How to Write a Case Study

If you know how to tell a story you can write a case study. However, if you’ve never done it before you might be wondering how to write a case study. So here we go. By the way, a case study is a success story told about a client you’ve helped. Simple, right?

How to Write a Case Study

Maybe before I get into how to write a case study I’ll talk about what makes something a case study. In essence, it’s a study analysis where you overview a business problem, outline options for solving the problem and what happened in the end. The fact that you’re telling your client’s story from beginning to end, and including twists and turns along the way, makes this different than an advertisement or a sales page because you’re keeping the twists and turns in the story. The fact that it’s not just “I decided to do this thing and then it worked and now I’m successful yayyyyy,” makes it a case to study. Case study. Right!?

Something to keep in mind is although this isn’t a traditional sales page, a case study is a tool in your sales and marketing arsenal. It’s something you want prospective clients to read and become convinced to hire you—so make sure it’s targeted to people who are on the fence about working with you and tell client success stories that will help them see how you’ll help them reach their goals.

How to write a case study

Here are a few sections to include:

Introduction

In one or two sentences present your reader with the problem or issue and a quick summary of the outcome.

Background

Think of this section like setting the scene. You don’t want to spend too much time here but your reader should learn what has brought your client to this point in his or her business.

Alternatives

I know this might seem like overkill but you want to list ideas you or your clients entertained/tried in order to build your narrative arc. Overview what alternative solutions you considered and explain why they wouldn’t/couldn’t work or were not possible.

Proposed Solution

This is your moment! Highlight your one and only amazing solution to your client’s problem or issue. Make sure it’s relevant, specific and realistic, explain why you chose it and support your solution with evidence. Your evidence can contain either research or anecdotes or both.

Recommendations

Here you’ll overview the steps you took to accomplish your proposed solution. This should be specific, strategic and relevant (are you sensing a theme?).

When writing a case study make sure you tell it from beginning to end, following this outline as much as possible. Use as much data as you need to frame your point but keep your reading in mind—too much data = dry and boring. Don’t be dry and boring.

A case study doesn’t have to feel like a case study—your reader doesn’t even have to realize they’re reading one. If you share a client’s success story from start to finish in a compelling way and help potential clients decide to do business with you…then you’re case study has done its job.

The question of how to write a case study is a great one. But maybe you're wondering what a case study is and why you should care about it. I get that.

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How to Market Yourself as a Writer

I know, I get it. You HATE marketing. And talking about yourself? Yeah, I know. You hate talking about yourself too. But here’s the thing, when you’re self-employed you need marketing to get work and when you’re a writer you need to market YOU in order to get clients. This is tough stuff, I know. But you need to put yourself out there. You need to market yourself as a writer.

The goal of this post is to help you understand how to market yourself as a writer without being a sleaze-ball and maybe even learn how to talk about yourself in a way that doesn’t feel weird or braggy. Because you need to market yourself as a writer if you want to make a living from your writing!

How to Market Yourself as a Writer


When I first struck out as a freelancer I wasn’t sure how to sell myself to a potential client so I defaulted to applying to random job board adverts and Craigslist postings. And it was OK. Not great. But OK.

Then I came across a two-hour seminar at my local art gallery taught by a freelance writer about…well, freelance writing. How to get started. And I was like, YES! This is what I need!

So I attended the seminar and connected with a couple people there, which led me to a professional writer’s organization and connections with many more professional and freelance writers. From there I found a mentor and found my career moving forward. If I hadn’t put myself out there and asked “how do I make this happen?” I don’t know where I would be now.

As I advanced in my skills and learned the different types of writing, I discovered much of the time my clients had a marketing problem as well as a writing problem. In fact, once I learned how to combine the two skills things really began taking off.

And I also discovered many writers have marketing problems. They’re great at writing about others but when it comes to talking about what they do they’re struck with writer’s block. They fumble, they ramble, they stress right out.

It’s time to fix that.


