1- Connect with the White Paper Community
Even though there is not much of a cohesive and defined white paper community, there are discussions happening all over the web. One channel in particular that is available for people to connect is on the WhitePaperSource forums. There’s an active community there that is both open and helpful. You’ll be able to find advices on writing your papers, generating leads and marketing yourself. It’s a great space to develop contacts and get support.
Twitter has been receiving a lot of press lately. This open network enables people to discuss and promote their white papers freely with the whole micro-blogging community. A great way to start conversing on Twitter is to first listen to existing conversations. A search for white papers will show you who is interested by these documents (try also these searches here, here and here). Start following people with similar interests and get the discussion going. When used properly, Twitter can enable new and interesting contacts. Don’t forget that these connections can open up leads and new opportunities.
If you would like more tips on using Twitter to promote your brand, this white paper will get you some of the basics you should know (free, but registration required). We will cover this topic with more depth in the following weeks. Stay tuned!
2- Stay Informed by Reading Blogs
There are very few blogs that cater to the white paper community. Nonetheless, we feel it is important to be well informed and on top of things. The more you know, the more competitive you will be. Mike Stelzner is a prominent figure within this industry and his blog, Writing White Papers, is a must-read.
Another blog that is specifically about white papers is called the White Paper Pundit. Jonathan Kantor has been blogging for years now, which means he accumulated an impressive back catalog of posts. Well worth adding to your RSS reader.
These two blogs are mainly about the white paper industry. Of course, more specific niche blogs (like marketing, cloud computing, IT and business blogs for instance) can be found around the web. Move on to point 4 to learn how to search efficiently for content on the web.
3- Start Blogging
Reading blogs is great to keep yourself informed, but not so much for self-promotion. A blog enables you to build a body of work. It opens up a dialog with people within your industry, but also with other bloggers. It’s a great way to connect with people and to gain visibility. You can bounce ideas off in the comments or react to someone’s post (blog-to-blog discussion) on your own space. Also, employers and investors might find your blog and get to know yourself, which can open up doors to new leads and possibilities.
If you are not already blogging, it would be wise to consider getting your own space on the web. There are many free blogging services available that are easy to setup and maintain. Look at Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress for instance.
That being said, we recommend that you setup your own blog on a hosting service, with a domain of your choice. This has many advantages over free blogging services. For instance, you will have complete control over your setup – you’ll choose your own URL, you’ll be able to setup plugins, themes and upload content freely, your domain will benefit directly from your marketing efforts, but most of all, you will be the sole owner of your content. Before subscribing to a free blogging service, read their Terms and Conditions properly – you might find out that you lose rights over your content by hosting it on their platforms.
To start your own blog, you will need the following:
– A hosting service (check out those reviews by Web Hosting Geeks and CNET). Make sure your host provides you with a database, preferably MySQL. Most professional hosting services can provide you with a WordPress intall on their servers. You can get more information about hosting online before choosing your provider.
– A domain name (GoDaddy has cheap domain names for sale).
– A blogging platform. There are many choices available to you. WordPress and Drupal are both popular and supported by the open-source community. Both are free, relatively easy to install and allow many features to be added (in the form of plugins).
– Once this is setup, you can choose a theme for your blog. Have a look around, many different looks and styles are available. If you are looking to get support with your theme, it would be good to consider getting a professional theme. These cost money (usually under 100$) but usually come fully suppported.
Once your blog is up and running, you need to fill it with content. Look at this awesome white paper to learn more about the blogging process.
4- Create Unique, Quality Content
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a blog, a book, a white paper, an essay or a website – your main priority should be to write unique, quality content. You just had the most amazing idea? Great! First, make sure no one else covers the subject matter. If that’s the case, make sure you can write a better proposal. This means you need to work those research skills. Mike Stelzner explains this appropriately in this article.
A good way to start is through Google. Start by listing keywords and phrases that encapsulates your idea. Perform searches and look deep into Google’s results. Do the same on Google Blog Search and Google Book Search. As you’ll see, results vary greatly from one platform to the other.
It would be wise to cover Twitter as well. Go on Twitter search and try your sets of keywords. You might find competitors, but also meet new contacts or investors.
PDFgeni is a PDF search engine. Again, try out your keywords and look at the existing documents.
Now that you’ve examined your surroundings, it’s time to create quality content that people will want to read and that will get them excited!
5- Learn the Basics of SEO
If Google doesn’t know you exist, no one else will. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. By applying a few basic principles to your blog, your white papers and website, you’ll make sure that your content gets indexed properly so that people can find you through Google. Check out this article on SEOmoz – it will teach the basics you should absolutely be aware of.