[Updated: December 2020]
Red Adair, the oil well firefighter, famously said: “If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
I could write a whole white paper about it, but I won’t. Instead, I want to explain to you the value of getting a white paper produced by a professional writer, what the cost of that white paper might be and why that is money well-spent.
Why do you need white papers?
Yes, Content is King, but white papers and other long-form content are the well-guarded crown jewels in the treasury of the palace. Results of surveys have shown time and time again that white papers are the most consumed content within the B2B buying journey. B2B marketers need to demonstrate how their solution solves a problem better than anyone else’s. White papers provide valuable resources that readers can call upon to help them understand the wider problem and use to gather insights about how to solve the problem within their company. That’s, of course, why your competitors spend large amounts of money on white papers too.
There is an unquenchable demand for white papers, which means that they have become a standard component in any B2B marketer’s toolkit. This is especially true for technology, advertising, construction, healthcare, insurance... Hold on. It’s true for absolutely any B2B company which is selling something new, complex or expensive.
Who writes the paper?
There’s no denying it, writing a white paper is challenging. The author needs not only to explain a situation in well argued and neutral fashion, but they also need to plan their content in a way that showcases your solution in the best possible light. A good white paper includes a mixture of facts, quotes, figures, anecdotes and rhetorical devices, and there aren’t many good writers who have enough practice with the format itself. Nevertheless, a white paper can be crafted with the basic journalistic skills: researching, interviewing, writing smoothly and informatively. After all, it’s not a sales pitch, it’s well rounded discussion.
The best white papers don’t need buzzwords, marketing language or hype. They should provide useful information pertaining to an issue, helping to solving a problem, or guiding a decision. This is not a promotional copy: this is an educational content piece.
What do I need to know beforehand?
So, what do you need to know before you start looking for your writer? These are some of the questions that I ask all of our clients whenever they come to us asking about white papers.
- What are your goals?
- Who is your target audience?
- Is this an informative paper that provides background info, is it more like a factual report on numbers and trends, or is it a list - for example comparing competitors?
- What is your call to action?
- Do you have specific target keywords?
- How do you want your white paper look? Layout, graphs, illustrations?
How much is this white paper going to cost me?
Yes, there is Fiverr.com and Scripted where you can hire someone to write a white paper for anywhere between $5 and $300. However, our research shows that in 2021 the “average” cost for a white paper is around $4,500. Writers with specific professional knowledge and experience more often charge from $5,500 to $7,000. From a budgeting perspective, you need to look to spend roughly $500 per page.
So why follow Red Adair’s advice and spend more money?
The answer is one word: Quality.
What to look for when choosing a writer?
There are two types of people writers in the world: those who charge hourly and those who charge by the project. Since you are likely on a strict marketing budget, we suggest you stick with the project-based pricing where you get defined results for your money. Negotiate the price if you have to, but have the writer give you a fixed quote.
Sometimes the writers aren’t able to give you a fixed price for the project fee because they are not aware of the full scope of the project. You can always ask for an estimate and then get back to them when they have done their research.
In addition to this, ask them for details of all the services they will provide surrounding your white paper. Remember, great content is nothing without great presentation, so make sure that you have factored a great graphic designer into your costs as well if that isn’t part of the original quote. Doing some up front work will help you ensure you are getting the best value for your marketing bucks.
Finally, you might want to look into getting the writer to include an extended commitment, including handling comments and updating the content. Furthermore, ask for professional advice when it comes to promoting the white paper.
At the end of the day, you will always get what you pay for. Your whitepaper, report or other long-form content needs to deliver value to your prospect, and if it does that well it will in turn deliver value back to your business.
Need help creating your white paper? Allow us to assist you!