As a freelancer, recommendations are one of the most effective marketing tools you’ll have to your disposal. Someone else recommending your services and paint the picture of a professional who is great to work with is invaluable. And it is much more believable when it comes from the outside rather than from yourself.
Just waiting around for recommendations won’t work, though. It’s chaotic, disorganized, takes a lot of time and probably not prominently placed. To really utilize the potential of word-of-mouth marketing, you’ll need an efficient method to obtain and present it.
Case studies are the best way to do that.
In this article, we’ll be covering what a case study means for a freelancer, what it takes to make a good one and how to actually do it. Sound fun? Let’s jump right in, then!
What are case studies in the freelancer context?
In social sciences, case studies offer an in-depth analysis of a specific subject. In the case of freelancing, the term is pretty much interchangeable with “success story”. A case study extensive positive feedback from a client, something that specifically focuses on positive aspects of your business or the working relationship you had with that client.
However, case studies are not simple customer testimonials. First of all, they tend to be longer. Testimonials are often one or two sentences that don’t go into much detail. A case study will describe the work process precisely. Parts of case studies can be used to craft customer testimonials. But, as a rule of thumb, case studies are a lot more extensive. Let’s check out what makes them work in the first place.
What are the elements that make a successful case study?
Case studies are all about the people. Personalization is how you relate to other customers, how you help them empathize. This is achieved by ensuring authenticity in a case study. Yes, that means having a picture of a real person. But it’s so much more. Make sure your case study offers details rather than general descriptions. Much like in an application, you will want adjectives like “driven” or “hard-worker” to be followed by real-world examples.
The next step that makes case studies work well is them being relatable. You want a potential client to look at a case study and go: “Hey, that person had similar problems as me and the freelancer solved them. I should send them an e-mail!”
That means thinking about your audience and making sure your case studies appeal to them. If you mostly do projects for small businesses, make sure your case studies reflect that rather than showing off one big project that makes people think you’re too good for them.
Another important element of good case studies is having a concise, structured story. In other words, it’s about good storytelling. That can mean following simple rules like introducing the original problem of a client first, elaborating on your method next and inserting their positive feedback as a conclusion.
These are simple writing techniques that we often use subconsciously. When look at a case study, simply ask yourself “Is this a good, fleshed-out story?” If the answer is yes, you’ve probably got yourself a decent case study.
Storytelling has a great potential for boosting your freelance brand! Check out how to use storytelling as a freelancer!
How do you go about creating some cases studies yourself?
1. Encourage clients to give you feedback
The first step towards making a case study for your freelancer business is creating incentives for clients to give you feedback. Simply sending an email after you finished a project asking how the client feels it went can go a long way.
If you want to go even further, create a small questionnaire for people to fill out as soon as they’ve finished a project. It’s not only a great way to understand what works and what doesn’t in your business. It’s also an essential first step towards creating a case study.
2. Do an in-depth interview about what they liked
After you get some feedback, you can chose to go one step further and do an in-depth interview. This will work best with clients who are eager to talk about how they feel about the project.
If someone is reluctant at the first stage, don’t pressure them into an interview. You’ll be wasting your time and bothering them with something they don’t want to do. Focus on the people who have stories they’d like to share – that’s where the best case studies come from.
3. Add visually appealing elements
Case studies that end up being just a wall of text will often be ignored. Those paragraphs might contain the best things a client has ever said about you, but just won’t work as a standalone.
Remember, case studies are about personalization and relatability. You will need visual help for that – that can be a lot of things, depending on the project: A picture of your client, an image of the site you created, a graph showing the traffic spike after you wrote an article for them, etc. Those will act as eye-catchers and make sure your great case study doesn’t get overlooked.
Have you ever created case studies for your freelancer business? Share your stories with us and the freelancermap community in the comment section below this article!