So you’ve got a fresh project lined up and now you need to communicate the idea to your freelancer. The industry-wide standard way of doing this is to create a project brief. A project brief is basically an outline of your project and the work that you want your freelancer to complete. Sounds simple enough, but there are 101 ways to write one. And believe it or not, but the way you compose your project brief can have a drastic impact on the quality of the work you receive at the end. Here’s how to get it right:
How much creative control do you want?
You can vary your project briefs to give you as much or as little creative control as you like. If you want to take creative control, or if you have a strong vision for your project, then a detailed, focused brief is the way for you to go. Your freelancer will be guided by you and won’t stray from your instructions.
If you’re happy for your freelancer to have more creative control, you should craft a project brief that allows them to apply their creativity. Your creative will explore different avenues and come up with ideas that you didn’t even think of. A looser brief will bring an entirely new perspective to the project.
Detailed project brief:
Relaxed project brief:
It’s clear from the detailed brief that the client has a strong idea about how they want their logo to look. In fact, they’ve even included a mood board for some direct visual inspiration. If you want to create something similar, you could make a Pinterest board.
From the relaxed brief, we can tell that the client is happy for the freelancer to do their own thing. The client has deliberately left out examples of what they like and gives only brief details about their business. There are fewer constraints and the creative is pretty much left to their own devices.
So, you’re beginning to see how these two different brief types could have very different outcomes for your project. But, bear in mind that these types of briefs are suited to different projects entirely. If you need something specific, use a detailed brief. I would say that in this case, the client should go for a detailed brief over a relaxed one. If the designer were to take inspiration from the wrong decade or create a masculine-looking logo, it wouldn’t be right for their shop.
Don’t forget the not-so-small stuff:
If you’re new to writing project briefs it can be easy to overlook important details that could potentially have a huge impact on your project.
It’s important to mention when you need your project completed. In a lot of cases this will be obvious, but if it’s a larger project, such as whole websites, can be harder to estimate a day of completion. If you don’t know, be honest and instead try to estimate a ballpark figure. For example, say January 2017 rather than 20th January 2017.
It’s important for the freelancer to be able to estimate how long they will be working for. They need to line up new projects to start as soon as yours finishes. What you don’t want is your freelancer starting on a new project on 21st January 2017 if you expect yours might overrun.
Again, some projects are easy to estimate a budget for. Others, not so much. The larger and longer the project, the more difficult it is to price. But, this information is super important for the freelancer. They need to work out whether it’s going to be cost effective for them to take on.
Payment is another important area that often gets overlooked. You should decide with your freelancer on the method of payment too. Our article on how to pay a freelancer will give you more information.
Your project brief should state when the freelancer will be getting paid and how much. Will they be paid in one lump sum? Or will you be using milestone payments? Will a deposit be issued before the project start date?
Make sure to include what you expect to receive from your freelancer once the project is finished. For example, if your project is design-related, you might need your files in a number of different formats:
- Logo files in .ai, .eps, .jpg, and .png.
- Logo files in black and white/white on black.
- Logo files with transparent background.
- Logo files with white background.
- Logo files with black background.
Be sure to get this down before the project is completed. Any subsequent variations your freelancer makes after the project is finished may cost you.
Overall, your project brief should help you get the result you’re ultimately after. A bad project brief can result in frustration from both you and your freelancer and nobody wants that.