From the IFD Mailbag …
The Lucrative Niche of Direct Mail Design

Hello, everyone!

Today, our first piece of mail comes from Bill, a brand-new member of our Graphic Design Success Program:

Hello Kristin,

I’ve been a graphic designer and art director for the last 22 years, professionally trained at university level, spent several years in agency, corporate, and self-employed positions. It’s only been in the last year that I looked into the AWAI programs and realized there is a whole other side of graphic design.

I struggled with the idea that DM design has any merit. But in looking at the Graphic Design Success Program, I see that it is not all about “looking pretty” but about selling product.

I’m skeptical about the “six-figure income” that can be made in direct-response design. I guess I want to be reassured that this is a viable opportunity and the Lori Haller and Ray Holland stories are real and attainable.


Welcome to Graphic Design Success., Bill. As you have already learned by looking through the program, our approach is quite different from traditional graphic design in many ways.

Direct-mail design is a different animal, and our program is the only one that gives insight into what makes direct response a $1.86 TRILLION industry. Even in the age of the Internet, direct mail is still responsible for the biggest advertising expenditures and sales revenues. In comparison to Madison Avenue advertising, the results of direct mail are tangible. If the client makes money, so does the designer.

Lori Haller and Ray Holland are very successful direct-mail designers. Lori, for example, easily hits six figures each year with clients including National Geographic, Richard Simmons, Boardroom Publishing, Forbes, and many more.

Let me also tell you a little about my own experience. Before coming to AWAI, I worked in the graphic-design department of a major publisher who mailed millions of pieces of direct mail each year. Their team of freelance graphic designers specialized in magalogs, slim Jims, bookalogs, and other specialized direct-mail formats – and made between $5,000 and $10,000 per promotion.

So, yes, there is a demand for direct-mail designers. And, yes, direct-mail design will definitely benefit your personal bottom line.

Tim writes to us all the way from Kenya …

Dear Kristin,

I am keen on this program. I live outside the U.S. and wonder whether I’ll have problems getting paid assignments and transacting business with clients once I’m trained.

The program looks like it may take 11 months. After which installment will I be qualified enough to design?

Must I use an IBM or Mac computer? Can I use a no-name brand?

With AWAI’s training, how marketable will I be in offering my services on sites like


Tim, our program is designed so you can work wherever you choose. We have many Graphic Design Success members all around the world. With modern technology, it’s easy to communicate with clients from anywhere.

How long it takes to complete the program depends on how much time you can devote to it. Some members have completed it in as little as 5 months. You will probably be able to design simple sales letters after the first few installments, but we recommend completing the program to benefit from it fully.

Regarding your computer question: IBM (and no-names) or Macs are equally suited for design. It depends on which one you’re more comfortable with. The “Choosing the Right Computer” series that we’ve been running in this e-zine will help you make your decision. You can read Part 4 (Choosing the Right Printer) today. Check out the first three installments in the IFD archives.

About your marketability: As a Graphic Design Success member, you have access to our exclusive website, where you can find hundreds of listings for copywriters and graphic designers. You need look no further for great freelance or permanent job opportunities.

That’s it from me for today. Until next time …


The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: September 22, 2005

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