How to Write White Papers — a Crash Course for Newbies

By Mitt Ray

A white paper is a cross between a magazine article and a corporate brochure. Most clients want to read the educational magazine article part of the white paper to find out the solutions to their problems — but the persuasive brochure part of the white paper does its job too, and convinces the readers to buy the product or use the service.

This unique feature of the white paper — to educate and sell — makes it one of the most powerful marketing tools. This is the reason why clients are ready to pay $3000-$10,000 for a 6-14 page white paper.

How to gain some experience writing white papers

If you know how to write articles or marketing materials, you should be able to learn how to write white papers with a little effort and practice. The first thing you need to do is read all you can about writing white papers from books, blogs, articles, etc. Also study some well-written white papers. More and more companies are posting white papers online to build their authority — download a few and give them a read.

Now start writing…

After you learn how to write white papers, you can start practicing your skill on a hypothetical or real company. Choose a business-to-business company, as this type of business tends to commission more white papers. They usually have complicated offerings and need to convince business owners to buy their product or service.

Or create a white paper to sell your writing, about how businesses benefit from using freelance writers. Post it on your site as a free download for prospects.

Sharpen your skills by writing as many white papers as you can. Once you feel that you’re ready, start looking for white paper jobs.

Best ways to get your first white writing paper job

  1. Let your existing clients know what white papers are, how they work and why their business needs one. Show them the sample white papers you’ve created. If you can convince them that they need a white paper, you will be on your way.
  2. Look for business owners who are getting articles or brochures written. Explain what a white paper is and why it’s better than a regular article or brochure. Propose possible white paper topics that would be appropriate to their business. Hopefully you will be able to entice them into asking you to write one.
  3. Write one for less. If it’s your first white paper job, then it doesn’t matter if you charge less. Maybe you will not earn enough for all the effort you put in, but you will get a sample that will help you land lucrative jobs.

Once you have a few samples in your portfolio, you can look for better jobs. The best thing is to advertise your services as a white paper writer through your website, cold calling, and other marketing methods. It’s important that you target B2B companies, as they need white papers. Look for companies that are involved in fields like technology (cloud computing, CRM, content management, IT healthcare), or finance (insurance, banks, re-insurance).

Why and how did I get into writing white papers?

I always liked writing in detail, and when I write articles or marketing material I always have to edit it and make it short and concise. Then I found out about white papers, where you can write everything in great detail.

I did some research and realized white papers exactly suited my style of writing — describing a problem and providing a solution to it in a detailed manner. This is the reason why I started writing in this field.

I read books, white papers, blogs and guides. I asked experts for advice, and after receiving it I started writing white papers. Once I finished writing, I’d send it to some experts who gave me their feedback and helped me improve my skills. Once the people who helped me and I felt I was ready, I looked for work.

I convinced a few of my clients to hire me to write a white paper, and I worked on my portfolio. After I built the portfolio, getting freelance white paper work had become extremely easy for me.

Got questions about writing white papers? Just ask in the comments below.

Mitt Ray is a copywriter. He specializes in writing and marketing white papers. He runs imittcopy which provides copywriting and white paper writing & marketing services. Mitt regularly posts tips on writing and marketing white papers on his White Paper Blog.  He is also the author of “Understand and Write White Papers“, a white paper on how to write white papers.



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