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White Papers For Beginners: Five Tips to Help You Nail Your First Brief

White Papers For Beginners: Five Tips to Help You Nail Your First Brief

As a beginner copywriter, every project is a learning curve, especially if you’re still getting your skills up to speed. If a potential copywriting client wants you to produce white papers for their business, but you’ve never even heard of white papers before, don’t let the technical term intimidate you into saying it’s beyond your scope. These tips will help you get to grips with the brief and produce an amazing piece for your client.

So “White Papers” Are What Exactly?

A white paper is a document produced for the purposes of marketing, but it doesn’t make a sales pitch. White papers range in length from six to ten pages, or however long it takes to achieve the aim of the brief, which is to help your client’s potential customers identify and resolve a problem that they might have. A well-researched, discursive look at a particular topic is the best way to achieve this goal.

Here’s some examples of white papers:

Build Credibility

As the copywriter, your role in producing a white paper is to produce an informative report that builds credibility around your client’s business. It’s important to bear in mind that the purpose of your special report is not to sell a product on behalf of your client, but to align your client’s brand with everything that is regarded as credible within in a specialised field. You’ll need to use graphs, data point, quotes and any other data that builds the credibility of the white paper and your client.

Create Buzz

White papers give you a lot of freedom to explore an issue your client cares about, and drill down into the core of the issue. A good white paper will create a hype around a particular issue and position your client’s brand at the centre of the buzz.

For example, if your client offers Outsourced IT Support, you might produce a report about the growing importance of cybersecurity for emerging businesses. Your white paper would position your client at the cutting-edge of the conversation around anti-malware technology.

Promise Your Reader Something of Value

The world of white papers is growing increasingly competitive, as more and more consumers go online to find advice on what products to buy and seek expertise on subjects they care about. Begin your white paper with a clearly worded paragraph that lets your reader know what unique pain-point your white paper will address, and what they can expect to gain from reading on. Your reader must have a strong sense of what key take-aways or insights they will come away with. Whether you’re offering research data, technical expertise or a deepening of understanding, promising your reader (and then delivering) nuggets of real value will benefit your audience and build trust around your client’s brand.

Do Your Homework

Before you start working on your white papers, it’s worth looking at accomplished examples by experienced writers to help you get to grips with the format. Ask your client if they have any examples of white papers they admire, and use those for guidance. If you’re new to white papers as a format, you might like to produce an outline for the project to run by your client before you charge ahead and embark on the writing. This will give them a chance to make tweaks at an early stage, rather than request revisions further down the line.  

 Use a Template

There are a bunch of sites that have white paper templates to get you started. Here are a few good ones:

This article will also help you learn what sets a good white paper apart from a bad one: 20 White Paper Landing Page Examples Critiqued

Whether you’re an experienced copywriter or are new to the field, a white paper can be a challenging and exciting project. These tips will help you get your head around the brief and deliver an excellent product.




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