Not all case studies are created equally. Most are pretty shit actually. For freelancers that aren’t professional writers it can be quite daunting or difficult to see the benefits. The truth is, nobody really cares about pictures of the end result without knowing what went into it. Without any context it’s pretty useless. Most end-products are unique to a clients business and their specific goals. What prospective clients care about is your approach.
You should aim to cover the 3 stages of your approach:
1. Identify the problem
Your client will usually approach you with a task that needs completing. That’s not really what you’re there for though, right? Explain how you took their initial enquiry and worked backwards to find out what problems they’re trying to solve. This might include client questionnaires or interviews, and maybe a face to face meeting. Explaining your process for finding the problem shows your experience and interest in the companies you work for.
2. Understand the problem
Where does the problem fit into the business? Is it going to kill the company or is it just decoration? How important is it to the company and what have they tried already? Showing that you understand problems in the context of the business assures potential clients that you are reactive to their needs rather than knocking out generic services for everyone.
3. Solve the problem
What are the business goals and how are you going to reach them? What would success look like and what happens if it fails? How did you get stakeholder sign off? This is where all your work pays off, so try to quantify what it did for the business and include testimonials about how they felt once you’d completed the work.
3 things to quantify in your case study:
- How long it took
- How much it cost
- What were the results
These 3 bits of key information should be spelled out clearly. For example: “Revenue increased 20%” or “Sign up conversion went from 1% to 6%”.
So how do you begin writing one? Before writing case studies you should know exactly what industry and services you’re targeting. If you have a track record working for a particular industry or providing a specific service, you should write case studies geared towards that. If you’re looking to move into new industry or test out new services, it’s a good idea to get a few projects done for less than your typical price just to have case studies to sell it properly.
You should aim to have a case study for every type of service you offer, and in every type of industry you work in. For a web developer this might be, creating an app from scratch (from idea to execution) and refactoring an existing app (implementing tests and making them pass).
Case studies should also include challenges that you faced. Don’t exclude negative aspects of the project unless you handled them badly! Challenges are to be expected, and if your case study doesn’t have any then I’d be suspicious.