How to gain credibility with clients

{on case studies and testimonials}

There are many ways potential clients might discover you. One of the best ways is through one of your past clients. Whether it's because that past client tells someone else about their experience working with you or you tell the story of working with them, a potential client is more likely to hire you when he knows what it will be like to work with you.

“People need to be told what to think — not directly, but through the social validation of their peers. Nobody wants to be the first one on the dance floor.” — Shawn Weston

A case study lets you make a case for your own credibility.

At its core a case study is simply the story of a project. If you tell that story well it will help a potential client to trust you. When he trusts you he will hire you.

Establish trust by proving that you have:

  • the technical skills to execute the project,
  • the expertise to do it well,
  • and the initiative to do it without micromanagement.

Writing a case study to tell the story of past work doesn’t mean a long technical write up. Don’t waste your potential client’s time. Focus on sharing the details of the project that directly impacted your past client’s success so that future clients will be confident you can help them achieve success.

A testimonial lets past clients vouch for you.

Like an amazon review, a testimonial helps a potential client trust you by showing that someone else who worked with you was happy with the experience. As with amazon reviews, some testimonials are more helpful that others.

It’s highly unlikely that your past clients are expert testimonial writers so any testimonials that you receive may or may not address your professional skills, expertise, or initiative. Even if they do touch on one or another they probably won’t hit all three.

While you don’t have control over what other people say about you, it is acceptable to lightly edit a testimonial for clarity and precision. If you have even the slightest doubt that your edited version accurately expresses your past client’s perspective, ask him for approval before sharing it.

Here's an example from a student of my case study writing course:


This is her original testimonial:

"I always thought writing case studies meant I had to write out every technical detail of a project. I never desired to do them because that process itself sounded meticulous and exhausting, but Jordan taught me that case studies are about telling the a story and they don't have to be boring. I now know that telling the right story will help me get more of the kind of work I love." — Laci McCabe, Personal Chef

I felt more than comfortable editing it because immediately before sending this testimonial to me over email we had been on a call. We talked in depth about her experience with the course, so I was confident that I had a firm grasp of what she wanted to communicate.

If at all possible, include a photo of your client alongside the testimonial. A photo gives a face to the words; it helps them feel real because they are coming from a real person.

A case study featuring a short testimonial is the most powerful.

When you write a case study you have control over the way the story is told. When you share a client’s testimonial the reader doesn’t have to take your word for it. Including a testimonial in a case study lets you have the best of both worlds.

Show your skills, expertise, and initiative through the story of a past project, inserting a quote (or quotes) from your client where it is relevant.

Want to learn to write effective case studies?

My course will take you through the process step-by-step. At the end of six weeks your first case study will be ready to publish.

Not quite ready to commit to a course? Check out my FREE quick-start guide: