Writing is stressful and difficult for Karen Ybarra of Inspired Creative.
She’s a wonderful visual designer, but she struggles with words and phrasing. My case study writing process helped to minimize that stress by allowing her to spend very little time and thought on case study creation while still allowing her to share her expertise in a way that testimonials couldn’t express: A testimonial can show how happy a client is with the finished product, but a case study allows a professional to tell the story of her process.
I met Karen in the seanwes Community online. She mentioned her struggles with writing, and I offered to help. We set up a video call and she told me that she was looking for someone to help her write blog content.
At the time, my services included general copywriting and blogging. However, instead of simply offering to help Karen with what she thought she needed I dug deeper. We set up a few more video calls and I asked her questions to help determine what sort of content would most benefit her business.
We determined that the main problem that needed to be solved was her lack of ongoing contact with past and potential clients, specifically those on her newsletter list and her followers on social media. She needed regular content that would remind them of her professional expertise so that they would think of her when they needed visual design services. The content she did have wasn’t reaching them effectively because it was neither polished nor professional.
“My goal was to have something that others could see as far as how I help my clients and have it worded in a way that I am not very good at.” ~Karen Ybarra, visual designer at Inspired Creative
The first thing I noticed when exploring her website was that her portfolio was lacking. Some entries were only photos without any kind of explanation and those that did have a written description were short and hard to follow. They pointed out interesting features of the design, but didn’t show how those features benefitted her client.
The projects in her portfolio were strong, but they came across as weak because they didn’t have stories that showed how Karen helped her clients to achieve success.
Karen needed a way to help potential clients to begin to understand her process before they even contacted her.
Case studies became the clear solution: She could use them as blog post content and share them as newsletters, and also add them to her portfolio. She could use quotes from the case studies on social media as well. This plan would allow for the most return on a relatively small investment of time because Karen would be able to easily repurpose her case studies in so many ways.
On our next video call, I showed Karen how my simple, straightforward case study outline would let her stop worrying about wording and allow her to produce the content I needed quickly without overthinking it. I told her to treat is as a brain dump, writing partial sentences, bulleted lists, and random observations as the thoughts came to her. Answering every question in the outline wasn’t required; the questions simply acted as prompts to help her think of all the details that would be necessary to tell a good story.
Ultimately, her job was to write down as much information about the project as she could and my job was to worry about making it flow.
Once I was certain she knew how to use the outline, we moved our communication from video call to email and established a writing schedule. We set deadlines for when she would have new content ready for me and for when I would return content to her. This kept us both accountable and ensured that Karen would have regular content to share online. She waited until she had a few in her queue, then started sharing a new case study every month.
I turned Karen’s choppy rough drafts into beautiful stories that showed how she helped her clients to achieve success, then send her a working copy to look over. She made sure that the story was accurate and that I hadn’t misunderstood or misrepresented anything.
Occasionally I did misunderstand something about a project and Karen was able to quickly correct it over email. She didn’t need to tell me how to rewrite the case study; I took charge of that. She was simple fact-checking. She told me where the problem was and I figured out how to solve it.
When I was confident that the story was accurate, I went over it one last time to check for typos. Then I sent Karen the final document.
Karen took care of adding photos and formatting the case study. After all, visual design is her specialty! My focus was on taking the burden of writing off of her so that she would be free to do what she does best.
Along with each case study I included a handful of quotes for her to use on social media. Some of them were simply pull quotes that came directly from the case study content, but I rewrote others to fit Twitter’s character limit or to make sense out of context. I chose to keep each quote short enough to use on Twitter because that gave Karen the freedom and flexibility to use these quotes on any platform she wanted to.
Over the course of a few months I wrote case studies for seven of Karen’s best past projects. As soon as she sent out the first one she received messages from two clients she had worked with before asking her to do more work for them.
Although it required a bit of a time investment at the beginning to figure out exactly how I could best help Karen, that investment proved more than worth it once we started the project. I made sure that I only involved her when absolutely necessary in order to tell a complete and accurate story and my easy-to-use methods made the case study creation process less stressful by freeing her up to focus on what she is good at.
About two months after we met, Karen had seven month’s worth of content to help her stay engaged with her audience over email and on social media. The written content now reflects the quality of her visual design instead of feeling unpolished and half-hearted.