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How to hire a white paper writer

If you’re looking for a white paper writer, how do you find one?

Don’t just rush to Google “white paper writer.”

Instead, take a minute to consider three trade-offs to help zero in on the perfect writer for you.

Are you looking more for one or the other of these three questions:

  • Save time or save money?
  • Writing experience or domain knowledge?
  • Full-service or text-only?

Tradeoff #1: Your money or your time?

The more experience a white paper writer has, the faster they likely work… and the more they tend to charge.

Do you prefer to save money with a less-experienced writer who may work slower, make mistakes, and eat up more of your time with questions?

Or can you afford a seasoned pro who works efficiently, hits the bull’s-eye on the first draft, and never asks any dumb questions?

The difference is probably a few thousand dollars, faster delivery by weeks, and much more peace of mind for you.

Tradeoff #2: Writing experience or domain knowledge?

Do you prefer a copywriter with lots of experience writing white papers, or someone who knows your industry inside out?

Sometimes you can find both, but that combination will cost extra.

After all, becoming a smooth, persuasive writer who understands how to structure an effective white paper can take many years.

Of course, it also takes time to learn the jargon, issues, regulations and key players in your own industry. But any good researcher—especially any former journalist—can learn the basic dynamics of your industry in a few days, especially with you to guide them.

Given that choice, many clients lean towards writing experience.

We’ve recently come up with another way around this tradeoff: To pair up a writer who has deep knowledge of a certain field with a seasoned writer/editor who understands white papers like the back of his hand.

This is what we call our “team approach” at That White Paper Guy.

We’ve found that when we put together the right team, this works like a dream. And our clients get the best of both worlds.

Tradeoff #3: Full-service or text-only?

If you’re working on your first-ever white paper, you may want a seasoned writer to serve as the de facto project manager who spells out what to do next.

You may want a creative supplier who can deliver a turnkey package with text, graphics, page design, and SEO, all wrapped up in a final PDF ready to publish.

And you may want your writer to generate related content derived from the white paper: blog posts, a press release, a slide deck, a landing page, and so on.

If you’ve published several white papers already and you have a mature content development process in-house, good for you!

In this case, you can likely manage the project yourself. You just need a writer to do the research and put together the text. You may be happy to have the writer deliver an unadorned Word file you can send to your designer while your marketing team rolls out your promotions.

You’ll pay less for the stripped-down service, but your team will put in more time to make up the difference.

Decide where you stand

Before you start looking for a white paper writer, figure out where you stand on each of these trade-offs. Decide what services you need before you approach writers… because they will invariably ask.

For example, here are three possible scenarios. Do any of these sound like you?

Scenario #1: Your budget is tight, but you have an in-house writer and designer

Enlist your writer and designer for your white paper.

If none of you has ever worked on a white paper before, invest $25 or so in White Papers For Dummies to guide you through the process.

Cover of book White Papers For DummiesYou’ll also benefit from 15 years of tips and advice on how to avoid the most common pitfalls that can happen to first-time white paper publishers.

One downside of this scenario may be slow turnaround.

Your in-house people may be booked up for weeks, meaning your project has to wait.

And you must plan how to promote the white paper yourself.

But the price will be right: You won’t have to pay anything beyond the regular salaries that your colleagues normally draw.


Scenario #2: Your budget is limited, but you have no in-house resources

Look for a medium-level writer who has done at least 10 white papers in your market space, so they bring strong domain knowledge to the table.

Plan to run their drafts through a good editor to finesse the text. Find an affordable designer-illustrator, and plan on doing your own marketing.

You’ll be putting in a lot of effort managing multiple creative supplier, but you will save on the total costs of the project.

Scenario #3: You have a reasonable budget, but time is tight

In this case, hire the very best white paper writer and designer you can find.

Seasoned people will save time, give you what you want the first time out, and surprise you with innovative suggestions that go beyond what you expected.

Good luck finding the perfect writer for your white paper project!

And if you ever want to talk about your upcoming white paper project, please click the orange “Need a great white paper?” button on this page.

That leads to a quick and easy form where you can tell us about your project. We use this form because it can save us 30 minutes on the phone. Then we’ll get back to you ready to talk.


Where do you stand on these three trade-offs? How have you found white paper writers? Please share your tips in the comments section below.


About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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