Thursday, October 6, 2016

YOUR Writer Website - First Steps and My Big Reveal by Kathy Halsey

Being a lefty, I think a bit differently. It seems I attack projects backwards, but it works for me. I've been contemplating the idea of a website and I took the plunge this summer with the help of an excellent author/ web designer, Lisa Amstutz. I create content and Lisa is the tech wizard. (Shameless plug from me - Lisa has two forthcoming books, APPLESAUCE DAY and COUNTING ON CHRISTMAS from Albert Whitman & Company in 2017. She has also written more than 50 books for the educational market. Visit her here.) 
Kathy and Lisa, a dynamic pair at the SCBWI Northern Ohio Conference


There are many considerations for creating a site, beyond it being a place for editors/agents to find you in cyberspace. Opinions vary  about how important a web presence is at the pre-published stage, but I am glad to have this piece of my writer puzzle close to completion. For me, the thought process of who I am as a writer, and what I can offer readers makes this a crucial step in my career.


Who Are YOU?
The Who asked this question back in 1978 and it resonates today. Before we even debated platform: Wix, Weebly, WordPress, Lisa led me through a series of questions. her questions and my answers follow. Perhaps Lisa's questions will help you, too.


1. What author sites you like for their look and feel? This could be an other entire post, but I looked for writers who had a similar background as I did (teacher, librarian, writer, newbie.) Pat Miller, Miranda Paul, Marcie Atkins and Chris Mihlay's sites fit my specifications. I consider them  online "mentor texts."

2. What colors/themes come to mind? What is unique to YOU? Here's a question that teases out how you'll present yourself to your targeted audience.  I'm an optimist, therefore I gravitate to cheerful vibrant colors such as orange, yellow, blue, and green. I am a Corgi nut and a former librarian, so Wiley Corgi is helping me do book reviews on the blog section of my site.

3. Who is your target audience? What can you offer them? My audience is parents/caregivers, writers, and educators, as well as agents/editors. My reader advisory role as a K-12 school librarian for 15 years indicates I know books and how to make that kid connection. Finally, I have spoken at many conferences, and my ability to instruct those seeking professional development has been honed over the years. Lisa stressed that I should also have a 'call action" for my readers. What do I want them to do once they peruse my page.

4. What pages should you include on your site? I looked to my mentor author sites (see #1) and took inventory of my skill set and decided on home page, bio page, pursuing educational publishers page with my topics of interest & my background, blog for book reviews,  a writing page and workshop/speaker page.


Taking Another Step
Even if you feel you aren't ready to commit to a web site, you will need content that you can be developing and saving now to mine for a later date. I've collected evidence of my writing/speaking career over the years. Start collecting the needed elements for your platform now. Here's a list to get you started.

1. Photos of you in action: I culled 10 photos of me teaching, presenting, and writing, and others of Wiley Corgi. Keep them all in one folder and keep adding. Always have your camera at the ready and ask folks you know to document you in action.

2. Testimonials: Whenever you present at a workshop, make sure you have evaluations for attendees to fill out. Some conferences do this for speakers automatically and some may not. Authentic feedback is crucial for growth and web site fodder. When I teach a class for students, I also ask them to fill out a five point evaluation sheet and give them the option to give their name or remain anonymous. Include an open-ended question such as, "What did you enjoy most?" or "What did you learn?" 

3. Web site "mentor texts:"Begin now to start a list of your favorite author/writer web sites and evaluate what drew you to them. What elements of their site could you use as a template of sorts? 

4. Join a community: Facebook groups such as Platform Building for Children's Authors  can provide advice, resources, and assistance. Don't be afraid to ask for help because others may be in the same predicament as you! 

So today is... wait for it...my big reveal. May I introduce to you, Kathy Halsey's website here. I get by with a lot of help from Lisa Amstutz.  








30 comments:

  1. Congrats on your AWESOME website Kathy!!!!! I love it!

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  2. Looking good Kathy! And thanks for the links to the other sites as well!

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    1. Hey, Lianna! I lean ron the shoulders of others.

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  3. Great questions and your site has a fun, professional vibe!

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    1. Great, Janie, I was hoping that would be the vibe. I appreciate your support.

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  4. Congratulations Kathy! continued success! love you!

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  5. Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your approach to creating your fabulous new website! Congrats sweet lady :)

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    1. Charlotte, TY for always being by my side.

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  6. Congratulations! Your website looks great.

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    1. Wow, TY - that is a high compliment coming from the accomplished YOU and all your SM presence and author success. I am humbled you stopped by.

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  7. Lovely and informative website Kathy. Great job. It works really well on the mobile version.Congrats.

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    1. TY, good to know it's OK on mobile. TY< McMarshall.

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  8. Awesome site! Great ideas as well.

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  9. Congratulations on a great website, Kathy!

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  10. Hi Kathy, What a great post. You've offered lots of good website pointers. Thank you, too, for citing mine . . . but now I think I need to revamp it! Yours looks terrific--it's professional but your sunny personality shines through.

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    1. Christy, you were one of my mentor sites! I appreciate the compliment.

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  11. Congratulations on your brand new website, Kathy! You and Lisa did a great job. You're a step ahead of me (I've been dragging my feet), and your post will serve as guidance for me in my own quest to build a site. Thanks!

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    1. Patty, give yourself a deadline and get so some help! I thank you need it before that book drop, AUTHOR.

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  12. Congratulations, and this guide is super helpful.

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  13. I love the bright stripes and set up. Great post. I like your idea of having "mentor sites."

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  14. Your website looks great! Congratulations! Your step-by-step advice is just what I need!

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  15. Congrats, Kathy! Well done. Great tips, too!

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  16. What a wonderful debut, Kathy! I visited your site & left comments & also tweeted the link. BRAVA!

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