$1500 For a Day’s Work: Is This Lucrative Writing Niche for You?

Hand holding out moneyBy Casey Hibbard
When I started freelancing 15 years ago, I wrote EVERYTHING — brochures, web copy, articles, newsletters, ad copy, sales letters, bios… I quickly realized which projects got me eager to start my workday and which ones had me vowing never to take on another one like it.
For me, customer case studies were an immediate addiction — a chance to tell a compelling story rather than spinning lofty marketing copy. For customer case studies, clients hire you to interview their happy customers and then write a story about how a product or service made a difference for a real customer.

Even better, they pay nicely — typically in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 for about a day’s worth of work.

Yes, a lot of freelancers shy away from case studies,thinking they’re too dry, too technical or that not that many companies actually do them.

What’s the truth?

Let’s sort fact from fiction by looking at seven myths about case study writing.

Myth #1: They’re boring and dry.

Truth: For many, the term “case study” conjures thoughts of business school or med-school textbooks. These academic case studies are for educational purposes and typically not known for being particularly compelling.

However, customer case studies, or success stories, are used for marketing and sales and persuade an audience to take an action. It’s a chance to weave a tale with highs, lows and quotes that capture the emotion of those you interview.

The upside for writers: It can get old, constantly writing promise-filled marketing copy of what the product or service WILL do for the customer.

Customer success stories demonstrate that a solution or company actually delivers on its marketing promises. You interview real subjects about their goals and challenges, learn how they solved their challenges and how things are better as a result. And unlike other marketing writing, the featured customer and story are always different. It’s never boring.

Myth #2: It’s a small niche. Not that many companies do them.

Truth: Just try a Google search for “customer success stories.” VMware, SAS, HP, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and Red Hat all come up with links to their case studies. And that’s just the first page of results. When you click further, you find hundreds of companies of all sizes and types that also create customer stories.

The upside: Increasingly, more organizations are bringing customer stories into their marketing mix, making it a growing area for freelance copywriters. To find clients, look beyond the big names for small and mid-tier companies that sell higher-priced products and services, and need to demonstrate how they bring value to their customers.

Myth #3: You have to write about technology

Truth: You don’t have to be an engineer to write customer case studies. Tech companies may have been some of the first to embrace customer case studies as a sales and marketing tool, but they’ve now become more mainstream with non-tech companies.

The upside: Even if you write for tech companies, you usually write about the benefits, not the back-end code. But if you aren’t interested in writing about technology, look for organizations that need to demonstrate the impact and competitive differentiators of their higher-end solutions. Think business consulting and professional services firms. Even nonprofits are excellent targets, though they typically have smaller budgets.

Myth #4: Once clients have a few case studies they don’t really need more

Truth: Companies that embrace customer case studies as part of their marketing do them consistently. They’re always adding new customers and products, updating their offerings, expanding into new markets. And with more places than ever before to publish and share those stories (blogs, Facebook, e-zines), they’re always looking for fresh stories to tell their audiences.

The upside: Customer case studies can be a cash cow. I’ve created case studies for one client for the past 12 years. The client realizes the value new customer stories bring to its sales force, website, media pitches, social media channels, events, and email marketing. Educate clients about the many ways they can use customer stories.

Myth #5: Case studies are a hassle because they require customer approval

Truth: OK, that’s sort of true. But it’s more the exception than the rule. Customer case studies are one of the only types of marketing collateral that require more steps because you’re involving the customer. Rather than just collecting background from internal contacts, you interview the customer and get their signoff on the final piece — extending the average time to complete them. Usually, you can have them wrapped up in 4-6 weeks.

The upside: Case studies are a process, giving you, as the writer, the opportunity to take on more of a project management role. You set up the interview and manage the process through customer edits and approvals. As a project manager, you can charge more. Clients love that you take it from start to finish. And to avoid major delays in getting paid, always invoice your client after you’ve delivered the first written draft, rather than when the featured customer approves the story. After all, your pay is not contingent on customer approval, but on what you deliver.

Myth #6: I’ll have to travel a lot

Truth: No, case studies are the perfect phone projects! Out of more than 700 case studies, I’ve conducted fewer than five interviews in person. And the only reason for those was my proximity to the customers being featured. I probably just wanted to get out of the house! Most of the time, I’m in one place, my client in a different geography, and their customer in a third place.

