Morning Coffee with Diane Gilleland | Polka Dot Cottage

Morning Coffee with Diane Gilleland

Posted May 12th, 2014 by

The Morning Coffee Interviews at Polka Dot CottageWelcome!  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.

Ready? Let’s go :-)
Morning Coffee with Diane Gilleland, at Polka Dot Cottage

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!

Morning Coffee with Diane Gilleland, at Polka Dot Cottage

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!

Morning Coffee with Diane Gilleland, at Polka Dot Cottage

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.

Morning Coffee with Diane Gilleland, at Polka Dot Cottage

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.

Morning Coffee with Diane Gilleland, at Polka Dot Cottage

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!

Want more?  You can find Diane in the following places:

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  • Robin says:

    Hi Lisa. Thank you for bringing such an interesting blogger to my attention. I will definitely see what she is all about. On a personal note, I have purposely stayed off of FaceBook, Twitter, etc. I do love Pinterest, however. Maybe it’s for that reason that I do enjoy what Diane labeled “moody things” in your blog. I have enjoyed most aspects of your blog from the crocheting and knitting to recipe ideas and what to do with vintage sheets. I am not a blogger or a business person so I do tend to skip over some of that stuff but at the same time I have enjoyed reading about how you compile your music lists and your interest in photography. And, although I haven’t tried to figure it out yet, I was intrigued by the If This Then That app you wrote about. I would probably never have heard of it otherwise. I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Thanks!

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Robin! It’s great for me to hear what people enjoy reading, because sometimes I do wonder if what I am saying is of interest to anyone :-) I’m glad to hear you like the chatty things. I like writing them!

  • Francie Owens says:

    Great interview.

    I love the t-shirt quilt and would be very interested in her tutorial when it comes out. I have been saving my children’s t-shirts and sports jerseys for years to make them a memory quilt but I am not a quilter.

  • Ursula says:

    Thank you for interviewing Diane! I follow her on twitter and I’ve read a couple of her blogging tips posts. As a DIY blogger with a young blog, I often wonder how will I take my blog to the next level… Whatever that means! Though this article does dispel some fears about evolving my blog and see where that takes me… Dies this make any sense? ;)
    ✿ Enjoy this post from Ursula: Quick Crafts: { DIY Terrarium Tutorial }

    • Lisa says:

      I think we all think about “the next level” to some extent. Although, what that looks like from one person (and one blog) to the next is not necessarily the same. I’m glad your fears have been somewhat dispelled :-)

  • Penny Owings says:

    Hi Lisa! This was a really good interview! I even had my cup of coffee while reading! What Diane says is very encouraging. Blogging has given me purpose again. (I am officially a retired homeschool mom because daughter has graduated!) Right now my goal in blogging is strictly social and I want to meet other bloggers and crafters and be part of the online community. One of the things I like about your blog is the personal touch you add to it, and the diversity of your creativity! I’ve been having a hard time commenting. My daughter talked me into getting a tablet instead of a laptop. oh, what a mistake! I keep losing what I write! BTW, how’s going to the gym been for you? I’m considering doing the same…

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for the complement :-) And I know what you are going through with the tablet. I have one, and I love it, but I find commenting on blogs to be more trouble than it’s worth. I always go back to the laptop when I need to make a comment. I’m lucky to have both!

    • Lisa says:

      Oh, in terms of the gym? I’ve been sticking to it and not hating it (which has come as quite a surprise to me). In fact, I actually kind of look forward to it. I suspect that this has something to do with the fact that my weight is slowly (very slowly) creeping downward. As long as I am seeing some positive results, I am enjoying my 3-mornings-per-week trips to the Y.

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