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:

  • Time or money
  • Writing experience or domain knowledge
  • Full-service or text-only

photo of funny crazy man asking to write your next white paper


Tradeoff #1: Your money or your time

The more experience a white paper writer has, the faster they likely work… but 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?

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.

Given that choice, many clients lean towards writing experience. After all, becoming a smooth, persuasive writer who understands how to structure an effective white paper takes years.

But any good researcher can learn the basic dynamics of your industry in a few days, especially with you to guide them.

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: press release, blog posts, slide deck, landing page, tweets, and so on.

If you’ve published several white papers already and have a mature content development process in-house, you can likely manage the project yourself.

In that case, 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. They’ll invariably ask what you need.

For example, here are three possible scenarios. Do any of these apply to you?

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

Enlist them for your white paper. If none of you has ever published a white paper before, you can use White Papers For Dummies to guide you through the process.

One downside may be slow turnaround. Your in-house people may be booked up for weeks, so your project has to wait. And you must plan to promote the white paper yourself.

But the price will be right: Nothing beyond the regular salaries everyone normally draws.

Scenario #2: 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.

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

In this case, hire the best 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 need a hand or just want to talk about your project, please drop me a line or use the RFQ button at the top right.


How have  you found white paper writers? Share your tips in the comments section below.


This article is a brief excerpt from White Papers for Dummies by Gordon Graham.

With dozens of tips and best practices for planning, producing, and promoting effective white papers, White Papers for Dummies is the most comprehensive guide to white papers ever published.

Book cover for White Papers for DummiesDon’t give leads to Sales too soon

Click here
to order
White Papers
For Dummies
Don’t give leads to Sales too soon


About Gordon Graham

Author of 275 white papers on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients everywhere from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, for everyone from tiny startups to 3M, Google and Verizon. Also wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 50 5-star ratings on Amazon. Reviewers call it "a must-read... fantastic... outstanding... terrific... phenomenal... the best book of its kind."

Leave a Comment