19 (Mostly) Free Sites and Apps That Keep the Bleeding Heart Beating

19 Mostly Free Site and Apps that Keep The Bleeding Heart Beating
19 Mostly Free Site and Apps that Keep The Bleeding Heart Beating

We're a very small team at the Bleeding Heart Art Space - just a handful of us breathing life into this project with scrounged bits of spare time. That means every bit (and byte) of help we get is a blessed gift. Often that help comes from online tools.

Today I want to give you a peek behind the curtain, at the apps that I just couldn't live without managing the Bleeding Heart Art Space. I invite you to ask questions if you'd like more information on any of these tools. I'm happy to share the (small amount of) knowledge I have.

The best part? All of these apps and tools are free.

For My Spirit

Vanderbilt's Lectionary Website

Udine, Giovanni da, 1487-1564. Study of a Flying Sparrow, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55871 [retrieved June 20, 2014]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giovanni_Da_Udine_-_Study_of_a_Flying_Sparrow_-_WGA09431.jpg.
Udine, Giovanni da, 1487-1564. Study of a Flying Sparrow, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55871 [retrieved June 20, 2014]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giovanni_Da_Udine_-_Study_of_a_Flying_Sparrow_-_WGA09431.jpg.

What The Lectionary Website Is

A modern way to tap into an ancient rhythm.

This website from Vanderbilt University lays out Bible verses from the Revised Common Lectionary simply, along with prayers and artwork each week. Think of it as a free online devotional calendar to tie you into a global, ancient tradition.

How Bleeding Heart Uses The Lectionary

I begin almost every morning by grounding myself in my faith. I make some time to read the Bible, to reflect and to pray. I focus on the day ahead, and I try and absorb some ancient wisdom.

Over the past couple of years, my reading has centered around the Revised Common Lectionary, a weekly selection of Bible verses that tie me into a global, time-tested Christian tradition. When I read the four passages from the Lectionary, I know I am reading the same words as millions of Christ-followers around the world. I am part of the global Church – the Body of Christ. This is humbling and empowering all at once.

Bleeding Heart has used the Lectionary extensively for our Sacred Space gatherings as well.

I have to admit that more often than the Vanderbilt site, I read the passages on my iPad, in the Lectionary App (also available on iPhone, this app is affordable, but not free).

Where to Find Vanderbilt's Lectionary Site

http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/

Use the Lectionary website? Comment below.

For My Brain

Evernote

What Evernote Is

Your digital brain that never forgets.

Evernote is 'your digital brain', designed for keeping track of simple notes and snippets of information. Its charming logo is an elephant, because unlike you and I, Evernote never forgets.

Read an interesting quote? Paste it into Evernote. Don't want to keep that paper business card? Take a photo with Evernote. Need to keep that travel itinerary handy, and next to your hotel confirmation code? Tag them both 'Santa Fe trip' in Evernote. Want to find that web article on useful apps? Clip it to Evernote (most browsers have a free 'web clipper' extension available, so you can save websites for later with the click of a button).

Evernote is magical for two reasons. Search and Sync.

Find anything fast.

A very powerful search makes it easy to find. You don't have remember what you called things, or where you put them. Just start typing in the search bar and relevant notes appear. I use this to find poems I've started, but not yet named, by key words or lines. The search even finds text within images and PDFs. A few weeks before Bridge Songs, it found the business card I scanned for a sound company, even though I hadn't added any extra information on that card.

Find it anywhere.

You can install it on your computer, view it on the web or carry it on your device in your pocket. Evernote has a variety of free apps available for different devices, so notes you make online will show up on your device without you even thinking about it.

Oh, and these notes can all be sorted, tagged and shared with others (we didn't even talk about the sharing capabilities here). It's pretty darn handy.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Evernote

I use Evernote for a lot of personal reasons - like songwriting, for example.

For Bleeding Heart specifically, here are some favourite uses;

  • research for blog posts and articles
  • writing drafts of blog posts and articles
  • taking notes at meetings
  • recordings of interviews
  • photos of art exhibits I want to remember
  • web links about arts and faith
  • clippings from books I've read
  • a quote repository
  • business cards
  • keeping track of travel documents
  • planning for workshops and conferences

Where to Find Evernote

http://www.evernote.com

Free accounts. Even more is available with a paid premium account (more storage, for example), but I've only used the free option.

Use Evernote? Comment below.

