How to create a brief


One of the best ways to gain confidence before starting any new project is to have clarity. While it might sound simple, it’s not always easy to create though because we are always surrounded by so much noise.

But when we have a clear roadmap of where we’re going and how we can get there, the journey feels so much easier, and more enjoyable.

When it comes to styling - or creating a course, a book or running an online shop - it’s important to have a clear understanding of what we want to achieve. When working as a contractor or freelancer, this is something that the client usually provides. But when we’re working on our own projects, it’s our responsibility to have clear objectives. This is a key idea that I share in The Styling Masterclass. To get on the right track and style with confidence, follow these five steps.

1. Define your objective

While this may seem obvious, it’s easy to be distracted on what you want to achieve. After all, this is not about what your competitor is doing or what you think might do well on social media. Instead, ask why are you going to the trouble of styling a space? Is it to sell more product? Do you want more bookings for your accommodation business? Or would you like to showcase your skills as a stylist so someone will hire you? Your key objective will determine every subsequent decision from the mood you want to create, the style of photography to props and lighting because you will be tailoring your visual story to appeal to your ideal customer or audience. 

2. Know your audience

Often we are told to head out and look for inspiration. And while that’s an important step, first we must know who we are trying to appeal to. Who is our ideal customer, dream client or the person who we want to buy our product or service? Think of this person as a muse. The more we know about them, the better. What is their age and income, and what motivates them? If we’re styling our own home, that person is us! This means we have to appeal to our true self - and consider our needs, not those of our neighbour.

3. Create a broad vision

Once we have a clear idea of who we are trying to appeal to then we can go hunting for ideas and inspiration. Sometimes it helps to distill a look into just a couple of words such as ‘raw luxury’,  ‘elevated minimalism’. Otherwise, single words such as ‘earthy’ or ‘refined’ can be evocative too. Again, this helps guide our decisions and keeps us on track. We don’t have to be too prescriptive though. Spaces often benefit from unexpected elements. 

4. Distill the steps

Once you have a broad overview of what you want to achieve, it’s time to distill that vision into actionable steps. Write down a shot list of what you need to create. If you have a holiday rental, this might be the rooms you want to capture, but also some of the key details or lifestyle shots of the surrounding area. If you are styling a space from scratch it can help to sketch storyboards too. These are basic drawings that include the key items you want within a space and help guide you to source the relevant elements.

5. Make a priority list

To be clear on your objectives, and ensure you get the most out of the shoot day, it’s a good idea to write down the exact shots you want to get and the order in which you want to create them - a run sheet. Factors such as light will play a role in the order you work. Distinguish between the key shots, and the ones that are a bonus if time is on your side.

To learn how to style with confidence, enrolments are opening soon for The Styling Masterclass.

STYLINGNatalie Walton