The upside: You don’t have to limit your client base to organizations that are local to you. I’ve got clients across the U.S., and in Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. Proactively reach out to organizations that already create case studies, or would be good fits for them, and introduce yourself, or send something of value — an article that talks about case studies.

Myth #7: Companies are going to video these days

Truth: Video is hot, but most people still prefer written collateral. Many of my clients have started creating customer videos, but they also create written versions. They understand that people like to consume content in different formats.

The upside: Recent surveys indicate a 2-1 preference of written case studies to video. Video is a chance to showcase some strong sound bites and the story at a glance, but written is where you can weave in the detail behind the success. Plus, quality video is a lot more expensive.

Also, companies can use video and written stories in tandem. Both help with search engine traffic, but written stories provide the opportunity for more key words, helping organic search. Let clients know that you can spin out a written story from a customer video or that a written story can help lay the groundwork for a great customer video shoot.

Could writing customer case studies be the right niche for you? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Casey Hibbard is the author of Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers into Your Most Powerful Sales and Marketing Asset. For more information about creating case studies, check out her Stories that Sell blog, or sign up for the upcoming, no-cost Webinar, “The 6 Traits of Case Studies That Compel and Sell.

 

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81 comments on “$1500 For a Day’s Work: Is This Lucrative Writing Niche for You?
  1. Christine Muleme says:

    Hi Cassey,

    I have come to make my decision to settle for case studies. Writing, and copywriting particularly is somehow new to some of us from third world economies.

    I have taken sometime to take this decision. I saw your post on AWAIonline. How else to trust a website for writers than on AWAIonline? I am going to miss the live training event where you are going to be a facilitator. In Africa a dollar is a dollar. And to lay your hands on to $ 1 is real tough work.

    I know we shall meet someday. Probably at one of AWAI bootcamps. And who knows may be this year!!

    Christine

  2. Julie says:

    I have been freelancing through Elance and would love to get into this niche, as it seems a better fit for me than some of the other types of writing I have done in the past. I also see your point about the posted jobs typically being the lower paying ones.

    I like your idea of writing a lower-priced study or two for experience with current clients, but when I think about some of those existing clients (who are paying me much less than $1000-1500 to write articles for them), I’m not sure how to approach them and price the job … Finally, I am really nervous/unsure about approaching potential clients who may be interested in my case study writing services. Any suggestions?
    Julie recently posted…More Suspense . . .My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Um…approach them anyway?

      There really isn’t a way over these fears except to go through the work of doing your marketing…then, as you do it a lot, it becomes routine. There isn’t a secret…you just have to do it.

      You current clients may not be the ones you want to write a case study for, if they’re low-payers…it might be time to find new ones.

      • Hi Julie,

        I know, it’s tough! Most of us struggle with the marketing part of freelancing, but I agree with Carol. It does get easier. Case studies are a high-value, versatile marketing piece for clients to invest in. Nothing is better than showing a happy customer’s experience. Make sure you’re selling them that way to clients. Let your current clients know you are offering them, and at the market rate. And definitely pitch to new clients. Keep at it and good luck!

        Casey

      • Julie says:

        Thank you, and good point about the possibility of looking for new clients (for the higher-paying gigs). I’ve just started reaching out to some companies, so your comment is a good motivator to keep me going…
        Julie recently posted…More Suspense . . .My Profile

  3. Eva says:

    Hi there,
    Just wondering if you should approach prospective companies by phone first i.e. cold calling before sending an email, or is it ok to introduce yourself via email in the first instance? I want to target some overseas companies and would like to avoid crazy telephone bills.
    Thanks,
    Eva

    • Carol Tice says:

      Eva, there’s no one way to market your writing…try an approach you like and see if it works for you.

    • Janet says:

      Hi Eva,

      You can absolutely contact people via email. Check out the Writer’s Den LOI (Letters of Introduction) information for helpful advice.

      Janet

  4. Howard Baldwin says:

    I’ve been targeting this area for ten years, and I can confirm that Casey does not exaggerate on the payoff. You usually don’t do one every single day, of course, but still, it’s a nice payday.

  5. Janet says:

    Hi Casey,

    I read your book, listened to your interview with Carol, and am now signed up for your webinar. Thanks for all the great information.

