White Paper Writing: What Exactly is it?

Not everyone knows what a white paper is, let alone what a white paper writer does.

The term white paper originated in the early 1920's. It was actually coined in the United Kingdom around about the time when Winston Churchill was in power. In the political sense of the word, it was called a white paper because it distinguished the white covered policy papers from the blue covered policy papers. One of the most famous examples of a white paper was Winston Churchill's 1922 white paper.White papers were used for and are still used for conveying new policies and ways of identifying and solving specific problems. Since then white papers have evolved and they are no longer just used in a political arena. They are now used in other industries. 

What other Industries? 

One of the industries that white papers have been well known for being used in is, Information technology. Many IT companies use white papers as a way of promoting a particular product or even an idea. For example a white paper might be used to market a new piece of software that could help the health industry or school or college. The engineering industry and various other industries have been known to use white papers to convey a message to the people that matter. Very rarely are they used to convey a message to he consumer. They are usually used as a business to business tool. 

White paper author? 

White paper authors or writers would be employed either on a contract basis or as a staff member. Contract writers would usually earn a set fee per piece that they produced. Staff writers would normally take a salary.  It can take anything between one and two weeks to complete a project, and sometimes it can take even longer. White papers are typically six to twenty pages long. They can be longer, it is does depend on what message the paper is trying to convey. The author would usually be given some kind of brief and they would work from that brief. They would usually be given a deadline for completion just like a journalist would. They can also be paid up to $5,000 for one piece. Some say that this great, however; you have to also think about it in terms of how much work goes into each piece. Some white paper authors actually get more than this, like for example one of the most well known white paper authors is Gordon Graham. He is considered an expert in the field of white paper writing. Someone like him would probably be able to command a higher fee. 

So is white paper writing for everyone? 

When I say everyone I mean every writer. Some writers might not want to do this type of work, because some that that it is very labour intensive. Therefore; the time it takes to get the work done might now be worth the fee. I do know of two retired journalists who have gone down this road and made more money in a couple of months than they would have made in six months as a journalist. It is up to the individual at the end of the day, you have to do what suits you. 

It is possible to be a white paper writer as well as a journalist. Even ad copywriters dabble in white paper writing. So, it is up to you. 





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