“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Stephen King

*This is part one of a two-part series. Keep your eyes peeled for the second post!*

Earlier this year, I spotted the new St Oswald’s Hospice (SOH) store around ten/fifteen minutes from my home, and having volunteered for the Hospice as a Digital Volunteer for around four years (including a couple of temporary contracts; with one being Kickstart Project Coordinator and the other being Communications and Marketing Assistant), I got in touch with the lovely Head of Communications and Marketing, and pitched the idea of collaborating. When she said she liked the sound of it, she introduced me to the Retail Communications and Marketing Officer, and after a few more emails, I was asked to write a brief for the collaboration…

“Where do I start?!”

So, I like to think that I’m a very honest and open person – and I try really hard to ensure that this quality is fed into – and plays a massive part in – I’m NOT Disordered and the content I create. With that being said, I’m going to admit that when I was asked to write the brief for our collaboration, I panicked! Because even in the entire eleven years I’ve been blogging and despite the number of collaborations I’ve worked on; I haven’t once ever had to write a brief! And this meant that when Eilish asked me to do it, but then, at the end of the email, offered to do the brief if I couldn’t; I was faced with the sensation of being at cross-roads and needing to make a big and important decision. I mean, on the one hand, I very obviously wanted to jump at the chance to get out of doing it because I knew it was very likely going to be hard work to go from literally not knowing where to begin to then sending a collaboration brief to a massive, influential charity! But I ended up agreeing to do it for two big reasons:

1.       I actually really love learning new things – especially in the communications and marketing industry because I enjoy the roles and responsibilities in that career path so much anyway. But it’s to the point that when I’ve been doing volunteer work or bits and pieces with collaborations and content for, I’m NOT Disordered, it actually winds me up when people deem it to be ‘work.’ Like when they say, “you’re still working at this time of night?!” I love what I do so much that I don’t want people to think that I’m reluctant to do it in any way, or even for them to think that I consider these things to be a chore…

2.       It will likely come in useful for me to learn how to do these things in case I’m asked to do it again and there’s no one offering to do it instead. When I first started blogging in 2013, I had no real goals or big dreams in mind with it. I literally only wanted to use it to keep my loved ones up to date because the psychiatric hospital I was an inpatient in was over 100 miles away from home. This meant that I only shared the link to new content on my private Facebook account… Then, somehow – word of mouth, I guess at that point – everything snowballed! After eleven years though, I’ve found myself to now have so much more determination and dedication to make my blog and its content the best it can be, and so I feel like learning to create a brief would be a really good ability to add to my repertoire.

So, with all these thoughts in mind, after deciding to do the brief, I then had to consider if I should tell Eilish that I had never written one before and ask for advice around what I should include in it. In the end though – and this wasn’t a pride thing; I wasn’t worried I’d look unprofessional or stupid to admit I didn’t know what to do and I wasn’t scared that I’d lose the collaboration if I told them I couldn’t write a brief – I decided to do what everyone does when they need advice these days; I Googled it! Now, some people judge people who use Google and believe them to be something along the lines of cheating! However, I looked at it as being an illustration of my passion, interest, and dedication to this collaboration because I was taking the time to make sure I got it right and produced ‘work’ that was as high a standard as if I had already written a brief one million times before.

Thankfully, in my Google search, there weren’t hundreds of similar results, and so it wasn’t hard to decide upon the one I actually used from the site: Even though it was intended to be a brief companies and brands used to approach influencers, I still found it to be completely appropriate and not too detailed or overly complicated. Plus, everything I briefly read on it still seemed relevant to what I needed from it. These factors meant the article on the site made creating the brief fairly exciting; to a point where I was actually looking forward to getting started! I do wonder though, was it so lovely because it was something new? And would that mean if I do end up writing more briefs, I’ll become sick of doing them?!

Some Final Bits & Pieces For The Beginning Of Creating The Brief

·       If you’re struggling in so far as the layout/design of the brief, there are full templates available online (some come at a cost/fee, but most are free). Actually, they have some on the site I mentioned earlier which I actually used in researching what to include in a brief.

·       Visual inspiration and examples of previously created and successful collaborative content can be included in your brief to bring a sense of fun, creativity, and to show evidence of your abilities. I had created a ‘Collaboration Pack’ before the brief and it actually contains screenshots of popular, previous blog posts, so I attached that to my email sharing the brief with SOH.

·        Some people or organisations you’re sending a brief to, might actually have some guidelines and formats which they’d like any briefs to be submitted in. For some, it could even be appropriate and a good idea to send it as a short PowerPoint or you could do it as a document that is collaborative so yourself and the prospective collaboration partner both have editing permissions that enable you to work as a team in finalising the brief.

·       In some instances, in approaching someone or an organisation that you’d like to collaborate with, it could be useful to leave some bits up for discussion in order to encourage contact from them. In a brief, however, it’s typically better to not leave a single point or opportunity in it where the partner might feel unsure or confused in any way.

The Three Best Reasons for Creating A Brief

1.       It immediately states your expectations of the work your collaboration partner creates, which ensures that the partner can’t turn around midway through it and say that you’re asking something of them which they can’t – or don’t want to be – responsible or accountable for. 

2.       It enhances the chance of even the first draft being close to ideal because you’re all on the ‘same page’ from the offset – particularly in the part of the Brief that talks about the ‘voice’ of your collaboration content.

3.       It minimises a lot of back-and-forth emails and other forms of stressed and frantic contact, by having everything in one place – which is also a really productive and positive method to keep things more organised in a general way too.