    This is the niche that I would like to be my main bread and butter. I wrote 2 case studies for friends who have businesses and enjoyed the process. Two questions came to mind, though.

    1. I know that you can write a case study with an angle. For example, Company A wants the case study to spotlight the ease of their software implementation. What do you do, though, when the information you get from the interview really does not lend itself to that focus (even when you asked specific questions, tried to get numbers, etc.)?

    2. When working with a company that has not used case studies, what advice do you give them with regards to getting their clients to agree to be interviewed, take the time, etc.? This was a problem with one of my friends; many clients were too busy, didn’t want to go through the hassle.

    Thanks, Casey,
    Janet

    • Hi Janet,

      Great questions. Both are very valid concerns. There’s what the client wants to emphasize and what the customer’s actual experience was. Sometimes those don’t meet up and maybe you don’t really know until you get into the interview. Assuming the customer is happy, then why is the customer happy? When you collect that info in the interview, go back to your client before writing, tell them what you heard, and decide together what to focus on. It has to be a valuable story for the client but you can’t make the customer’s story something it isn’t.

      On getting customers to agree, that is very much a case-by-case approach. First of all, be clear with them about what’s involved. Usually it doesn’t take more than 1.5 hours of their time. Some customers will be excited to be featured for the public exposure, while others will see it as a hassle, or in fact, don’t want to call attention to what they’re doing. But it’s important for everyone to treat it as a joint opportunity, rather than a favor the customer is doing. How can you sell it to the customer in a way that they will also find beneficial? If it’s not public exposure, then maybe the contacts could benefit from having the case documented for internal use. I’ve seen this many times. A manager at a company wants his/her story documented to educate coworkers and executives about the success he/she has achieved – for their own internal PR or career advancement. By doing this upfront work to get permission, you hopefully get approvals after the drafting phase.

      If your client tries to find a silver lining for customers and they just don’t agree, then move on to others. Or, work within customer limitations on what info they are willing to share or not share so you still get a usable story. Or lastly, create an unnamed case study. Not ideal but still useful.

      Protect yourself as the writer by including a line in your proposal or contract that says something to the effect that payment is for services rendered and not dependent on whether a customer actually approves the story. Don’t get burned by your payment being contingent on something you can’t control!
      Casey Hibbard recently posted…4 Tips for More Seductive Customer StoriesMy Profile

  6. Fabulous article, Casey, and Carol, thanks for inviting this guest post! This piece has *really* kicked my thinking into overdrive! I’ve been looking for a way to expand my client base, and this is a natural fit. I do lots of feature writing, so interviewing and crafting a story are *right* up my alley! I’m already generating a list of clients I can approach!

    Thanks for an excellent article, Casey, and some wonderful, additional tips in the comments section. I’ve signed up for your webinar and am really looking forward to it!

  7. I’m not much interested in this field but maybe I’ll try it one day. If I’m out of options after college. Anyway, this is a very detailed and helpful post! Makes anyone think twice before stereotyping case studies…
    Daphnée Kwong Waye recently posted…The War Against MyselfMy Profile

  8. I’ve done business profiles for community newspapers and regional magazines–not too different, really, except that the interviewee is talking about how they run their own business instead of how they utilize someone else’s business.
    Katherine Swarts recently posted…The World of Dangling ModifiersMy Profile

  9. Kudos to you for including Myth #4. “Once a company has a few case studies they don’t [ever] need more.” … Come on! Who would trust a website that hadn’t been updated in two years? Or use a science textbook from the 1970s in a 2013 homeschooling plan? Or expect one day’s food and sleep to be enough for a lifetime? Everything significant in this life is ongoing, not once-and-for-all.
    Katherine Swarts recently posted…The World of Dangling ModifiersMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      So true, Katherine. I had one client for 2 1/2 years that was a global insurance consultant, and we NEVER stopped writing case studies. There are always new clients, new challenges, and a need to prove your solution is working for customers. If they don’t have any current case studies, that’s a problem.

    • Exactly Katherine and Carol. And it’s never been more important to have fresh content to share in social networks, etc.

