Writer's Resource: Everybody Needs a Wingman

 
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It’s a scary thing to expose yourself. Not the trenchcoat-clad type of exposure, but the kind that risks deeper rejection. But, after 16 months of daily writing, I was ready to share my stories with the outside world. The outside world being someone other than my husband, or my mom, or my writing accountability partner, or Max Regan, my developmental editor at Hollowdeck Press, www.hollowdeckpress.com. I had been writing, rewriting, and editing, with Max’s invaluable input, for four months. Then, in October 2015, he referred me to Wingman Web Works, author website designers, www.wingmanwebworks.com.

However, in an effort to prove to myself I didn’t need help, I exhausted a few other avenues. I began shopping for website platforms and trying to determine which ones were the most user-friendly. For me, “user-friendly” means instructions with a lot of explanatory pictures and small words. I found a couple that looked easy to follow. For six days, three to five hours each day, I looked at templates and played around with applications, in addition to writing daily. I heard Max’s voice in my head, Make three lists: a list of things you already know how to do, a list of things you can learn to do, and a list of things you need someone else to do.

My I-know-how-to-do-that list didn’t take long; short list. My I-can-learn-that list was longer and somewhat intimidating, but not impossible. But my last list was growing longer; those tasks were time-consuming and foreign to me. Instead of spending countless hours learning technical aspects of setting up my site, I wanted to use my time writing. As it was, I was already writing in the nooks and crannies of a busy life, as I raised my son and tended to our household, mixed in with occasional meals. The benefit of hiring professionals was greater than the cost of learning too many new things in a short time period, and I needed to maintain whatever sanity I had left.

I sent an email to Wingman Web Works, and heard back within a couple of hours. That was impressive. We corresponded, then picked a date and time for our first phone conference. I was nervous and excited. I would be meeting with web designers; things were getting real.

When it was time for the call, I changed into something more writer-ish - my yoga pants and old tank top. After applying my red lipstick, a power color, I was ready to boldly go where I’d not gone before. A world of new thoughts, new vocabulary. I hoped it wouldn’t be as far over my head as galaxies far, far away. Yes, dear reader, I just mixed science-fiction movie references.

But, what I found on the other end of my phone was not a technical guru who sounded like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Instead, Ron, the owner of Wingman, explained every step of the process in a manner I could understand. And if I, the Most Technically Challenged Woman on the Face of the Earth understood it, anybody can. We talked of the various programs that exist to help the average person, a.k.a., me, build a website. After doing my own research and getting input from Ron, I decided on Squarespace. I liked many of their features, and thought it was user-friendly.

My first assignment was to pick a template for my site. Ron instructed me on how to access the different pages of his Wingman website, as well as how to view all the demos. I spent an afternoon looking through them, with my trusty cup of coffee by my side. Repeatedly, I was drawn to the template I felt exuded joy, fun, and authenticity – three qualities I try to reflect in my writing. My choice was the Montauk template, which uses a montage of photos across the banner. The many faces of Kim Lindquist, I thought to myself.

I contacted my Wingman, and the adventure began.

Ron helped me connect to Evernote, where I could enter all my text that would later appear on my website. Quotes, descriptions, captions – I stored all of my writing in Evernote. This helped me stay organized, and Ron could access the program to plug in my writing where needed. He was setting up a site that I would later be able to maintain alone.

We set a launch deadline of six weeks later, long enough for me to write more posts for my site debut. Every phone conference was followed up by detailed emails of what we discussed and what I needed to do next. I also recorded the conversations using an app on my smart phone, so I could go back and listen to details and feedback from Ron.

Realizing I needed photographs for my website that were beyond anything I could do with a cell-phone camera, I asked Ron, “How do I get professional photos for my page?” He referred me to an amateur photographer who could help with that. My first photo shoot was a day I’ll remember forever. But that’s a story for another day. Once the photos were completed, they were put in a program I could access to select my favorites. Ron helped me select photos that represented many facets of my life.

Next, Ron referred me to several sites where I could access other photos for my website; some were free of charge, and others charged per a set number of photos. I chose Pixabay and Shutterstock for photos needed throughout my site, including pictures for my weekly journal posts. Ron taught me how to bring them into my pages. It was exciting to see my website unfold before my eyes.

In instances when I had difficulty grasping instructions, we would conference call, or Ron would remote into my website and show me how to make changes.

After explaining the importance of connecting to my readers through social media, Ron built my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads social accounts, then connected them to my website. After saving my social-media life, he explained how to use each one to build my readership and interact with others.

The designers at Wingman build websites specifically for writers, but they are also writers. They understand more than how to create a website. They understand deadlines, the challenges of creativity, the importance of forgiving yourself, and the gift of being able to share with others.

“We want to help writers with their websites, so they can concentrate on writing and then manage their own site,” Ron said. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of working with Wingman was their accessibility and their ability to teach me to fly on my own. They are always a quick email or phone call away, never too busy to help their clients. I was thrilled to be able to manipulate the individual pages on my site so quickly after it was set up.

Using the analogy of flying a plane, to teach writers how to manage author websites, they include Flight Notes both on their business website and within my site. When I forget how to make certain changes, I can refer back to Flight Notes for reminders. Also, Wingman assists me with updating my site, tells me my next steps as a writer and how to make those happen, and informs me of the most up-to-date tools in the industry.

People say, “You get what you pay for.” But in hiring Wingman Web Works, I got more than what any amount of money could buy. I received not only professional web design and training, but also some of the most encouraging words of my life. They are cheerleaders, always pointing out the strides I’ve made. They are readers, telling me how much they enjoy my work. Above all, they are personable, patient, and kind, as I continue to learn from them on this journey called writing.