Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Some tips from Debbie Ridpath Ohi for SCBWI-NYC Illustrator Intensive attendees

(Last updated February 8, 2017)

*** These notes are solely for the use of those who attended the 2017 SCBWI-NYC Illustrator Intensive. Please do not share this URL or notes with anyone else, thanks.


Some benefits of finding peer support online:

  • You can do it from HOME in comfort.
  • No need to pay for transportation, accommodation, restaurants etc.
  • Time efficiency, leaving more time for your work.
  • Other people can do it from home, which means you can connect with peers from around the world (depending on their timezone).
  • Less stressful for introverts.


Some disadvantages of finding peer support online:

  • Can be a slippery slope in terms of time and distraction.
  • Casual atmosphere can mislead you into text-based discussions that are better conducted face-to-face or in private. Remember that the Internet is FOREVER.
  • It’s usually not as personal or effective as in-person peer support. I advise using it to supplement rather than replace face-to-face peer support.


Where to find peer support online:

  • Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Team communication tools like Slack. I like Slack because then I can keep my browser closed and avoid temptation to check Twitter updates etc. I also prefer keeping Slack groups super-small and turning off notifications.
  • Video/audio communication services like Skype and Google Hangouts.
  • Get to know other illustrators!


Some ways authors/illustrators are using online peer support:

  • Accountability check-ins.
  • Critiques (sharing manuscripts and images via file sharing and screen sharing).
  • General mutual encouragement and support.
  • Virtual shared office: everyone works on their own thing, with occasional chitchat.





  • When doing a live group chat, set a time limit ahead of time. That way everyone knows the time commitment, plus super-busy people are more likely to attend.
  • To help prevent lag and screenfreeze, shut down other programs on your computer except for the one(s) you need to do the live chat. 
  • Online peer support can be fun, fulfilling and just what you need at the right time. HOWEVER, make it work for you instead of against. 





Always ASK before adding anyone to a Facebook group!


1.         Click in the top right of Facebook and select Create Group.

2.         Select your group prefs, enter your group name, add group members and then choose the privacy setting of your group (Public, Closed or Secret). A Closed group means anyone can find the group via search and ask to join or be added or invited by a member. A Secret group means the group name does NOT show up in search and you need to be invited or added by a group member.

3.         Click Create.


Sub It Club




(you can do a video chat with up to 9 other people)


What you need:

  • A Google account.
  • A microphone and webcam.  Computers with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari browsers can download and install the latest version of the Hangouts plugin to make it easier. 
  • Resource links & tips for Hangouts:




SKYPE - Free

(free group video calls; I haven’t used this group Skype feature yet)


What you need:




SLACK - - Free 

(cloud-based team collab tool, pay if you want more features like group voice/video & message archiving)


What you need:

  • Email address.
  • Web browser or Slack app. I prefer the app so I’m not tempted to check Twitter etc.


One person creates a “team” and then invites members. I use Slack for accountability check-ins with a small group of writers/illustrators. Minimum chitchat, focus is on goal-setting and progress. Some people check in every day, some every few weeks or even months. You can turn on/off all notifications, or just for certain topic channels.





-           Logitech Webcam HD Pro 920 (I own two! I use them for Skypevisits)

-           Parrott USB Headset: I bought this many years ago for use with voice recognition software