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Writing and Selling White Papers
by Constance Fabian-Isaacs
Looking for a new market to explore? Looking for some exposure
on the web? Keep reading! Theres money to be made writing
and selling white papers.
What the heck is a white paper? A white paper is a technical essaya
how to so to speak. At one time white papers were
used in various industries to communicate or explain new processes,
tools, products or features to other professionals in the same field.
They were often presented at technical conferences to demonstrate
innovative ideas. Soon marketing departments discovered these white
papers and expanded their use as a way to market complex
tools and products to other companies in their industries. Having
found success in that arena, they used these technical papers as
a means to entice sales leads to provide contact information on
their websites. White papers have now seeped into a new realm. Small
businessesand not just high tech businesseshave found
that white papers are an excellent means to generate sales leads
and obtain contact information in their domain. Not only that, but
also a way for professionals to establish credibility in their
Guess what? Most small business owners with websites cant
write. And theyre willing to pay anywhere from $300 to $1000
for a white paper on their business, product or process. Thats
where we writers come in. We can take their business concept or
product and write a white paper for them.
Heres the scoop. The small business owner has paid good
money to build a website. What theyve found is that even
when contact information is requested, their site visitors dont
always provide it. However, when a site visitor sees the paper,
How to Choose a Handy Man on the Mr. FixIt
website their curiosity is peaked. Before the visitor can download
or read the white paper, they must type in their contact information.
Eureka! A sales lead with contact information is generated, the
consumer gets a guide to choosing a handy man, and Mr. FixIt has
gained credibility by providing the information. Everybody wins!
Writing white papers isnt for everyone, but for those of
you who are curious about how to do things, or like to write how
to articles, this could be a good way to expand your freelance
You might be wondering, Ok, how do I get started?
Here are some tips:
Scan the web for local businesses. If you have some people with
which you currently do business, check out their websites first.
See if they have a white paper posted, or they might call it an
article. If not, theres your prospect.
Analyze what they do in this business. Come up with questions you
have about the business like:
- How do I know they would be the best business for me to use?
- How do I know Im getting the best price?
- When is the best time to do this type of project?
- How do I plan this type of project?
- What do I need to know about doing a project like this?
Pick your most compelling question and do your homeworkanswer
the question. It would be like writing an article for a targeted
market. For this type of market, youll want to keep it simple.
Write your piece using a very simple outline:
- Purpose Clearly state the purpose
of the piece
- Overview Give a brief overview of
the contents of the paper. In this paragraph, you would also establish
your credibility or the credibility of the business owner. If
you dont personally have the credibility you can always
site your research sources.
- Content use a very simple step-by-step
or point-by-point approach. Keep your explanations simple enough
for the non-expert to interpret, but detailed enough
to give the reader the experience of having learned something
for the time theyve spent reading. You can even use illustrations
and figures to clarify your points. If you dont use pictures,
at the very least, use real-life examples.
- Summary summarize the points in your
paper, ensuring that youve fully supported all the points
you intended to make.
Make your contact. You have two primary potential markets: business
owners themselves and website developers. When marketing your papers
to either market, use technical websites that generate sales leads
through white paper distribution as examples. Most high tech companies
use this technique.
For example, www.xyenterprise.com
uses this technique for gathering contact information. Go to the
site if you click on any of the gold buttons, youll be presented
with a page of general information and on the right side of the
page there is an area entitled Resources. Click on
the title Best Practices for Content Management. Heres
where you must enter your contact information to get this paper
or other papers from their library.
Another example is www.handymanmatters.com.
In this example, they dont use their paper for gathering
contact information (but they could have). Instead, its just
used to provide the consumer with free information. Consumers always
value free information. You will see a link to Download your
FREE Consumer Guide to Choosing a Home Repair or Remodeling Contractor
on the right side of the page.
While white papers can present highly technical and complex ideas,
the structure of the paper should be kept simple. The reason I described
a white paper as a technical essay, is because the format is similar.
For more information on writing white papers, visit the website:
Or pick up the book by Michael A. Stelzner entitled, Writing
White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged.
The important thing to remember when reading his book is that its
intended for a technical audience. Dont be intimidated by
that. Just adapt his thinking to real world use and go for it. For
selling your white papers, let your fingers do the dancing on your
keyboard and use your imagination!
© Copyright 2008, Constance Fabian-Isaacs
Constance Fabian-Isaacs is a freelance writer and a Sr. Technical
Communications Specialist for GuideWorks, LLC in Englewood, CO. She has written for both the oil and gas industry and the entertainment
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