So, though I write for a living (case studies, white papers, blogs, tweets, etc…) I sometimes forget that I am writer. Truly. So yesterday, when a good friend and colleague asked me for some tips on writing a white paper, I was flattered and also a bit unsure of what to tell her.
BUT once I got to thinking I came up with some pretty good advice, if I do say so myself. So here they are, in all their glory: my top 5 tips on how to draft a killer white paper.
1. Assuming you already have a topic, you should be set to dive right in. IF you don’t have a topic, well my best advice is: make it relevant to your industry or expertise and make sure it’s not a topic that has been done to death. If I read one more article on the “changing workplace” I might go crazy. Yes it is changing, folks. It has changed. Let’s move on…
2. Create a Thesis Statement. This goes back to english 101, but you should always create a thesis statement that you can base your whole white paper on. Just think about the main point you’re trying to make with the piece and craft a nice well worded sentence around that. BAM. Thesis created, and the tone for your work is set.
3. Place your thesis in the last sentence of the intro paragraph(s), so that it is clear what you’re going to start talking about in subsequent paragraphs.
4. Each following paragraph should make a point that supports the thesis.
Again, english 101, but for example let’s say my thesis is this: “Spacesaver shelving can help support your green efforts through the incorporation of alternative materials, the inclusion of recycled content and the ability to reconfigure the product on site to meet changing space needs.”
My first follow-up paragraph would be about alternative materials. My second would be about recycled content. My third about the flexibility… make sense? It helps guide the direction of your content as you write.
5. Site some outside sources. This is not only to look like you actually did research (which you should do when writing a white paper) but so that the paper is not just you ranting on and on about your exclusive knowledge You want to appear to be an expert, not a product pusher. A few customer or industry expert quotes can also make quite an impact.
So there you have it, friends. My tips for writing a white paper. Now if you want to know about blogging… I’ll have to cover that next week.