For My Time

I work part time. I'm a dad full time. That leaves me part-part time at The Bleeding Heart Art Space. With limited time, I need to make the most of the time I have. Some simple productivity apps are helping me get a handle on my time and stay effective.

The Pomodoro Technique

What The Pomodoro Technique Is

Time management that encourages focus, and breaks.

I haven't yet read the book, which goes into much more detail, but essentially, you work to a timer for 25 minutes, then take a short 5 minute break. After three breaks, you get a fourth, longer break.

You break up long tasks (like writing this blog post) into small chunks. You think about how many chunks a task takes, and have a better sense how long it will take next time.

I like that The Pomodoro Technique requires me to take breaks (short and long breaks) throughout the day, and invites me to work in short, focussed spurts. I find I work well this way, knowing that I need only work for 25 minutes at a time, then I get a 5 minute break. I'm allowed to surf the web, check facebook, pull dandelions, make a smoothie, watch youtube or do whatever I like for those 5 minutes. In fact, stepping away from my work is encouraged. That's nice.

There's much more to The Pomodoro Technique, which you can find on their website.

There are a TON of apps to help implement this technique. I list a couple that I use below.

How Bleeding Heart Uses the Pomodoro Technique

Maybe we will give this a try at team meetings, but so far I've been using the technique personally to manage my time on 'Bleeding Heart Days'. I am someone who vascilates between intense focus and meandering distraction. Once I hone in on a task I can work for hours with no breaks, no food. Whatever. And then I feel like crap.

Knowing this, I knew a passion project like mixing the Bridge Songs album could suck all the life out of me if I didn't control my time. So, using The Pomodoro Technique, I made myself step away and take breaks every 25 minutes (or so). This felt so, so good. It kept me sane.

Perhaps best of all, the Pomodoro Technique allows me to 'waste' time on fun videos like this;

Where to Find Pomodoro Technique Apps

You can use this free website when on your computer - http://tomato-timer.com/, or this awesome, free app when on your 'iDevice' - http://www.flatpomodoro.com/

I also use Pomodoro Timer, available from the App Store, on my Mac. But it's not free.

Use The Pomodoro Technique? Comment below.

Toggl

toggl logo
toggl logo

What Toggl Is

Simple, beautiful online time tracking. 

It's five o'clock – do you know where your time went? Toggl helps you log tasks very easily, and gives you an overview how you spent your time at the end of the day. You can filter Toggl's reports simply, to see how much time you spent writing, reading, surfing the web, or creating something that day. Or that week or month.

Toggl can also manage time for a team, and manage billable hours for invoicing, but I'm not using those features. I'm keeping it lean and light.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Toggl

I hesitated to include this, because today is the second day I've used this tool for Bleeding Heart. But it is helping me know how I really spend my time (not how I think I do), and that will help me optimize how I spend my time in the future – or at least be realistic.

Here is my time for the past two days. See that big red bar? That's pretty much me writing this post.

Time tracked in toggl
Time tracked in toggl

A tool to track time has to take pretty much no time to use, otherwise it defeats the purpose. Toggl does this nicely. I just click 'start' and I'm off, keeping Toggl running in a web browser. There are apps available for various devices too, and you can enter time manually, after the fact.

Where to Find Toggl

http://www.toggl.com

Free. Paid accounts available.

Use Toggl? Comment below.

Calendly

What Calendly Is

Schedule appointments with other people by letting them choose from available times.

Calendly is simple and beautiful, and integrates seamlessly with Google Calendar. So seamlessly, you need a Google account to sign up.

It's very, very easy to use. You set up your account, the types of meetings you're open to (30 minute coffee or 2 hour mind-meld), and when you are available for those meetings. Then you just email a link to your Calendly page, and let others schedule themselves into available slots. They don't need to sign up for anything. It all happens from the single email you send. They click a link. They pick your time. You get an email telling you they did it. The appointment is added to your Google Calendar.

Boom.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Calendly

I needed a tool to schedule 9 songwriters to record over sporadic available times over a period of just 2 months. I needed technology to come to the rescue, and I needed a tool so simple that anyone with email could use it. Calendly came to my rescue.

Adoption was 100%, and almost immediate. We got the album done on time.

In the future, I might use this for booking team meetings, and will definitely use it again next year for booking studio time.

I could use it for booking coffees with people too, but I'm not sure I feel important enough yet. One day.

Where to Find Calendly

https://calendly.com/

Free. I don't know how, but totally free.

