This was an odd year for me. I started out with a job, left that job in February to go back to freelancing, and am ending the year doing the majority of my work in crochet-related projects, which was never my goal but which makes me happy all the same, despite my desire to do work in more general contexts. After spending most of 2009 trying very hard not to think about working in the crafts industry, I came back to it knowing this is most definitely the place for me (things that are obvious to others are often totally a surprise to me). And as I explored how I'd like to fit my work into it, I experimented with a lot of tools.
So behold, a list of apps I find most useful as a crafty, writerly, editorly freelancer in the social media age:
On the Web
- For us creative types, 2010 was the year of Pinterest. It's like a public corkboard of imagery. Find something you like that you're allowed to share, pin it. That's it. I'm hoping 2011 brings more diversity to the styles and tastes represented on there, for it's about the coolest way to scan lots and lots of images in a very short time. It's great for crafty, design and general creative inspiration.
- Other than Pinterest, I'm mostly using the same apps I used last year, but I hate Facebook more. I set up a Facebook page for myself and one for Mighty Ugly, and I culled a lot of people I don't actually know from my friends list. I wish Facebook didn't make it so damned convoluted to manage a page; my page shouldn't have to be in any way related to my personal profile, yet there seems to be no other way to manage apps and the like. Which is confusing and annoying.
- Twitter is still the end-all be-all for me for chatting, for networking and for general connectedness to the people and organizations I want to keep up with.
- Tumblr‘s experiencing growing pains, but this year more and more crafty types started using it. I still love it, and I'm trying to be patient as they try to scale during this time of insane growth. If you're still unfamiliar with it, Tumblr is like a macro-microblogging too. Why use it if you already have a long-form blog and use Twitter for microblogging? I'm not saying you should. But I love it. I use it to share images, video and quotes that strike a chord. It's very quick for me to create posts, where it takes me quite a while to write a proper blog post. And sometimes I need more than 140 characters. Tumblr allows you to queue up posts, too, and publish them on a schedule of your choosing. Which, especially for someone like me whose content output ebbs and flows, is awesome for keeping a steady stream of fresh content coming.
- Evernote. This one is going to appear in most of the sections of this post, since the reason I find it so useful is that it works on pretty much every platform and syncs between them so you always have your info with you. Evernote is like a personal database for collecting thoughts, texts, images, notes, and pretty much any kind of information you want to keep track of. I use it to store craft patterns so I always have them with me, I use it to write first drafts of patterns, I use it to keep track of recipes I want to try, I sometimes draft blog posts in it. Though I signed up very early after it launched a few years ago, it's taken a long time for this app to worm its way into regular use. But I kept it around knowing it's very powerful, and I'm glad I'm finally figuring out how to harness that power.
- Dropbox. If you haven't been hearing a lot about cloud storage, you need to unplug your ears. Though I'm not planning to rely on the cloud as my end-all storage plan, I do love keeping certain files and folders out there so I can access them easily from anywhere, on any device. Dropbox is about the cleverest way to do that, because it syncs with a folder on your computer. Which means I don't have to manually transfer files, and when I update a file from anywhere it's automatically updated everywhere. (Note: The link I used is a referral link; if you sign up using it, we'll each get more free storage space.)
- Vimeo and Blip.tv for videoblogging (which, by the way, I'm enjoying immensely. Look for a new video early in January, launching a major project I won't tell you any more about right now. Nyah nyah). And also YouTube, but it's just not as elegant or fun to use.
- Gmail. Duh.
- Ravelry. Duh.
- ETA an egregious oversight: Flattr. Flattr makes online micropayments easy as pie, and I wish everyone in the creative, crafty, bookish world would sign up so I could Flattr everyone's work and we could all create a blogging world where we get paid even a tiny amount for the work we do. (Last month I made enough money for popcorn, pop and a movie. Not too shabby for a system that hasn't yet been widely adopted.)