  10. Thanks for sharing this hidden gem! It’s so cool when writers “share the wealth.” And unlike other blogs that promise the “big secret” to making money, this post is actually something people can act on today!
    Sarah L. Webb recently posted…Dr. King: Architect of a MovementMy Profile

  11. CJ says:

    This article was so right on time. Just this week I began contemplating them as an additional service to offer clients. I have only done a few, when I was a staff copy writer for an online boutique, but I am confident that I can do them as a solo professional.

    Thanks for sharing some insight!
    Long live writers who share and educate their comrades 🙂
    CJ recently posted…Five Healthy Fruits to Get Your Water OnMy Profile

  12. Mysia Haight says:

    Writing customer case studies is a freelance option I’d really like to explore! I regularly write publicity and marketing copy for the book division of the American Management Association. Perhaps my business book-related experience would be an asset. I’m going to read through the thread, but would greatly appreciate any additional tips on how to find and market myself to prospective clients. Thank you!
    Mysia Haight recently posted…Violence and Crimes against ChildrenMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Mysia, I’d think it’d be a natural for you to reach out to the authors from AMA – prospect their companies and see if they need case studies done. Bet some of them do them!

  13. Cathie Ericson says:

    Loved this post and agree 100%. With the rise in content marketing, case studies are more important than ever before. I find mine repurposed on websites, blogs, sales materials….all the places mentioned.

    And like you, I like to find the interesting nugget behind what could be considered “dry.” Last fall I have been working on projects involving energy-efficient homes and HVAC systems (one of my niches is sustainability) and that’s the fun in it…making what some consider mundane sing!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Loving that challenge, of telling a fascinating business story, is the ticket to a lot of great-paying assignments, Cathie! I’m the same kind of business dork, and it’s a great way to be.

      Right now I’m doing a series of hot sexy articles about…shipping and logistics, for one online business magazine. Going to keep me in regular, $700-an-article payments from here to June. Think I’m down for at least 6-7 of them already and have been asked for more.

    • Great to hear Cathie! I totally agree. Fun stuff.

  14. Julia says:

    Casey & Carol are right. Though I wonder if companies tend to think about documenting success stories only at specific times of the year? Casey, can you comment on that? Do you notice if demand tends to go up or down at specific times of the year? I’m noticing a lot of inquiries right now, but had fewer at the end of 2012.
    Julia recently posted…Bringing Agility to the Large EnterpriseMy Profile

    • Hi Julia,

      I don’t see general trends, however, my clients have times during the year when there are bigger pushes. One has a sales conference in March that it creates lots of case studies for. Other clients heavily create them for trade shows, which can be mostly in spring and fall. Others get busy toward the end of the year when they need to use budget. A client right now is busy submitting customers for industry awards and using case study content. Or, a client may need more case studies for a product launch. Lots of ways to use them!

  15. Hi Cassey,

    Thanks for this post, I find it interesting because I used to work writing for a media research company with a very narrow but deep selection of research subjects. We presented a lot of numbers but I always felt that telling the stories of our subjects was more interesting and a better use of our research – to the degree that I even managed to do a presentation at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield last year (available at this link, if I can post that? http://www.thechildrensmediaconference.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ACB-Connected-Children-05.07.pdf ).
    I liked making stories like this, and always aimed to be entertaining, but it didn’t always prove popular with my superiors. Since I started freelancing I never really considered there was an actual market for this sort of case study writing (it would be Myth 2 that held me back!), so thanks for the post, it would certainly be playing to my strengths and my experience to find some more similar work!
    Phil Williams recently posted…Freelance Famine: coping with New YearMy Profile

    • Hi Phil,

      Storytelling is huge in marketing right now. You see articles about it everywhere. I think companies are starting to realize this ages-old practice is still incredibly relevant for connecting with people. Definitely leverage your storytelling skills and experience to find this kind of work.

  16. Thanks for this idea! I have never heard of this before and it is definitely something I would be interested in. I always learn something new from you!
    Sheila Bergquist recently posted…The View From Down Here: What Your Cat SeesMy Profile

  17. anne grant says:

    Could you elaborate on how these case studies are primarily used? Is it more for web content,as part of an annual report or printed in a sales letter/brochure?
    Thank you for unpacking the details in this area of business writing so well.

