Website Boot Camp

A website is an online business card. It can show readers, agents, and editors that you are a professional and adds legitimacy to your author branding and platform. It can also serve as a marketing tool and sales hub when you eventually publish.  It will always be a place that your followers can find you when a social media network decides to close up shop. 

When I started taking writing seriously, I had a goal of submitting a manuscript to an indie publishing house at the end of fall. Gone are the days of old where all you had to do was write. In today’s market whether you are traditionally or self-published, authors are expected to be self-promoters.  A website was going to be a must have.

When my family received some unexpected news in the spring that could cause some financial hardship, a professional created and maintained website was no longer possible. I was going to have to build my own website and somehow learn the skills to install the features I was wanted.  All while being a full-time (with lots of overtime)  working mother with a household to run.

During that time a co-worker showed me his personally created website for his photography that was built and hosted through Wix. I really liked how it turned out so I created an account and started playing around with the features.  While I understood the basics, the more complicated things like setting up a blog and starting a newsletter were proving to be more difficult.

I had been a patron of Brittany Wang for less than a month when I discovered she was offering a small discount to her patrons pif they signed up for her Author Website Boot Camp.  After comparing her prices I realized that it would be more beneficial for me to attend the boot camp instead of having her build the couple of pages I needed help with.

The boot camp was a five week course hosted through a private Facebook group where Brittany taught myself and other writers how to create and publish a website from scratch. Each week had a different theme that included tutorials, occasional worksheets, and ended with a livestream feedback session.  At the end of the boot camp you got to pick what day you would like to launch and have your website featured on Brittany's social media platforms. 

I got a late start during the first week due to training and my work schedule. I felt a little overwhelmed with all the steps was slightly panicking I wouldn’t be able to finish them before the end of the week. But Brittany had broken down the information into segments that we could easily work at our own paces. Tip: I would definetly recommended chatting in the group and getting to know your fellow boot campers as a great way to network with current or future authors.

During week two I was extremely busy with personal life and couldn’t dedicate as much time to the boot camp as I had during week one. I thought I was pretty familiar with Wix’s features from playing around with them previously.  But Brittany showed us several shortcuts for features I was the most interested in and I realized just how much extra work I had been creating for myself. Tip: put as much time as you can towards designing your Home, Books, and About pages. The following week gets really busy with setting up the subscription and contact boxes as well as Members pages.

Prepare to devote a lot of time for the tasks and your website design during week three. A lot more effort goes into building this week as compared to the two previous weeks. I continued to be impressed over and over again by how in depth and educational Brittany’s tutorials were. I could watch her discuss techniques and critique other authors websites all day long. Tip: If you weren’t already, I would recommend subscribing to Brittany’s newsletter and any other writer/author you know that is hosting their website with Wix. There is a good chance they are using the built in email campaign software for newsletters and you can get a lot of ideas and inspiration for how to put together your own.

During week four I noticed that some of the video tutorials were from the prior boot camp. However, the information was still relevant and easy to follow. If you aren’t planning on having a blog this is a good week to focus on your Members page and catching up in general. I can’t stress the importance of submitting your website build for feedback during this week no matter where you are in the design. The livestream sessions won’t be available after the bootcamp is over. Tip: Depending on the design of your website, editing the mobile view can be a pain in the butt. So I would make sure your desktop version is about 95% done and the way you plan to keep it for launch. Tweaking things in mobile view is a little more work than the desktop view so expect to feel some frustration during this week.

The last week was fairly quiet in the Facebook group. I think most of us had buckled down to get our websites done and polished. I had procrastinated with my Member’s section because it wasn’t something I thought I wanted and I didn’t have a design in mind. What you see now is what I threw together in a couple hours before the livestream session and I’m amazed how well it turned out. I’m not sure why I thought I HAD to have a live website ready to launch at the end of the week.  Brittany provides a sign up sheet for you to pick your day and I believe there were several weeks in advance offered. Tip: Don’t sign up for a premium hosting plan until they go on sale. There appears to be an offer for half off plans once a month. The same goes for their email address plans.

I would whole heartedly recommend attending Brittany Wang’s Author Website Boot Camp if it is an option for you. Even at the full price of $150 I think it is an absolute steal. I want to note that I have some experience working with files like PNGs and using Photoshop Elements. It was how I was able to include some digital art on my pages. But this isn’t necessary to know. There are plenty of third-party options that Brittany introduces during the boot camp that can work just as well.  Check out the examples and testimonials on her website to get an idea of what you can accomplish. 

However, make sure that you will be able to put in the time during the boot camp. This is not a weekend project. Not only will you fall behind but you will miss out on the benefits of the livestream feedback sessions. It is an intensive endeavor, hence why it’s called a boot camp. If you don’t feel like you can dedicate the time during the boot camp, you can hire Brittany to build your website herself. It looks like the full package runs about $459 (basic website, newsletter, and some bonus pages) and is comparable to what can achieved during the boot camp.

I am not a published author yet, but I am a writer. Building and launching a website drove home the fact that this is real. That I’ve finally taken the steps to conquering my dream. I will forever be grateful to Brittany for mentoring and encouraging me throughout the boot camp process. 

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