Using Calendly? Comment below.

For Our Team

Trello

What Trello Is

Project management for creatives, Trello is a whiteboard with superpowers.

I love this app. I think of it as a digital version of slapping sticky notes on the wall, then rearranging them until I make sense of a complicated project in my head. I've used a lot of project management tools, and most of them follow a task-list, calendar and Gantt Chart approach. Trello stars so far from that that the first time you open it you'll wonder what the heck is going on. Trello lets you make sense of it. It is a system you bend to your will, rather than forcing you to work in conventional ways.

The model is simple. You create 'boards' for each project, and within each 'board', you can create 'cards', grouped together into 'lists'. Each card is named (like writing something on a sticky note), and can be 'flipped over', to reveal a lot of detail on its back. Cards can contain attachments, images, checklists and even running conversations. They can be assigned to a team member and given due dates.

Each new Trello board starts with three lists. To Do, Doing and Done. So in this simple structure, you'd create some things you needed to do, each as its own card. As you began working on them, you'd move them into Doing. Then when complete, into Done. I use this structure for a list of things I need to get done today. But that's just the tip of the Trello iceberg. There's plenty under the sea.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Trello

If Evernote is my digital brain, Trello is my whiteboard. We use it as a team to manage complex projects, like Bridge Songs, for instance.

This year, I created a Board for Bridge Songs: Dear Edmonton. In that board, I had several lists of cards. One for the Art Submissions, one for Music Submissions, another for Writing Submissions. This was a helpful way to keep all submissions in a central location, where all of our team could see them at a glance (Trello can be shared with an unlimited number of team-members).

I created a list for the Album Recording, with a card for each song we needed to record. In each song, there was a checklist of all the parts we needed to record. As I checked things off, I could see just how far along we were recording the album, and exactly what still needed to be done.

I created a list for Admin Documents. Here we had links to our budget file (a Google spreadsheet) and our Volunteers list (another Google spreadsheet).

I created a list for our Performance. I could bring all of the elements for the night into that list, then rearrange them at will to find the best 'flow' for our performance. This type of drag and drop flexibility is my favourite thing about Trello.

I'm using Trello to plan my trip to Santa Fe this summer for the Glen Workshop, keeping track of travel information, and links to the places I want to visit.

I use Trello to manage any kind of project, really, both professional and personal (I may post more about my personal uses another time, if you're interested let me know). Trello shines for simplicity, flexibility and collaboration. And being free.

You can see an example, live Trello board used to organize writing this very post here.

Where to Find Trello

http://www.trello.com

Free for tons of features. Paid options available.

Use Trello? Comment below.

Slack

What it is

The virtual water cooler.

Slack combines the best of text messaging and email into a dedicated, searchable space. You can set up a team on slack, and then communicate together through the web app or software across multiple devices. When someone sends you a message, you are instantly notified.

Messages can include images, videos, links, animated GIFs (for fun!) and multiple types of file uploads. It's a great way to send someone a file, or solicit feedback on an image from your team.

Conversations are organized into 'channels' in Slack. You start off with a 'general' channel, and a 'random' channel, which basically becomes a space to make jokes and share fun stuff. This is powerful, because so often our communications tools are all business. It is this sense of fun and play that really makes Slack stand out, and brings a lightness to all team communications.

Everything in Slack is searchable. Search is fast and seamless.

You can also use Slack to work collaboratively on text documents (like a mission statement, or a description of an upcoming event). Post a version and let your team make changes.

Finally, Slack integrates with TONS of other tools (like Trello), so that when those tools update something, Slack will keep track and even notify you if you want. This means you can use Slack as a central hub for all of your team communication, even if it's happening elsewhere.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Slack

Slack is our water cooler. We are a team of busy people who come together only once a month. Slack allows us to keep the conversation rolling. It also allows us to see what's been said on a subject, without keeping track of long, confusing email threads.

We currently have these channels set up;

  • admin (for the boring but necessary stuff)
  • bridge-songs
  • email-newsletter (connected to MailChimp, so we all know when someone subscribes, or when an email has been sent out)
  • event-planning
  • general
  • prayer (to collect prayer requests from the team - when we have a moment to pray for each other, we can find a dynamic list of needs here)
  • random (for fun)
  • team-meetings (want to add something to our next agenda? Post it here. Find meeting agendas and minutes here, too.)
  • website-and-blog (through an RSS feed, this updates with every new website post. Also a place to plan out future web content together)
  • a channel for every user, so your communication with that user is stored together in one place.

