Denise Winchester

Denise Winchester

Dear Gotham,

A few years ago after taking a simple walk around the Upper East Side, my then 7-year old daughter Waverly wrote a really cute article about all the spooky Halloween houses she saw. “Mom, can you send this to a kids’ news website?” she asked. “Sure, Sweetie!”

And, boy, did I try. I searched everywhere for a site that would publish my sweet little junior journalist’s work…but couldn’t find anything. “I’m sorry, Waverly, there’s nothing out there I can send this to.” Pause. “Mom, can you make one?” Another pause. Oh, boy. “Sure, Sweetie!”

And that is how (aka “The Little Website That Could”) was born. Knowing nothing about blogging, reporting, website making/managing, public relations, I mean literally knowing NOTHING except that I had to show my daughter that a vision or an idea, together with determination and hard work, could make something tangible happen, I decided I had to figure it out, for her.

Using the motto “Fake It Til You Make It,” I proceeded to pretend I knew what I was doing in order to build a website and subsequently reach out to public relations firms who would be interested in having kid reporters cover all the events and kid friendly shows around us and interview (we like to call it kid-terview) all the awesome people who make NYC so…awesome.

All I really knew was that I had to show her how to make an idea into reality, how to make a dream come true. I really didn’t expect anything to actually happen, but miraculously, we started getting positive responses and pretty soon, we had a real blog and real stories to cover!

I had a list of about a million questions as things started happening. So I started looking around to see if there was anyone who could help us grow and polish our website, since I still basically knew nothing and felt that I had taken us as far as I could on my own (I’m a full time Assistant Principal and a single mom, so I’m busy enough with regular life!).

I had taken some writing classes at Gotham before, and when they came up on my search for a way to help me boost our blog, I thought, “Of course, Gotham!” I signed up for their “Blog Boost” for some one-on-one coaching and assistance, and, armed with my million questions, met with Josh Sippie for the first time.

Honestly, I was nervous and felt like I had no business calling myself a blogger—that’s for other people who know what they’re doing, not for me. Josh was this young, hip guy and I was this middle-aged mom who didn’t understand things like “SEO.” But guess what? I immediately felt comfortable and able to ask him even what I felt were the stupidest questions.

Josh was amazing! He helped me with pretty much every aspect of the blog—most notably, how to increase followers and engagement, and also he saved my life when Wordpress updated and I actually thought I’d never learn the new way of doing things. I spent hours on my own trying to figure it out, but one hour with Josh and all was taken care of, and just like he said I would, I actually prefer the updated Wordpress (don’t tell him I said that though).

Maybe more than that, he made me feel like I had every right to do this, and even made me feel like I did it well.
I think a lot of writers/bloggers have that feeling of “unworthiness” and taking this Blog Boost course helped me feel like my daughter and I had a right to write!

Our blog continues to grow and when I look back I’m truly amazed that we’ve come this far from literally an idea that we built out of thin air. She has Kid-Terviewed so many amazing people (Blue Man Group, Broadway stars and movie stars, and more) and covered countless events and shows, and she has even been featured on NY1 as New York City’s littlest journalist who started her own news blog (with a little help from mom….and Gotham!). She also recently became the Patch NYC Kids’ Mayor who posts all the kids’ news of the city on their news site.

Just goes to show you what you can do with a little idea, a little determination, a lot of hard work, and a little help from people like Josh and places like Gotham. Thanks, guys!

Denise and Waverly Winchester