Article | 04 Jul 2019

How to brief a freelancer for success

Posted in Top tips, Tools & Advice, Learning, Client,

The flexibility of working with freelancers means that sometimes the briefing process can get overlooked.Freelancers are so self-sufficient that it’s tempting to think they can just get on with stuff, with minimal information and guidance. It’s not uncommon for clients to dash off a quick, vague brief with a hurried ‘Can I have it by Friday?’ without really thinking much more about it.

The trouble is that the quality of your brief tends to be reflected in the quality of work that you’ll receive. Freelancers can only work with what you give them, so the more detail you provide, the more you’ll get back. A vague brief will lead to a vague end product, whereas a detailed and specific brief will lead to a well-crafted product that meets all your objectives. Writing a detailed brief also helps ensure you’re clear on what you want before you start, saving you time making endless changes later.

A good brief doesn’t need to be reams of pages long, but it does need to be carefully thought out and focused. Here’s an overview of what you should include:

  • Plenty of background. You and your team may have discussed your plans ad infinitum, so you know all the ins and outs of what you’re doing and why. But remember that your freelancer is coming in cold to the project, and possibly to your business too, so it’s essential that you give them plenty of background on what you do, how you work, and the context of how you’ve arrived where you are. That includes your overall business vision, mission, as well as business and marketing objectives.
  • Outline your objectives. Moving on to the project itself, spend plenty of time outlining what you’re hoping to achieve. You may well have a number of parallel objectives and that’s okay. The more you can specify exactly why you’re bringing the freelancer on board, the more they can focus their work accordingly and provide exactly what you’re looking for. Try to include examples, if these will help to illustrate your points.
  • Pinpoint your target audience. It is also really important that your freelancer knows which audiences you’re hoping to reach and profile these in as much detail as possible. This ensures your freelancer can hit the right tone and develop tactics to appeal to the right people. If you have a few different audiences, try to rank these in order of priority, so your freelancer can plan accordingly.
  • Provide a clear timescale. As they usually work on their own or part of a small team, time can be tight for freelancers. So, to help them to plan their schedule as accurately as possible, give a clear idea of the timetable and deadlines you’d like to work to. This is likely to be the first thing most freelancers will look at when considering a project, to see whether they can accommodate a project or not. So, whatever you do, don’t leave it out.
  • Clarify who’s involved. This may not be totally necessary depending on the nature of your business and/or project. However, if your campaign involves multiple points of contact, clarify exactly who these are, along with how they’ll be involved and when they should be consulted or looped in.
  • Give an idea of budget. Freelancers may love what they do, but the bottom line is still a big consideration when pitching for work. Outlining the budget available for your project will help them to decide whether or not it’s right for them and will act as a guideline if you’d like them to send an initial quote. If you don’t know exactly what you’d like to spend, then you can always provide a range, with the maximum and minimum that you’re thinking.
  • Be clear about KPIs and expectations. What, in terms of cold, hard deliverables, are you hoping to get out of the project, and how will these be measured? Clarity is absolutely vital here to ensure you’re both on the same page about what is expected and any specific targets you’re working towards. Measurables themselves can vary depending on the nature of the work, from amount of coverage generated, to social engagement, or number of website hits – so think about which ones best suit your project.
  • Processes and procedures. Every freelancer works in different ways, so you should also include any requirements regarding the management of the project. For example, will your freelancer need to come into your offices regularly, or are telephone calls and emails sufficient? And how often will you want them to check in about progress - are you hoping to book in a regular catch up? Explaining what you expect in terms of process and management will help freelancers decide quickly whether they can deliver what you need.

Then once your brief is ready, you can share it with your chosen freelancer or shortlist, to gather quotes and move to the next stage. Wherever possible, be sure to give freelancers a few days to consider and respond to your brief and ask questions. Even if you’ve been as clear, specific, and detailed as you can, there may still be gaps or areas that need clarifying. Addressing these now ensures that your freelancer’s work will always be on the right track.

Freelancers love it when you provide them with a good brief because it removes the need for lots of querying and adjusting down the line and shows that you understand and respect their working needs. That’s a great early impression to make and should pave the way to a successful long-term relationship.

And of course, if you post a job on The Work Crowd, our team can help guide you on what to include in your brief to ensure you attract the most suitable freelancers for your needs. To find out more, or post a project, then drop us a line at or give us a call on 020 3828 8440, and we can chat through how it works.