Most children stop obeying their parents sometime between junior high and high school graduation, but writer Claudia Luiz—a wife, mother of two and successful psychoanalyst—still listens to her mom. And when Luiz’s mom told her she needed a website, Luiz obeyed.
Someone owes her mom a thank you.
Luiz’s site, claudialuiz.com, is the grand-prize winner of this year’s Writer’s Digest Best Writer’s Website Contest. It battled stiff competition—more than 240 sites were nominated. But in the end, her appealing mix of sleek design and relevant content put her over the top.
“The site is well laid-out and very easy to navigate,” says Writer’s Digest Editor Maria Schneider. “There’s plenty of relevant free content and the purchasing opportunities aren’t overly sales-y.”
Luiz, who won her first writing competition when she was 9 years old, writes an advice/life column called “Claudia Confidentially” for The Daily News Transcript in Norwood, Mass. The column originated from an article she wrote for a local weekly shopper. The editor asked if she would write more, so she started cranking out columns.
“I wrote for Hometown Weekly for more than a year, until the editor was laid off. Then, I went to The Daily News Transcript,” Luiz says. “The editor of that paper had aging parents who read my column faithfully each week and told him to hire me.”
About a dozen of her most recent columns are posted on her site, which she updates regularly. “Claudia Confidentially” isn’t the only content on the site, though. She offers up dating advice (“Finding Love”), parenting advice (“Parenting”) and classes on writing (“Workshops”). She also promotes her fee-based monthly newsletter and personal advice service.
“I created and designed the site according to the chronology of my personal and professional specializations,” she says. “For example, I was single for quite a long time, so one of my specializations became dating. This eventually became the content of the ‘Finding Love’ tab.”
With the help of a friend (and Adobe Dreamweaver), Claudia built the site in 2005. After outlining her content, she peppered it with practical features, such as testimonials, background information and contact details. She also added pictures to personalize the page.
Her homepage is very specific, with a welcome letter that states, “This site is about personal advice and inner life”—a clear and concise message for attracting readers. On the right-hand side is a a two-sentence bio, a photo and short descriptions of her linked content.
Honing your website’s message is key, and Luiz sought help to define herself and her work. She sent e-mails out to nearly 250 friends asking them to describe her column—which they did.
“I highly recommend this, not only for the defining process, but also because you can read and reread all the nice things your friends say when you feel worthless or dejected,” she says.
For advice on creating or redesigning your website, Luiz offers this: “Steer away from any tip that either confuses or diffuses you.”
And always listen to your mother.
Honorable Mentions for the Best Writer's Web site 2008
Fernando de Vedia
David G. Eigen
Jena Mae Nacar