This post was written by TCCS member, Clare Hastings
Okay stop right there! I see you ready to click away because you saw the word whitepaper.
First of all, not scary. I promise.
Chances are you’ve already written a whitepaper and didn’t even know it. And that means you’re not charging whitepaper writing rates.
Ohhhh money talk. Now I’ve got your attention.
Keep reading. I promise it’s worth it.
Google’s doing what?
When Google announced their plans to phase out cookies by late 2023, how to keep grabbing all that juicy customer-supplied data became THE coffee-cooler talk among marketing teams.
With Google no longer willing to hand it all over for free, many brands, especially those in Business-to-Business (B2B), started eyeing up whitepapers as a way to collect data in a post-cookieworld.
But whitepapers take time to write. A looong time. We’re talking days and weeks, not a few hours after lunch.
This means marketing managers, already juggling a bazillion other things, may not have the kind of headspace needed to plan, write, revise and approve a whitepaper.
And that’s where you come in.
If you’re a freelancer with the time, patience and headspace to commit, whitepapers can be the perfect value add for a busy client.
But who are these clients? Where do they hang out? Do they even go here?
Boring stat alert!
Who wants to read whitepapers? They may be dull and boring but they’re surprisingly popular with readers.
Don’t believe me?
Baby, I got stats. And, is it even an article about whitepapers without some solid stats?
- 71% of B2B buyers have used white papers in the last 12 months to research purchasing decisions.
- B2B buyers were more inclined to share whitepapers with colleagues than any other content.
- Three quarters, that’s a whopping 75%, of B2B buyers will share information about themselves and their company in exchange for a whitepaper.
BOOM! Did you read that? 75%.
The nitty gritty – who’s gonna pay you to write a whitepaper?
If you’re keen to pitch yourself as a whitepaper writer, the good news is there’s a particular set of clients you can target. While it may be a niche market, they want you and your particular set of skills. And they’re only going to want you more when the reality of no cookies = no customer information starts to hit home.
So, your challenge (and targets), should you choose to accept it:
B2B technology companies
The buyer journey for B2B is typically longer and involves more decision makers than a straightforward consumer transaction. Think buying software for your 100-person workplace vs a monthly Canva subscription.
Businesses often need more supporting information to make a decision because we’re talking big bucks here people. And a whitepaper you’ve written – well researched, informative and oh so persuasive – could be the key to getting a deal done.
Good job, copywriter!
The most well-known management consultants are Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst & Young, and PwC. They’re called the Big Four. But these massive companies often have in-house content teams who handle whitepapers. So, unless you know someone who knows someone, let’s leave the Big Four alone.
You need to be going after the smaller, consulting companies. The ones who wanna be the Big Four when they grow up. These firms need to sell their expertise and whitepapers are the perfect ‘teaser’ to the full product.
How much will they pay?
People pay anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for a whitepaper, depending on length, subject matter – and of course, what you’re charging.
(I told you it’d be worth the read!)
As always, it’s up to you to set your rate based on your experience, the value you’re providing and how well you can sell your services to the client.
But charging $1 a word seems to be an accepted minimum rate.
And yes, I did say $1 a word is a minimum rate.
Now for the bit you’ve all been waiting for…
5 ways to find high-paying whitepaper clients
Now you know who you need to target and how much you can charge, where do you find them? Who can you pitch to? Here are five places to start.
- Your existing clients
If you already work with B2B technology companies or management consultants, start selling your highly desirable, perhaps newly acquired whitepaper writing skills.
Chances are, lead generation is one of their top priorities, so just ask. Ask if they’ve thought about having a snazzy, professionally written whitepaper all ready to sell their services.
If they need some convincing, remind them about the importance of first-party data and cite some stats around their popularity. This also shows you know what you’re talking about and have your finger on the pulse of the marketing world.
Everyone’s favourite social platform. No? Just me?
LinkedIn is my favourite hunting ground because this is where high paying whitepaper clients hang out. Cha-ching!
Come up with a hit list of ideal clients and connect with their marketing or content marketing managers. Once you’ve connected, it’s time to work your marketing magic, whatever that looks like for you. Personalised DMs, a content-led authority-building approach, or even video series. Whatever floats your boat.
Another approach is to find brands already producing whitepapers. Chances are they’ll want more.
All you have to do is search #whitepaper in LinkedIn’s search feature, filter by ’posts‘ and see what comes up.
I recently landed a client this way by commenting on the post (complimenting the quality of the whitepaper), connecting with the marketing manager and then following up with a DM.
It really can be that easy. You just have to do the legwork and find what works best for you.
- Job boards
Job boards, like The Clever Copywriting School job board, can be a treasure trove of content-writing jobs. Whitepapers may not be the most common request, but they do come up so it’s worth joining a few to keep an eye out.
And use your copywriter skills of persuasion. Brands may not know they want, or need, a whitepaper until you tell them.
- Referrals from other copywriters
Lots of copywriters think whitepapers are dull and dreary (even scary) and steer clear of them.
I mean, that’s great for those of us (ok, yes nerds) who love them. While you’re off writing hilarious microcopy for a cool *insert name of cool brand* brand, we’re watching yet another figure invoice get paid. And so, we’re happy to write dull and boring whitepapers. They pay for our six weeks off over Christmas and New Year.
And who knows, your cool brand may just want a whitepaper. Especially if they’re ready to move into new markets.
The point is, don’t be put off by the word alone. Don’t slam the door because you think it’s boring or you can’t do it.
Being part of a network of copywriters (like The Clever Copywriting School) can give you access to the whitepaper jobs others don’t want to do.
But (and this is crucial), other copywriters won’t know you write whitepapers unless you tell them.
Which brings me to my final way to find high-paying whitepaper clients…
- Tell people you write whitepapers!
You may not feel like a whitepaper writer yet, but if you want to be one, you have to let people know.
Chances are you’re probably already doing it. So, call it what is and start charging the prices that come along with the word.
When I decided to niche into whitepapers at the start of 2022, I shouted it every-frikkin-where.
I put it on my website, in my LinkedIn profile and in my email footer.
I posted about it on my socials and in my membership groups. I got sick of hearing the word whitepaper but eventually it paid off.
Once people know you want to write whitepapers, they’ll be banging down your door to hire you.
But you have to tell them first.
Just another shameless plug …. if you’re a member of the Clever Copywriting School and want to get into the nitty gritty of whitepapers, check out my Masterclass “The Dark Art of Whitepapers”. Not a member? You can sign up here.
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About Clare Hastings
Clare Hastings is a content writer for B2B technology brands who want to build authority. She leaps out of bed in the morning to rescue whitepapers, articles and case studies from the depths of marketing managers’ to-do lists.
You can find her at Write My Content (or guzzling endless cups of coffee at the local café to keep up with her two little kids).