Meet the Magalog Guy…

Mike_KlassenThis is, admittedly, very long. But you’ll certainly have a better sense of whether we’ll be a good fit after reading this…

It’s said that people don’t like to read any more. As a direct market designer who has been involved in laying out magalogs, books, and personal development products, I know that’s not true. When people are interested in a topic, they’re willing to read anything that will help them reach their goals or solve their problems.

My clients know this, too. They wouldn’t bother investing in large-scale projects like that if they weren’t getting the results they were after.

My passion for layout is directly related to my passion for the written word. We live in a time where information on any topic is available in books, newsletters, reports, or with a few keystrokes on the Internet. It’s the power of people willing to share what they know to help others along, whether there’s profit involved or not.

That’s why I have a special interest in copy-heavy projects… they’re generally intended to teach the reader something even it it’s just part of the sales process.

It’s likely that when you look at the plain copy you or your copywriter has written in a Word document, it’s a bit overwhelming to think about getting it into a format that encourages readers to start and keep reading. More than a few clients who have attempted to handle layout on their own quickly learned that desktop publishing software is a completely new world with a steep learning curve.

Part of my job is to spare you from that necessary chore so you can focus on the other things you do best. In fact, I consider myself a content bridge. I take your copy and bridge that gap between the raw text and a format that people can easily read.

While book lovers enjoy getting lost in a good book, I enjoy getting wrapped-up in copy-heavy projects. As strange as it sounds, it’s a very relaxing experience where you get into a layout groove… deciding where the main copy and sidebars will fit, choosing the colors, choosing the fonts.

As a designer with a writing background and a love for reading, I suppose it’s no surprise I enjoy working with words and creating something that compels people to read and react. I know first-hand how powerful the written word can be.

I’m fortunate to be able to combine my background in writing with my passion for layout and design. That, in itself, makes being in my studio an enjoyable experience each day. But just as enjoyable is helping you get your message into the hands of your customers and prospects.

And that’s what it’s ultimately all about… reaching your customers and prospects with something that is valuable to them and leading them to that point where they make a decision to buy or take some sort of action. That’s my job as a direct market designer.

Why We Should Be Working Together

Everything I do – from design and consulting to speaking and writing – has that “helping people” thread running through it.

Obviously, as a business I need to charge for my services and experience just as you do.

But if you’ve done any research on me, you’ll know that I’m big on the concept of sharing ideas freely through my blog, podcast and other channels, whether you hire me or not.

The testimonials that design, consulting and speaking clients have freely offered also speak to my goal of creating a solid partnership with the people I work with.

I’m a big believer in the “right fit” with clients. Like me, you’ve probably dealt with very capable people who can do the job, but are such a pain personality-wise, you can’t stand dealing with them.

That’s why I’m most proud of the testimonials that mention how easy I am to work with. Life is just too short to work with people who are a pain in the rear, no matter how talented they are.

So here’s what you get when you work with me:

1. I’m easy to contact. My phone number, e-mail address and mailing address are on every page. That means I’m not hidden and inaccessible as some freelancers are.

2. I answer my e-mail. If you don’t hear from me within a day, my response either fell into your spam folder or didn’t get through at all. That’s rare, but it happens. Don’t feel guilty sending me another note if you think your first one didn’t get through. The direct marketing world, in particular, is usually on a fast schedule, so let’s not wait around if immediate contact is important.

3. I return phone calls. Frankly, most clients and potential clients prefer to e-mail me about projects, but the phone is right here next to my computer. If I’m not around, or on the phone with another client, you can leave a voice message and I’ll return the call, usually within 24 hours during the week if not the same day.

4. When you hire me as a designer or consultant, you’re working directly with me. I don’t outsource projects to other designers so that I can take on more projects. I’m a solo operation and like to personally handle client projects from beginning to end. If your project requires a skill I don’t have or is too large for one person to handle, I’ll be upfront about it. From there, I may be able to find someone to assist, or you may have someone else in mind. Whatever the solution is, we deal with it honestly and above-board.

