Even if you’re someone who frequently handles writing for your company or organization, you may not have any idea of how long it takes to write a white paper. After all, white papers are different from blog posts, web copy, press releases, and the other types of materials that may be a regular part of your job.

It takes a lot of time to write a white paper

If you write regularly, you may be able to develop a blog post in an hour or two. A white paper takes significantly longer, often a month or two depending upon the subject, its complexity, and how many people are involved in the process. That’s because white papers require more research, drawing upon the knowledge of multiple subject matter experts (SMEs), and selecting the topics of greatest interest to the audience before beginning the process of writing, reviewing, revising, and design.  

Planning to write a white paper

If you’re asked how long it will take you to develop a white paper, don’t give a quick answer, because you’ll probably underestimate the time involved. You may find it helpful to develop a chart like the sample one that follows. Start by outlining all the steps that will be involved, then enter how much time each step will take, and finally, apply that to the calendar.

TaskDays of workEstimated completion
Develop concept/title211/3
Get management approval111/4
Identify SMEs111/5
Interview SMEs411/11
Compile interview notes211/13
Gather additional research311/18
Develop an outline111/19
Write the first draft511/25
Team reviews first draft312/2
Write the second draft212/4
Team reviews second draft212/8
Team approves draft112/9
Develop layout for paper412/15
Team reviews layout112/16
Make changes112/17
Final approval112/18
Post to website112/21
Chart showing time for white paper writing

Faster ways to develop a white paper

Working with a professional white paper writer can be an effective way to speed up the process of writing a white paper. Even if you consider yourself to be a skilled writer, it’s going to take longer for you to develop materials than it would for a professional writer. And what’s going to happen to the rest of your workload while you’re spending hours trying to find the right words and organize them into sentences and paragraphs? Is someone else going to step up and help or are your workdays only going to get longer?

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