Here’s something I’ve learned over the years when it comes to selling any service…People want to see results before they buy.

They want to see success stories of people who were in a similar situation that they were in and how your service helped them.

It’s been this way since the first before and after weight loss ad came out I’m sure.

And the same is true for web design. If you can showcase client results and put them into a concise story with clear messaging on how your web design services helped them, it’s a client lead machine.

To help you create case studies of your own, I’m so excited to have onto the podcast Copywriter & Brand Messaging Strategist Sarah Guilliot who shares how to create client case studies to make more and easily attract new web design clients based off of client stories and results.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How to conduct case study interviews
  • How many case studies you should have
  • How to market with case studies
  • Whether or not case studies should be on a portfolio page
  • The difference between reviews, testimonials and success stories
  • How to craft a story out of client results

And more.

WHOOPER of a good episode here.

At the time of writing this, I’m working on some case study/success stories of my own so I’m right there with ya!

In this episode:

00:00 – Creating Effective Web Design Case Studies
04:51 – Uncovering the Power of Case Studies
08:17 – Effective Case Studies for SEO
13:46 – Creating Effective Case Studies
25:01 – Improving Business Results With Real Numbers
31:00 – The Power of Casual Conversations
35:44 – Benefits of Case Study Interviews
44:10 – Maximizing for Marketing

Copywriting VIP days for Website Designers & Developers (White Label Services available on request)


Connect with Sarah:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #317 Full Transcription

Sarah: 1:05
If you know exactly what you want more of and you talk all about it in your case study, then the people who like that are going to want to book with you. So the person that wants hands-on when you don’t like they want the 6-8-week project and you’re like I do it over a week, they’re going to be repelled, and that’s good. You want the people who love that to be attracted and be like yeah, they’re the one for me. Welcome to the Web Design Business Podcast with your host.

Josh: 1:34
Josh Hall, helping you build a web design business that gives you freedom and a lifestyle you love. Hey, friends, welcome into the show. This is episode 317, where you are in for a treat, and this one, my friends, because we’re going to dive into a topic that I dare say is honestly one of the most important things you can do to continually land web design clients, and that is to have case studies and, more specifically, share client results in your case studies, because one thing I’ve learned over the years is that one of the easiest ways to sell is to show results, because people especially if it’s a service they want to know results. They want to know what they’re getting into and, more importantly, what they’re going to get out of this deal. So, if you can share results by way of sharing a case study and a success story from your clients, it is a sure way to get more clients and make more money for your web design business. The tricky part is, though, how do we create case studies? Well, for that, I’m so excited to bring on Sarah Gilliet, who is a copywriter and brand messaging specialist and web designer who knows a lot about case studies and how to format results into success stories, and we dive deep in this one all about case studies, getting into how to conduct interviews to actually collect case study information, how to create a story based off of client results, when and where, and how to put these on your website. Whether case studies should be like blog posts and success stories or whether they should be on portfolio pages. How to market and how to use case studies to actually market your business. All that and so much more is covered in this episode. Sarah really has some unique and interesting perspectives here, so I’m really excited to help you with crafting and creating case studies of your own, again to help you build your web design business.

Josh: 3:26
You can get all the show notes for this episode at joshallco, slash 317. There’s a full transcription there with all the links that Sarah and I talk about and to connect with Sarah, go to her website at sarahdesigncom Great URL, by the way. I can’t believe she was able to lock down that simple and concise URL sarahdesigncom. Go check her out over there. She’s also got some resources we’re going to touch on later for VIP days, especially those of you who are into web design, copywriting and messaging. So all the links will be at joshallco, slash 317. Without further ado, let’s talk case studies how to create them, where to put them, how to make money with them, with Sarah Gilead. Sarah, welcome to the show, so good to have you on, so excited to chat with you today, specifically about case studies. I know you’re a copywriter at heart now, so first of all, thank you so much for taking some time to chat today.

Sarah: 4:23
Yeah, thanks so much for having me. I’ve been listening for so long. It’s kind of surreal to be here, well.

Josh: 4:29
I’m so excited because we have a lot of mutual friends and colleagues. A former member of pro is one of your good friends, I found out before we hit record here. You’ve been in Sarah Massie’s program and Shannon Matter and good friend of mine and her program, so you obviously have some incredible training and skill set behind you. Before we dive into case studies, which I have so many questions about, what is your? What’s your superpower? I know you’re all about copywriting Now. You’re a former designer but what would you say your superpower is?

Sarah: 5:04
Yeah, I’d say it’s. I have a lot of empathy and I have an ability to get on a call with someone and read their body language and really get to the heart of who they are and what they’re trying to say. So like capturing their voice and just getting that undercurrent, not the surface level, but like the deep, the deep parts of people. So I’d say that’s probably my superpowers pulling out the real you in a conversation.

Josh: 5:34
So how? Let’s just dive right into case studies. How does that apply to? Yeah, like case studies, testimonial, success stories. I’ve found that to be one of my favorite new things with collecting testimonials for some case studies and success stories I’m putting together is not the surfacing stuff and trying to get past the like I love Josh’s course, like I appreciate that, but I want to know, like, how would this impact you Is that kind of when it comes to case studies in particular and success stories, is that the kind of thing you look for? Or what are the things that you look for that really get the? You know the true meaning behind it?

Sarah: 6:09
Yeah, yeah and like I think case studies can be kind of scary for people to think about doing because they’re like I don’t know. Sometimes you can send those testimonial questions to your client and they just give you a couple sentences. Sometimes you can get some really juicy details out of them. You can get some numbers and some stats and those are incredible. If you can get people to answer some really detailed testimonial questions and you tell your story of how the project went and they have numbers, that’s, that’s gold right there.

