Creating a Brief
The following generic brief 'headers' (used mainly for design briefs but most headers will translate to other creative/media briefs) are a good prompt to help you get some key facts down on paper to hand over to the freelancer; this can be emailed before you meet to discuss the project so the freelancer can use the project briefing meeting to agree the finer details:
Put simply, what do you want (photography/corporate ID design/brochure/website etc)? Also, what are the terms of business associated with the project, including copyright - do you expect to own the work outright?
What does this piece of work have to achieve? How does that fit in with overall company objectives?
Who, specifically, are you aiming this work at?
The background of your company: the who, what, where and why of your business in a nutshell. The freelancer needs a flavour of your raison d'etre, the competition, the company's objectives, culture and whatever else may shape their approach to the project.
Where will this piece of work be used? If it's a news story where will it appear, if it's a direct mail piece is it to be sent to cold prospects, warm prospects or existing clients? If it's photography where will the images be used etc.. What is the durability of the work likely to be - i.e. how long do you expect to use this brochure for? (This gives some pointers as to the amount invested in print finishes and other finishing touches for instance if the brochure won't be revamped for some time.) This is an integral part of the brief that allows the freelancer to understand fully what the function of the work will be.
It's good to get some pointers on what you do and don't like as this can be extremely subjective. Build a picture for the freelancer as far as you can using other examples of work (website navs or elements of other sites you like, a brochure you had done before you didn't like and why, a style of writing, colours etc).
Are you expecting illustration, photography, stock images as part of that brochure design that will incur charges? (Or will you supply this and if so in what format/resolution?) How many words of copy will you be supplying for the freelancer to artwork and when? What about any special fonts? If you are supplying logos/fonts to be used when will they be available and in what format? What format do you want the artwork supplied in? If you're expecting the journalist to interview someone, how will that be carried out and what expenses will be incurred? What about art direction and stylist costs for that photography shoot?
Corporate design guidelines: is there an existing corporate ID, corporate colours or any 'design rules' that you need the freelancer to stick to? Is there any legal text or other copy that must appear as part of their work and if so where must it appear?
Expected delivery date, and any other interim sign off stages.
Costs should be agreed once the freelancer has full knowledge of the brief, this includes how they will be charging (by the hour/fixed fee) and terms of payment.
Schedules (including dates and actions required by each party, key stages and progress meetings) should be agreed and ideally be signed by both parties before work commences, so any deviation from that brief and schedule can be tracked. Client changes should be recorded during the work process and incur additional costs.
Thorough planning should ensure the work is delivered to the deadline and to budget.