How to market yourself as a writer

There is a way to talk about who you are and what you do without coming across as promotional or insincere. But you have a few mental barriers to overcome before you’ll see it. So many people see marketing as sleazy, scary, and overwhelming and if you can’t get past that perception then you’ll never feel comfortable talking about your work. I’ve talked to so many writers about this I’m pretty sure the objections against marketing narrow down to about four excuses.

Reasons why you think you hate marketing yourself

  • You don’t know what to say
  • You don’t want to get shot down
  • You don’t know how to explain what you do
  • You don’t want to limit your options by putting yourself out there

Identify with any of these? I get it! But let’s move past them and flip the conversation around. Think about the people you write for, the problems you solve for clients and readers with your writing, and the solution you provide for your readers/clients. Yes you may be a generalist but even then you have a “type.” Think about it a bit, commit a few ideas to writing, and then think about how you can describe the service you provide to others.

By the way, we talked about this a bit in how to write an elevator pitch so you may already have these jotted down somewhere. Crafting a elevator pitch is an awesome way to talk about yourself. It’s short, to the point, and focuses on the benefits you offer.

When you talk about how you serve others you turn the conversation around from “me-focused” to “others-focused.” And that changes marketing from sleazy to helpful. Just like that. Because if you’re providing a valuable service to the world, why wouldn’t you want people to know about it? If you could help someone grow their business through your writing services…don’t you owe it to them to at least hear about how you could help them?

See what I’m saying? By learning how to market yourself as a writer you learn how to put yourself out there by focusing on your clients. You highlight the value your work brings to others’ lives and how your writing could help this person with their current struggle.

No pressure. No sales pitch. Just relationship building.

This is why I love marketing. Because I know there are so many talented, amazing people out there who are working at making the world a better place. But most of the time we’ll never hear about it unless they share it with us. By learning how to talk about yourself and what you do in a genuine, helpful, others-focused way, you shed the skin of creepy-scary-pushy-marketing and enter into a much friendlier space where you make new friends, share your stories, and look for opportunities to collaborate.

The bottom line is this. People don’t care about what you do, they care about the benefit they’ll get from working with you. This isn’t meant to be harsh, (but…it’s not about you, so let’s rip the bandage off now shall we?) just a re-framing of how we look at our businesses. You care a lot about what you do, and you should. But when you market yourself as a writer, you need to keep it outward-focused so potential clients can see the benefit to THEM by working with you.

I know, I get it. You HATE marketing. And talking about yourself? Yeah, I know. You hate talking about yourself too. But here's the thing, when you're self-employed you need marketing to get work and when you're a writer you need to market YOU in order to get clients. This is tough stuff, I know. But I hope this post will help you understand how to market yourself as a writer without being a sleaze-ball and maybe even learn how to talk about yourself in a way that doesn't feel weird or braggy. Because you need to market yourself as a writer if you want to make a living from your writing!

OK, so that’s how to market yourself as a writer. Want to take things to the next level? Here are five tips for optimizing your social media profiles. Better yet, you can have it as a free PDF download. Just fill in the form below!

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Rock Your Marketing (Even if You’re too Busy for Marketing)

Freelance writers are business owners, busy business owners. And many of us lack the time to work on our business because we’re always working in it for our clients. Blogs, social media posts, and marketing in general fall by the wayside in favour of the now money. But what about later? Do you go back to hustling when the gigs dry up? Do you stockpile your rainy day fund in case there’s no work for a while? What if you could rock your marketing while you’re busy so you stop having dry spells? (Spoiler: You can, and I’ll tell you how.)

Rock your marketing

But first a story.

I’m part of a bi-monthly marketing challenge in one of my professional networking groups and the most interesting parts of the challenge is how many people “sit this one out” citing they have a full client load so they don’t need marketing.

What? You’re too busy for marketing!?

This is difficult to hear. Because this tells me you’re not thinking about the long game, you’re focusing on the here and now. And you should, don’t get me wrong, but it can’t be all you focus on.

