How to Write a Whitepaper

Let’s get reality out of the way first. Creating a whitepaper seems like an arduous task, but it is the best way to present the expertise you have in your field and it will generate credibility with investors. Whitepapers are the blueprint of a project and having a well-written one is essential to any project, whether it is an initial coin offering (ICO) or security token offering (STO). These detailed documents contain all the essential information that investors and prospective customers would be interested in seeing, such as the current industry and market data, the project’s business plan and business model, product architecture, the details of the token, and its interaction with users in the project’s ecosystem. In order to achieve a successful ICO campaign or token sale, whitepapers should be written with the goal of engaging, informing, and persuading your audience to believe in the project.

How Should it be Written?

Since whitepapers contain multiple pages of detailed content, they are highly audience-specific documents. Whitepapers need to be tailored specifically towards your target audience to gain the most return on investment. Before you begin writing, make sure you have done your due diligence by researching and having a good grasp of the project’s industry. Once you begin writing, the composition should be positioned in a way that engages your audience. This is important because readers who are drawn into your message are willing to commit the time to explore the whitepaper in its entirety. Engaging your readers can be achieved by incorporating storytelling into the whitepaper. Narrate a story that shows readers that you understand their problem and connect with them on an emotional level.

Nothing disrupts the flow of reading more than dense language or overuse of technical jargon that isn’t understood by everyone. The information displayed in a whitepaper should be written in a concise, fact-driven, and easy-to-understand manner. Nothing should be ambiguous in an already complex document. Show that you have mastery over the subject by using objective and clear language.

The whitepaper must inform your readers and help them to become more knowledgeable on the subjects discussed in the document. The paper should objectively present a problem, the case for solving the problem, and why this project is the best for implementing the solution to the problem. The reader should gain knowledge from having invested the time to read the paper. Ultimately, the whitepaper needs to convince your audience to believe in the project.

What Should a Whitepaper Look Like?  

Crafting a whitepaper is more of an art than a science, but building a process for yourself will aid you in creating a remarkable paper. The contents of a whitepaper can vary depending on the industry and whether the project is conducting an ICO or STO. At Inventum Digital, we order the contents of the whitepaper using the following structure, which we found to be adaptable to any industry regardless of whether the project is an ICO or STO.

Table of Contents

The table of contents consists of a list of all sections contained in the whitepaper and their associated page number. Having a visually neat and organized list helps your readers in navigating the contents of your whitepaper.

Legal Disclaimer

The legal disclaimer explains the limitations and appropriate use of the information contained in the whitepaper. Its purpose is to protect your company/entity and potential investors. It consists of descriptions on preventing the creation of a warranty or contract, claims whether tokens are for utility or security purposes, and states that the document is not financial advice. The descriptions in the disclaimer will depend on whether or not the token is considered a security. If the token is a security, discuss with your legal advisors regarding the information that needs to be stated.

Abstract

The abstract expresses the contents of your whitepaper or project in a clear and concise manner. The purpose of the abstract is to summarize and describe the most important information from the whitepaper in a clear and concise manner for readers to quickly understand the project. This section is usually 200 – 400 words in length.

Background

 The background section provides readers with information on the project’s industry, market data, and the problems that exist within it, as well as an analysis of competitors. This content should be fact-driven and objectively present accurate research material. The background paves the way to positioning the project as the solution to the problems that were described.

Mission Statement

This section should include the most storytelling. It is the visionary narrative of the team’s goals and values. The mission statement should inform readers on why the people who created this project are personally invested in the project and convince readers to join them on their mission. Describe the motivation behind why this project exists. Every team/company has their own unique story and this section serves to captivate the readers on an emotional level before diving into the technical details of the project.

Project/Product/Platform

This section describes the technical details of the project and its product. It includes information such as how the product works, how users interact with the product, and the rationale behind blockchain implementation. It is essential to emphasize on why blockchain is necessary for the success of this project. Make sure to include flow charts and figures to help readers visually understand your product and its ecosystem.

Token/Coin

This section explains the technical details of the token, such as tokens’ nature and function within the ecosystem, smart contract details, token distribution plan, amount in circulation, etc. Flow charts and figures are helpful in this section.

