Let me guess: your online creative portfolio is bursting with beautiful photographs, dreamy color palettes, and whimsical hand drawn illustrations. 

Aside from that, you’ve only included a few words on the page – maybe a short paragraph at the top that describes your niche/work and a “contact me button” at the end.

You’ve focused on the images because you think your art speaks for itself.

Or does it?

A pretty portfolio might attract your dream clients to your artistic style, but it’s not always enough to get them to fill out an inquiry form or click “buy now.”

They also want to feel connected to you as a person and get a glimpse of your unique creative process. They need to understand exactly how you can add value to their lives. Most of all, they want to feel confident that the investment is worth it.

Your creative portfolio can be your greatest salesperson if you pair the images with words that paint a compelling picture of what’s possible when you work together.

So how can you elevate your creative portfolio and book more of your dream clients using the power of words?

A case study is the perfect place to start.


Case studies are vivid stories about the work you did for a client and how your product or service made a difference in their life. 

These behind-the-scenes stories stick in the reader’s mind like a great novel and persuade them to buy your work.

It’s kind of like painting with words!


Think about one of your favorite novels, like Harry Potter or Pride and Prejudice. What kind of adventures do the characters go on? How do they feel at the beginning, and how do they grow or change throughout the journey? Can you see yourself in the story?

In a similar way, case studies help future clients imagine what it would be like to work with you as they read the story of a previous customer and see that the same happy ending is possible for their own life.


A great case study has two main characters (you and your client) and three acts (a challenge, a solution, and results).


Yes, this is a story about your creative work, but your client is the hero. Your job as the supporting actress is to make her shine! 

To do this, you have to study your client and understand what she was thinking, feeling, and hoping for every step of the way. 

The simplest way to get this information is to ask! Write out a list of questions and then set up a time to chat by phone or Zoom. You can also send the questions by email.

Use the details from the interview to write the story, and be sure to include direct quotes from your client in all three acts. This makes the story feel authentic and resonate deeply with the reader.


Introduce the main character (your client!) and talk about what was going on in her life before she hired you. 

  • What was she struggling with? What was she hoping for?
  • How did she learn about your product or service?
  • What compelled her to reach out to you now instead of waiting six months?
  • Describe the exact moment she knew you were the perfect person for the job.

    Be sure to capture the emotions as well as the factual details. For example, if you’re a family photographer, you could talk about how your client booked a session because she was afraid of forgetting what her kids were like when they were little.


Share the journey you went on with your client and what happened along the way.

  • What are the steps of your unique creative process?
  • Where did you look for inspiration? 
  • How did you incorporate your client’s feedback? 
  • Why did you choose this specific approach?

Be sure to layer in images that visually communicate the story. For example, you could share some of your initial sketches, a mood board, and the final design. This is where the power of words and images comes together.  


Your client achieved her dream (hurray!) and she couldn’t have done it without you.It’s time to tally up the beautiful results of your work together. 

  • Share tangible, measurable results. For example, if you’re a wedding calligrapher, you could talk about how much time the bride saved because she didn’t DIY the invitations. Or if you’re a web designer, you could share the number of new inquiries since the site went live or a boost in revenue from products sold.
  • Be sure to talk about intangible results, too. Is your client filled with joy when she sees your painting on her wall? Is she excited to show up on Instagram because of her beautiful brand photos? 
  • Wrap up your story with a call to action. What is the next step you want the reader to take? (Ex. – book a call, buy a product, visit another page on your site)

Friend, are you feeling excited about using case studies to elevate your portfolio, grow your business, and attract more dreamy clients? I hope so! 

Writing may not be your first love but it’s important to share the story in words and pictures, so your dream clients can clearly see what’s possible when they work with you.

If you add case studies to your portfolio, reach out to me and let me know how it goes!


Check out my free workbook, The 5 Ingredients You Need For an Irresistible Case Study. It includes a list of interview questions to get deeper insights from your clients and some tips for repurposing case studies on all of your sales and marketing channels. (And much more!)

Download the workbook at

You can also connect with me on Instagram @melissaharstinecreative. I love making new friends! Be sure to send a DM and say hello. 🙂 


Melissa Harstine helps creatives book more of their dream clients with customer-centric web copy and case studies. As a trained journalist, she leverages her research and interview superpowers to figure out exactly what clients need to hear to take the next step toward working with you, and she strategically weaves those words into the copy.Because killer copy – words that connect with hearts and convert into sales – comes straight from your clients’ mouths.Melissa lives in Kansas with her husband, Nate, and a backyard full of beautiful songbirds. On the weekends, you’ll find her sipping a pour over at a local coffee shop, taste testing a new Instapot recipe, or blazing through a good book.

Attract your dream clients with case studies

September 15, 2021