Sarah: 6:40
But I like to encourage people that, even if they barely said anything to you but you know they were happy. But you can go and write down your process, how you worked with them, and hone in on the pieces that you want more of and put those into your case study. That’s the key right there. So if you can tell the story of the kind of people that you like to work with in the process that you like to do, that’s going to attract more of those people to you and that’s kind of the key to get included in those case studies, if that makes sense.

Josh: 7:16
Okay. So my mind is like visually looking out, like mapping this out and what this would look like, so I want to dive into the specifics on that. I think it would be worthwhile exploring maybe the difference between, or at least your mindset between, the difference of a testimonial and a case study, because I would imagine the success story is kind of just code for case study. At least that’s kind of how I view it, maybe not, but yeah, what’s your, what’s, what do you think, what do you feel like the difference is from a testimonial and a case study?

Sarah: 7:47
Yeah, I think the difference is and also I’d like to pull in another piece, which is the difference between a case study and just a portfolio in general is that you get to control the narrative. So when you have just a portfolio page with, like your standard mockups on it of the screens of, like websites that you’ve built and designed, someone can click on those potential client and they go and they’re making all their own assumptions about what that was like and what kind of work that you do. Likewise, if you have, you know, somebody’s picture and a nice paragraph that they’ve said, you know, oh, sarah’s awesome to work with, so sweet, so kind, you know it’s like that’s great, but it’s not get, it’s not highlighting the pieces that I want emphasized. So I find that it’s. It’s amazing if you can tie all those together.

Sarah: 8:35
You have the beautiful visuals. You have some testimony from the client saying that they loved it. You can try to ask them leading questions to get them to tell you like what was, how did you feel before, how did you feel after? You know what were your hesitations? Like getting to more in depth and having them answer those things and then pulling that all together alongside whatever you want to emphasize. So that’s that’s. The trick with it is that you want to make sure your case study is telling the story in a way that only the people that you want to work with will be like oh, that’s me resonate with.

Sarah: 9:15
Yeah, yeah.

Josh: 9:16
I like that terminology right, even just there, of case study being a story. I really think about framing it like that. But I think if everyone had that mindset, it would make it a lot easier to create an actual case study like a blog post. If it is a little mini story, yeah, that is a really yeah, that’s a great frame to put on that. And the cool thing about a story is like you could take out the little testimonials that I would imagine would reside in that, like I’m.

Sarah: 9:45
so there’s like 10 testimonials and a case study, right basically, yeah, if you can get 10 testimonials, then that’s amazing.

Sarah: 9:53
You could weave them through your page for sure.

Sarah: 9:55
And there’s there’s those occasions to where you they haven’t told you very much, like I was mentioning earlier.

Sarah: 10:03
So like I was working with a client helping her write some case studies and she didn’t have, she couldn’t get any testimonials out of them, but she could tell the story. She was like I love working with women in the medical field and who are about big pivots are happening in their business, they’re about to go into conferences, and so she wanted to create a page that kind of had like little snippets of case study as sort of things for each person. So we came up with just little bullet points of like what they needed and what she did for them, and then those like descriptors describing the kind of client that they were, so that she knew she would get more women in the medical field, more women who are at that turning point of about to go and be on conferences, and so, even though that was like a small case study, she was telling the story because she couldn’t get it out of the client. She just told it to me and then we encapsulated it into little bullet points.

Josh: 11:04
I didn’t even think about the SEO implications of this, about how you could craft a case study, testimonial, success story for SEO. I mean, I’m even thinking I’m really diving in more to YouTube this year and really reinvigorating my channel and taking SEO with YouTube very seriously, and it just dawned on me that, like I could take a case study, which I’ve got like a dozen in the works right now, that I’ve actually been secretly working on I haven’t made public yet, but it’s gonna be. Probably by the time this airs we’ll be live. But I’m thinking about doing YouTube videos along with those where, like you said, I control the narrative, and I think anyone has the ability to do this. You could feature your clients websites, talk about the challenges, talk about the struggles they had, how you helped, the tools that you implemented. You could SEO the heck out of that thing as well. So I imagine video is probably a nice little add-on with a good success story. Case study nowadays, right.

Sarah: 12:04
Oh, absolutely, if you can get videos, that’s amazing. People love to consume that content, even audio. So, yeah, I could totally see you having you know, you having your case study videos on YouTube that people are just finding there and then connecting that back to a page with like the whole story on it, and you could even have PDF downloads to accompany it for people who are on the go. You could do a whole thing. It could be really fancy and fun.

Josh: 12:28
So fancy and fun, but now, now, okay, here we go. Now I’m gonna do what I always do and I make this way over complicated and I don’t wanna I’m sure we all do that, especially as web designers where like, oh, I could do this and this and this and this Phase one what a good case study looked like for, like you know, the first version, phase one, the simplified version. Is it just a list of like challenges that the client had and then the tools we use, the solutions and where they’re at now. What’s the yeah, the basic, good, simple of a case study look like.

Sarah: 13:01
Yeah, yeah, that’s a great question. So I think at its core there’s some pieces that you want to make sure you include just at minimum. And I like to use something called PAR statement. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that. It stands for problem action, resolution, and that was something that I learned way back in my interviewing days to like come up with these PAR stories and statements to bring into interviews of like, oh, this problem happened with the client and I took these actions and this was how it resolved or these were the results.

Sarah: 13:35
So if you can think about that PAR and pull that into whatever format that you’re gonna use, I think you’re off to a good start. And sometimes those formats the format that you create you kind of want to use what’s easiest for you. So, like, people in your audience are gonna be able to build a landing page, so that’s probably gonna be amazing for them. But maybe they’re in a rush and they’re like can I just make a PDF? Yes, you can make a PDF. You could make a Canva thing that you just linked to on your website that people download or they view over there. So, whatever you can do fastest, I would say get that up and then you can perfect it later. But yeah, get that problem action, resolution or results at minimum and if you have numbers, amazing, but if you don’t, I do have some ideas about that that I can share.

