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How to write an ICO whitepaper

August 6, 2019

Table of content:

If you are looking to do an ICO, IEO, STO, or even a private placement for any cryptocurrency or digitized asset project, you’ll need a whitepaper. Basically, there are 3 common approaches:

  • Write the whitepepaper yourself.
  • Write a draft of your blockchain whitepaper, and then ask someone to edit or rewrite it.
  • Work with a professional ICO whitepaper writer.

In this post, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, and the recommendations for each situation.

Writing your own blockchain whitepaper

Typically there are two reasons that teams choose to write their own whitepaper: either it’s very technical or they don’t have the budget for outsourced writers. In the case where the whitepaper is highly technical, and needs to be read by the opensource community, this approach makes sense.

In cases where you are strapped for cash, you might want to reconsider whether you are ready for an ICO. If you can’t afford a writer, it’s going to be difficult to manage the legal, jurisdiction, listing and marketing costs of an ICO. In this case, we recommend that you make an investor deck or a 2-page executive summary and look for some seed funding. Getting your idea in front of seed investors will give you valuable feedback on whether you would have a chance in getting public funding for an ICO, IEO or STO launch. If you can’t get seed funding, you need to address that issue before considering a public sale.

Advantages of writing an ICO whitepaper on your own:

  • No out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Technical details will be fully accurate.
  • Authenticity. If your goal is to get the opensource community on board, having authentic writing from the core team is considered valuable to the audience.
  • Involvement: If you can find writers from the opensource community, it’s good both for them (their Github reputation) and for yourself in growing the community.

Disadvantages of writing an ICO whitepaper on your own:

  • Time consuming. Most people don’t calculate “opportunity costs”. For example, if you are a programmer, and you can charge $50/hour for your services, and it takes 100 hours for you to write a whitepaper, that’s an opportunity cost of $5,000. The other “opportunity cost” might be expressed in the time devoted to the project itself, or time making calls to potential investors.
  • You might not enjoy it. If you aren’t a professional writer, those aren’t just 100 hours you lose, it could be 100 hours doing something you don’t like. You can get money back, but you can’t get your time back.
  • Quality issues. Writing is a profession. Just like you wouldn’t want your smartcontract code to be written by a professional marketing writer, you might not want your whitepaper to be written by a professional coder.
  • Slow process. Writing on your own requires you to find time in your already-busy schedule.
  • Lack of feedback. Using a skilled whitepaper writer can also allow you to get feedback on your tokenomics, business model, competitive landscape etc. At, we have written more than 100 whitepapers, and been solicited by more than 500 different blockchain companies. We can tell you what the competitive landscape looks like, if the idea makes sense, or if similar projects failed to raise money.
  • May be missing important sections for investors. You can mitigate this problem by copying outlines from successful ICOs or from discussing with crypto investors, to make sure you get a complete ICO whitepaper completed for investors.

Writing a draft ICO whitepaper and asking for editing

Most commonly, companies come to us with some sort of “draft” of their whitepaper. For many companies, this is a good approach. The problem comes when they ask for an “edit” of something that is of poor quality, incomplete or otherwise needs a major revision. If you are in the position of asking a copyeditor to fix your whitepaper, be wiling and open to getting professional feedback on the quality.

Also, be aware there are different levels of editing. When you go to a whitepaper writer or editor, the following levels of editing are available:

  • Overhaul including major rewriting, organizing and addition of sections. Most of the time, if you have no professional writing experience, this is what you will need. An honest editor or professional whitepaper writer will tell you if you need a major overhaul. For writers, this is fundamentally the same as writing from scratch. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a draft: putting your thoughts on paper, even if it’s a sloppy paper, will help you think through many issues and be prepared for the writing process.
  • Editing of the materials. This may involve clarification of unclear sections, minor reorganization, and language editing. If you are confident that the paper is well organized and complete, and you are not looking for feedback, you probably can manage with a low-cost editor rather than a professional writer.
  • Proofreading: Proofreading is rarely used today, because spellcheck and grammar check catch most mistakes, and also because people don’t expect the same level of perfection as in the past. In cases where you are doing a large print run of a book or brochure, proofreading is essential. Proofreaders are not writers, though some are editors. Proofreaders look for perfection in the grammar, spelling and layout. They do not edit for meaning.

Starting from an in-house draft is the most common way that people approach whitepaper writing, for good reason.

Advantages of writing a draft and going to an editor::

  • Getting your ideas on paper helps you and your team think through your ideas together.
  • Provides a jump start for professional writers.
  • Ability to pass sections around among your team and get everyone to collaborate.
  • Allows you to get technical details written accurately.
  • May save you costs (though don’t count on it).
  • You can have all the advantages of writing on your own, and the quality of a professional (for a cost).

Disadvantages of writing an ICO whitepaper on your own:

  • You may be wasting your time: a professional writer can get your thoughts on paper faster. If you have well-developed thoughts and don’t like to write, skip this step.
  • Disappointment: If a writer tells you the work may need to be rewritten, people on your team might get offended.
  • Cost: You may not save any costs compared to hiring a professional.
  • Slow process.

Working with a professional ICO whitepaper writing company or writer

Obviously, as ICO whitepaper writers, we are biased towards going to a professional company. About a third of our clients have almost no written material when they come to us. You should have well-founded ideas and a full team, funding and legal advisors before you start working with a professional. If you are not prepared, you’ll find the process of writing is difficult to complete, even with a professional at your disposal. The writer does not provide content, although the best ones can give you feedback and ideas. The content, ideas, and technological solutions need to come from you.

Advantages of using an ICO whitepaper professional writer:

  • Fast turnaround: writers can do the work faster than your own team.
  • Feedback from someone outside the team. A good writer will have dealt with many different business plans and can actually improve the quality by pointing out areas where the plan is weak.
  • Time: You can use your time for what you’re best at, and keep your team on track with their jobs.
  • Quality: A professional writer will provide a high-quality whitepaper.
  • Organization: Most writers have standard templates and can also make customized templates for your business or ICO.

Disadvantages of choosing an ICO whitepaper writer:

  • Cost: Whitepaper writing services range from $2,000 to $20,000. Make sure that you see samples and interview the writer before starting.
  • Time invested on checking technical details. If it’s an extremely technical paper, make sure you either choose a writer with technical background or write drafts of the technical parts yourself to mitigate problems with technical accuracy.
  • Authenticity. While the tone may be professional and well-written, the blockchain whitepaper may lack the authenticity of one your team wrote together. .
  • Involvement: Some communities want to take part in the writing and make contributions. It is possible to integrate community feedback with a professional writer, but it may be more difficult.
  • Ownership: If you use a professional writer, make sure you get the original Word files and vector files for any graphics they make, otherwise you may be stuck going back to them every time you need a change.  Most professionals will give you these files – but make sure!


Overall, it makes sense to consult with a professional ICO whitepaper writer, even if you have a draft you are happy with. Most professionals (including ourselves) are happy to give you initial feedback free of charge.