Of all the types of content you can create, one of them has the potential to help you build your reputation as an expert in your niche: the white paper. What are white papers? Originating in the corporate world, white papers have extended their reach to every business and niche. Whenever you have a topic which deserves a detailed, in-depth approach, you should consider treating it as a white paper.
The white paper is the longest type of written content, and it should be reserved to special topics which need over 2,000 words for proper coverage. Also, you should not flood your readers and followers with white papers too often, because you do not want to trivialize this type of content. It should be reserved for truly special topics and even shared as premium or gated content.
That being said, you probably think that writing a white paper is a daunting task – but only because the name of this type of content sounds intimidating. For this reason, we are here to share with you some of the most effective tips to make the process of writing a white paper easier for you. Let us get started!
- Pick a Topic of Great Interest for Your Readers
White papers can be easily demoted to valueless content if you do not select adequate topics for them. They should be topics of the highest interest and use for your readers. They should be truly helpful, actionable, and deal with a major problem or paint point.
For instance, you wouldn’t write a white paper on how to pick a pair of patent leather shoes. But you can write a white paper concerning the long-term effects of wearing the wrong kind of shoes on people’s feet and walking posture.
- Use a Conversational Tone and Layman Terms
The mistake many white paper writers make is that they turn their piece of content into an academic or corporate document. Remember who you are writing it for: your readers, your followers, your potential customers. They are neither academicians, nor boardroom directors. They are regular people who want to understand your content and act on its information.
Therefore, resist the temptation to sound pompous or use professional jargon in your white papers. You will not grow in your readers’ eyes; you will only make them shrug their shoulders and leave your content because they don’t understand you.
- Back up All Claims with Reputable Sources of Evidence
When you state in your white paper that X percent of people suffer from lower back pain due to inadequate shoes, everyone will promptly ask: “who says this? How did they reach this number?” They will obviously not take your word for it.
Therefore, whenever you make any claims, or introduce any numbers in your white papers or present theories or findings, provide a link to a reputable source where people can verify these claims. This is probably one of the types of content which requires the greatest attention in the research phase: you need to make sure that the sources you use are relevant, recent and believable.
- Do Not Be Promotional in a White Paper
The white paper is a promotional material in the sense that people obtain evidence of your expertise and experience. But white papers should never turn into a sales pitch or an advertorial. It does not mean that you cannot hint at your products and services as being a part of the solution for the problems you cover in the article, but they must not be pitched as the only solution. Allow people to understand the various options they have and they will certainly decide to pick yours as the most trustworthy and convenient.
- Do Not Call It a White Paper
Last, but not least, do not promote this type of content as a white paper. Be honest, you were a bit intimidated when you decided to write the first one. The same thing happens with people who see its title. They will think: “oh, this is going to be a long and difficult read, with lots of specialized terms I don’t know”.
Call it a “Special Report”, an “In-Depth Analysis” or any similar title, but avoid the term white paper. It is even good for SEO – everyone else calls this type of content a white paper, so why should you have to compete with them?