Legal Framework

 The legal framework section is applicable to projects who have regulatory hurdles (e.g. legislations, HIPAA-compliance). The content in this section are industry-specific considerations and licenses that need to be obtained for the project to continue operations.

Financials

This section should include the breakdown of all financial information such as CAPEX & OPEX budgets, cash flow projections, and allocation of proceeds. The contents here usually include a variety of charts and tables with associated descriptions. Visual presentations will aid readers in quickly understanding the financials of your project.

Roadmap

The roadmap section contains the timeline of future events, such as project milestones. It is important to constantly update your timeline so potential investors know that the project is still active. Additionally, this section can include explanations about future improvements to product (e.g. additional products, optimizations, etc.). Make sure to emphasize that the content in thissection are “future developments” and disclaim that these plans may or may not change depending on how the development of the project proceeds

Partnerships

If the project has partners, the partnering companies should be listed in this section with their logo and a description of their contribution to the project.

Team & Advisors

 This section should contain the list of individuals who are part of the project. It includes photos of the individuals, their role in the project, and a brief description of professional history. There should also be a description of why this is the perfect team for this project and its future success. This section is especially important because investors will scrutinize the team’s overall experience and ability to successfully execute the project. Even if the product is mediocre, investors may still give the project a chance because they believe in the team’s ability to create a valuable product.

References/Footnotes

References do not necessarily have to be in their own section, but can be in the form of footnotes. Information obtained from research should always be cited to give credit to the original source and also for readers who are interested in pursuing further discourse with the material. Properly presenting accurate data shows the integrity of the project and that the information provided is based off real world data and not baseless claims.

Conclusion

It may seem obvious, but make sure to proofread and edit the contents of the whitepaper multiple times. It is also helpful to have others read through the whitepaper for more perspective on how to improve it. The quality of your whitepaper depends on how well-written the material is, and ensuring that there are no mistakes and that all information is presented clearly are all crucial parts of the writing process.

What is a whitepaper?

The Definition of a Whitepaper

Writing is the framework of human communication, and all good communication has an objective. When it comes to writing in the context of business, the whitepaper is an indispensable form of written communication. In the most basic definition, a whitepaper is a document that presents a complex subject and the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter. It is meant to inform readers about an issue, how the issue can be solved, and driving the reader to make a decision. In business, whitepapers are primarily used as sales tools. These documents are designed to promote the products or services of a specific company. They use carefully selected facts and logical arguments to build a case favorable to the company promoting the document. Whitepapers are often used for the objective of informing and persuading investors, prospective customers, partners, generating sales leads, establishing thought leadership, or making a business case.

As a document that describes the business plan and business model of an organization,  whitepapers should be educational. The goal of a whitepaper is to inform and persuade based on facts and evidence, not to oversell the product with emotional statements or marketing buzzwords. To ensure that the document meets these goals, the whitepaper should tell a story, be engaging, informative, and persuasive.

ICO Whitepapers

Whitepapers are not confined to any specific niche in the business world, they span across multiple industries. In the blockchain industry, an excellent white paper is the foundation of an initial coin offering (ICO) or token sale. This is especially important during ICO campaigns, where the goal is to raise millions of dollars in investments, in order to fund the development of a project. Whether a project plans to launch a utility token or security token, a whitepaper is necessary for presenting all the visionary, technical, and financial details that an investor would be interested in understanding.

In the blockchain industry, whitepapers not only discuss the business plan, but also how blockchain is a key element in the implementation of the product.

The Ideal ICO Whitepaper

There are several factors that contribute to determining the quality of an ICO whitepaper. These factors are the style of writing, the objective evaluation of the market and industry, the projected forecast of the product in relation to the market and industry, the functionality of the product, and the structure in which the contents of the whitepaper are presented.

Style of Writing

The way in which a writer wields his/her words and vocabulary is imperative for narrating the project in a manner that is clear and captivating to the audience. In ICO whitepapers, objective writing and storytelling play an essential role in effectively presenting the contents of the document. The information displayed should be written in a concise, fact-driven, and easy-to-understand manner. Nothing should be ambiguous in an already complex document.

