The Secret to Writing Case Studies That Drive New Client Work

How To Write Case Studies

How do you convert a lurking customer into a paying customer?

You know they’re on your website. They’re browsing your portfolio. They’re reading your blog. But they aren’t contacting you for work. Why not?

It’s because you don’t know the secret. The one thing that can totally ramp up your freelance business, get more traffic, and land more client work.

Wanna know the best part? This one thing takes very little effort, yet, it yields some great results.

So what is this one thing you can start doing?

Write case studies!

Last year, with nearly every project I completed, I’d take that work and use it to market my freelance business.

It’s the secret that revolutionized my freelance business. Today, I’m going to break this secret down and teach you how to create case studies that drive new client work.

Why should you take the time to create case studies?

The real question is, why shouldn’t you take the time to create case studies?

If you follow a streamlined design process while working on a project, building an effective case study afterwards can take just 10–30 minutes to create.

Those 10–30 minutes of effort lead to better search rankings, more pageviews, more client work, and in turn, more money.

When you create case studies, you’re creating content. And we know that Google and other search engines love content. You can inject your targeted keywords and phrases into that content, which generates more traffic for your website, and ultimately, new client work.

From a client’s perspective, you get to show that you have a defined process in place for solving problems. You’ll be seen as a professional and expert in your industry, which is what gets prospective clients to click your contact link, and transition into a paying client. Which then leads to another case study and more projects! See how the cycle works?

How to build case studies that drive results

So you’re convinced! Now I assume you have a few questions:

  • How do you build case studies, and what type of content do you include?
  • How can you streamline the process to create effective case studies?
  • After publishing a case study, how do you get it to generate new client work?

Let’s start with the first and breakdown how to build case studies and ramp up your freelance business.

How do you build case studies, and what type of content do you include?

Let’s start with what a case study is — the purpose of a case study is to record your research process in detail, and to show the development of a particular project over a period of time.

A good case study is not only intriguing to read, but also improves your chances of clients contacting you for work.

The bones of a case study has a balance between written content and engaging imagery. The images and text together should support each other, so when a client reads about the project goals, they’re simultaneously viewing the results.

The written content should be easy-to-read, but most importantly – concise. Too much fluff in your content can easily lead to an exit from your site, and that’s the last thing you want.

So let’s get into the specifics of the content you should include in your case study, and in what order:

  • Start with a simple introduction to the client project, and the client’s goals. Why did they reach out to you for help?
    TIP: Show an image of the final result upfront.
  • How did you take the client’s goal, define it, and deliver the right solution?
    Explain why you made certain decisions, and why it was the right choice for the client’s goals. For example: why did you choose one logo concept over the others?
    TIP: Show images of sketches, concepts, and in-progress shots that correlate with your decision making.
  • Share the client’s testimonial (if possible).
    TIP: At this point, you can add additional imagery and other variations of the work.
  • Finish the case study with a call-to-action to contact you! (Make this stand out)

Here are some great case studies for you to review and take note of:

Each example case study above is very different; some more concise – some very in depth. But all more intriguing than just a wall of single images in your online portfolio.

How can you streamline the process to create effective case studies?

At first glance, building case studies can feel very overwhelming and complicated, but they really aren’t. Especially when you’re cognizant of the end result, and you have a process in place to make creating them easier.

When you know you’ll be creating a case study out of most, if not all of your projects, you can easily gather assets as you go.

At the start of every project, what’s the first thing you do? You discuss and define the project goals with the client. Once you send the proposal or have agreed upon the specific goals, you now have the intro to your case study.

As soon as you start the design, record your process. Take screenshots, take photos of your sketches, save iterations, and compile these assets into their own folder in the main project folder. You can filter through these and use them for the case study later.

Then – here’s the best part – since you’ve put effort into documenting your process, the email you send your client (the presentation of the final result) can double as your case study!

When you present to the client, present strongly:

  • State the original project goal as provided in the questionnaire/preliminary discussions.
  • Show your work and the decisions you made that shows your focus on that goal.
  • Share the final concept in light of the project goal and explain its effectiveness.

With this final presentation to the client and the assets you’ve been saving along the way, you can easily edit it all together for the final case study.

After publishing a case study, how do you get it to generate new client work?

Getting your case studies to generate more client work for you is the real benefit here.

Not only will case studies boost your search engine ranking, but they market your freelance business for you – even while you’re asleep.

Let’s say a client is reading your case study. They’re pulled in – they’re impressed with your ability to show your process and expertise. They’ve reached the bottom of your post, then what?

If they want to work with you, they’d have to actively find your contact form.

Remove this obstacle! Cutout any hassle or extra work for them. Lead them right to your contact page with a call-to-action.

Even if the client’s first thought isn’t, “I want to work with this person!” Your call-to-action plants the idea.

Call-to-action example

Better yet, inject these calls-to-action everywhere on your website! On your about page, at the bottom of all of your blog posts, and most importantly, in your portfolio.

What about after you’ve published your case study? Then what? The fun doesn’t stop there!

After you’ve published your case study, share it like crazy! Tweet the link and be sure to add a photo to your tweet — share it on Facebook, Dribbble, and Pinterest.

Get as many links out there that point back to your site. Build these backlinks. And the more visual you can be with everything you share, the more enticing it’ll be for potential clients to click.

Case studies really work

A little over a year ago I published my first logo case study on my blog. After the case study went live, I reused the images, content, and shared those assets elsewhere online – linking back to my website.

The following day I woke up to two new logo projects! Both clients specifically stating they saw my latest logo on Twitter and was wondering if I was available to design theirs.

You can chalk this up to luck, but those projects and the countless others I’ve landed would never have known I existed if it weren’t for the case studies I published and shared online.

Over to you…

No doubt case studies can yield great results, but in the end, those results are dependent on your efforts to create them.

With the information in this post, there should be no reason why you can’t start creating case studies today with the work you’ve completed.

If you have any questions whatsoever about creating case studies, please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me directly.