Josh: 14:28
Okay, yes, I do want to hear that. So I was just looking. I was like, what did I say in my business course? I forgot what like acronym or whatever I use. It was very similar. It was problem solution result. So it wasn’t PAR. It didn’t sound as good, but PAR is the nights, one to remember.

Josh: 14:46
So problem, action, result, Either way, that trifecta of like there’s a challenge, there’s a problem, there is your deliverables, your services, and then there’s the result. Where are they now? So let’s get into the specifics of getting this information. This is what’s really tricky, At least for web designers. What I’ve found is it’s really easy to get a testimony. It’s easier to get a testimonial when somebody launches a project, because they’re all fired up. If you strike while the iron is hot, you’ll get a nice little testimonial, but you can’t always get the third piece of a result yet because it just launched. So first question for me when do we come in for the case study?

Sarah: 15:28
Like when do we go for the?

Josh: 15:29
actual result. You know what I mean. Like it’s really hard to say like, oh, the results. I mean the result of the design might be nice, but if it’s a week after it launches, that’s not enough time to get any data about the results of the website. So yeah, when is the? I guess the shorthand question is, when is the right time to then pursue like a full case study with results?

Sarah: 15:50
Yeah, I would say it depends. Everyone’s favorite answer it depends. I think that you want to ask for the testimonial as soon as possible. At least get those questions answered. And I don’t have it in front of me, but I found a list. I learned my list of questions from Jonathan Stark. I don’t know if you follow him. He has an awesome website called the Business of Authority and he has this set of questions that he asks that I used and like when I did some work for Page, I sent it over and got like really great answers to all the questions that were in there.

Sarah: 16:27
So if you can get something like that together early, do that. And then, if they are a big name and you don’t have any case studies and you want to get something on your site quickly because it’s going to help you book more clients, I would say go ahead and make a case study immediately, even if you don’t have results or anything, because you know that that’s going to help you right now. If you already have a few or you’re willing to wait, then maybe come back to them after launch. Let them recover a little bit. Six months, a year later, it’s a great time to reengage with them. They might be like oh, by the way, I need some more work done. That’s an awesome excuse to be like oh, I was going to feature you in this case.

Josh: 17:08
That’s one of my client getting client strategies. So that would be actually a getting more work strategy when, yeah, follow up six months task about a case study, do a call and then, by the way, they’re going to be like oh my gosh, yeah, I’ve been meaning to get with you for like three months. I just keep on forgetting I’m busy.

Sarah: 17:23
Exactly. Yeah, that’s an amazing time to reach out.

Josh: 17:26
Hold on Case studies for upsells. I’m going to change the title here.

Sarah: 17:30
Yeah, it’s just a good conversation starter.

Sarah: 17:34
But, yeah, I’ve found, though, that sometimes, even reaching out to them later, some people don’t have stats for you or they don’t want to share numbers for whatever reason, or they aren’t good at recording those things, and you can still, even if it’s early days and they haven’t gotten the results yet, you can still make a case study, and I like to call this big number potential.

Sarah: 18:03
So if you don’t have a big number, can you think of some big number potential? So that would be like, for example, back in the day when I was working in offices, I worked for Microsoft Advertising and I did a project which ended up in like what was my first case study in life. Years ago, I got a project where I was creating some mockups for a project that had the potential of making $5 million for the company. They did not get that sale, so we didn’t make the $5 million, but I was able to put that into my case study, into my portfolio addendum thing that I created and that’s still valuable to me, because then people read that and they’re like oh, sarah’s the kind of person we pull in on $5 million projects. You know, sort of like by association you are level back.

Josh: 18:59
You’re the $5 million estimate person.

Sarah: 19:01
Yes, exactly, but how that applies for your audience. I would think it might be something. You gotta get kind of clever. If, like the example I was giving earlier of people who are about to go and speak at events, they’re about to be on stage more, the number potential might be something like oh, we created this amazing website that would funnel leads into their list and make great sales because they were going to be speaking in front of 2000 people at an event. So that might be the that number potential that you could kind of pull in there. So that’s, that’s part of the problem. That’s probably part of the solution you’re creating for them is that you’re giving them the ability to be prepared to get in front of that many people. Does that make sense?

Josh: 19:48
Yeah, totally. And I was just thinking back to a local colleague of mine one time. I remember he was it was the first taste that I ever had of like a results oriented web designer, because he was just a total pro and I was still in this phase where I was just excited to get a testimonial. That was like I love my new site design, which is again it’s fine. But you know a business is not going to drop 10 or $20,000 on a website by somebody saying really nice site. They want to know like did you help your clients grow their business or how have you helped?

Josh: 20:20
Even if the numbers are different, there’s still something about the results of getting to those, and I remember he didn’t have financials for all of his clients but he did have contact form submissions and bounce rates and just website traffic. So that’s another metric too. I imagine you could make your own case study without even talking to the client. As long as you know there’s no problem with sharing amount of contact form submissions or calls booked or whatever their call to action is, or even just website stats. If you go from like a 90% bounce rate before the site was redone to 50% now, that’s not going to mean that much to every you know potential client, but some clients may be like, oh, they may understand how valuable that is. So are those some of the metrics that we could look at to make a case study of our own before doing a call or doing a full interview kind of thing?

Sarah: 21:09
Yeah, that had not occurred to me, and that’s a brilliant idea, especially for your developers and people getting into the website that have access to the backend, that you could be finding some of that information. That’s really smart. Love it.