Here’s what no marketing plan gets you

  • Scattered, inconsistent presentation in front of potential clients
  • Random posts and self-promotions on social media
  • Irregular networking (in person, virtual networking groups, bi-monthly marketing challenges…)
  • Unfamiliarity with competitors’ strategies

Oh, and no new clients. Unless you’re so busy month after month that you’re turning away new clients, you need marketing. Even when you’re too busy for marketing.

So, how do I rock my marketing even if I’m too busy for marketing?

I’m glad you asked. Since we’re at the beginning stages of this conversation I’m not going to ask you to do new things…yet. Right now let’s focus on what you’re already doing and sprinkle in some focused marketing. Getting it going is the first step.

Rock your marketing with these three tips

First, think about the content you put out on social media right now

Be honest. When you post something on social media, what is it about? Personal? Photos of your weekend? Political memes? Food? Is anything you post related to your business or how you serve your clients?

If you’re going to rock your marketing, I challenge you to consider your social media platforms places where you can attract new clients and brand yourself rather than something separate. Who is your ideal client? How can you help him/her today? How can what you post be useful in moving him/her ahead? How can you inspire someone? (Need help? Here’s your five-step social media strategy for freelance writers.)

Second, carve out time to connect with your ideal clients or colleagues

And no, this does not mean sending out cold pitches by email. CONNECT!

Remember, I’m not asking you to do anything new…yet. So who are the people you speak to every day? Do you pass them on the street? In a store? In a restaurant? Look them in the eye and make a connection. Start with hi, hello, how are you. One or all of those will do. Next? Have a conversation. It doesn’t need to be deep or time-consuming, but make sure you mention something about how what you’re working on lights you up and you love your job. Make a connection, then continue on with what you were doing.

But what if you don’t go out because you’re chained to your computer desk all day? How about a nice email to a contact? A check in, a hey how’s your business going? Is there anything I can help you with today? Or how about an old client, why not send a nice note and see if there’s a project you can help out with. If not, no biggie. But you tried. You reached out. You connected.

Third, you don’t need to post new content every day

Hear me: you need to post content, but it doesn’t have to be new. Whoa.

This was a huge mental shift for me. When I let go of the idea that every blog post was a slam dunk and lived on in my readers’ minds I was free to re-use them as appropriate. (By the way, I wrote about my favourite tools to re-share content here.) I combed through my archives and pulled the articles I thought my idea clients would enjoy. Then I plugged them into a content library, created a schedule, and let them go. I’m still amazed at the freedom I feel setting up this small automation. Because I can accept that not everyone will see my LIFE-CHANGING articles and freelance writing tips the moment I write them I’m free to keep sharing them on various platforms. All it takes is this careful balance of humility and pride.


See? That wasn’t so bad. Don’t you feel ready to rock your marketing? These three itty bitty marketing tweaks can help you ROCK your marketing! Visualize how stress-free your freelance marketing game could be. Dream big, my friend.

Now, a word of caution. You can go down the marketing rabbit trail and end up overwhelmed and not sure which shiny object to focus on. Because there is always more you can do. All we’re talking about today is not doing nothing. Don’t do nothing. Keep putting yourself out there, even if you’re busy and have a full client roster. Keep networking, keep posting relevant, helpful content on social media, and keep putting your work out there even if you haven’t created anything new in a while. Keep going!

Freelance writers are business owners, busy business owners. And many of us lack the time to work on our business because we're always working in it for our clients. Blogs, social media posts, and marketing in general fall by the wayside in favour of the now money. But what about later? Do you go back to hustling with the gigs dry up? Do you stockpile your rainy day fund in case there's no work for a while? What if you could rock your marketing while you're busy so you stop having dry spells? (Spoiler: You can, and I'll tell you how.)

One more thing. If you’ve got these three daily tasks down you may be interested in my free five-day marketing challenge for freelance writers. It walks you through putting a few simple systems in place to help you with goal setting, reaching out, keeping in touch, and even a bit of branding. Why not check it out? I made it for you!