What every brief should include BEFORE you start working

Following different briefs is a daily job for all kinds of freelancers and business owners. Whether you’re a copywriter, designer, developer, or builder, the quality of the brief directly affects your ability to do a good job.

If the brief isn’t detailed or accurate enough, you might find yourself delivering something completely different to what the client thought they’d asked for. To avoid wasting lots of your own time, this is the essential checklist you need for every brief.



It’s easy for clients to send a couple of sentences and think that’s enough. They’re often quite busy, so the thought of sending paragraphs of contextual detail maybe doesn’t appeal too much. You’re busy too though, and it’s important to know where your work is going to live and what its main purpose is. Otherwise, you haven’t got the full picture.

Questions to ask if you’re missing some info:

Where is this going to be seen/read/used?
How do you want this to benefit your audience/user?
What’s the end result for the audience/user?



Who you’re talking to affects everything - tone, look and feel, purpose. Your client will probably know their customers or target audience inside out, especially if they’ve been in business for a long time. Extract as much of this information from them as possible and you’ll have a really clear picture of who you need to focus on.

Questions to ask if you’re missing some info:

Who’s your target audience/customer/user?
What do you want them to do/achieve?
How do you want them to feel?


Specific preferences

Technical terms, links to include, a colour scheme - this is all impossible to guess and really essential to know before you start the project. It doesn’t always occur to someone to mention specific image dimensions or keywords, so it’s up to you to dig for this information if they’re not providing it.

Questions to ask if you’re missing some info:

It’s harder to ask for this information because you (unfortunately) can’t read the client’s mind! To be safe, double check the brief and use your knowledge of previous projects to check if there’s anything missing.


Similar examples

Sometimes a visual clue is the best way to communicate a brief, so it’s really helpful if your client can send screenshots and links. If they’re quick to show you what they don’t want, make sure you ask them what they do want. A list of dislikes is helpful, but it’s not as illustrative as “this is what I want”.

Questions to ask if you’re missing some info:

Can you send some similar examples you like and don’t like?
Can you send some similar versions you’ve created before?


The deadline

This should always be discussed before the job officially starts. You need to give the client a clear idea of what you can deliver in what time period, and they might need to be flexible too. Make sure it’s all agreed in writing before you get going so there’s no room for doubt.

Questions to ask if you’re missing some info:

It’s up to you whether you suggest a deadline first, or ask them when they want delivery. If they’re inflexible and need something quickly, you might want to consider charging extra for short notice work or completely renegotiating


Following a brief can be the simplest thing in the world when it’s all there, but most self-employed people know it’s often not as easy as that! It’s important to keep asking questions and extracting lots of detail from a client if they’re not very talkative, otherwise you could misunderstand, or even worse, undercharge!


When your job’s done, Solna can help you track your invoices until they’re paid. Automated reminders get your invoices paid faster, and our credit reference data helps you find out who you’re working with. Best of all, you can get this completely free.

Do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Get started with Solna.


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