Josh: 21:21
So getting that information from clients, here’s the next big question. How do we do that? Do we do a template email that they, you know, give us, give the responses to, and I imagine we got to add some urgency there to say like, hey, can you get this to me by Friday, otherwise they’re never going to send it back to you. Do you do a call and record it and take the transcription? All the above, what are some of the best ways to actually conduct like an interview for a case study?

Sarah: 21:48
Yeah, I think it takes a little experimentation because I’ve tried so many things and then feels like some things work for a while and then they stop and then I try something different. So you could definitely have a form on your site. It’s just like part of your process. Maybe they get an automated email that asks them to do that. You could send just a quick email asking if they’re willing and then they reply. I’ve used a service called Vouch, for I don’t know if you’ve heard of them where it’s. They can record little videos answering questions. You just on their phone to answer.

Sarah: 22:23
And I’ve also heard a technique from a friend of mine. Her name is Jackie Money. She works with Sarah Massey and she’s so smart. She has this whole process where she gets on a call with the client at the 30 day mark after she has delivered. She’s like, oh, your support’s ending, let’s touch base and see how things are going. And on that call she says do you mind if I record and ask a few testimonial questions while we’re on the call? And if you don’t want to be on video, it could be audio only and they could say no. But she said that was working amazingly for her. So that’s another way that you could do it. I haven’t tried that one, but I think it’s cool.

Josh: 23:01
Her last name is Money.

Josh: 23:02
Yes, oh I mean, you know, the dad and me is just thinking of all the possible puns we could for a brand name for that for sure. Well, it’s a money strategy for sure. That is. I think it’s a really great way to go, and I have a similar process that I teach in my business course, which is you go for the testimonial immediately when the iron is hot, you follow up about a 30 day window after and then do like a quarterly follow up or a six month follow up, which, yes, leads to additional projects, but that’s when you’ll start to get some data in some real numbers, if they’re comfortable sharing it. Numbers is interesting and I know you’ve been in some of these groups with a lot of women entrepreneurs and I’ve seen this, and this isn’t all the case, but I have seen. I wouldn’t say no, it’s not, it’s not fair to say like a majority of women entrepreneurs, but I guess entrepreneurs in general are just afraid to talk about money.

Sarah: 23:56
And.

Josh: 23:56
I understand, like I’m very empathetic towards feeling like I don’t know if I want to talk about business, financials or anything. But I have found if you use things like percentages, it just doesn’t like no one grasped that. It just doesn’t. There’s no like, there’s no foundation to say like if you say I grew a business by 400%, it doesn’t mean anything to me because I have no idea where this business was financially. You know, like all that to say the mindset of sharing numbers versus percentages, I will always be respectful of anyone who does not want to share numbers. I totally understand that, but I do try to push for that. Can you, can you share with me your thoughts on that, sarah, with like numbers, how important they are, and I mean, do you try to get them? Do you? Do you have the same mindset that I do and like how impactful, actual, real numbers are?

Sarah: 24:47
Yeah, I do agree, and I have had endless trouble getting them. I hardly ever get numbers, and so it’s forced me to get creative. I think there’s another option too, apart from percentages sometimes. So, like I did a, I worked at T-Mobile years ago and I remember I did a project and they were they’re having trouble in the purchase path and I made a design change that allowed them to start selling more accessories with their phones and it went from 2% to 20% and like that sounds great, right, but that’s a 10x, right. So I think if you can get like a 5x or a 10x, sometimes that’s that can sound even better than percentages.

Sarah: 25:37
That sounds better to me than 20%, I think.

Josh: 25:40
I know that’s a wonderful like frame to put on that, that idea of yeah, I mean even me right there when you said 10 to 20, it didn’t really, didn’t really do anything for me. But 10x is like, oh yeah, it suddenly makes it more applicable and it gives you like a vision of what you could do. Like, if you’re making 100,000, 10x means a million, yeah, yeah.

Sarah: 26:04
Pretty much everyone can times 10.

Josh: 26:08
Notice how easy 100,000 there. That’s a great way to think about that. What are I mean? What are some of the other tips you have for getting those numbers? And again, I to reiterate, I understand if anyone is uncomfortable sharing numbers. There’s there’s personal things with that too, if it’s like a personal brand or something like that. I’m incredibly open about numbers, but I just it’s so helpful for me, so I think it’s going to be helpful for people and it’s not out of a braggy or boastful thing, even when there are good seasons I had a tough season in 2023. But I was open about that too Like it does just make it relatable and realistic when somebody sees like I went, like one of my students, lisa and her husband went from and I remember this because it’s numbers they went from $38,000 to $78,000 in one year. Now I would have said, well, it’s about a 50, it’s about a 100% increase. Actually, if I would have said, yeah, they went, or 50. No, that’s 100% right, they doubled.

Josh: 27:09
So I’m terrible at math, so anyway, if I want to set 100% increase, then you know, like that, there’s no frame to that but there’s no basis of like well, what, where do we start from? But 38 to 78. Oh my gosh, that’s like now we’re getting close to six figures. This makes it more real. So anyway, I say all that to say I, just at any cost I try to get real numbers. If somebody is interested in sharing numbers, but a little hesitant, do you have any tips to help them actually get the numbers out to you?

Sarah: 27:44
Yeah, I don’t know, that’s kind of tricky. I guess it depends on the vibe you’re getting from that client. You can kind of you can talk openly about it. I think that there’s a few other things you can do to kind of set the stage for that conversation. In my intake form I ask things like you know, how many sales are you making now and how many are you helping to make in future? So we kind of already get them thinking about it, because then I could ask later and be like oh, have you’re, are you getting more than those two sales per month now?

