White papers serve as amazing promotional materials for businesses. Have you ever wondered how to write white papers of your own?
White papers allow companies to share their knowledge and expertise with their target audiences. Often, these white papers are offered in exchange for a valid email address. The audience gets to learn about the company through the white paper, and the company that offers the white paper is able to build a database of email subscribers for future communication.
White papers are a perfect example of content marketing, because the audience is able to familiarize themselves with the company before deciding whether or not they want to spend their money.
We write papers for our clients all the time, so let’s run through the two most effective strategies.
Two strategies for how to write white papers
Strategy 1: Work ahead.
For instance, you can begin with the topic, and think about the kind of content that you want in this white paper. Then you can go a bit further by deciding how you want to break the content up by chapter.
Breaking your content up by chapter allows you the chance to create content that can be easily consumed. Each chapter can serve as it’s own chapter, which simultaneously work independently or together as a whole.
Once you’ve decided how many chapters you are going to create, you can build an editorial calendar to follow.
For example, let’s say you want to create 12 chapters, and each chapter will be composed of an 800 word article. If you have no specific time restraints for creating your white paper, you can pencil in the creation of one article per week.
This means that your entire white paper will be created in 12 weeks. Theoretically, you can then publish and start promoting this white paper on the 13th week.
If you had one person or team specifically dedicated to creating the white papers, and another person or team dedicated to promoting the white papers after they’re finished, you could have the white paper creator constantly working on white papers, allowing for the completion of four major white papers in a year’s time.
This is the process we go through for several of our current clients, and quarterly white papers make for a very efficient and organized publishing schedule.
Strategy 2: Backpedal.
To do this, first take a look through your content. Pick a category and compile your favorite articles. Then, organize them in the best way to tell a story. There will be re-writing and there will be plenty of editing, but if you already have great content, it’s an easy starting point.
For example, let’s say you work for an apothecary and you have a blog about the herbs that exist in your area. You specifically focus your content on herbs that have medicinal value. You could look through the content on your blog, find all of the articles that pertain to medicinal herbs, and you can put all of this content together in the form of a white paper about medicinal herbs.
This white paper will serve as a foundational piece to who you are as a content provider, sharing your expertise and knowledge in the process.
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We recommend writers, bloggers, authors, and companies consider white papers in this manner because this process offers value to your audiences; They’re given the opportunity to read great content that has been collected consciously, and intentionally put together as one cohesive entity.
This curation of your own content simplifies the lives of your readers. This way they don’t have to scour your website to find all of the content that is most relevant to them. This white paper conveniently puts the information in front of your readers with very little effort on their end.
We’ve seen our clients use this exact process of going through their blogs, finding aligned content they can bundle together, and offering those white papers on their websites as lead generation builders. They offer these white papers in exchange for a valid email address, then those subscribers are sent more content on daily, weekly, or monthly schedules. Eventually, because they continue to provide useful content, those subscribers buy products and become very valuable email subscribers.
Title: Your title should aligned with the content and be optimized for keyword phrases that have little competition and search volume.
Introduction: Prepare your readers with a few words about content. Let them know what they will find within your white paper. This aspect is even more important when you’re creating long white papers, because the overall theme can be discussed then.
Main content: The main content of a white paper must have a focus. This focus can be informing an audience about a topic, or it can share a question or hypothesis that the white paper is focusing on.
Solutions: If you’re focusing on a specific question or problem in your white paper, then providing solutions or potential solutions will help your audience recognize your ability and insight while providing value. Informing your audience how to better their lives will help you position yourself as a thought leader.
Summary: Tie up all your information and point out connections where possible.
Call to Action: Once you’ve presented all the information you have to share, make a call to action that upsells to an aligned product. Maybe you have more information to share on the topic in a higher-quality format. Or maybe there’s a next step to take for someeone interested in the information. Once you’ve presented the content and your knowledge, you have a great chance to continue your relationship and develop new customers.
The length of your white papers
Short white papers: If you’re creating a short white paper based on content from your blog, you’ll likely be able to create three, four, or even five white papers in a work day. When this is the case, it means you can title them and target multiple key phrases through search engine optimization. However, short white papers won’t allow you to offer robust content, which has the benefit of showing your knowledge in depth.
A short white paper may include five blog posts that are new or ones you’ve already created. Each blog post would be it’s own chapter, and the white paper would ultimately be a quick read. Incorporate images and links into your white papers to make them more engaging. You can even use the concluding part of your short white paper as a way to promote your other content, you upsell to more significant content offerings.
Long white papers: Long white papers will take you more time to complete. However, if you have a lot of high-quality content to share, a long white paper is a great way to share it. Long white papers may even be worth selling in a digital storefront like Amazon or iTunes because audience members are looking for your content in numerous places.
Some users will come across your content on your website, while others will find you through third party websites like the digital storefronts mentioned above. If a user comes upon your content in a place like Amazon and is already accustomed to spending money on premium content, then you may be able to generate some money from selling the white paper, even though it’s available elsewhere on the Internet for free.
How to write your next white paper
Try utilizing one of our strategies mentioned above the next time you’re creating a white paper. You may find it favorable to go through your blog and select the best articles you have to offer in the white paper. You may also find it desirable to map out your next long white paper, making it slightly easier and less daunting from the start.
Once you’ve created the white paper in this fashion, let us know how it went for you. Will you use the strategy again? If not, how do you prefer to create white papers? Please share with us!