#002: White Papers: A Real and Lucrative Opportunity for Business Writers (Part 1 of 2)

In this episode of The High-Income Business Writing Podcast I interview one of the most knowledgeable and experienced white paper writers in the business: Gordon Graham.

Gordon is the author of the newly released book White Papers for Dummies, a must-read book if you’re considering writing white papers — and an invaluable resource if you’ve been writing white papers for years.

White papers have been critically important in my writing career. They gave me a serious income boost when I needed it most. They’re also fun to research and write, and they’re one of the first types of assignments clients outsource to freelance writers.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

In this session you’ll discover:

  • A detailed explanation of white papers, including what they are, who uses them and how they’re used.
  • Why white papers continue to rise in popularity in a world of new media and an ever-growing stream of shiny objects.
  • The opportunity for writers today. Plus, the future of white papers and how it will impact white paper writers.
  • The industries that represent the hottest white paper opportunities for writers (and why).
  • How much you can charge for a white paper. Gordon will reveal what he personally charges and what you can quote when starting out.
  • Why marketers are struggling to find good white paper writers.
  • What makes a good white paper writer, and how to know if this type of writing assignment is for you.
  • What if you have no white paper samples? How do you get started?
  • And much more!

 Items mentioned in this podcast include:

white papers for dummies

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I Need Your Help!

If you have a question you’d potentially like answered on the show — or if you have any feedback in general — please let me know: ed at b2blauncher dot com.

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Till next time,



  • Hi, Ed. I look forward to this podcast. Forgive me if you covered this in the podcast. Are you familiar with Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged by Michael A. Stelzner? It’s a good book, available on Amazon and the author now runs Social Media Examiner.

    • edgandia

      Hi Randy! Yes, I’m very familiar with Mike’s book. His was the first official book on white papers — at least the first book that was helpful. But I really like what Gordon has done here with his practical, step-by-step advice. His book is an excellent educational resource AND reference manual once you land the project and are you’re sure how to approach it. Excellent for seasoned pros, too!

      • Randy Kemp

        Hi Ed. I’ve also ordered Gordon’s book from Amazon. Folks can get both books from Mike and Gordon (from Amazon under $50) and get free super-saver shipping. Together, they will provide a solid foundation and reference – I’m sure.

    • edgandia

      BTW … thanks for checking out the podcast!

  • Kathryn

    Great information, Ed.

    I stumbled upon white papers after listening to a podcast a
    few years ago that included Gordon as one of the guest speakers. My niche is in
    the insurance and financial sector, and I’ve been very successful with white

    Pricing can be tricky—only because there are businesses that
    have a different idea of what a white paper should be. They’re not expanded
    brochures, but highly-researched, labor intensive documents. Unfortunately,
    many marketing directors/teams feel that my price is set too high because they
    don’t understand the amount of hours involved. I’ve learned to stick to my
    basic pricing, but it does vary based on the number of pages, interviews, and
    research. There are many gigs that I quote that never get back with me due to
    my pricing, but they just don’t understand what’s involved.

    My prices range between $1,800 (for a short document w/no
    interviews), up to $3,500 for longer documents (the average being $2,475). The
    larger companies get it and have no problem with this pricing structure. By the
    way, my pricing never includes design work—larger companies have in-house
    design teams. I do however, lend suggestion for info graphics, sidebars, etc.

    As professional B2B writers, we have to stick to our pricing
    structures. If we don’t it hurts all of us who are trying to pay the mortgageJ

    • Kathryn — Thanks so much for your comment and insights! This is great info. I appreciate your sharing it here. 🙂

  • Bonnie Nicholls

    Thank you so much, Ed and Gordon, for sharing this information about white papers. As a former journalist who worked in a science & technology company for many years before freelancing, I’ve been curious about this field. I think it has a lot of possibilities. Thanks again for breaking it down so well.

    • edgandia

      Thanks for checking it out, Bonnie! I appreciate your comment. Great to hear the info was useful.

  • kaycam

    This is so enlightening! I’m an editorial designer, and this has given me some ideas on how I can position myself in this field!

    • edgandia

      Fantastic! Yes, there’s definitely a market for your services with white paper writers. Thanks for checking out the podcast. 😉

  • kaycam

    May I ask, what is the best resource for me to check to find out a ballpark range of fees that designers charge for creating white papers?

    • edgandia

      Good question! I would approach 6 or 8 white paper writers and ask them what ranges they’ve seen when they’ve been involved in this part of the process. That will give you a good idea.

      In my case, I’ve seen $400 – $1,000. That includes cover + layout of inside pages + one custom image of a process or something along those lines.

      • kaycam

        Okay, thanks.

  • Mark Soroka

    What an incredible episode! Ed, you asked some great questions. And Gordon was very engaging and helpful. It was good to hear that there is a lot of latitude with white papers. I’m not extremely scientifically inclined, which would probably preclude me from going after most high-tech clients. But there are probably a lot of service and medical (one of my specialties) clients who have a need for white papers. Thanks for bringing this two-part episode to the B2B writing community.

    • edgandia

      Absolutely — lots of opportunities there! If a company is selling a product or service that’s innovative, expensive or complex, they can almost always benefit from having white papers in their arsenal.

      Thanks for the feedback, Mark!


    A a new B2B white paper writer, I found the interview very informative. In fact, I white papers may drive a company’s sales if explained well usually; presentation and content.

    But one thing I disagree with Gordon though is the idea of who can or cannot write white papers. I recently graduated with a Bsc in real estate development. I have done writing for 6 years now and I believe journalistic skills do not make someone better of a writer. I believe it is passion and hard work.

    Another thing that i disagree with Gordon is his take on the pay for your first white paper pay. Usually if you can deliver i guess charging even the right price and delivering quality white papers is the way.

    I do not disagree totally with Gordon as I believe he has more experience than I have, but i think he is really biased especially on the inexperienced white paper writers especially ambitious upcoming writers.

    Remember everyone starts from somewhere. By the way, can you ask him what his first experience was like ?
    Gordon paints the industry of whitepaper writing as one that is closed for new writers.
    Nonetheless, I agree on most of his points. If the industry is big , I believe it would be nice if he atleast motivated a few of them.