A white paper is an informational report that offers in-depth facts and guidance on a particular topic. Although these originated as extensive government documents, they've evolved to be used across a multitude of industries. In fact, a white paper is often a fantastic opt-in freebie to help generate leads for your email list.
However, you want to be careful with your white paper. Long-form pieces of content like this can easily get dry and make it difficult for your readers to read through the entire thing. You want to keep the content informative but light-hearted.
If you're struggling to create in-depth white paper content that attracts and keeps your readers, here are a few tried and true tips to stick to when writing a white paper.
1. Use graphics to show your researched statistics.
The difference between writing a white paper and, say, an eBook is that white paper content is well-researched and it's a much more formal document. However, the name can be slightly misleading. Just because it's called a white paper doesn't necessarily mean most of the paper has to be kept white, with only black text covering it.
Instead, you're welcome to bring some color to your white paper with graphics and charts that illustrate your researched points and statistics. Break up your chunks of text with visuals so that it's easier for your readers to stay focused and follow along.
2. Don't stray away from your point.
Another defining factor of writing white papers is that they are based on a singular topic. Where eBooks might cover a multitude of topics (hence your table of contents) and case studies might cover several topics relating to a single situation, a white paper allows you to really dive deep into one main point.
Use this to your advantage so that you really can teach your customers and followers everything you have to offer on the subject. Create an outline that helps you include all of the necessary points and that won't allow you to stray from your topic or onto a tangent.
3. Include lots of data.
Your white paper should include as much factual information as possible. This requires a lot of research on your part after you've created your outline. Use this research for your infographics and charts, as well as to enforce your point throughout your white paper content.
Creating a data-backed white paper does not mean that you have to love math, or even be good at math. But numbers do help you to get your point across and prove what you're saying to your customers and readers.
If you're considering writing a white paper as your next opt-in freebie, or even to sell as a small-ticket informational product, you need to make sure it's fact-based, honed in on a single topic, and that it includes creative formatting and graphics that visualize your points. Your white paper doesn't have to be a boring brick of black and white text. Use the best elements of a white paper (research, data, single topic) and then modernize the format to make it more interesting to read and easier to follow along.
If you want to learn more about writing a white paper, check out our white paper, "What is Content Marketing? And Why It's So Important."