Thank you so much for waiting! It took longer than 2 weeks but my beloved space is ready. I'll bring you to the Homepage in a while.
(This post is longer than usual because there's stuff some of you might be interested in. If you're not interested in web revamp or building a writing/book business, please enter my humble shop directly and have some tea. Kidlit features will resume next week!)
Most of you who visit me regularly are writers and/or bloggers. I know some of you might be curious about revamping your website/blog. If it makes you happy, do it! It requires hard work but it really isn't that difficult. The time spent will pay off.
I'll share my experience here.
These are the things I considered:
1) My intent: For me, writing is a lifelong work, not just a passionate hobby. So I wanted to do whatever it is I love (creating & sharing stories) + make it warm and comfortable for my visitors to pop by week after week.
2) Who do I want here: My website is for potential clients who need a children's story for their personal or professional project. My blog is for my friends (old and new) who'd love to know about moving or delightful children's stories around the world + the occasional motivational post. I'm not 'targeting' everyone, just reaching out to those who might find valuable moments in my posts and services. That's all.
3) The most fun part: Sketching & painting for my site, even when I had to re-do one of them. (Oh yea, and even when not all of them make it to the site in the end. It was a good practice on selection.)
4) The most difficult part: Pricing. I went back and forth on this. A real struggle.
Eight months ago, when I started on Upwork (a freelance platform where you bid for projects), I severely under-priced my services because:
a) Most clients offer very low budget;
b) Many, many freelancers there offer very low rates.
It was very competitive so I tried to stay in the middle, hoping to impress potential clients enough to give my skills a try. It paid off adequately. I got a few jobs and the testimonials I received gave me confidence that I can do this for a living. I can write stories and make a proper living! Even if the stories belong to someone else. Even if my name won't appear on the books. I'm okay with that. Those story ideas came from my clients anyway. They deserve to keep their ties to their stories.
But I wasn't entirely happy with my rates. So I checked out other children's ghostwriters' fee (on the Internet, not on Upwork). Maybe I could increase my fee by 50%-80%?
Goodness, my stomach dropped. These esteemed peers? Their rates are 2-3x higher than what I was asking. Yikes, I was so severely under-pricing myself! Yes, some have many more years of experience, and some do extra work of recommending illustrators or agents or editors. These I can't do. But surely, surely I can adjust my rates according to what I can do and still not under-value my work?
Tiny voice in my head: Can I command their rates? What if clients drop me? What if fellow writers think I'm overestimating my worth? This last one really gave me sleepless nights. We keep telling ourselves not to mind what others think, but that isn't always easy.
I've set my rates now. Key lesson: Don't ruin the market rate just because you want to score more clients. It won't be worth it because you're telling your clients just how much you think your work deserves. Also, other ghostwriters will frown upon you. Just quote a reasonable and professional rate that'll let you show up for work happily and sincerely.
5) The most surprising part: Learning Photoshop. I'm bad at technology. I can't even set the alarm on my phone. But I needed Photoshop to clean up my paintings. So I dove in. I've learned enough for what I need now. Whoo-hoo!
6) The most liberating part: De-cluttering. So much white space now! I can feel the river breeze washing my face.
7) The most practical part: Choosing a readable font over the fancy, curvy, Victorian ones. I have a thing for Victorian and Cowboy styles but I know they'll be difficult to read. So I went with simple, friendly ones (Karla & Quicksand). And gave a good amount of leading - the spacing between lines. This is very important. I don't want my readers to squint.
What's your take on fonts? Do you go with your favourite or do you give it up for simpler ones, too? How about the blogs you enjoy visiting?
8) The most truthful part: Writing copy. Just because we are fiction writers or bloggers doesn't make us great at copywriting. It is a skill on its own. Good news: There are excellent guides on copywriting if you need them for your small business. Check out Copyblogger. Sign up free for their free resources.
*Don't worry about sounding cheesy or salesy. I've done my best to get potential clients to get in touch without sounding like someone else. Ultimately, it's about what our clients/customers want as well as what image/values we want to be known for.
I want good things for all of us. Do not force yourself to do what others say you must do in order to succeed as a writer or book biz owner. Do what you love doing and keep an eye out for things that'll make your readers/visitors comfortable. Writing is about connecting ~ with the right people, on your terms, and making others curious enough to come back again.
Am I happy now that it's done?
Yes, goodness, yes. But it's not all done. There's something called a Landing Page I need to work on.
Is it worthwhile?
Am I worried about getting clients?
Then no. Because I will go out and find them. Revamping my website doesn't mean I'm done and that I'll just sit around waiting for people to show up.
This was the mentality I had when I started out writing. I'll just blog and readers will show up. I'll just write and readers will buy my book. Eh . . . no, they won't. Maybe I'll get to that surreal level of success one day, lol, but that is not today.
Today I work and I share what I've learned. That's all.
How've you been? I'll catch up on your blogs right after this. One of my resolutions is to care more for my friends, so I'll be a-coming!
And now, here's the entrance to my site. Welcome in!
Grab My Button!
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Hey, I'm Claudine. Welcome!
Want to know what children's stories can inspire & lead to?
by Kate Hanney
Really enjoyed the honest voice of this narrator ~ a teenager let down by his mother and the foster care system, and almost-picked up through his involvement with a gang.