Wondering how to create case studies and implement them effectively? This practical guide provides tips and case study examples.
Modesty is a virtue, but for Independents, being too humble can make it tough to find work. Let a case study do the bragging for you.
Results and reliability are paramount in the eyes of a client searching for freelancers. No matter how much you talk yourself up, clients need more than promises to convince them you’re right for the job.
So, what can be done to sway potential customers? A case study provides ample evidence based on previous projects. Here we’ll explain how to create case studies that provide an overview of prior experience and what relevant background material is needed to build trust between the client and Independent.
What are case studies? 🤔
Fundamental to any freelancer’s tool kit, a case study is a document highlighting how a product, service, or company was instrumental in solving a problem for a client. Characteristics of a case study include details on how the issue was approached and concrete benefits of the solution.
Essentially, a case study provides a history of prior successes that can be leveraged to forge new opportunities. Think of it as a marketing strategy that demonstrates expertise and promises future achievement.
Before you set off to write your first case study, let’s go over the basics.
Elements of a great case study ⚛️
The importance of a case study lies in its ability to provide a persuasive example of valuable work. Here are a few essential components of a convincing argument:
- Tell a compelling story. Provide background information about how a product or service solved a problem. This has all the elements of a story, so tell it in a clear and captivating way.
- Provide context. Give the necessary background on the client and their project. Discuss what their business looked like before and after the intervention.
- Identify the problem. Precisely describe the client's issue. Vague claims of “boosting sales” or “driving traffic” are far less convincing than pinpointing the specific shortcoming and outlining the solution.
- Explain the process. A clear description of the problem should lead directly to a clear description of the answer. A great case study lays out every step of the operation.
- Show tangible results. Although the entire document is essential in enticing new clients, the result is likely what they’re most interested in. If there are statistics or concrete examples of success, they should be prominent in the case study.
- Describe the lessons learned. Listing ways the client has grown due to your process is an excellent inclusion in any case study.
How to write a memorable case study 🧠
It helps to consider some essential questions before starting to write, collate information, or book interviews. Here are some core concerns of any case study.
1. What are future clients looking for? 🔍
The service or product highlighted in a case study should apply to a potential client’s needs. This requires research, but as an Independent, it will save time approaching clients who don’t need your services.
2. What is the angle? 📐
Why is the service or product you offer the right solution? The example given may be identical to what a potential client is struggling with or provide a springboard to future growth they didn't know they were missing.
3. What is the objective? 🥅
A case study is part of a pitch to new clients, so be clear about your intentions. Align the case study's objectives with the prospective client's objectives. Specificity is key, so avoid general statements.
4. Do you have permission? 🤐
Great case studies are filled with clients’ testimonials extolling the benefits of a product or service. Before sharing any details or direct quotes with a potential client, seek permission to share that information from the prior client. This ensures sensitive information about a previous client is not accidentally shared.
5. Is the story compelling? 📖
A compelling case study should be a riveting story from start to finish. A new client will be interested in statistics and results, but they’ll also want a direct and exciting roadmap to show how those results were achieved.
6. Is the format clear? 🔊
The format chosen for a case study depends on two factors: What would be most appropriate for approaching a new client, and what do you know how to do? For example, a video presentation is more suitable for a client who requires video production.
The most common case study formats include:
Written case studies are the most widely used. Video and audio allow previous clients to promote the product or service in their own words. A recommendation directly from a prior client may provide the push a new client needs to sign on.
Case studies examples 🔥
Now that we’ve established why and how to create a case study, let’s check out a few examples from the Contra community to help inspire you as you begin creating your own case study formats.
This showcase of Ryan Harricharan’s brand design for Eternal streetwear features many of the effective case study aspects mentioned above. The “Overview” section clearly outlines the nature of the project and the client’s expectations. Headings, such as “Problem & Solution '' and “Process,” make the document easily scannable.
Harricharan also includes examples of the graphics he produced, including logos on skateboards and photographic advertisements for the brand. In each section, he offers commentary that sheds light on his approach and the tools he uses to achieve success.
Unlike the previous example, this case study from Saef Design outlines a brand redesign, allowing Saef to address previous aesthetic and technical problems with the eHero app. The case study provides an overview of the company before highlighting the various issues the client experienced.
Saef lays out its exemplary case study with clear headings for increased readability. Note the study’s focus on extensive research. Saef Designs is clear about the amount of work that went into the project before rebranding began.
Lia Vin’s case study sticks to the tried-and-true ideas highlighted in the previous examples: clear headings, a concise overview, and detailed descriptions of each step in the process.
Vin included graphs to clearly demonstrate the growth in DecisionLogic’s customer engagement. Data visualization makes Vin’s results evident while keeping the case study brief.
Get started 🏎️
Being an Independent is all about making your work work for you. Remember, a successful project can generate new customers and revenue streams when documented in a persuasive case study. On Contra Pro, you can host a variety of case studies to promote yourself and grow your business. Be sure to also try out Contra’s Portfolios, a straightforward way to present all your information in one accessible location.