Where to Find Slack

http://www.slack.com

Free, with paid options.

Use Slack? Comment below.

Dropbox

What Dropbox Is

Simple file backup and sharing. Without thinking about file backup and sharing.

Dropbox backs up your files in an ingenious (and until others copied it, revolutionary) way. It installs a folder on your computer, and connects that folder to storage space online ('in the cloud'.) Any files you put in that folder, on your computer, get backed up online. You don't have to think about it. It just happens.

But it goes beyond simple backup. You can then access and download those files from any computer with a web browser. Or any device with the free app installed.

Dropbox becomes a way better option than even the simple memory stick.

You can also share files and folders, which is super helpful with anything that is too big for email. Basically, any file over 10 MB or so, depending on your email provider. Instead of emailing the file, you can simply email a link to the file.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Dropbox

I back up everything Bleeding Heart with Dropbox. If my computer crashes, Bleeding Heart doesn't. We share files across the team with Dropbox. Especially when it comes time to jury Bridge Songs and other art shows, or share a set of photos from a recent event. Or a video.

I used Dropbox to share sound files when we were recording Dear Edmonton. We would track the audio in the studio, then Tim, our Recording Engineer, would send me the files through Dropbox, and I'd pull them into my mixing software. It worked very well.

Where to Find Dropbox

http://www.dropbox.com

Free for a 2 GB account. More space can be earned as rewards. Larger accounts available at a cost.

Use Dropbox? Comment below.

Google Docs

What Google Docs Is

Free word processor, speadsheet and more, with collaboration built in.

I don't get excited about admin. Spreadsheets make my eyes glaze over. But every office needs a filing cabinet, and Google Docs has become ours.

The recent collaborative features and offline apps for my iOS devices were reason enough for me to give Google Docs a chance. I'm glad I did.

Docs is clean, simple and easy to share. It saves automatically and backs up 'in the cloud' without a thought. It integrates with tons of tools (including Trello and Slack). It's not as 'cool' as many other products on this list, but when you need to track a budget or create a form with someone else from your team, this is the way to go.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Google Docs

If Trello is our whiteboard and Slack is our water cooler, Docs is our filing cabinet. It's where the serious work gets done. Documentation. Numbers. You know. The awesome stuff.

We used it to track the Bridge Songs budget this year, and we use it for our overall budget. This way, the team can see whenever expenses are entered, and always see where our budget is at. We used it to track volunteers for Bridge Songs as well, which allowed Heather (Bridge Songs Co-Producer) and I to have access to, and update, the same list.

And I've got to honest. The new iPad apps are really nice.

Where to Find Google Docs

http://docs.google.com

Free.

Use Google Docs? Comment below.

For Social Media

Social media can be a powerful way to get the word out about what you are doing, and to drive traffic back to your website. For instance, just wait until social media gets a hold of this mega-post! We saw the impacts of this promoting Bridge Songs: Dear Edmonton last month.

This year, we've gone from 27 twitter followers to 379, as of today. That's a lot of growth in a small time-frame. Our Facebook likes have grown as well, from 169 in January to 269 today. We've also launched a Google Plus presence.

Managing these communities takes time, and doing it well takes much more time than I have. I've only been able to grow our social media presence because of some helpful tools.

Buffer

What Buffer Is

Simple automated scheduling for social media content, from really nice folks.

Buffer lets you dump great content into a bucket, and then spreads that content out over a pre-selected schedule. You can use Buffer's own schedule recommendation (based on stats they've gathered for each social network), or create your own schedules based on your community's behaviours.

You can connect multiple social networks to Buffer (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) and then share the same content across them. That content will be released at different times on different networks, based on your scheduling.

Buffer also offers basic analytics (more advanced available in the paid plans), so you can see which content has performed well, and share more of the same?

One of the best Buffer features is curated content right in the app. Buffer offers great suggestions of content you can share to your followers, from quotes to videos to full blog posts.

Other tools, like Hootsuite, do similar things to Buffer, and more. But Buffer, in my opinion, does it better, because it does it without the clutter of tools I don't use.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Buffer

I don't recommend automating your social media entirely. I've seen engagement dramatically rise whenever I have personally enagaged on Facebook or Twitter (especially Twitter). But, as you may know, I don't own a cell-phone. I'm not online all the time. I do have pockets of time that last an hour here and an hour there, where I can focus on curating great content to share with our online community. But I don't want to dump all that content at once, post-bombing everyone's feed.

