1. Are your expectations set correctly?
A white paper will not increase your sales 300% overnight. It is intended to provide your potential customers with information about your product and how it could be useful in their business.
IT IS NOT A SALES LETTER. Read that one again.
It is informational and educational, not a pitch. Depending on the product and the content however, it will keep working for you much longer than many other types of sales collateral.
2. Do you have the right budget? In white papers, as in many things, you get what you pay for.
The costs of getting a good white paper written are directly related to the quality of the paper. If you want a $200 paper, that is what you will get, in both quality and return. If you spring a few thousand dollars for a confident, skilled writer with a solid plan you should get something that will truly represent your product in a language your customers can appreciate.
Most large corporations only require a few white papers each year. More than that and you may be overloading your audience with information that they cannot digest. A weekly white paper is overkill...both for your readers and for your budget.
White papers are generally between 5-10 pages and run between $3500-$7500 on average. These numbers can change for multiple reasons, but this should help you budget.
A white paper is oftentimes the way a customer is first introduced to you. It is worth it to invest good money for a well-produced piece.
3. What do you need to look for in a writer? What is primarily important and what is not?
Exact skillset matches are rarely required except when there are highly (and I mean HIGHLY) technical topics directed at very discerning and knowledgeable readers. There are specialists for those areas.
You do need someone who can write well, has a basic level of understanding of your industry or product, has good research skills, a command of the language, the ability to ask relevant questions, and a genuine focus on your business and your product.
4. Do you know what you can leverage from a good white paper? A well-written white paper can be a source of multiple other marketing and sales collateral pieces. The following is a short list of some options: