I had a great time this past weekend at Bioneers in Portland, Maine, where I met dozens of incredible folks who are interested in… well… basically, changing the world for the better. I presented a few slides about the YERT project during a new media panel, and included one slide that was particularly popular. I decided to post it here for all to see…
Just click on the chart to get the 1024×768 version that you’re welcome to use in your own slide presentations. I’m going to include a little blurb about each tool down below, but if you know of more tools that we ought to know about or try, please add them to the comments on this blog, or e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!!
Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess – We used their wireless cellular Internet card and a wireless router to drive around the country with a mobile hot spot. It helped with mapping and limited web surfing, but wasn’t fast enough to upload videos reliably.
Google Analytics – The mother lode of web statistics for your site– all for free! One of our most frequently used tools. No complaints.
PayPal – It was much easier to open up a little YERT store with their tools than I expected it to be. Thumbs up again. We sell YERT ChicoBags with variable shipping costs depending on quantity ordered– it’ll produce invoices and shipping labels automatically. Thumbs up!
GoDaddy – Most of our domain names are handled by GoDaddy. They were pretty good most of the year, though they have fairly strict spam rules that caused us a little strife even though we weren’t spamming by our own strict definition.
Skype – Can we say “free videophone!?” Yes we can. Ben and I spent many hours brainstorming face to face from across the country. We even brought Ben and Julie to the SF YERT party via Skype transmitted through a cellular phone hot spot provided by our friends at WithinReachMovie.
YouSendIt – Occasionally we needed to send large files to folks who probably didn’t want to mess with FTP logins, and we found this service to be helpful.
Box.net – Another handy way to manage large files online. It cost a little money, but was useful for transmitting large files before we had our own FTP site.
Ning – This free web service gives you all the tools you need to build your very own social networking site/online community. We could have saved thousands of dollars without sacrificing much in the way of functionality if we used this handy service– though it would have likely restricted some of the more creative options that we have on our home page.
blip.tv – Hands down the best video delivery site for low budget content producers. They host video for free and give you lots of control over their embeddable player. They syndicate your videos to a variety of web sites, including Yahoo and iTunes, and they keep updating their service to make sure that you have what you need to keep the video views coming. The free service rocks. We opted for the increased flexibility of the pro service. Great view tracking, too. We love blip.
YouTube – Anybody who does Internet video MUST be on YouTube. And if you can get “above the fold” on their front page then you’ll get tons of views. Their analytics used simply be a “views” number for each video, but they have VASTLY improved this area during the last year or so and in some ways they surpass blip– but we like to use both.
Veoh – We made friends with folks over at Veoh and they helped us send traffic to our videos. They also syndicate YERT videos to Verizon cell phones and pay us for the privilege! One feature I love on this site is the ability to upload videos from an http address (instead of having to upload it directly from your pc, which takes forever).
iTunes – Another “must” place for any video producer to have their content. I’m not sure that there is a way to know how many people view your videos on iTunes — if you know, please tell me! Right now we syndicate to iTunes through Blip.tv. If I had to do it again I’d probably go directly to iTunes, but it works well enough through blip, and it takes away the hassle of creating my own feed for it.
TubeMogul – The awesome folks at ZapRoot recommended we check out TubeMogul and I wish we had used it during our road trip! It basically lets you upload a video once and deploy it on a large number of video sites– then track the views from one place. A great tool.
Apple – I was a PC user before I started YERTing, but all signs kept pointing me to mac for video and graphics, and I’m glad I made the switch– Ben and I each bought a MacBook Pro, and Julie had a little MacBook. I actually now use both a PC and a Mac, but it would have been a much bigger pain to complete the trip with just a PC. Final Cut Pro is only available on a Mac, and we like FCP, so we go Mac.
Adobe Illustrator – We also used photoshop, but we needed Illustrator for the particularly important task of logo creation and copious branding. Ben was frustrated with this program some of the time, but managed to get it to produce some stunning graphics. If you can pick up the basics of Illustrator then it may save you lots of money that might otherwise get spent hiring somebody to make graphics for you.