Buffer creates, well, a buffer, between when I find great content and when that content is distributed. It allows me to seek out great content a few times a week, and have that content distributed regularly, so that we are consistent over social media. I can then focus on people's reactions to that content, and making connections with users, which goes a long way.

I currently user buffer to post

  • four times a day to Twitter
  • once a day to Facebook
  • twice a day to Google+

Where to Find Buffer

http://www.bufferapp.com

Free for the basic plan. Paid options available.

Use Buffer? Comment below.

Tweetdeck

What Tweetdeck Is

See what you need to see across Twitter - all in one place.

Now managed by Twitter itself, Tweetdeck lets you set up 'streams' of twitter content. You can have a stream for a certain hashtag for instance, so whenever anybody mentions #yegarts, you'll see it there. There are streams to track anytime somebody follows you, or mentions you. There are streams for custom searches. For instance, any time anyone mentions faith and art in the same tweet, you can have that show up in a 'stream'.

Right from those streams, you can reply to people, or retweet their content. You can also schedule those tweets, so they don't all go out at once. Helpful.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Tweetdeck

Twitter is a loud, bewildering place. Think of a party where a hundred great conversations are going on, and you'd like to be part of all of them. It's not really possibile, of course. But Tweetdeck gets us closer.

I mainly use Tweetdeck to track when people have followed, or mentioned Bleeding Heart on Twitter (@bhearspace). I can then thank them, say hello, or continue a conversation.

I used Tweetdeck a lot leading up to Bridge Songs: Dear Edmonton, to track our 'social challenges'. I could see anytime anyone used the hashtag #dearEdmonton, and save those tweets in a 'collection'. When it came time to pick my favourites, or to print those tweets off to decorate the space for Bridge Songs, this was my go-to tool.

Where to find Tweetdeck

https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/

It's absolutely free, and you can sign in with your existing Twitter account. Desktop and Chrome Apps are available.

Use Tweetdeck? Comment below.

Feedly

What is Feedly?

Read and organize fresh content from all over the web, in one tidy place.

Most blogs publish their content as an RSS feed. This is a feed of the latest entries, updated automatically when new content is shared. Feedly is a feed reader. It let's you 'subscribe' to feeds from anywhere online, so that you can read them all in one place.

Feedly is searchable, and a great place to discover new sources with content to suit your interests. You can organize feeds into folders, and even share stories to Buffer right from Feedly.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Feedly

You'll remember I mentioned posting to Twitter at least 4 times a day. There's no way I can write that much original content, so I seek out interesting, valuable things to share from others. I curate. Feedly is a curation power tool.

I have a folder for Arts and Faith related sources in Feedly. I have Inspiration. I have Design. I have Edmonton.

Truth be told, I'm new to Feedly, and haven't used it as much as I could, and should, given its many benefits.

Where to Find Feedly

http://feedly.com/

Free, with a paid premium option available.

Use Feedly? Comment below.

Pocket

Introducing Pocket from Pocket on Vimeo.

What Pocket Is

Stick a piece of content in your 'pocket' until you can get to it later.

Pocket saves things online to read later. You can read them across various devices, as Pocket syncs seamlessly in the background. You can archive items to read again another time, too.

And Pocket is beautifully simple (or simply beautiful?)

How Bleeding Heart Uses Pocket

I don't like to share things I haven't read. In fact, it's a rule. I don't do it. But reading takes time, and I often come across great content when I don't have the time to read it. I used to try and leave it open in a browser tab. Then the kids would play a game online and my browser tabs would get closed and 'poof'. Or I'd have to restart the computer and 'poof'. Or 20 tabs open at once is just ridiculous.

I've installed Pocket's extension for my web browsers, and now I can just click that little button and put that content in my 'Pocket'. When I want to read it, it's there waiting for me. It's also on my iPad, where I have the Pocket app installed. I prefer that to reading on the laptop screen anyways.

Once I've read the piece, if it makes the cut, I can share it to Buffer. Pocket and Buffer are tight like that.

Where to Find Pocket

http://www.getpocket.com

Free, with a paid premium option available.

Use Pocket? Comment below.

MailChimp

What MailChimp Is

Email newsletters that are awesome from a fun company who knows email newsletters.