5. I charge by the project, not by the hour. That means you know the final price of your project before we even begin the layout. If you’re needing additional work after the layout has begun, there may be an additional charge. But it’s something that we’ll talk about so you don’t get an unexpected second invoice when the project is complete.

6. I don’t disappear during projects. Ever worked with a freelancer whom you couldn’t get a hold of for a number of days in the middle of a project only to find out he or she took a vacation without letting you know? Believe me, it happens. Like anyone else, I do take vacations. But if they’re going to occur in the middle of long projects, my clients know ahead of time.

7. I’m not a Prima Donna. I’ll chalk this up to a being raised by good parents and spending my early working years in a small town where everyone knew each other. There are things I know that you probably don’t. But the reverse is also true. So there’s no point in anyone thinking they’re better than anyone else.

My goal here is to focus on some on the personality and “behind-the-scenes” business stuff that is likely just as important to you as my skill-set.

“So what’s next?“, you may be asking.

If the characteristics above are important to you – in addition to skills I bring as a designer, consultant and speaker – it’s worth your time to contact me. I offer a free project consultation by phone so we can talk about your needs. No pressure. No heavy-handed sales techniques. That’s not needed because after our conversation we’ll both have a pretty good idea whether or not we’re a good fit for each other.

Some details about how I work

In point #4 above I mentioned that I don’t outsource layout work. The positive thing about that is that you work directly with me… no having to go through layers to get to the person actually doing your project.

The negative thing about it is that it restricts the number of projects I can take on at one time. All of my projects – magalogs, books, training material, etc. – take time. So I only accept a small number of jobs at one time.

In my project proposals, I include a proposal expiration date of about 2 weeks. That’s not to pressure anyone into signing quickly. Because my project calendar can fill quickly and months in advance, it’s bad business for me to leave proposals open-ended.

I also charge the full amount for the project upfront. Both the signed proposal and payment are required by the proposal expiration date, even if the project isn’t going to start for months down the road.

From time to time, this doesn’t sit well with someone thinking of hiring me. That’s OK… I completely respect that. It just means we’re not a good fit for each other. And that’s why I mention it here. If this doesn’t fit with your process, I’ve saved us both some time.

A quick note about quotes… I don’t make them without knowing details about your specific project and without having spoken to you on the phone. So if you’re just e-mailing different people and want to know “ballpark” prices without talking on the phone, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed when you contact me.

What I’ve found about my first encounters with my best clients is that they’re serious about producing a magalog and happy to spend a short amount of time on the phone to discuss their project. If that’s not you, again I completely respect that. You’ll want to look for another designer.

My clients continually put their trust in me because I’m more than just a designer… I’m an expert resource in magalog (slim jim, issuelog, bookalog) development, direct response marketing layout, and content marketing.

I bring over 20 years of writing experience to the layout projects I accept meaning I have a clear understanding of the important relationship between copy and design.

I keep the process as simple as possible

While there’s a lot of work that goes into a magalog, that’s my worry. I keep your life simple by getting on with the job, leaving you free to handle your other tasks.

If you have experience with magalogs, you know all the things that go into them: colors, fonts, kerning, leading, photos, sidebars, testimonials, order forms…the list is long. That’s why you want someone with experience so you don’t have to worry about all those details.

No doubt you’ve been under the pressure of a deadline and needed to bring in someone new at the last minute. The best time to evaluate a designer and look at their work is before there is a need. I would urge you to contact me today.

My Background

I transitioned from copywriting to layout and design in 2005. Now, as a direct market designer, I bring an understanding of the importance of copy to my clients’ projects. The layout is created to enhance the copy and help generate sales or leads, not show off a designer’s software tricks.

I not only handle magalog layout, but I also work on sales letters, books, and other material used in direct marketing.

In addition to working with clients across North America, I have taught copywriting and design at the college level and at direct marketing conferences. My articles and advice on marketing and design have appeared in Print Professional Magazine, Home Business Magazine, Inside Freelance Design, copy and design-related blogs, and even translated into Norwegian for the Markendsheltene marketing and sales website.