Final Cut Studio 2 – We chose Final Cut Studio to get our hands on Final Cut Pro and all of its related goodies. Frankly, we didn’t use the other parts of the studio too much (motion, etc.), but we plan to use those in the future. The software worked great for us, and handled high definition footage quite well, considering we were editing on laptops. Seems that everybody we encountered this year who was editing video was using FCPro, too.
CC – Creative Commons – This was a pleasant surprise in its usefulness. Turns out that there is a rather large library of photos and music available under the Creative Commons license– all you need to do in most cases is give proper credit to its creator. Very handy for late and last-minute video edits.
Sorenson Squeeze – We didn’t have the cash to purchase this product, but I suspect it would have enabled us to compress our videos into much smaller sizes than we managed with Final Cut’s Compressor and Quicktime applications. I also suspect that it would have created better Flash versions of our videos than those created automatically by the various video sites we used.
Google Docs – We used Google’s spreadsheet application over and over again this year. We saved tape logs, schedule details, videopod ideas, expenses, state data, and all sorts of other stuff in these spreadsheets. I particularly enjoyed our ability to have three people exploring and editing a single spreadsheet all at the same time.
WikiDot – The little wiki that could! I explored several hosted wiki applications, and this was the best I found two years ago, and it just keeps getting better. You can keep endless meeting minutes, brainstorm ideas, researched information, and whatever else you feel is appropriate all in one place that all team members can access and easily update. It also keeps track of every version of every page in the wiki so that you can compare old to new versions of one page and discover the differences. Vital.
Google Maps – Once again, Google blew away the competition by developing a map system that is easily embeddable, editable by many at the same time, and easily maintained. We used a variety of maps for research about various regions, and also mapped out our route for our web site visitors. We also embedded YouTube videos into their appropriate state for easy video browsing.
Wikipedia – Need I explain? Instant online information about every state and most of the issues that we explored on the trip.
Green Maven – A nifty search engine that filters out all non-green sites. We would often use this tool to check on the green activities in a state by searching on the name of a state.
TreeHugger – A gigantic and oft-read blog chronicling all things green, with multiple entries every day. We could have spent 10 years exploring the country using ONLY the topics in TreeHugger. Filled with goodies. It is my home page.
Facebook – Where would we be without Facebook? We got many of our early hits from Facebook, so I decided to check it out, and now I’m hooked AND it still gives us many of our hits through our Facebook group: YERT. MySpace has more users, but Facebook continues to feel like a more respectable store-front for YERT in the social networking arena.
Vertical Response – This web services handles our bulk e-mails for us, automatically managing subscribe and unsubscribe requests, and keeping us and or domain name relatively safe from spam accusations. Very high quality service, and I believe they have a free version for non-profits!
MicroPoll – We adapted this services to manage the polls on the YERT website. I wish that it was more easily customizable, and its price is a little steep, but otherwise it works well and folks seem to enjoy voting about stuff on our website.
Care2 – We set up a marketing relationship with Care2 partway through the year, and they delivered a number of hits to us over the months. This is like an activist-focused version of MySpace.
WordPress – This is the primary blog that we used during the year. After struggling with its interface for the year, I probably would have preferred to use Blogger, but I was under the impression that WordPress had more powerful features. Someday I’ll know for sure, but it worked ok. Whatever you do, be sure to have a blog!
Picasa – A great photo hosting site under the Google umbrella. Highly recommended. You can link photos to map locations, and that’s just the first in a long list of features.
MySpace – Another social networking site. The most popular in the U.S. so far. Pathetically, we still don’t have much of a presence on MySpace. I never had too many friends on MySpace, so our group didn’t get nearly as popular as our Facebook group. That said, with the right approach, MySpace can drive major traffic to your site. We’ll be pushing more in this direction soon.
Twitter – This is like a blog for people who like to share their story one txt at a time. We nearly included this in the trip’s technology suite, but in the end it just was a little bit too much to bear. Like MySpace, we’ll probably do something with this soon, but no time for it yet.
That’s all for the list of YERT tools. There are a few we didn’t mention, and, of course, tons of details about how they all played together, so if you’d like to learn more you can feel free to drop a note my way: email@example.com. I’d be thrilled to hear from you. Also, if you’d like some consulting in this arena for your organization or business, we offer those services as well.