White papers are an excellent way to build a reputation as a thought leader in any industry. By definition, a white paper is a "persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report" that addresses a specific topic, presenting an issue and explaining the unique and impactful way your brand, product, service, or a tool in your industry has sought to solve it.
If you have never written a white paper before, the process can seem intimidating. After all, a white paper is considered extremely in-depth and accurate, often technical in nature, so the process of creating one may feel daunting. However, the many benefits of producing a high-quality white paper far outweigh the challenges. So, let's dive into the writing process.
Identify a Pain Point
The key power of a white paper is that it digs deep into a significant and specific pain point that your audience is experiencing. Therefore, the first step in writing a white paper is identifying a pain point that's worth covering. Ideally, the pain point you identify will relate to your brand's experience, enabling you to offer unique insight into a solution for the audience's pain point.
White papers typically:
Discuss the results of a survey or study you have conducted regarding the pain point, giving readers more information to address or understand it.
Assemble unique case studies into how a given party solved the pain point in question.
Detail a unique process or procedure regarding the pain point, its impact, and how it was overcome.
Whereas a typical blog article may warrant a little bit of research, reading popular websites, and looking at standard sources, white papers ideally offer information not yet seen anywhere else. If possible, conducting your own in-house survey or pulling numbers from a case study will help fuel the information you provide in your white paper.
Even if you can't offer brand new statistics, you should look beyond other blogs and websites by diving into research studies and other white papers to offer a truly in-depth and comprehensive compilation of numbers and information for your audience. That's how you add value to your white paper and build trust and authority in your niche.
Outline Your Topics
While you might be the type of person to jump right into the writing process without much planning, especially if you typically create short-form content, a white paper is no place to skimp on the details. Since a white paper tends to be quite long and needs to be extremely detailed, an outline will prove to be an essential tool that helps you organize your thoughts and structure the content in an intuitive manner that avoids redundancy.
When creating the outline for your white paper, you'll also have the opportunity to dig into sub-topics for each topic you choose, potentially discovering new points that you hadn't thought to include before. Since you can do this discovery while in the planning phase, you won't have to worry about squeezing information in where it fits -- you can adjust lengths and layouts accordingly so all information is presented in a concise manner without being rushed.
Consider Your Visuals
Since white papers almost always incorporate numbers (and lots of them) to convey information, visual charts, graphs, and reports are worth including. If you don't have the means to create these yourself, it's best to invest in a graphic designer who can make them visually appealing. In fact, investing in a good design will prove to be a smart move for your entire project.
While white papers were once reminiscent of textbooks -- long and lacking of any vibrant graphics -- they have now benefitted from advanced visual design that helps readers flow from one section to the next. In other words, a long text document is no longer acceptable, nor does it warrant lots of sharing or word-of-mouth conversations.
If you want your white paper to get the attention it deserves, you need to pay attention to its visual appeal. Have a graphic designer work with you once the white paper's content is complete to help you work in graphics and design a document that is on-brand and engaging for your readers.
Don't Overlook the Details
The content creation process in itself will take a substantial amount of time, but that's even more reason to take additional time looking at the details of your white paper project. On top of the visual aspects, it's worth setting aside some weeks for editing and proofreading your content throughout the writing process and after to get things polished and ready for your readers.
Beyond typos, the right editor will help you find redundancy throughout the document and help you find areas where information may be too wordy or perhaps misplaced. A copy editor's feedback may help you improve the impact of your writing by relocating, removing, or re-wording certain sentences throughout the document.
Meanwhile, the right copy editor will understand the key message you're trying to convey and the core value you are offering your readers, ensuring that those things come through from the beginning and hook your readers all the way through so they don't drop off. At the end, an experienced copy editor can even help with your call-to-action so your white paper generates the results you're after.
Invest in an Experienced Writer
Chances are, while your business may pour hours in to compiling case studies or documenting a process in a unique manner that can serve as the core of your white paper, you might not have the time or experience necessary to convey that information in a thoughtful and engaging manner. As such, it's worth reaching out to a white paper writer to help you turn your topic of choice into an impactful, detailed breakdown.
If you don't know where to find that writer, Scripted is the place to go. With Scripted, you can get matched with the best white paper writers in your industry and strike up a conversation to understand their work process, pricing, and turnaround. When you're ready to hire, Scripted's platform gives you all of the tools you need to collaborate on the content, handle revisions, and bring your white paper to life.