even more amusing).

There are at least 20 more things wrong in the 3 examples, but I shall pass for now, leaving further analysis to my readers` wisdom and wit.

So here are the components that must be included in all such ads:

  • Definition of the task in clear terms

  • Expected skill sets

  • A clear submission deadline (or at least an anticipated one)

  • Payment, by when, and how (if allowed)

  • Deadline for application

  • All other terms and conditions


  • Cover letter

  • A ‘paid-for’ or free one-time test

  • Samples of earlier work

  • Answers to special questions

  • Recommendation letters by former clients

  • A formal interview (either online or offline)

One more thing - when you put out a “wanted” ad for a content provider, please ensure that the copy is error-free. Yes, I agree that content is not your forte, and perhaps that`s why you are hiring a specialist in the first place. But that`s no excuse for typos or spelling mistakes to creep in. It makes for a very poor first impression.

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