Every great creative project starts with a well thought out brief. It’s your cornerstone; your bedrock and most importantly if you work with handpicked freelancers, your way of expressing expectations, goals and defining “success” for your project.
Although project briefs can adapt to accommodate creative changes, it’s vital to get as much set in stone before starting the project as possible. So what are the most crucial elements that make project briefs great? Instead of dishing out my opinion, I reached out to several experienced project managers and freelancers to ask for their advice:
“Be Clear About What You Want to Achieve and How” – Henrik Dillman, CEO of Coworks
According to Henrik, who helps hundreds of handpicked freelancers connect with agencies all over the world, the foundational question you need to answer before starting to write project briefs is “what do you really want to achieve?” As a creative agency, this might sound like generic, topical advice, but you have the advantage of speaking with your client. A freelancer doesn’t have that luxury. In your brief, take the time to state your core objective so that everyone on your team, including freelancers, are on the same page. “Be sure to communicate overall objective and don’t omit details. Is your objective to create a designed voucher or generate new clients? There should never be any confusion at this basic level with your team.”
*Expert tip: When it comes to design projects, truly great briefs often include a moodboard that can give a freelancer real feel of what a client is trying to achieve.
“Share Your Greater Vision.” – Jennifer Schaffer, Freelancer, Contributor to VICE Media.
Despite holding full time jobs at prestigious online publications, Jennifer supports a slew of freelance clients. She is what we call a moonlighter – a freelancer who completes projects for clients after she finishes up at her day job. In other words, Jennifer knows how to manage her time and understands the value of a succinct, comprehensive project brief. So what’s her advice to those looking to put together the perfect one? “Share your greater vision so that a freelancer can incorporate the core of your mission into each piece they complete.” Don’t skip details. Make sure to explain what the client wants in the long term. What does your agency want in the long term with regards to brand consistency? How can they weave this into their work? It’s these types of details that determine a mediocre project from a great one.
“Don’t just explain your vision, explain your success and failures so far.”– Goran Bajazetov, Creative Director and Founder of Saturized
Bringing in new talent to work on a project, like a handpicked freelancer, doesn’t just add an extra pair of hands – It can add an extra problem solver into the mix. Share where you have gone wrong in the past and where you have succeeded on projects from the same client or similar projects in general. Why? Goran explains that freelancers “can learn from mistakes, make smarter moves and we [freelancers] can identify the real reasons behind your intentions, and maybe help you achieve what you are after in some other, easier way.”
“Define Implementation Requirements” – Matthew Williams, Web Developer based in San Francisco, CA.
With multimedia and digital projects, there is nothing more important than clarifying delivery and implementation requirements. “You really need to specify if a digital project needs to incorporate responsive or interactive design, determine if it needs to be formatted in a certain way or compatible to a certain system,” says Matthew, a web developer and engineer that has worked with top-tier tech companies like Google. Including these types of requirements in your brief will weed out freelancers who aren’t specialists in the areas you need and avoid costly confusion once you have started the project.
“Make deadlines, revision limits, and final dates extremely clear.” – Mikal Foushee, producer, project manager.
Mikal’s experience developing and executing project briefs ranges from quick photography shoots for startup clients to complex, long term campaigns for corporations like Microsoft. When we asked her to identify the most crucial element of a good brief she gave us a confident answer – “deadlines and revision limits need to be as clear as as possible.” At some point, you need to send a final product to your client, but hard deadlines must incorporate the time you need to make revisions and set things in stone.
Want to learn more about working with freelancers? Don’t miss this post.