Sarah: 28:17
I think you can also in your if in your process you’re asking questions in a form and having them do tasks like pre-work before the project, you can have steps that they need to take of documenting where they are right now. So again, getting them to think about it and like take a minute and be like how many sales are you getting or how much money are you making right now? You don’t, and you could put in there. You could like you don’t have to put this. If you don’t want me to see this, you know you can just jot it down privately, but make note because I want you to be able to come back to this later and, you know, be able to compare those numbers. And then, yeah, I think then it’s just a matter of of your, the vibe you’re getting from them and how you know if they’re just not comfortable, then they’re not comfortable, but if you’re like hey, this this is an amazing stat, something to be proud of, you know.

Sarah: 29:09
Can we say this and? See what they say.

Josh: 29:12
I know I’ve learned with Web Designer Pro. I really try to get real results and real numbers. I’ve had to catch myself because sometimes, if I ask about requesting real numbers recently, I’d said like, or it, you know, have you feeling comfortable, you don’t have to worry about it. And then I got the vibe like they were down to share the numbers. But then I made them second. Like I made them second guess it? Because I said, or you don’t have to share it.

Josh: 29:36
So now I’m starting to just say, if you’re open to it, would you care to share numbers? I’ll be respectful either way, but numbers really do, you know, make it realistic for people. So that’s kind of the way I’m trying to go about that now. Moving forward, I guess too, like if you’re following up with people, either one on one or in a group of clients, you could probably just set the bar right up front and just say, hey, we’re collecting some results from clients, we’re going to dive into numbers and look at what has worked for you. So that would immediately weed out the people who are uncomfortable sharing numbers. I’d imagine if we went about it that way, yeah, for sure, just letting them know up front.

Josh: 30:15
So this idea of like how to do it interview call are there any other? We’re missing. I mean I imagine you know the email kind of thing with a list of questions or zoom call that’s recorded. Are there any other tips or software or anything? You mentioned the vouch for I’ll make sure we link to that. So it’s really cool too. I’d never heard of that. Any other tools or methods for actually doing a case study? For getting the numbers, for getting the yeah, I like for actually conducting the interview.

Sarah: 30:47
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can’t think of any others. I think that those are all the ones that I would think of. It’s just having the open conversation and letting them feel comfortable.

Josh: 31:00
I know I remember many a time meeting in person and then being like Dang it, I should have recorded that it was so good. I actually had a guest on the podcast, sandy, who was on recently, who has been a student of mine for a long time, and we met in person at a web design conference last year and we were sitting there and she just like told me this story which I had never heard before to know anything about, and I’d literally told her. I was like All right, sandy, you’re coming on my podcast because we need to have this conversation again publicly. It’s so good and it was, first of all, an incredible story but also a case study I’ll share publicly. Like, for anyone who doesn’t know, a lot of my interviews with students are case studies and they often bring me a lot of people into courses in Web Designer Pro, and actually the ones I’ve done more recently have been the framework and the basis for the ones I’m working on right now that are going to be released here soon.

Josh: 31:59
So interviews like interviewing people, even if you don’t have a podcast or big platform, really is a great way to go. I wanted to get your thoughts on this, whereas it’s more of a just casual chat versus a list of questions, because I found sometimes if you give people questions, they think about it too much and you get those servicing answers, whereas when somebody’s just chatting, that’s when they usually give you like the best stuff. When they just offhand talk about you know the results that they got from your website, or how much they appreciate you or how they felt about their business after working with you. Yeah, what are your thoughts on that interview versus casual chat?

Sarah: 32:39
Yeah, no, I think you make a good point that when you’re having a comfy conversation, people can open up and talk to you.

Sarah: 32:48
An interview can feel more formal, which could be good, or it could be bad Like, I mean bad, you know, in their eyes.

Sarah: 32:54
So I think if you’re having an interview or you’re saying, oh, I want to feature you on my website, then it starts to feel special and like, oh, I’m going to get featured, I’m going to get you know or like for you. You know, if you’re bringing students on and like putting it on your podcast as exciting opportunity for them to get more visible, there have been occasions in the past where I was working with a client and they didn’t have testimonials and I brought in an outside service provider who goes and gets those for you, and so she would go and ask for feedback from their students, and so that’s that can be nice too, because sometimes people people also are sharing things that could be improved and they feel uncomfortable telling you. So you can still be getting some some of that. You know I don’t know if you would think of it as negative, but you can get that good feedback to improve what you’re doing at the same time so constructive criticism.

Sarah: 33:52
Yeah yeah, so having a third party can sometimes be helpful too, but but I really like the angle of approaching them and being like I want to feature you, I want to promote you, and so I would love to share some of the results that we’ve gotten together, and pretty much everyone we work with wants more visibility, so it’s like an easy yes.

Josh: 34:14
I totally agree. Yeah, yeah, if you do, if you do put it in that context where it’s like I want to feature you or you’re going to have a blog post on my side or going to have a link, seo juice back to your site, that is a really, really great way to go and, like I said, there’s a lot of benefits to that because it’s also not only from an SEO perspective perspective good for both parties, it’s also something that they could share if they’re interested. Like, it’s been really cool for me to have some students on the podcast in the past and now I see the episode on their website so I know when people are checking out their site they might listen to the show or listen to the podcast. So you know, I will say too, being on the other end of doing a case study, it was honestly a bit of a turning point for me in my career when I was featured on Smart Passive Income, pat Flynn’s website. I had been a core student of theirs and then I sent in a video testimonial and then they followed up and asked to do like a case study and it was a non-recorded interview that we did on Zoom and she just kind of took the best parts of our interview and typed it up as a story. So, to your point, from the very beginning she like she controlled the narrative. She heard my stuff and then kind of made a story about it, which is still a piece of content that I reference often. But then Pat read that and had me on to the Smart Passive Income podcast to talk about it, which was a big boost in my personal brand and really set a lot of new things in motion.

