If you aren’t familiar with Diane Gilleland (known as Sister Diane on social networking sites such as Twitter) of http://craftypod.com, I urge you to go and visit her site as soon as you finish reading this! It is jam-packed with craft ideas, tutorials, book and product reviews, ideas for helping your crafty business, and interviews with other crafters. Her podcasts and e-books are entertaining and informative. I can’t tell you just how much I have learned from Diane over the past few months! She’s even starting up a newsletter soon and I can’t wait to receive my first issue.
What I’d like to highlight in this post is Diane’s recent online course entitled “Craft Blog Tuneup”. This class took place over the course of 3 weeks and was filled with many, many useful ideas for any of you who have a craft blog or want to start one. Even if you have been blogging for quite some time, I am sure you would learn something new by taking one of Diane’s classes!
The online format of the class was ideal for me. Although I am not currently working outside the home, I am on medical disability and because of my health I can’t always predict when I will need to have a nap or when I might be awake in the middle of the night due to pain. The lessons were available to me 24 hours a day and so I was able to access them whenever it was the best time for me. One of the differences between this and other online courses I have taken before, though, was the very interactive nature of it. In the past, I have taken online classes where it seemed to be one or the other. Either there were lessons that you could access any time of the day or night OR you were able to interact with the instructor and other classmates during the course but that required you to be there at specific times. This course, I felt, was the best possible mix of the two!
With the lessons, Diane would post questions and ideas for discussions that led the way for class members to post their thoughts and share them with each other. We built off of each other’s ideas and added our own experiences to each other’s knowledge base. When it became clear that there was a topic that the majority of the class was interested in, which was more conducive to a chat format, Diane set up a time for us to meet in the chatroom. She taught us about the topic and we were all able to ask our questions and share our ideas right on the spot. This was so informative and such a helpful format for me!
Furthermore, Diane opened up times in her schedule for one-on-one chats with us, to individually coach us on our own specific questions and needs. I had a lengthy discussion with Diane about all the questions I had been wondering about with regards to my craft blog for quite some time. Besides these one-on-one chats, she was always open to having us ask questions by email and I have always found Diane to be friendly and helpful.
Besides the lessons in blog post format, the forum discussions among Diane and class participants, and the live chats, there were also highly informative podcasts on pertinent topics. If you’ve never tried out one of Diane’s podcasts, you really should. The format is easy to follow and Diane has a really soothing voice that is pleasant to listen to. Just as the online format of the class has its advantages for people with busy lives or other such scheduling circumstances, the podcasts have their own unique advantages. Of course, they are, like other lesson components, available 24/7 but there’s an additional advantage to them. Because they are audio files, you can do as I often do, and put them on to listen to them while you do other things. Trust me, they make taking care of chores around the house much more entertaining (and educational)!
Topics covered in this class included:
Week One: How Your Blog Reads – this includes topics such as how to make your blog stand out from the crowd by making it a quicker and easier read as well as a more memorable to your readers while providing posts that are more valuable to them.
Week Two: How Your Blog Looks – this includes simple tips on how to improve your photographs, improving your blog’s layout, and making the visual appearance flow better
Week Three: How Your Blog Engages – this includes ways to improve your engagement with your readers and the blogging community at large
Diane presents the topics in such a way that they are informative, yet practical and easily applied. In many cases, I was able to take what I learned in one sitting and apply it to my blog by the end of that same day. Other items weren’t applied right away simply because they generated so much inspiration and so many ideas that I wanted to try out, that I needed to prioritize them in order to get them done! Now, isn’t that a sign of a valuable course? Since taking this course, I have been able to plan out and schedule my posts more regularly. I feel that they are more focused and more informative and that I am beginning to reach my readers better all the time.
Now, here’s the really good news: Diane is offering this course again beginning Wed. March 17th for the much more than worth it price of $40. Go here if you want to read more or sign up: http://shop.craftypod.com/node/65