MailChimp has become the service of choice for so many who send email newsletters. This could be because of their Forever Free plan, that allows users to send up to 12 000 emails to up to 2000 subscribers, every month, totally free. It could be because of their trend-setting, beautifully clean design.

It could be the way you can track who opens your emails and what they do with them. It could be the helpful suggestions for improving your email efforts.

But I think it's the Chimp.

MailChimp is just so fun. It's a pleasure to use (most of the time), and packed with polish in the form of cheeky little surprises. Like the time I signed up for one of their newsletters and got a vinyl Freddie the Chimp figure in the mail. Or the way Freddie high-fives me every time I sent a message.

It's powerful as all get out. It allows you to segment your email list in so many ways. It keeps you compliant with Anti-Spam Regulations. But a lot of systems do those things. What I love is how MailChimp does it.

How Bleeding Heart Uses MailChimp

If you are sending emails regularly to a list, and just cc'ing a huge group of people, stop. Just stop. It's so not a good idea. And you're working harder than you need to.

Bleeding Heart has sent emails to our fabulous and faithful subscribers using MailChimp for years now. We use their subscription forms on our website and on Facebook. I track who is interacting with the messages I send and how. I rely on our email list as the source of our closest friends – those most interested in what we are doing. Our strongest allies. Our volunteer base. Our first ticket-buyers. That email list is worth so much more than we pay for it. Which is nothing.

But if you really want to see how we use it, sign up to get our emails.

Where to Find MailChimp

http://www.mailchimp.com

Free. Forever. Paid options for larger lists and more powerful features.

Use Mailchimp? Comment below.

For Our Website

Seeing as how The Bleeding Heart Art Space doesn't yet have a space, our online space is vital. This is where Bleeding Heart lives most of the time. This is where I invest much of my efforts. Here are some tools that help.

WordPress

What Wordpress Is

A very popular, very powerful tool for building and managing a blog or website.

WordPress comes in two flavours. There is Wordpress.com, where you can set up a free Wordpress blog or site, without the hassle of setting up web hosting. The tradeoff is you get a lot less functionality than setting up your own Wordpress site, where you can install plugins to extend the power of the Wordpress software to your hearts content.

I've heard people's tone change at the mention of Wordpress, because they don't want their site to look like a Wordpress site. They want it to look like a real site. The fact is, Wordpress is a tool for managing your site, and really you can have any design your heart desires. I work at Hope Mission, and our current website is built on Wordpress.

The reasons to use Wordpress are many. You can get a site up and running quickly. It is great for search engines. There are hundreds of plugins and templates (themes) available. The user base is massive. It can be tweaked to do almost anything. It can be edited by multiple users, and basic site editing is easy once it is set up. It can run a blog out of the box. There are many templates available for artist portfolios.

How The Bleeding Heart Uses Wordpress

The Bleeding Heart Art Space website (this one right here) runs on Wordpress. This allows me to run a blog, have a nice events calendar (through a free plugin) and design the site exactly how I want it (if only I knew exactly what I was doing).

That being said, setting up hosting can be a bit tricky, and when I was handling that bit myself, we were hacked. I lost a lot of content, and some sleep along with it.

Wordpress is modern, and keeps improving all the time. The software itself is free, but you do have to pay for hosting if you go with the more powerful 'self-hosted' option. And you will need someone to help you set it up (although many hosts have a very simple install process now).

With its ubiquity and its power, I would say Wordpress is one of the best options out there to build a website. It's open source, which is also nice.

But beware friend, with great power, comes great responsibility.

Wordpress has given me some top-tier headaches in the past, which is why when it came time to build a website for Bridge Songs: Dear Edmonton, I turned to Squarespace.

Where to Find Wordpress

http://www.wordpress.org

Free, but hosting will cost some money, time and effort. Some themes and plugins cost as well.

Use Wordpress? Comment below.

Squarespace

What Squarespace Is

Modern, mobile, beautifully simple websites at a bargain price.

I've been using Wordpress for SO long (10 years now I'm sure) that I was leery to try anything new. But the host of 99% Invisible kept raving about it, and he's got good taste. I thought it was worth a try. I had no idea how worth it.

Squarespace is in many ways opposite to Wordpress. Wordpress is open source. Squarespace is one company, out to turn a profit. Wordpress has endless flexibility and options. Squarespace decides what functionality you get. Wordpress has thousands of templates available - or you can build your own. I'm not sure if you can build your own templates on Squarespace but I imagine it would be quite a challenge. Squarespace has just 26 templates. And a lot of them look similar.

