What You Need to Know about Writing White Papers

Freelance writer typing on a laptop computer.

If you’re thinking of expanding the services you provide as a freelance writer, you may want to consider white papers. White papers are something that nearly every company or organization will want to offer if they can. However, they’re not something that everybody can write. That’s where you come in! As a freelance writer, white papers are an exclusive service that you can offer to your clients. Here’s what you ought to know about this invaluable service.

What is a white paper?

A white paper is a thorough report on a specific subject. While there are many different types of white papers, most of them are designed to provide the reader with enough information on a topic to have an informed opinion about it. Generally, a white paper will convey a certain attitude or opinion about the topic. In many cases, white papers are designed to present a problem and then propose a solution.

What do businesses use white papers for?

White papers can be enormously useful to businesses and organizations for a number of different reasons. Businesses may use white papers to promote one of their services, to raise awareness of a new technology, to provide information about one of their products, or even to bring more attention to a cause they are promoting. Generally, white papers are not salesy in tone; instead, they are written in an objective way.

Businesses can glean a number of important benefits from using white papers:

  • Building a reputation as an established authority within their industry.
  • Calling customers’ attention to the products and services they offer.
  • Forging a deeper connection and sense of engagement with their customer base.
  • Generating valuable leads and reaching a wider audience.

Why should you offer white papers as a freelance writer?

It’s easy to see why businesses and organizations would want to offer white papers—but actually developing those white papers can be a formidable challenge. Many businesses do not have the time, resources, or qualified staff required to create high-quality white papers. That’s why many businesses end up seeking out freelance writers to provide them with the documents they’re looking for.

As a freelance writer, it’s in your interest to be able to provide your clients with the best possible services—including services that it takes a skilled writer and researcher to offer. If you decide to add white papers to your list of services, you’ll be making a statement about your confidence in the overall quality of your work. You’ll also set yourself apart as an accomplished writer, one whom clients can trust to create strong, well-crafted projects.

What are the qualities of a white paper?

Every white paper will be somewhat different, because the format is less established than that of, say, a press release. In general, however, the following things will be true of most white papers:

  • White papers are long-form documents, ranging from an average minimum of 10 pages to an average maximum of 50 pages.
  • White papers usually follow the same basic structure. They will often include a title page followed by a table of contents, a summary of the paper, an introduction, the body of the paper itself, and finally a conclusion.
  • White papers should be written to be as clear as possible. However, they do tend to be more information-heavy than most blog posts and even eBooks. Unlike many forms of online content, white papers are not designed to be read and absorbed quickly—they are meant to be closely studied.
  • White papers are usually published in PDF format. Visually, they should be presented in a clear and readable way, with reader-friendly font and spacing.

How long does it take to write a white paper?

White papers typically take as much as 40 hours of work to produce, and lengthy white papers may take even longer. Because white papers are usually written on demand for a client, following their specifications, the length of time it takes to write should be taken into account and included in your writer’s fee. Keep in mind that you will need time to research the subject and organize your information into a coherent whole, along with formatting and fact-checking the final product.

How can I produce a high-quality white paper?

  • Give yourself as much time as possible to work on the white paper. Make sure that you haven’t put any other projects on your plate for the days you’ve scheduled to work on it. You’ll produce better work if you have fewer distractions.
  • Set aside as much time as you are able to reserve for research and notetaking. Research is really the heart of any good white paper, and there’s no way to overstate how important it is that you get your facts straight.
  • Give yourself at least a couple of hours to review the white paper. Double-check your citations and do at least one close read of the whole thing.
  • Follow your client’s instructions for the paper to the letter. If you have any questions, make sure you have a way to get in touch with your client quickly, so you can stay on schedule.
  • Study other white papers. Nobody is born knowing how to write a white paper. Find some papers from respected sources and spend a few hours reviewing them. Pay attention to how the writer approaches complex subjects.

If you’re an aspiring freelance writer, and you’re looking for your big break, Writers Work can help you find the kinds of opportunities you’re looking for! From our informative video courses to our invaluable job search engines, we offer you the comprehensive resources you need to make a name for yourself in the freelancing world. If you’d like to learn more about Writers Work, visit us at our website today and watch our introductory video.

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