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Case studies – explain your decisions, solve clients problems

Case studies - explain your decisions tell your story

A case study should do more than explain what you wrote for a client. By telling a story that takes the reader through your decisions and the transformation this delivered, you’ll stand out and win more work.

HONE YOUR SKILLS FOR CLIENT CONVERSATIONS, INTERVIEWS, YOUR PITCH

So, you’re talking with a client and they ask you to tell them about a project where you’ve done XY and Z. If you’re like most people in a similar situation, you may just explain that client had this problem, you wrote for them in this way, the client was happy.

To really set yourself apart and to make the case study come alive for this client, build a story of the project that articulates your writing decisions.

This is a skill that really benefits from practice. When you can’t articulate these choices in your day to day work, it can get a little sticky with clients as you won’t be able to counter pushback. Practice with case study blog posts that really flesh out your process and build a strong portfolio of work and, as a sweetener, really excel in conversations and interviews with clients.

THE ROLE OF CASE STUDIES IN YOUR PORTFOLIO:

Case studies are your differentiator.

Writing and content creation job competition is very high, so you need to distinguish yourself. Clients and editors need a writer who will show them they understand a problem, have a great process for delivery and communicate excellently on their behalf. A well-written case study details what you did and why you did and gives a compelling reason for hiring you,

THE ANATOMY OF A GREAT CASE STUDY:

Choose the projects you want to showcase carefully and then use this formula, putting your own voice into the documentation:

  1. Overview: write a great headline and a brief summary of the company/article/piece of content to give context - your aim here is to make the reader fully understand the project, even if they’ve not heard of the company, publication or premise.
  2. Problem statement: Why were you writing this, what was the goal or desired outcome. Tell the project’s story so it’s easy to read and keeps the reader on your page. Use pull quotes and illustrations - keep it editorial and readable.
  3. Audience: who was the user/readership/customer?
  4. Roles and responsibilities: what did you do, who else worked on this and how big was the team?
  5. Scope and constraints: were there any limiting factors? Budget? Time zone? A particularly difficult premise to communicate?
  6. Process: what did you do and why did you make the desicions you made - take this step by step to make this clear and logical.
  7. Outcomes and lessons: What outcomes were achieved and what lessons were learned, by you and the client and anyone else involved? Include results, reflections, and insights to tell the story not just of what you did, but of the impact you had.

Get all of this down and don’t worry about it being Russian novel length at the moment. Go back and review what you’ve written down in the above formula and look at each section as though you’re tweeting it - this will really distill the messaging.

INCLUDE A HEADLINE FOR EACH SECTION

Google loves headlines as they help readability: Readers are able to skim for the aspects of the piece that resonate. Look at your headlines to see if someone would understand the narrative flow just from reading your headlines.

REVIEWING FOR PROCESS AND PROFIT

If you follow all these steps, you will have a longform case study edited down into something that’s more readable and scannable for clients and in doing, you're understanding and reviewing your process - thinking about why things worked and what decisions you made to get project success - it's great for your confidence, good for your processes and a better understanding of whether a job was profitable.

Case studies serve many purposes: they're the foundation of your portfolio, and feed into your resume, LinkedIn, cover letters, and underpin what you say in an interview, in a client conversation and in that conversation you have at the pub our a barbie when you're asked, 'what do you do'. Being ready with a great illustrative story helps bring your experience and expertise to life.

Download our case study formula

Use our handy formula to hone your case study writing skills.

Your stories are your business.
Tell them online with a site that says you're professional, delivers your portfolio, blogs, resume and contact details in an easy to manage, search-engine friendly way.

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