But what Squarespace does, it does so well. And everything is taken care of. Even online stores. Starting at $8 a month.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Squarespace

So far, I've used Squarespace for www.DearEdmonton.com. Compare that site to this one and I think you'll feel the difference immediately. It's modern. It's fresh. But what you don't see is all of the time and headache I didn't spend building that site. It took me hours, and hours, and hours to build the website you're on right now. It took a few days over one week to build the Dear Edmonton site (mostly because I had to create the content and find the images), and I'm already happier with it.

Integrating Squarespace with social media is so easy. Blogging is so easy. Adding image galleries is so easy. I haven't used the ecommerce features, but they're likely easy too.

Artist - use Squarespace. You could have a beautiful website up tomorrow.

If you won't invest $8 a month in your website, just don't build one. You don't care enough.

Where to Find Squarespace

http://www.squarespace.com

Free 14 day trial. Plans start at $8 a month after that.

Use Squarespace? Comment below.

Google Analytics

What Google Analytics Is

Know what is going on on your website. With charts and graphs!

Consider Analytics the grand-daddy of web statistics tools. It does just about everything (likely too much for many of us) and it does it for free.

With helpful graphs and charts, you can see how many people were on your website, when they were there, and how much time they spent looking at what. What's your most popular blog post? What are people searching to find you?

With Google Analytics you can know.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Google Analytics

It's hard to improve your website if you have no way to measure how you're doing. I'm using Analytics to track some key stats about BleedingHeartSpace.ca. Mostly, I'm looking at how many have been on the site, and what those people are viewing.

Thanks to Google Analytics, I know this site had 389 visits over the past month (less than half of the number we got over at dearedmonton.com in the same period). I know that 76 of those visits came from Facebook, and 21 from Twitter. I also can see that after our homepage, the 'events' page got the most views this past month, along with a lot of other Bridge Songs related pages. On this blog, our #ArtsTalkTuesdays generated the most interest.

And our most popular post of all time? Well, we've only been using Analytics since February of this year, but so far it's this one right here.

Where to Find Google Analytics

https://www.google.com/analytics/

Free.

Use Google Analytics? Comment below.

For Creativity

All this work could just crowd out any space for creativity. Where's the technology that keeps us creative? Where is the fun? Don't worry. I'm still having fun.

Paper by 53

What Paper Is

A digital sketchbook, striving to be an analog sketchbook.

Paper is pretty much as close to a paper sketchpad as you'll get. It is an iPad app with intuitive and minimal controls. It's signature Pen and Ink tool comes free, and other tools are available for a cost. Multiple sketchbooks can be kept, and for the best of them, real life paper versions can be ordered through a partnership with Moleskine.

Pencil is an accessory that brings even more realism to the experience, complete with a working eraser and finger blending.

How Bleeding Heart Uses Paper

During the lead up to Dear Edmonton, I illustrated many posts with Paper. I've been drawing at least weekly with the tool, and look forward to ordering my own Pencil soon to take my drawings to the next level. It's a quick way to add life and creativity to a post - or just to have some fun in those 5 minute Pomodoro breaks.

2014-05-23_bike-sketch
2014-05-23_bike-sketch

Where to find Paper

Free. Find it in the App store or at http://www.fiftythree.com/

Do you use Paper? Comment below.

SoundCloud

What Soundcloud Is

Like YouTube, for sound.

Soundcloud has set out to be the social network of sound-makers. They're doing a good job. You can upload sounds of any type (music, podcasts, spoken word, found sounds), and share them with the world. Unique to Soundcloud is the ability for other uses to comment on your sounds, at points on the timeline. This is very helpful if you want feedback on your sounds, because that feedback can be specific to the exact moment of the song or sound it relates to (love the tambourine here! More cowbell here!)

How Bleeding Heart Uses Soundcloud

We actually do a fair bit with sound. In the past, we've shared interviews and recorded events, posting the audio. Mostly, we record and share music every year with Bridge Songs. Soundcloud helps us share, and sometimes even create, that music.

Here is our most recent post, the Bridge Songs: Dear Edmonton album. Feel free to try out the comments. It's very fun.

Where To Find Soundcloud

https://soundcloud.com/

Free. Paid accounts available.

Use Soundcloud? Comment below.


Blog for Bleeding Heart!

You have something to say–why not say it here? Email your blog post idea to dave@bleedingheartart.space and let's chat.