Welcome! Pour yourself a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, grab a homemade cookie, and have a seat. This morning we’ll be getting to know Diane Gilleland of Craftypod a little bit better.
I’m happy to be bringing this weekly-ish series back after a long break. every Monday morning, we’ll be sitting down with more of my favorite writers & creative people, and getting to know a little bit about their blogs and why they do what they do.
How I found Craftypod
Diane has been on my radar since I first expanded my blog-reading horizons in the spring of 2007. Back then, it would have been hard to do any kind of exploration into the alternative crafts movement and not bump into Craftypod. Diane is a wealth of information on all kinds of craft-related topics, both in a how-to sense, and in a broader what-does-it-all-mean-for-my-business sense.
Q&A with Diane Gilleland
I’m thrilled to have Diane here to help me rejuvenate this interview series. Read on!
Welcome, Diane! When and why did you start your blog?
I started blogging in 2005. At that time I had a podcast, and was enjoying that so much, I decided on a whim to try this new blogging thing. I wasn’t sure I could actually keep up a blog – I thought I’d run out of things to say for sure. Little did I know what a transformative experience blogging would be!
Has your blog evolved significantly since you began it, and if so, how?
My blog is always evolving. When I started, I wrote about all kinds of general crafting, which reflected the amount of dabbling I was doing at that time.
Then, in about 2011, my blog turned to topics related to online marketing for small craft businesses. I was doing some ebook publishing and offering online classes at that time, and the blog reflected that change in my business. (I still wrote about crafts, but less often.)
By late 2013, I was yearning to get back to my crafty roots, but with more focus. So over the past year, my blog has been slowly transforming again. Now it focuses primarily on the two crafts I’m focusing on these days – English paper piecing and plastic canvas.
I suppose a branding expert would tell me that all this change isn’t good, but I don’t see anything wrong with a blog being in motion like this. None of us stays the same forever!
How does your blog fit in to your daily life?
I do a combination of pre-planning and flying by the seat of my pants – that works well with how my brain operates.
I keep a calendar of large blog themes that I need to cover regularly – topics related to things I need to market, like classes I’m teaching or new books I’m releasing. I come up with posts that relate to these subjects, and schedule them a month ahead. That way, I can’t weasel out of doing my marketing.
…And then, I leave holes in my blogging calendar each week, and in those spaces, I’m free to slot in whatever appeals to me right now – a book review, a spontaneous blog hop, a link roundup, etc. I don’t put pressure on myself to blog a specific number of times per week, either. If my work life gets busy, I’m allowed to blog less as long as I hit those aforementioned marketing themes.
Is blogging something you can easily explain to your family and friends?
Well, I convinced my Mom to start her own blog, so she totally gets it now. She and I talk blogging all the time, and that’s one of the great joys of my life.
There really aren’t any other bloggers in my family. It’s so hard to explain blogging to someone who’s never even tried it – especially now, when people are so much more likely to be in social media spaces than following blogs.
How important are reader comments to you?
Who doesn’t love comments? They were absolutely what fueled my early love for blogging. I wouldn’t have kept it up if it weren’t for the kind words people posted.
It’s sad, how social media has taken most of the conversation away from blogs. I get why this happened, of course – it’s just so much easier to converse on Twitter, Facebook, etc. than it is to compose a blog comment and navigate all the forms and spam-protectors to get it published.
I’m grateful for every single comment I receive on my blog. With all the work I put into my posts, It means the world that someone took the time to let me know they enjoyed something they read. To me, comments are a lot like Thank You notes now – charming and wonderful, but an old custom not everyone keeps up.
…But I don’t look to comments as a measure of how well a post was received anymore. Instead, I watch my traffic numbers, which tell me how widely a post was shared on social media and how many people were drawn from that post to other content on my blog. It’s less satisfying, but more accurate.
In what ways has blogging enhanced your life, if any?
It’s hard to express how much blogging has enriched my life!
First, there’s the daily act of thinking about what I want to say, and then refining the way I express it through words and pictures. Doing this over time has not only made me a better writer, it’s given me confidence I didn’t have before. I’m no longer afraid to speak up, because I do it all the time.
When I was growing up, crafting was decidedly uncool, and it was hard to find anyone in my city who shared my enthusiasms. But the online community of craft bloggers is full of kindred spirits, and I’m always delighted by how easy it is to connect with these people online. Blogging has enriched my social sphere like crazy.
…And interestingly, blogging has made me a much better photographer over time. Great images are what sets a blog apart, and a big factor in growing an audience. So little by little, I’ve picked up tips and tricks, and those skills have come in very handy for other projects – patterns, teaching, and craft books.
How has blogging changed since you started?
Social media has altered blogging so much in the past five years. As I mentioned earlier, almost all the comment activity has migrated to social media spaces. But social media has also made me look hard at what kinds of content I share on my blog.
It’s a fact that fewer people are subscribing to RSS feeds and actually keeping up on them nowadays. Most of us just wait for interesting-sounding links to show up on our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feeds instead. So this means that my blog posts need to be more interesting, more evergreen, and more share-worthy.
I’ve completely stopped blogging about what I call “”moody things”” – little snippets about my day or what I’m feeling right now. That stuff, I share on social media. My blog posts now are bigger productions, like detailed tutorials, reviews, honest information on authoring craft books, etc. To me, if a blog post wouldn’t still be relevant a year from now, then I don’t want to post it.
Thank you, Diane, for taking the time to answer my questions and for allowing me to use your photos to illustrate our conversation. It’s been a pleasure!