Storytelling is an essential component for keeping an audience engaged. There are many ICO projects that attempt to solve the same problems, but each project has its own story that makes them unique. Stories such as the team’s values and vision should be a core component of the whitepaper’s narrative . Storytelling connects people on an emotional level. It helps us make sense of the world and communicates our values and beliefs. The strongest stories tap into people’s emotions, genuinely connect with them, and help them believe in the project and what it stands for.

Evaluation of Market and Industry

Providing readers with background info on the market and industry sets the stage for the entirety of the whitepaper. This information informs the readers about the industry, the problems that exists within this industry, and that there exists a market to capitalize of off. This content should be fact-driven and objectively present accurate research material.  

Forecast of Product

In relation to the market and industry, the project’s potential and the value of the project’s assets (token/coin) is determined based on the problem that it solves and the scale of the market. Information regarding the potential of the project, which goes hand-in-hand with the market and industry, should be based off real world data and not baseless claims. The research data gathered from external sources should be properly cited so that interested readers may pursue further discourse with the original source of the data. This information will be helpful in convincing that this project will yield a successful ico.

Functionality of the Product

Why blockchain? It needs to be clear why the project needs to implement blockchain to their product. This will differentiate projects that actually have a strong use case for blockchain from those that are using blockchain as a way to raise capital.

Structure of Whitepaper

The structure of the whitepaper is vital in effectively guiding your readers through the narrative of the document. Having a messy paper will distract your readers from truly understanding the information that is presented. Whitepapers with good structure and style should properly incorporate a balance of writing and illustrations.

When necessary, there should be infographics, charts, and tables to visually aid the readers in further understanding the contents of the whitepaper. Keep in mind that the content you display is always more clear to yourself and that it is important to put yourself in the perspective of your audience.

In a well-structured ICO whitepaper, there should be a natural flow of order that enables the reader to easily grasp the landscape of the industry, the problem(s), the solution, and the significance of the solution. Below is an example structure layout for you to get started. At Inventum Digital, we use this structure for the whitepapers we produce, which readers have found to present the concepts of an ICO clearly and concisely.

ICO whitepaper structure example:

Table of Contents

  • List of all sections contained in the whitepaper and their associated page number.

Legal Disclaimer

  • Description on preventing the creation of a warranty or contract, claims whether tokens are for utility or security purposes, and states that document is not financial advice.

Abstract

  • Essential content from the whitepaper summarized in a clear and concise manner.

Background

  • A brief history of the industry, the problems that exist within it, and an introduction of the solution.

Mission Statement

  • Visionary narrative of the team’s goals and values.

Project/Product/Platform

  • Technical details of the project and product(s).
  • Description of the rationale behind blockchain implementation.
  • Analysis of competitors in the industry.

Token/Coin

  • Technical details of the token, such as tokens’ nature and function within the ecosystem, smart contract details, token distribution plan, amount in circulation, etc.

Legal Framework

  • If applicable, descriptions on regulatory hurdles that need to be considered and licenses that need to be obtained.

Financials

  • Breakdown of all financial information such as CAPEX & OPEX budgets, cash flow projections, and allocation of proceeds.

Roadmap

  • Timeline of events such as project milestones.
  • Future improvements to product (e.g. additional products, optimizations, etc.)

Partnerships

  • If applicable, list of partnering companies and their role in the project.

Team & Advisors

  • Description of why this is the perfect team for this project and its future success.  
  • Includes a photo of the individual, role in the project, and a brief description of professional history.

References/Footnotes

  • Citations of information obtained from research.

All of these sections cover the content and information that investors will be interested in understanding for an ICO. Depending on the type of project, there may be variations in the order that the information is shown, however, the example above provides a flexible layout to accommodate for these deviations.

Conclusion

No matter which industry the whitepaper is written for, its quality is the combination of the content’s value and the presentation of this content. Writing a remarkable whitepaper is achieved by objectively presenting information that is supported by research, composing the concepts of the project in a way that positions the product as the ideal solution to a problem, and incorporating storytelling that appeals to the audience. If your whitepaper embodies all of these points, then it will undoubtedly stand out from the competition.