Josh: 35:44
All that to say, doing a case study can also have a ton of benefits. So I don’t know what the angle is on that, but you know forever what’s gonna be different. I like that was a big podcast. It’s one of the top in the top podcasts in the space. So I was like floored. I was like, oh my gosh, I’ve never been in the kitchen and tell my wife like, holy crap, I got invited to be like one of my favorite podcasts. It’s amazing. So there is a lot of benefits with doing a case study too. Any tips for doing like being on the opposite side and actually giving a good case study interview?

Sarah: 36:21
Yeah, like, yeah, that’s such an interesting angle, like being the recipient, like where you’re being featured. I could totally see how it would feel. It makes you feel more professional, more real, like, oh, I’m a big business now. It can be a turning point for you and your confidence. It can give you that opportunity to record that data that maybe you’ve just been living through it so you haven’t really been stopping and thinking and celebrating and documenting, and then that becomes an asset for you going forward too, because it allows you to tell again your story of the success in your business. So I think that’s a really interesting perspective, thinking about it from their side. I’ll have to think about that more because that might go into conversations of convincing people to do that and it’s amazing for you on your side apart, from just the exposure.

Josh: 37:22
I do. I mean, I’ve learned that with what I do. Now I kind of wish I would have done a better job at that with client work, which is to say I will feature you and I’m gonna write content. You could repurpose it. You could do whatever you would like with this. Also, it is amazing to have somebody write about your business. I’m actually some of the best copywriting I know. You’re such a you’re a copyrighted yourself.

Josh: 37:47
Some of the best copy and messaging I’ve got came from doing success stories or case studies, because they see your business in a different way than you do. It’s the whole like you’re in the bottle or the label. You can’t read the label inside the bottle. Somebody’s outside of it and they see you, your business, they get a feel for you and what you do. They can see it in a much simpler way and it’s like oh my gosh, that’s. You know I was making this way more complicated than I need to, so it’s not gonna be a fit of having somebody else do a success story on your journey or on a project or something.

Sarah: 38:20
Yeah, yeah. That brings to mind a thing that I learned years ago when I first left corporate and went into entrepreneurship and I was like I’m gonna launch a course and I learned from Mariah Cause and she taught something called copy stocking, where you which sounds scary, but it’s not where you’re like actually writing down the words that people say. So, like, yeah, when you get a testimonial and you are reading, are you gathering the case study information, the words that your clients are using about you? It can be really revealing. You’ll be like oh, especially if you hear it multiple times. Like, oh, multiple people have said that they were so impressed by how organized I was. Oh, I guess I’m an organized person. Now that becomes part of my brand messaging and you know like, oh, the process was so smooth. Oh, I should double down on that and it can be really. Yeah, it can be really revealing because you’re too much in your head and vice versa.

Josh: 39:13
If you are getting a case study from a client and they say those like catchphrases or keywords, you know Josh’s business was so whatever organized or the process was super easy. I didn’t feel intimidated. That is gold copy to utilize elsewhere. So I would encourage everyone I’m sure you would too Like, if somebody is giving you those those, those like responses and results and stuff, yeah, look out for those keywords that could be placed on your homepage or in your marketing or whatever that looks like. It’s such a untapped potential and gold mine for like really good converting copy. That’s not AI, that’s not overthought, it’s like it’s real because it’s like a genuine reaction.

Sarah: 39:57
Yeah, you could practically. You know, depending on the variety of testimonials and things that you’ve gathered from people, you could probably create a whole sales page just from paragraphs of information that other people wrote Like. You don’t have to rewrite it or rephrase it, you probably shouldn’t even like use their exact words, and then more people like them are going to be like oh, this is me too.

Josh: 40:23
Okay, challenge accepted. I was thinking I have so many testimonials and videos on my pro landing page and I’m like I don’t need to think about a dang thing when it comes to marketing, that I can just literally look at that. I really think about looking that in the way of like marketing for email copy or homepage copy or social whatever it is. That is a genius way to go. Okay, one thing I wanted to ask about actually, okay, before we get to this one question portfolio versus case study. You mentioned earlier that could lead to a case study or something. Do you recommend putting a case study as like a link on a portfolio page as somebody sifting through, or do you recommend putting an entire case study on a portfolio page or having part of it? All of the above what are your thoughts on portfolio versus case study?

Sarah: 41:17
Yeah, I think it just it depends on your situation. 100% Like, if you like, for the longest time I had a lot of portfolio pieces where it was like the mock ups and I didn’t have a lot of information from them. And then, but I had the opportunity to make a case study, so I made one case study page and then I had my portfolio and they were separate, but you could totally combine them. I think that they live in harmony. It’s just like what is the best way to showcase the one that you wanna feature.

Sarah: 41:54
If you want like more simplicity in your navigation and you just wanna have portfolio and then you get to the portfolio page, maybe you have a few case studies featured at the top, or you have those portfolio pieces that have case studies are first, or you could sprinkle them around. It’s one of those things that you might have to sort of test and see like, oh, nobody’s even seeing these case studies. Then you test separating it out. So, yeah, I don’t have a clear recommendation there. I would say it’s just to try a few things out and see what makes sense.

Josh: 42:28
That makes sense. They do work seamlessly together because there are people who are gonna be sifting through your portfolio and they may be more. They may be more like design mindset, they wanna see something that looks nice, but then maybe if they see case studies then they know they can go further to then look at results. So that’s the double whammy right there of it Looks pretty and you see before and afters, which that was a whole separate thing. That I it was one of my most popular pages on my website was the before and afters and it was just simply before and after. There was nothing else. There was just before and after, no links to case studies, no portfolio On that page. It was just before and after. But those all can work together or they could all be on a portfolio page that links to before and afters and case studies.