  18. Hi Casey,

    I purchased your book and teleclass over the holidays because I’m interested in the case study niche. I plan to dive into the materials in another week. I see that you recommend starting with small businesses, if you’re entry level. Is it a hard sale when small businesses are not using case studies? Do I try to convince them? Do I only focus on businesses already using them? Perhaps I’m going about it wrong, because I’m approaching small nonprofits offering to volunteer my writing services, but the advice I’ve gotten in the Freelance Writers Den is to focus on small businesses instead of nonprofits. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
    Janet Thomson recently posted…4 Stages of Editing That Every Self-Published Author Should KnowMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Not sure where you got that impression in the Den, Janet…it’s true that small nonprofits want everything for free, but take a look at large nonprofits and there’s great case-study opportunity. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation does a TON of them documenting their programs around the world, just for instance.

      • Carol,

        Chris Marlow responded to a question I had about case studies for nonprofits in the Den. I guess her thought is that I’d gain more traction approaching businesses about case studies because nonprofits focus more on donor letters/grants for funding – I guess she’s coming from a place of better profits if I concentrate on businesses. My thinking is that if I volunteered to write one or two case studies for nonprofits, it would give me leverage to approach small businesses.
        Janet Thomson recently posted…4 Stages of Editing That Every Self-Published Author Should KnowMy Profile

  19. Klara says:

    Useful tips, especially for me, because I’ve just set up my new online business in the last couple of days, and honestly, I’m not into blogging and online marketing, I haven’t done this before and I have to learn a couple of things in the next weeks to be able to realize my resolutions and reach my grand goals in the near future. Thanks for sharing your useful advices!

  20. Hi Casey,
    What a great article! Sounds like you converted a lot of people to doing customer case studies too.

    I can add a few tips from a different angle. I used to do a lot of customer case studies for training and development. They’re great for training since people can look at what worked, what didn’t work, etc. in different customer situations.

    Also, you don’t need to look at customer case studies as an isolated project for your client. If you’re doing other writing, you can suggest it as something else you can do that will really boost their business. Everything is about social proof these days. A well-written customer case study that talks a lot about the results achieved is like gold when it comes to marketing.

    Plus, you can also get someone within your client’s company to do a lot of the liaison and set up with a customer, so you can save some time there.

    And the rates are definitely right, at least for bigger companies.
    Sharyn Sheldon recently posted…Customer-Focused Selling Online – PLR eCourse and WorkbookMy Profile

  21. Jen Bradley says:

    Thank you for this post. I do a lot of agricultural writing and realize this could open up a whole new world for me. I am wondering, if you don’t mind me asking, once I get to the marketing person, what do you say if you’ve never done a case study before? I’ve done plenty of b2b writing, which is very similar. I appreciate your feedback. I read these blogs and just always am amazed. I have two little babies at home and need to find some more good-paying jobs, but it’s tough, especially when the time I do have to work is barely enough to do the jobs I have. I keep moving forward, though.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Jen,

      I always recommend starting with your existing clients or contacts if you don’t have any case studies under your belt. Who knows the quality of your work that might be open to having you write some case studies? Look at your current client base, former coworkers, even friends and family that may need customer stories for their sales and marketing. Send a couple of samples from other companies in their industry, come up with a mutually agreeable low price to begin with (for 2-3 stories ideally). Then you have some samples to approach companies that are not as familiar with your work. By working with contacts that already trust you, you have a head start.

  22. Hi Casey,

    How do you price case studies? $1,000 to $1,500 sounds awesome, but how do you pitch that to companies and how do you figure out the the going rate?
    Joseph Putnam recently posted…John Wooden’s Greatest Quote for Social MediaMy Profile

    • Hi Joseph,

      When you’re starting out, start on the lower end to get some experience and build your portfolio – maybe even lower than these rates. Now with experience, I base my flat rate on a few different things: length, complexity of the subject matter, how much project management I will provide, and how many different parties I will interview for each story. I scope these things with a prospect at the outset and come up with a flat rate. Some cases will take more time and some will take less but your flat rate should make it still advantageous for you even with more time-consuming stories.
      Casey Hibbard recently posted…4 Tips for More Seductive Customer StoriesMy Profile

  23. Nolan Wilson says:

    Thanks for this. This provides some great insight into writing case studies. It is something that I have often wondered about getting into and now I think that I might.

