You Might Be Cut Out for Case Study Writing If …
More than 20 years ago, I wrote my first customer case study — and it was love at first write.
I found case study writing perfectly suited to my background, skills, and interests. I’d been a reporter at a city business journal, but the long hours, constant pressure of deadlines, and low pay were draining.
I quit my job to transition to freelance writing for businesses, and when a client asked me if I was interested in writing a customer case study, I did my first one and I was completely hooked.
But I know not everyone loves this type of copywriting as much as I do. But if you are suited to it, there’s a huge demand and I think you’d have fun writing the projects.
Just so we’re on the same page, let’s first talk about what case studies are …
Case studies are basically before-and-after “success stories” about a company’s product or service.
They tell the story of how a real person or company used a product or service to solve a real problem. They must show how the product or service met or solved the customer's stated challenges. So part of the process of writing a case study involves finding out what the customers were trying to accomplish and how ultimately they were able to do this and be successful.
The story format of a case study is a powerful and familiar way for us to absorb information. We're hardwired as humans to respond to stories. We remember and understand information better if it's presented in the story format.
Case studies are generally two pages, and they follow a formula, which makes them easy and quick to write.
Now, here’s how to know if writing case studies is for you …
Trait #1. You like journalism style writing/storytelling
Do you get energized about writing compelling stories?
Customer case studies and success stories follow journalism style more than just about any other style of copywriting (except article writing).
That means writing without a lot of spin or corporate speak, with an emphasis on customer quotes. It’s about recounting true experiences in interesting ways.
Trait #2. You have a knack for interviewing
Every customer story requires at least one to two interviews, if not more. You interview internal folks for background and then customers to collect details of their experiences.
The best case study writers know how to ask questions that elicit the desired response, and can respond dynamically during interviews with follow-up questions that go deeper — all while making interview subjects feel at ease.
Trait #3. You enjoy working mostly virtually
Whether you freelance or work for a company, you’ll be working virtually much of the time.
Even if your client or company is local to you, chances are, their customers are not. You’ll need to be on the phone for much of the information gathering.
Trait #4. You can deal with project delays
Customer case studies aren’t like other projects — because they involve customers. With a white paper, or web copy, a company can start whenever they are ready.
Getting case studies done depends on customers’ availability and responsiveness, and that can take a while! So, they don’t necessarily happen when you expect or want them to. Sometimes you have to wait …
Trait #5. You aren’t afraid to write about technology
Customer stories are becoming more and more mainstream.
Companies outside the technology industry are adding them to their marketing. But there is still a lot of work for technology product and service providers. You don’t always need to understand HOW a product works, but you do need to understand the benefits of technology products (a big difference).
Other industries and sectors that are using case studies: medical devices, healthcare providers, consulting, professional services, engineering firms, industrial equipment, financial services, teaching and training organizations (like AWAI), transportation and logistics, and more.
Trait #6. You have access to a quiet working environment when necessary
When I’m on a call with customers, conducting and recording interviews, my clients know that I’m interacting by phone. They expect nothing less than a quiet, professional environment. Their customers often assume I’m employed with my client, not a contractor.
I also need to get the information without interruption because it can be hard to reach the customer again.
This can be tough, since I’m home-based with a noisy child.
BUT when I’m on a call with clients or their customers, I make sure the others in my household are otherwise occupied or where any noise won’t interrupt my interview.
How did you do with this list? If these six requisites appeal to you, then writing case studies might be the perfect opportunity for your professional freelance writing career.
One trait that doesn’t matter, however, is your level of experience or age. From veteran writers to newbies, from recent college grads to retirees, all types of writers can succeed with case studies.
Here are three more questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if writing case studies is something you would enjoy:
- Would you rather tackle shorter writing projects over lengthy sales letters or technical white papers?
- Is completing a project and moving on to a new one enjoyable and exciting to you?
- Does finding a unique benefit in a customer story — and highlighting it — sound like something you could do?
If you said “yes” to one or more of these, or you think you have the requisite traits, writing case studies — and the $1,500 average fee they provide — is likely a good fit for you.
Case studies are now the second most influential type of content in the B2B sales process behind white papers, so there are plenty of opportunities for copywriters who understand how to write a good case study to land high-paying projects and long-term clients.
Do you have any questions about getting started as a case study writer? Share with us in the comments.
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I have read so much interested information from several of your emails, however I am not financial able to commit to this opportunity.
I appreciate all your concern and support.
In regard, Janice
Guest (Janice) –
I used to write some freelance editorials for several newspapers,and have submitted several articles to a few leading magazines in the past,without great results.I was actually paid for a story I wrote and submitted to a local publication,but not very much,in 1993.That's when my semi-career as a freelance writer started to take off.
Guest (David Fogarty) –
@David, have you considered case studies? I got into them because they are the most like article-writing or journalism. Lots of fun and not overly salesy.
Guest (Casey) –