Josh: 43:10
What I wanted to ask you was length on these case studies, because I imagine you know we’re getting into the realm of. It’s a story where I mean I guess it probably is. It depends answer. But how? What’s a good case study link that we talk in a thousand words, 2000, that’s even that. I mean two to 2500 words. That’s gonna be like a decent. That’s like a meaty blog post right there. So what’s the length of a good test case study?

Sarah: 43:37
Yeah, I feel like If you are a designer or you’re big into branding, you’re doing a lot of like logos and they’re using it on their merch, then your case study might be kind of long because you’re gonna put a lot of images in there and maybe the copy is a little bit less, where you’re telling, like the telling that story just at the top in a condensed section and then showing it, you know, a few details alongside the images as you’re going down the page. So, yeah, you could go that direction. You could make them into blogs, like you. All your case studies could be blogs and then people can filter and search for like their niche.

Sarah: 44:21
If you’d like to do it like that, I think if you have a bunch of landing pages that are all 2000 words long plus a bunch of images, that might be a little heavy. Maybe in those cases you want to have a PDF with more detail. I’ve, you’ve, I’ve seen people put together PDFs with multiple case studies in them and then a little bit about them at the beginning and then a little bit of a sales pitch at the end. So you could be like it’s an opportunity. You know, download my case studies if you want to work with me and then they review it there. Offline you could have a bunch so many case studies that you’ve gathered over the years that you write a book, you publish it on Amazon and then you just on your page on your site, be like you want to read my case studies? There’s my book.

Josh: 45:06
Package it nicely. You know, absolutely. I love that idea, sarah. I didn’t think about making it a book per se, but yeah, you’re absolutely right. Also, I’m so glad you mentioned the thing about putting like a call to action or a lead gen or something in there, because case studies are a very it’s like an introvert’s dream to marketing, because you don’t need to sell, you don’t need to like think of a bunch of marketing copy, you don’t need to Put any scarcity to urgency.

Josh: 45:36
You could in a call to action but case studies are one of the best sales vehicles without selling, because you’re just sharing what works and, more specifically, like I’ve always taught for a while that you don’t need to sell, you can educate. But often when you’re educating potential clients, you’re giving ideas and things that are probably gonna work, most likely gonna work. A case study is like this actually worked, like here’s the product work. This is what we did. If you can get results in there real numbers, not percentages awesome, and Do you want us to work with you? Here’s where to go book a call or sign up for this or whatever it is. So it really is kind of like the the easiest way to market Without selling.

Sarah: 46:20
I feel like yeah, I, I agree 100%. Like that’s one of my favorite things to put on social media is social proof, testimonials, portfolio pieces, case studies. Because then you’re there, it’s like oh, here’s this interesting story with a pretty picture, you want to go read about it. And then somewhere in there Big fan of transitions, like writing so many sales pages over the years you got your story and then you’re like and if you need help with this too, you know, this is how you can, you can work with me and then have that, have that call to action. It’s um, it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t put that.

Sarah: 47:01
Yeah, at least at the bottom of your, your case study page.

Josh: 47:05
So good point and look, never too late if you’ve got 10 case studies on your site right now, or success stories. Yeah, you heard it here. Go over there at a nice transition. Called action, free lead gen, whatever it is, free consult, call, whatever it is. Had that that’s the beauty about blogging. By the way, I’m learning that too, like I’m gonna. One thing I have on my to-do list this year is to go through my top pages in my site and look at where can I offer like a free lead Generator, or sign up or or called actions, so you do the same thing with case studies. Yeah, gosh, it’s such a great way to go.

Josh: 47:38
Ai in case studies Mmm, is there a place for this? I am so, you know I I feel for copywriters, because AI is such a. I mean there’s ways you can use it. I know a lot of people are turning to AI completely for for copy, but it’s already so over done. I guy can sniff out an AI paragraph Heartbeat. Now for case studies. This seems like it’s so personal. When and where could AI be used in case studies? That’s a great question. Summaries, transcripts, interview questions. I imagine you could prompt chat GPT for some good Props at least many questions.

Sarah: 48:19
I think that’s a yeah, that’s a great idea, or you could Like I wouldn’t want AI to help me write my case study page, necessarily because I wouldn’t want to get confused about what the client said.

Josh: 48:31
Yeah and then you feel like the unveiling, the key to success. You know like the typical All right, this was so you know. Chat GPT.

Sarah: 48:40
Yeah, yeah, but I could, yeah, I think you could definitely have AI help you. You could even like feed I’m guessing dried this, but you could feed the AI a bunch of case study pages and be like summarize the 10 things that I’m best at or that I the 10 ways I serve clients you know, or make five headlines that could Lead to you know someone wanting to visit this page. You could also use AI, just to you know, help with copy editing. Yeah, I don’t know. I’m still new at exploring what AI can do and what AI can do for me as a copywriter. So, apart from like playing around in chat, gpt and trying to make it not sound robotic, these are all just ideas off the top of my head.

Josh: 49:33
Yeah, no, they’re great though. Yeah, especially, I think, when it comes to a like refining standpoint, if it can help, you know, reduce some of the filler or reduce some of the unneeded kind of sentences, make it a little bit tighter, make it a little more thrift or brief, I think that is definitely where AI can help. I would personally use it for prompts and for, yeah, for refining. That’s basically what I use AI for, anyway. Yeah, yeah, I’m getting away from it from title creation, because now all the titles, anything with a, with a, like a colon, in there is oh well, that was an idea, you know, revealing the hidden, secret secrets to case study success. You know something like that. Yeah, no, we’re going to call this something human and real.

