How I helped this visual designer get repeat clients fast
Working with me freed Karen to focus on what she is good at.
Writing was stressful and difficult for Karen Ybarra of Inspired Creative. She’s a wonderful visual designer, but she struggled with words and it showed in her website copy. I provided Karen a simple way to share her expertise with potential clients: she used a form to quickly and easily share the necessary details, then I crafted a beautiful story. It’s not magic, but sometimes it feels that way!
Her work was excellent, but her portfolio was weak.
I met Karen in the seanwes Community online. She mentioned her struggles with writing, and I offered to help. We set up a video call and she told me that she was looking for someone to help her write blog content.
Instead of simply offering to help Karen with what she thought she needed I dug deeper. We set up a few more video calls and I asked her questions to figure out what sort of content would most benefit her business.
We determined that Karen needed a way to communicate how her expertise benefits her clients — content that would help them see why they should want to work with her.
The main problem was her lack of ongoing contact with past and potential clients, specifically those on her email list and her followers on social media. She needed regular content that would remind them of her professional expertise so that they would think of her when they needed visual design services. The content she did have wasn’t reaching them effectively because it was neither polished nor professional.
As I explored her website it became clear that while the projects in her portfolio were beautiful and solved real problems for Karen’s clients, the descriptions were lacking. Some entries were only photos without any kind of explanation and those that did have a written description were short and hard to follow. They talked about interesting features of the design, but didn’t show how she had helped her client to achieve success.
The projects in her portfolio were strong, but they came across as weak because there was no story showing how Karen helps her clients to achieve success.
Case studies would help clients want to hire her.
The solution became clear: I would write case studies for Karen’s past projects. She could use them as blog posts and email newsletters, as well as include them in her portfolio. Quotes from the case studies would provide content for social media as well. This plan would allow for the most return on a relatively small investment of time because case studies are easy to repurpose in so many ways.
On our next video call I showed Karen how my simple, straightforward case study creation form would let her stop worrying about wording and allow her to easily produce the raw content I needed without overthinking it. I told her to treat is as a brain dump, writing partial sentences, bulleted lists, and random observations as the thoughts came to her. The questions in the outline helped her to quickly come up with all the details that would be necessary to tell a good story.
Once I was certain she knew how to use the form, we moved our communication from video call to email and established a writing schedule. We set deadlines for when she would have new content ready for me and for when I would return content to her. This kept us both accountable and ensured that Karen would have regular content to share online. She waited until she had a few in her queue, then started sharing a new case study every month.
I turned Karen’s choppy ramblings into beautiful success stories, then sent her a working copy to look over. She made sure that the story was accurate and that I hadn’t misunderstood or misrepresented anything.
Occasionally I did misunderstand something about a project and Karen was able to quickly correct it via email. She didn’t need to tell me how to rewrite the case study — I took charge of that. She was simply fact-checking.
When I was confident that the story was accurate, I went over it one last time to check for typos. Then I sent Karen the document.
Photos and formatting were her responsibility. After all, visual design is her specialty! My focus was on taking the burden of writing off of her so that she would be free to do what she does best.
Over the course of a few months I wrote case studies for seven of Karen’s best past projects. As soon as she sent out the first one she received messages from past clients asking her to do more work for them.
Along with each case study I included a handful of quotes for her to use on social media. Some of them were simply pull quotes that came directly from the case study content, but I rewrote others to fit Twitter’s character limit or to make sense out of context. I chose to keep each quote short enough to use on Twitter because that allowed Karen to use these quotes on any platform she wanted to. A single case study provided her with enough content to be active on social media each week for a whole month.
The written content on her website now reflects the high quality of her work.
Although it required a bit of a time investment at the beginning to figure out exactly how I could best help Karen, that investment proved more than worth it once we started the project. I made sure that I only involved her in the process when absolutely necessary in order to tell a complete and accurate story. My easy-to-use methods made the case study creation process less stressful by freeing her up to focus on what she is good at.
Less than three months after we met, Karen had seven month’s worth of content to help her stay engaged with her audience over email and on social media. The written content now reflects the quality of her visual design instead of feeling unpolished and half-hearted.
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Originally published at jordanelisheva.com on September 7, 2018.