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What Is a Brief and How to Write a Great Copy for Beginner Copywriters?

PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.


What does a great copy look like?

A great copy looks quite simple and easy-to-understand as if it’s naturally made. It generates a massive response from the audience, encourages them to interact with the brand, and guides them through the process. It is, indeed, an intricate process to write the most effective copy. There are no rules set in stone. The approach varies with the kind of copy you need to write. As a beginner, it is better to take inspiration from professionals’ work.

This is a fact: Simplicity demands hard work and creativity.

How to receive a great brief?

You can’t write a great copy if your brief is insufficient. A client will put all his efforts to give you the best possible information from their end, but it’s all up to you. As a copywriter, you can demand some other statistics as well, such as competitors’ data, their previous ad campaigns, and so on.

The briefing is an active process. Whether it’s a new or old company, you need to run your own search, consider your additional insights, facts, and figures. For this, the search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) and social media are the best options. You should also consider the following points:

  1. Brainstorm with other people connected with the project
  2. Start from scratch for every project, it’s better to assume nothing.

The most important information that must be present in your brief

  1. Target audience profile
  2. Message to be communicated to the audience
  3. Number of benefits to the audience

These are the most important information you need in a brief, however, these may not always be given. It is your duty to never accept a half-baked brief. If you can’t make out what’s all you need, it’s better to ask a day or two to do your own research and then conduct a meeting with them for relevant details.

The best way is the nutty way

It’s better to be stupid early than to be sorry later. You should be bold enough to ask stupid questions to avoid any misunderstanding and deliver the best results. Don’t say right on their face that you didn’t like the brief or it lacks major details. Instead, say “The brief is helpful, but I have some stupid questions to ask for my own knowledge.” You can then ask for clarification and other details without crumbling down their ego.

ASK ASK ASK, RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH and REPEAT, till the time you aren’t satisfied you have enough to work on.

Look for a suitable environment

A writer’s mind is very delicate. It can be easily distracted but takes time to recollect their thoughts. So, better find the right place for your creativity to flow. I wonder how many writers become creative while in the bathroom, I think that’s the place to write copy. Everyone knows where are you and literally no one disturbs you there (my secret, sic).

Besides the environment, writers also prefer specific tools. Even in the age of advanced technology, many writers go for pen and paper to complete their job. This is actually much better than working on a laptop. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, it sort of builds a direct connection between the words and the writer’s mind which enhances the creative thoughts. Secondly, working on a laptop is not everyone’s cup of tea, it limits the time for which a writer can write (productively) due to eye strain and pressure on fingertips.

Creative writing demands a healthy commotion in your mind. You need to be proactive and never miss a deadline. Many writers tend to care less about the project when the client is a small scale business or an individual. This doesn’t show your calculative mindset but proves your inadequacy in working equally with everyone.

Every project teaches you something new, if it doesn’t, then better don’t accept it instead of meddling with it. As a copywriter, you need to be simple, sweet, and always empathize with your audience. You should be able to prove that the brand understands the audience’s problem and they have the right resources to solve it.

So, what do you need in a brief?

Here’s a list of possible points that you must have in your brief to produce a great copy:

  1. What are the client’s contact details (name, address, social media, phone number, and so on)?
  2. When was the brief given and when is the copy needed?
  3. What are the previous ad campaigns related to the current project, if any?
  4. Is it a stand-alone ad or a part of a larger campaign?
  5. What’re the specifics/requirements of the brief?
  6. What are the client’s expectations from you and the project?
  7. What is the performance ratio of your clients’ previous campaigns and what resources were used for it?
  8. Can there be more sources available through interviews and research?
  9. Who is the target audience?
  10. What is the recommended channel to approach this target audience?
  11. What’s their profile and personality?
  12. Are they currently the client's customers? If yes, what do they think about the client?
  13. What’s the competition level in the marketplace?
  14. What’s the core message of the ad?
  15. What are the solid proofs of claims being made by the client?
  16. What’s the USP (Unique Selling Point)?**
  17. What makes the client’s offerings different from others?
  18. Why should readers buy from your clients? What is the compelling feature?
  19. How the finished work must look like?
  20. Does the client follow a specific branding style?
  21. What’s the most convenient tone of voice?
  22. What’s the word limit?
  23. What’s the size of the copy (it’ll differ for different ads, web copy, brochure, e-mail, and so on)?

** Unique Selling Point/Proposition is a statement that differentiates the brand from its competitors. For example, Head & Shoulders Shampoo’s USP is “Get rid of dandruff”, Olay’s USP is “Get younger-looking skin”, and so on.


Copywriting demands discipline and adherence to the principles of creative writing. The budding writers often doubt themselves about being innovative and concept-driven to finish different kinds of projects. But the truth is no one is innovative enough unless they try.

As a copywriter, you are in an extremely challenging field. You are open to criticism and also need to bring different creative ideas every time to the table. When you work in a team, the whole responsibility doesn’t lay on you, but as a freelancer you are solely responsible for carrying out every minute detail. However, as a freelancer you have the perks of reaching higher wages.


Hacicu Bogdan from Cluj-Napoca, Romania on September 18, 2020:

I really like the paragraph you gave us to transition into asking stupid questions. This is extremely helpful. Well done!

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