  24. Lilla says:

    Casey, I enjoyed the post, a real head slap moment! Who do you usually approach at a company to ask about these opportunities .

  25. Kiesha says:

    Hi Casey,
    Developing customer case studies sound like a wonderfully fun project that’s definitely far from boring. I would imagine they’d be nothing short of inspiring. Thanks for sharing this great idea!
    Kiesha recently posted…When The Student Is Ready the Right Teachers Will Appear – But Don’t Pick Them AllMy Profile

  26. Rachel says:

    This sounds great! As it happens, I do technical writing and so I don’t mind approaching tech companies. Actually, tech writing isn’t all that bad – you just have to do your research, which is what any good writer would do anyway. I would imagine that a case study wouldn’t be so focused on the tech side anyway.

    Am taking a look at your site and signing up for the webinar now. Thanks for this guest post Carol! You always have great info on your site.

  27. Holy Jeepers. $1,000-1,500? Is that the going rate in metro areas or for certain sized companies? I think of a case study as a one, maybe two-page piece. Am I not understanding the scope or are these case studies that valuable?
    Carrie Schmeck recently posted…The Common Core Standards will fail to feed our workforce unless…My Profile

    • Hi Carrie,

      Good question! When I say $1000-1500, that’s for a typical two-pager of around 1000 words. One pagers would be less. But the average is two pages, and that is, in fact, the going range. Whether working with small or large companies, I’m seeing the budget somewhere in there usually. It’s immensely valuable to companies to have you interview a customer and document the story. Sales reps use them, they go on the website, create press releases based on the customer stories, etc.
      Casey Hibbard recently posted…Customer Videos 101: How to Score a Killer Sound BiteMy Profile

  28. Jack Price says:

    Hi Casey, Great post. I just bought your book and signed up for the webinar. I love to interview and love writing stories, so think this could be a really good niche for me. Jack

  29. Tracy says:

    Great post. I’ve done interviews for magazine features for years and it is one of my favorite kinds of writing. I’d never considered this before and think that now I will. Thanks for sharing your story Casey!
    Tracy recently posted…Easy to Keep Travel ResolutionsMy Profile

  30. Erica says:

    Excellent post, Casey! Another bonus of doing case studies is that you automatically get more exposure to more businesses that realize the value of what you’re doing – the business being featured in the case study. Your current client comes first and the project is priority, so I don’t advocate actively (obnoxiously) market yourself while you’re doing the case study. But, it’s exposure with a company that you can potentially follow up with later.

    When I was a corporate copywriter, I wrote numerous case studies and loved it. Now, you’ve given me some great ideas on how to find that type of work now that I’m freelance. Thanks!
    Erica recently posted…When Imagination AttacksMy Profile

    • So true Erica! I agree that doing customer case studies FOR clients ON their customers introduces you to those customers in a very non-promotional way. They get to be part of the process and see how it works, and may want case studies as well. I also never overtly market to them, but I include my info in my email signature, which featured customers see when I send them the draft for review. I have found new clients this way! Definitely leverage your past experience to find more of this work.
      Casey Hibbard recently posted…4 Tips for More Seductive Customer StoriesMy Profile

  31. Great post, Casey! I’ve been racking my brain for months trying to come up with a niche, and I love storytelling, so I think this could be perfect for me! This is good timing for me, as I’m trying to get my freelance business off the ground so I can quit my current low-paying, full-time gig. I’m also signed up for your webinar, and I cannot wait!

    You know, for some reason I never considered case studies as a niche; I suppose that’s just because I’ve never been asked to write one. I can definitely see the appeal, though! Thanks again.

  32. Rosa Lee Jude says:

    Great post Casey! Very informative. I was looking into your book and noticed a 2009 pub date. Any plans to do an update anytime soon? Thanks.

    • Hi Rosa,

      You’re not the first to ask that! Some things have changed in the case study world since 09, such as the increase of social media sharing and video. However, the fundamentals and process that I lay out in the book are all still the same. I am looking at doing an ebook add-on to the main book that covers new topics.
      Casey Hibbard recently posted…Quiz: Is it a Case Study or a White Paper?My Profile

  33. I agree wtih you on case studies. They are fun to write, and as long as you can get the right tone/cadence, they are also fairly easy. If you have a good story, they just sort of flow.

