Ben Allen

A Brief Sampling of WorkBA logo

I work primarily for publishers and my work includes writing, editing, producing marketing materials, consulting, organizing content and many other less easily categorized jobs. The skill set I have to do all these jobs starts with critical thinking and includes the ability to accurately communicate through written and designed materials in different media. And all of that has to be done while never losing sight of who the intended audience is and how to reach and engage them. Below is a small sampling and touches on a wide range of projects that require an equally wide range of skill sets.


Here's one example of some writing I've done, instructions on building a shed. Click here. Search for Benjamin Allen on this site and you'll find 16 articles I've written for the Sears Managemylife web site. Subjects have included computers, home improvement, and landscaping.

managemylife screen shot

Writing the articles also included providing what the publisher calls" scrap art" which are rough sketches and descriptions that an artist can follow to create accurate instructional illustrations. With this project I decided to create the scrap art within Adobe Illustrator using isometric perspective drawings. The editor I worked with told me they were as good as what they received from the artist and then asked if Managemylife could use these instead. After that I supplied final art for several other stories. It's a good example of the many skills I can bring to any project.


I wrote the vast majority of catalog copy in two catalogs published for Mills Fleet Farm that has stores mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Although each little description is not terribly difficult to write, creating another compelling graph of copy for another fishing lure is something to be proud of. The job demonstrates one of my work ethics, "Persistence is genius in disguise." Each catalog has about 60 pages of product so there were hundreds of items to write. Much of what I wrote has wound up on the Mills Fleet Farm web site.

Fishing lure catalog

I also wrote several stories within these two catalogs. The idea for the catalogs was to provide enough editorial so that readers would keep them around for awhile. The ideas was referred to as "stickiness."


covers of catalogsNot only was I the writer of both articles and catalog copy in the Mills fleet Farm catalogs (above), but I was hired as the project manager as well. Being a project manager requires establishing a schedule, lining up copyeditors and proofreaders, working with the publisher during weekly update calls with Mills, managing and instructing the designer(s) on the project, and working with the production department.


BH&G Cookbook App logoI created categories of recipes and selected recipes from the Meredith online database to reflect the proportion and type of recipes found in the BH&G New Cookbook (aka The Red Plaid).. These recipes were then incorporated into an iPhone app now available through the iTunes store. And it's FREE. Click here to go to it. I used Filemaker Pro to organize and track recipes I had selected and multiple variables associated with those recipes.

Screenshots of the New Cookbook app

The Filemaker Pro database I created included metadata for SEO (search engine optimization) benefits.


DIY logoI edited many home improvement stories for DIY Network online content. Editing was handled through a shared Google document. I also made suggestions for additional photography and content. Key to this job was to understand the perspective of the end reader. Although the DIY Network has a treasure trove of content because of all the shows they have aired and can pull from, those shows are written, edited and shown as a matter of entertainment first, and education second. As a result, some steps within projects are either glossed over or missing. It was my job to think through what was missing for a viewer to successfully complete the project shown and to let the DIY Network know about it.

Web Publisher

The Iowa Gardener


The Iowa Gardener is an online web site and free email newsletter created by me and Veronica Lorson Fowler. Veronica is the face and personality of The Iowa Gardener and writes the content for the web pages and for the newsletter. No small task. I handle all the technical aspects of web hosting, creating and designing web pages using Dreamweaver and creating the newsletter using Constant Contact. I like to joke that I'm the wizard behind the curtain. I've learned much through The Iowa Gardener on the technical front, teaching myself to be moderately adept in Adobe Dreamweaver and to navigate the constant contact web portal. Occasionally I'm a photographer using photoshop and illustrator using Adobe Illustrator. More important than the technical skills I've developed is that I've become aware of how readers react to email newsletters and how they use them to navigate to stories on web pages.

We currently have more than 4,000 subscribers,all obtained through our permission based marketing program. We sell advertising in the newsletter and on our web pages. In general, the web pages receive more than a thousand hits a week.


I maintain the web pages for the Ames Rose Tree Fiber Shop at the direction of the shop owner. It's a small infrequent job, but I understand the importance of maintaining a web presence for smaller businesses. It's my only experience using GoDaddy as a hosting service. The shop had used GoDaddy because it was free. If it weren't free I'd have moved it in a heartbeat to someplace like DreamHost. GoDaddy is needlessly complex and a bit difficult to navigate if you don't use it every day. In essence, I'd fault their web site as not being more intuitive when it comes to navigation.

rose tree fiber shop

Media Consultant

wiley logoWiley Publishing contracted with me to consult with them about entering the Home Center market. Primarily they wanted to have someone with the right retail and editorial experience in the room when discussing the possibility of expanding the line of Stanley books they are currently licensed to market through their agreement with Meredith. The discussion required deep knowledge of the editorial processes required to create or revise highly illustrated books, the production problems that may be encountered, the P&L assumptions for creating these types of books, distribution challenges within the home center retailing sector, and how retailers of home improvement products perceive and handle books and magazines.

Stanley logo

  Central logoBecause of my varied background with different mass media I was hired as an adjunct instructor by the Communication Studies department at Central College. The course I teach reviews mass media theories, the aspects of different mass media, and how the increasing use of digital and mobile media devices is influencing both of those. It's been interesting to review what I learned when earning a masters degree in Journalism and to update my knowledge of how current and future users of mass media behave. It's reinforced my assertion above that good writers, editors and publishers need to always keep the end reader in mind.
  lowe'sMeredith Integrated Media hired me to be part of a team that responded to a Request For Proposal from Lowe's to provide online content to Lowe's customers. I was hired to provide the necessary experience of the home center retail environment and to help craft the initial drafts of the RFP. The effort was successful. Meredith won the contract and has parlayed that into also creating magazines for Lowe's as well. meredith

Project Management

book stackWhen employed by Meredith full-time, I managed editorial departments that produced books under the brands of Better Homes and Gardens, Home Depot, Ortho, Scotts, and Stanley. Most of the books were in the gardening, home improvement, and decorating areas. Annual budgets were in the low seven figure range. The job required good personnel management skills, the ability to manage multiple projects at the same time, and knowledge of all aspects of book making.