Collaboration Goals

Initially, I was actually genuinely surprised to see this was the first part to write about in a brief… I guess that I just thought it would be about writing down your ideas and then what you want to achieve by doing this. In fairness, in the first five or six years of my blogging career, I would email organisations or well-known people and my ‘pitch’ was literally just a few paragraphs in the actual email! In that though, I typically started it off with a little bit about my mental health story and how that had affected the creation and the journey (up until the point of my email) of I’m NOT Disordered. Then, I went into the idea, and I’d end it by saying what I hoped to achieve from the collaboration and how the partner could benefit from working with me/my blog.

Obviously over the past five years – but particularly these past two – I’ve learnt so much about collaborations, and with my blogging inspiring me to find a passion and purpose to work in the communications and marketing industry; I began seeing things from a more professional viewpoint. And I think that this new perspective came in at the right time because I felt like with, I’m NOT Disordered now having over one million readers, those I was pitching to or in talks with regarding a collaboration had higher expectations than when my blog was just starting out. So, me learning how to put together a Media Kit (which you can view here) and a more ‘together’ and professional collaboration pitch, came at exactly the right time!

Regardless of my growth and developments in collaborations, I still hadn’t had to write a brief before, and so that’s why listing the goals of the collaboration as the first port-of-call seemed a bit alien to me. In looking into this further though – and with a bit of an explanation on the site I spoke about at the beginning – I recognised the fact that by confirming your goals from the outset, could really tell the prospective partner a lot about what will be expected of them. In doing this, they can almost immediately establish whether they’re even capable of taking on a collaboration where these goals are necessary to achieve or accomplish. This means you can also use covering this part at the beginning of the brief to ensure that everyone is on the same page from the very beginning – that these goals are something the partner is also eager and agreeable to achieving.

If you’re struggling to figure out what this part is asking and what it really entails, some things that could be included in this section are: are you trying to promote a product? Do you want to achieve a particular number of sales? Is this more about raising awareness of a cause you feel you are both passionate about? Do you want to increase donations by a particular percentage? Are you looking to increase your social media following? Do you want a new logo or change in branding – including to the general aesthetic or colour scheme – publicised, with the intention of encouraging feedback?

Target Audience

In all honesty, this was the one bit in the Brief which I was absolutely dreading because I knew even before seeing the template and advice online, that I would have to include something along these lines… I mean, it’s an aspect that – even if you had no clue about blogging, collaborations, communications, and marketing – you would still very likely imagine that having a target audience is something which would quite obviously be involved in some way in any sort of project, event, launch, partnership, advertorial work in this industry.

So, the reason I was dreading it, was because, whilst I knew how to find out the characteristics and general information of my readers, it wasn’t something I did often. Definitely not as often as I look at my reader count and the statistics of that e.g. the number of readers I get in one day and the number/percentage increase in readers on a day I’ve published new content etc – particularly where the content is a collaboration, and the partner is interested in knowing how popular the piece/pieces are/were. In all honesty, when you’re approaching someone or an entire organisation with an idea for a collaboration, typically, the only real statistic they’re interested in – or at least the ones which influences their decision the most, are around the number of readers. And this factor (the importance of views in a collaboration pitch) has actually been a massive influence on my confidence and my recognition of the size of I’m NOT Disordered’s audience. I actually used to be reluctant to talk about that element of my blog, but in recognising that mentioning it improved the opportunities I was offered and the unique experiences I was granted, I found that celebrating and publicising reader milestones was a completely valid and understandable behaviour/attitude.

So, with no collaboration partners ever asking for specific statistics and me having no real need or interest in checking them out, it was something I hadn’t ever really looked at or deemed important until creating this brief for St Oswald’s Hospice. I actually ended up finding it quite interesting to see the percentage in so far as genders – because I found out that my blog’s audience is actually most popular with men than women (54.15% to 45.85%). I also recognised something which I’m actually already aware of and found useful and that’s the audience’s key interests – and the way I’m kind of already knowledgeable in this, is in so far as the themes of the most popular blog posts. So, from the analytics provided (I used Google Analytics), I found that the ‘key interest’ in readers is ‘general health’ and my most popular content have been those centred around any sort – not just mental health related – of advice or tips and then those which provide some sort of insight into being a Blogger and into having a mental health illness.

Now, the reason I have already been aware of the themes of popular posts – which is probably very obvious! – is because it provides me with both inspiration in terms of future content and ideas for future collaboration partners. Something around this which I do put a lot of consideration into and have found challenging over the years, is balancing what readers enjoy with the content that I enjoy creating the most. This is really concerning posts with any sort of fashion element e.g. the Wardrobe collaborations with ASOS that I’ve done during Christmas etc. and with the Gift Guides I’ve really only typically created for Blogmas series. It’s difficult because I definitely can appreciate why that content isn’t popular – I mean, I doubt anyone comes to I’m NOT Disordered for content on fashion or gift ideas. However, I do really enjoy putting these posts together; particularly because I get to use Canva! To be fair, I’m at a point where I love any content that allows me the excuse to use Canva because it gives me the opportunity to build my knowledge of its features and to use them to really embrace my creativity in a very productive way whilst also just letting it run wild!

So, aside from the popularity and the interests of I’m NOT Disordered’s readers, I find nothing else about the audience analytics helpful. However, I included everything in the collaboration brief because I recognise that something I don’t feel that I or my blog and its content really benefit from knowing, might actually be quite useful and persuasive to my collaboration partner.


All The Links You Need

Website: Home | St Oswald’s Hospice (

Twitter (X): @stoswaldsuk

Facebook: @stoswaldshospice

Instagram: @stoswaldsuk

Retail Instagram: @stoswaldsretail

YouTube: @stoswaldshospiceuk

LinkedIn: @stoswaldshospice

General Details For The Blyth Store:

Blyth | St Oswald’s Hospice (

To Volunteer In The Store:

Email: or call the store direct: 01670 330 885

Don’t live in Blyth? Find your local St Oswald’s Hospice Store:

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