    I would say my average case study takes about a day and a half. All of the one I write are high-tech, so maybe that makes the dfference.

    The one tip I have is to make sure your contract has you getting paid regardless of whether the customer gives final approval or not. I had one rather lengthy case study that went through every approval we needed and then their CEO got involved and decided he didn’t want to do a case study because their competitors would see what they were doing. (I’ll bet you’ve all heard that one before!) I gave the client a small discount, but I still got paid about 90% of the contract.

  34. Carolin says:

    Excellent post, Casey. I’ve been searching for my niche and I think this may be it! I’ve signed up for your webinar. Can’t wait!

  35. I love writing case studies! My favourite thing is to do the interviews via Skype video and record them (with permission, of course) so that I can offer a choice video clip to accompany the case study on the client’s website.
    Sophie Lizard recently posted…The Surprising Truth About How Much Money You Can Make as a Freelance Blogger!My Profile

    • Hi Sophie,

      Thanks for sharing your interesting approach! Do you have a link to an example of your Skype interview clips that you would share?
      Casey Hibbard recently posted…4 Tips for More Seductive Customer StoriesMy Profile

      • Carol Tice says:

        It’s funny this comes up — I’m doing a case study NOW for an M&A advisor, and he skype interviewed the business owner he worked with, and the first thing I pitched him was that we should edit down a few clips to put in, to make it multimedia. Great way to bring new tech to case studies and liven them up!

  36. Bonnie Mason says:

    Where can I find companies who are posting job for customer case studies? I think I would enjoy writing this stuff.

    • Hi Bonnie,

      I’m more a fan of proactive outreach than looking for postings soliciting writers. But that’s my preference. If you wait for companies to post, then you’re competing with a lot of other writers. Read business publications to learn about companies that are adding new customers, launching products or expanding into new markets – all good opportunities to document their customer successes with case studies. Then reach out and indicate that you heard they are growing and can help them capture their customer stories to use in sales and marketing. If they don’t need you now, you’ve still introduced yourself for future needs. You can also find out if they already do case studies by looking at their websites. Hope that helps!
      Casey Hibbard recently posted…Customer Case Studies: More Effective, Less CostlyMy Profile

      • Carol Tice says:

        Totally agree with Casey — this great niche is not ordinarily something you’ll find looking at job ads, anyway, and if you do find it, it’s not likely to be at great rates. Most of the good writing jobs are never advertised anyway, and I’d say that’s doubly true for better niches such as case studies.

        But case studies are a great up-sell for any existing blogging or content writing clients you have – “Wouldn’t a case study liven up this website, or make a great free product for your subscribers?”

        And case studies definitely happen in a variety of industries. I even did one once for an employees’ union! They wanted to document how layoffs had been handled previously, and then bring forward best practices for how it could be done better in the future.

      • Casey thank you so much! This came at the perfect moment, and the best part was I immediately fell in love with the idea. I do “similar” things in a different online niche, but that just makes case studies all the more appealing.

        Phone conversations… not a problem!

        Turning them into lucrative jobs… priceless!

        I also want to let you know how much I appreciate how you broke this writing method out, and Carol for printing it. I’ve had a heavy heart lately trying to figure out where I fit in outside of what I typically do. This sounds like a perfect fit.
        Theresa Cahill recently posted…How Safe Is Your Profile From Stranger Endorsements?My Profile

  37. Sandra says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing your insight. This has opened my eyes. What would be a starting point for one who wants to write case studies? What other sectors are responsive to these besides high tech? And do you target the marketing managers/directors?
    Sandra recently posted…Escaping to Cuba? Here’s How to Survive “Bad Food”My Profile

    • Sandra says:

      Clearly, I need to wake up…sorry, mean to say: are there other sectors you think are more receptive…as in, offer a lower path of resistance for a beginner?

      • Hi Sandra,

        For entry level, I would look for small businesses that provide a service to either consumers or other businesses. For example, I wrote some case studies for a business local that makes a super energy-efficient air conditioner for homes or businesses. It was all about how it reduced customers’ energy costs. They were one-pagers. Other great targets are small consulting firms or independent consultants. You may have to start out with lower rates to get some portfolio samples, but it’s worth it.