Josh: 50:17
Yeah, a lot of good points in this one, sarah. I think the idea of framing it as a story is a key. The difference between testimonials and portfolio pages and how to include these in portfolios is a biggie. We talked a lot about the length and how to conduct interviews, both written video. Some really good tips you shared about testimonials and how to actually get those from clients and when they get them. So there has been some gold covered in this one very timely for me personally, because I’m going to be working on this as I wrap the ones that I have kind of sitting on the sideline. So one final question for you before we get to that, sarah where should people go to find out more about you? You have a challenge to, I think like well, where should everyone go from here to connect with you?

Sarah: 51:03
Yeah, you can find me at sarahdesigncom that’s Sarah with an H because even though I’m not offering design services, it’s still a part of my life and I’ve owned that domain for more than 20 years, so I’m never letting it go. And at the bottom of the site there’s links over to my social media, because I do hang out on Instagram and I’m spending more time on LinkedIn. And, yes, I kind of made a name for myself around sales pages. So I have a sales page challenge of people are new and new to writing their first sales page. It’s at sarahdesigncom slash challenge and that’ll walk you through getting your MVP sales page up and running and making it a little less scary so you can get out there and launch your stuff.

Josh: 51:48
Awesome. Well, we’ll have those links. I was actually just or. We’ll have those linked. I was just going through your case studies page on your website. Yeah, you’ve got some awesome ones here. I really like the one for Page Bronton, which it looks like you’re going to be doing one for Shannon Manor here too, so I’m excited to check that out.

Sarah: 52:04
Yeah, yeah.

Josh: 52:05
So you’ve got project problem prep work, intensive day handoff and days to complete. That’s interesting Amount of time that it might be to complete a project. That’s a cool little metric that some client I mean. That’s one of the common questions how long does this take? You can address that in a case study. That’s great.

Sarah: 52:23
Yeah, and I include that specifically because I had some bigger projects. But I offer VIP days for the most part, so that helps to kind of set the stage for this is done in a day or done in a half day or two day intensive or something like that.

Josh: 52:39
I am totally going to use that as a like a metric for my case studies, because I have a lot of questions that I get before somebody joins, particularly WebZener Pro in my community. They’re like, how long will it take to I can go full time and I’m like there are so many variables. I have no idea, I don’t know. But if I can have some case studies of examples of like this person was brand spanking new, this is where they were out in life, this is where they got to in 10 months or 12 months, then, yeah, you might be around here, could be this timeframe, if you’re willing to work for it. This person, who had way more financial responsibility, built it up on the side and did this and it took. You know, maybe it took double the amount of time.

Josh: 53:16
Whatever it looks like, I didn’t think about using the timeframe as a metric there, so I’m going to be I think I’ll be referring back to your case studies a lot as a as a basis to help me out. So I really appreciate it. Yeah, final question here, sarah where should buddy get? Where should somebody get started? In the essence of, you know, keeping it simple, we covered a lot of things that could again make this a very complicated type of project for people.

Josh: 53:42
I would say you know, this isn’t going to be something you’re doing every week. You’re not going to be doing case studies every week. You could batch them. What are your tips? Or maybe what’s a tip that you have for somebody just to get started, if they’re thinking about doing their first one or getting, you know, getting their first case study from a client.

Sarah: 53:57
Yeah for sure. I think first of all, don’t put pressure on yourself that you’re going to have a hundred case studies or your every client is going to be a case study. Like I’d say, maybe shoot for three, but just shoot for one for starters. Like, be like, I’m going to make one, know that you’re going to improve it. The first time through is probably not going to be the final version and just write down what you did, how the project went, and focus on what you want more of. So, like in like in terms of time, you know how long did it take.

Sarah: 54:31
If you’re someone who loves to work collaboratively with clients and over six to eight weeks and back and forth with like sketches, include that in there. Like, focus on that. If you’re someone that wants to, you know, meet, have a kickoff and then they don’t talk again until you reveal the final stuff at the end. Then talk about how fast and easy that is. And it’s just two quick calls for the client. Because if you, if you know exactly what you want more of and you talk all about it in your case study, then the people who like that are going to want to book with you. So the person that wants hands on when you don’t like. They want the six to eight week project and you’re like I do it over a week. They’re going to be repelled and that’s good. You want the people who love that to be attracted and be like yeah, they’re the one for me.

Josh: 55:22
Case studies to attract your ideal clients. That is. That’s some good stuff. Great message to end off on Sarah. Thank you for your time. Really enjoyed chatting with you. This was very enlightening for me and inspiring, and, gosh, I’m pumped. Now I’m going to turn try to turn my mind off here with all these ideas, but definitely going to be referencing your site. I recommend everyone definitely as well. Go to Sarah designcom and then Sarah designcom slash challenge. That’s the link for the challenge, right, yeah?

Sarah: 55:49
Yeah, it’s free and they can. They can binge it all at once.

Josh: 55:51
So there we go. All right, sarah, thank you so much for joining. I’m going to head off and get going on my case studies.

Sarah: 55:57
Thanks, Josh. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Josh: 56:00
All right, friends, why? I hope you enjoyed that one again. Case studies are an absolute goldmine for continuing to get awesome web design clients that, like Sarah eloquently put here, are attracting the right type of clients. Like a case study can bring you the right type of clients. So there’s so many reasons I encourage that you really take case studies and success stories to heart. I’m doing this for my business right now and I’m reminding myself I don’t need a hundred case studies. I can do a few to start out with half a dozen. A dozen are going to be more than enough, so same for you. One. Even you get one. One’s enough to get going with. So I can’t wait to see yours. Leave a comment if you would. When you get your case studies up, or even just one case study, go to Josh Hallco, slash three, one, seven. Leave me a comment. I read all the podcast comments. I’d love to check yours out. Thanks again for tuning in and I’ll see you on the next episode, friends.

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