How to write case studies for your portfolio?
Build a Portfolio some say.
Show them your best others tell.
Make an impression everyone conveys when guiding a freelancer who is trying to build credibility.
But there is a hidden weapon that can improve your success rates during prospecting.
That weapon is a proof of value you can bring on the table and portray your critical thinking skill and solution delivery approach. (Something clients really love)
We know it as a case study!
Decrypting a Case Study
Well, let’s get some basic concepts straight.
Case studies can be detailed, case studies can be short.
As long as you portray your contribution and its impact in any form, it can be said to be a case study.
Generally, many freelancers sign an NDA (companies want them to).
Then you might be stuck on the decision of sharing those samples. You are restricted to share even your best works.
We all have been there. Sometime in freelancing journey. Right?
Well, in such scenarios, a case study can help.
Structure of a Case Study
You would ask, isn’t it wrong to share the details when there is an NDA in place?
Well, as long as you don’t share a trade secret or explicitly mention the brand name/concept/idea, you’re fine.
The whole idea of a case study is to:
- Outline a problem (basically client’s requirement)
- Enlist the challenges (technical, fundamental, marketing-related or others) faced during the engagement journey
- Documenting the solution (what you did to tackle the challenge and address the requirement)
- Recording the results or benefits (what client achieved because of our efforts)
A process flow could always complement these four points.
We all can learn a lot from the software development / consulting industry to build amazing case studies.
A basic structure for a good case study can be:
- Headline (highlighting the industry, task and benefit)
- Project overview or introduction
- Challenges tackled
- Solution delivered
- Results achieved
Getting Hold of the Actual Results
You would ask how to gather the results? Right?
Because mostly clients don’t share the end results, or we don’t have access.
In that case, you can have direct talk with your client (this goes without saying you need to have a good rapport)
Not everyone would agree. But we don’t need case study for all the projects, right? Only the most challenging ones!
Let me illustrate.
Say if you’re a content writer and you write for a blog.
Once you have built rapport and shown your commitment, you can ask for a review call with the client.
Ask him questions about the impact of regular content development and distribution on traffic, leads or sales. (based on the industry or basic requirement)
Record or document his/her observations (obviously with consent)
And then you can reverse engineer to fill up other columns.
Points to Keep in Mind
Again, I would say, always address client’s privacy concerns and take written consent to use the project as case study.
Also, never use real brand name, say if you worked for Airtel, say a leading telecom player in one of the largest developing countries in the world.
Always mask the details and instead highlight the value you added to the project like:
- Created a content calendar through research, ideation and industry analysis
- Brainstormed with the internal teams and finalized the best topics for the month
- Made the content development process consistent (this is one of the biggest challenges for any marketer/business)
These are just examples. Try to think of ways to portray your expertise in doing the same thing again.
If possible, ask for proofs from client like traffic charts (before and after) and if you can’t or client disagrees, think of ways to show a prospect how this can be done again (maybe a blog post about the process)
Remember, you are a content creator who researches for clients. And you can do it for yourself too.
Focus on Value Addition
Learn to document your journey and top it up with client’s testimonials, appreciation mails/texts or any proof of concept you may get hold of.
I believe that if you really add value, clients don’t mind you using their project as a case study.
Better, if you have long term associations, offer to give them a backlink on your website (if you have one). If you have a good domain authority, they will happily agree.
I would say writing a case study isn’t much of a task but building rapport and documenting the value you deliver is the hardest part.
So, the next time you talk to a prospect, don’t just think about the quote, think about value you can give and the return you can expect.
And see a small difference in approach would build you a portfolio with more than just samples.
The best part, this strategy works for any kind of freelancer as long as you are more than just a service provider (but a solution provider instead).
Whenever you offer solutions, you have a problem, challenge and a development process that takes you to the solution.
That’s how you create a case study! Now get to work and see if you can top your portfolio with some exciting case studies.