On My Computer
- I've added but one new app into regular rotation. Clips allows you to copy more than one snippet to your clipboard at a time and to choose what to paste when you're ready for it. I use this daily. Partly because I'm disorganized and often copy something new before I remember to paste the first snippet, and partly because it's surprising how frequently I find myself needing to paste the same two or three things over and over again – this app saves me from having to repeatedly copy each of those things.
- I've been using iMovie more, what with the video blogging. I anticipate 2011 will involve a lot more experimentation with video editing.
- I'm still using NeoOffice for editing work, and I'm still confident all the people I swap files with in .doc format don't know I don't use MS Word (and haven't for years).
- Pages. Last week I used it to create a template for a crochet pattern (look for it early next month). It was easy peasy, making this my go-to program for desktop publishing.
- Dropbox (see above).
On My iPhone
Oh, iPhone 4, how I love thee. The phone itself was new this year; I upgraded my clunker 3G. A-#1 mind-blowing phone app: the video camera. I feel like I'm properly living in the modern era now. When I fell in love with Braxon the dog in Utah, I took a video of him to show Greg when I got home. And there's again the videoblog. Here are the other apps I love:
- Twitter. I don't like the Twitter iPad app, but for the phone the app is fabulous. I manage multiple accounts using it, and the new push notifications for @-replies and direct messages are key.
- Evernote (see above).
- Instagram. It's more predictable than Hipstamatic, since you choose the filter to apply after you've taken the photo, and it'll upload to Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, etc. Great for quick, creative image updates.
- Tumblr. It's a great mobile app for the site I love so much (see above).
- iTimeLapse. This app records and renders time-lapse videos. It's dead simple to configure, with lots of useful options that manage not to be confusing. I'm surprised by how often I use it. It's rad for documenting crafting.
- Momento. This is such a nifty app. In addition to being a personal daily journal, it'll import your posts from a host of different social media sites to result in a very nifty daily snapshot of the things you've been up to and talking about.
On My iPad
Oh, iPad. At first I didn't want to adopt you early. I wanted to wait till your second or third generation. Then I thought you'd be neat. A cool gadget. Then I couldn't stop thinking about you. And then I got you. And then I found a multitude of uses for you. Here are the apps I like best:
- Flipboard. Everyone with an iPad and a penchant for consuming information in a stunning interface has raved about this feed reader. Its recent additions of Google Reader and Flickr make it about the best app of any sort, ever. Without it I'd have a much harder time enjoying keeping track of blogs and other feeds.
- Twitterific. I really dislike Twitter's own app for iPad. Twitterific does everything except indicate new replies or DMs, which is odd. But it doesn't stop me from enjoying the app anyway.
- Dropbox. (See above.) Many other iPad apps work with Dropbox, which is what makes it so useful on a device that doesn't have non-app-specific file storage.
- Evernote. (See above.)
- Kobo. This is the year I took up reading books in electronic format. I still love having a paper copy of a book if it's one I anticipate wanting to lend out, but I read a lot of genre and YA fiction and our overflowed bookshelves don't need more paper around. Kobo is my ebook source of choice because they sell books in universal formats that don't need to be read on Kobo apps or devices, and their app also happens to be great for reading.
- FlickStackr. This Flickr app made my trip to Utah a total blast. It's a full-on Flickr manager, and I uploaded photos of our trip through it each night, including descriptions, tags, etc.
- WordPress. I always think I'll use this app more than I do, but it's a great app all the same (except when it's buggy, but the potential is there). I draft posts in it, then I usually use the full web interface for final formatting, insertion of Flickr photos, etc.
- Chimpadeedoo. This app provides a very simple interface for folks to sign up for your MailChimp newsletter. I used it at CreativeMix for Mighty Ugly, and though I didn't do a great job pimping the list, it was great to have this handy app right there.
- Adobe Ideas. I've shouted from the metaphorical rooftops about this app that goes hand in hand with my foray into screen printing, and is in general a wonderful, simple drawing app.
Holy smokes, I wrote 1600 words about apps.
I bet I could say anything at all down here and nobody would know because you long-ago closed this post.
Ooh, I know. I've been thinking about starting an email newsletter. Is that something you'd be interested in?