By Jaime Carrillo
When you see the current crop of YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch stars, the one question you should be asking yourself is, why not me? Becoming the next Ninja or Scott the Woz is easy, so long as you arm yourself with the right arsenal of tools. That’s why the Daily Dot has compiled the definitive list of software and tech for content creators in our Creator Economy Gift Guide.
Andy Warhol may not have predicted the rise of Jake Paul, but he was definitely right about every nut getting their 15 minutes of fame. TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, and even YouTube are rife with creatives who create engaging content for a living, with audiences in the millions. So what’s their secret? While quality is subjective, many of the heavy hitters on social media garner huge audiences by making their content look its best.
Have you ever considered taking an idea and making it a beautiful reality on your own YouTube channel or Twitch stream? There’s never been an easier time to simply dive face-first into the bright and shiny world of content creation. We’ve compiled this content creator gift guide, to give ambitious newbies and hardened veterans a leg up in a flooded field. Here are the best tech, tools, and apps to make yourself stand out.
Best Content Creation Tools
Here is the best gear and software to make you stand out in a sea of mediocrity.
Best Tech for Shooting Video
Countless cameras are built with content creation in mind, but few are as sleek, user-friendly, or dependable as the Sony ZV-1. This 20.1-megapixel camera packs a big bright LCD flip screen, making it ideal for front-facing videos that always focus on the action’s center. It has plenty of built-in Instagram-ready filters, and slow-motion, and time-lapse capabilities. There’s even a fantastic built-in microphone complete with a fuzzy windscreen so you won’t need to invest in a secondary microphone.
Price: $648 (was $748)
Everyone from beauty influencers to vloggers swears by the glow of the omnipresent Ring Light. This one is powerful enough to light up a room, let alone your face.
It offers both cool and warm light settings and works equally well, whether you’re using it with a smartphone or a professional camera.
If you do want to shoot content with a “fancy camera,” this is an excellent starter kit. Not only does it include a mirrorless Canon EOS M50 camera that shoots in gorgeous 4K, but it also comes with a handful of accessories built with content creation in mind.
It comes with a microphone to record the sound and drown out the background noise, as well as a handy tripod that’s more like a magic wand than a stand. Check out our full review of the Content Creator Kit here.
Webcams aren’t known for power or performance, but the Razer Kiyo Pro is a definite outlier.
It shoots in full 1080p with 60 fps, so the streamer looks as great as the Triple-A title they’re streaming. It even works great in low-light environments for content creators.
Price: $87.99 (regularly $199)
Best Gadgets and Tools for Live-Streaming
No matter how captivating the podcaster or talented the musician is, a less-than-perfect microphone will make even the best audio sound fuzzy, tinny, and just plain awful. The HyperX ProCast is a professional-grade condenser mic that assures you will always sound your best.
Thanks to its XLR connection, this microphone enables better highs, improved lows, and better performance overall compared to lesser microphones. It even comes with a detachable pop filter out pesky pops and “p” sounds.
Light is an essential part of any great video. Bright lights are great, but customizable bright lights are even better. Govee Glide Hexa Light Panels can be connected in countless ways, wrapping around focal points on a wall or room, or simply standing out on their own. These lights come with an incredibly user-friendly app to customize colors and effects to add a smack of attention-grabbing glow to any video. And like any great content creation tool, it doubles as an easy way to add personality and color to any room.
Crisp video and audio content hogs up tons of space on a laptop. You could trust long-term storage with “the cloud,” but to keep files safe and secure, you can clear up valuable space on a PC by tapping into an external hard drive. WD_Black not only sports a durable and portable form factor, but a whopping 5TB of space compatible with PC, Mac, and even Playstation and Xbox consoles. Moving files around can be done incredibly simply and more importantly fast, with read and write speeds up to 140MBs a second.
Price: $119 (was $149)
An easy way to streamline your content creation and editing bay are by adding a bit of real estate to it. The Alienware 34-inch Curved QD-OLED gaming monitor is built to make every game in your Steam library look its best, but it doubles as a secret workhorse.
Whether you’re juggling Google Docs, Photoshop files, or rendering video in Adobe Premiere, this widescreen practically wraps around you, so you get work done quicker and more efficiently. A dedicated “Creator Mode” taps into a wider color space, and reduces harmful blue light so you can stare at it for hours with minimal strain. Pricey, but could easily last you years.
Space on a desktop is precious, especially if you’re trying to streamline content creation. This keyboard scraps the keypad to save space but adds in a few great additions built for quick responses during work and play. On the top right corner of the keyboard are dedicated media buttons including a clickable scrolling wheel. There’s even an attractive cloud wrist rest to relieve strain on days when the work seems endless.
Hollywood movies have entire teams dedicated to optimizing lights, so why should you? Razer Key Light Chroma is the closest thing to having your own personal gaffer when you’re shooting live video or streaming on Twitch or YouTube. Razer’s smart lights offer the full spectrum of color and lighting effects, so you always look your best. Control of this happens in real-time via an incredibly easy-to-use app, and is built to be mounted into the back of your desk or wherever the action is.
Rigging a green screen for special effects and live-streaming is so cumbersome, most don’t even bother with it. But what if using a green screen was both easy to use and to store when not in use? This big screen collapses into its own case, which tucks away into any corner of your streaming rig.
If you’re streaming and your mic setup sucks, did you even actually stream? HyperX is made for everything from long-term gaming sessions and streams alike and even works for aspiring Soundcloud musicians.
It’s mountable from multiple positions, has four selectable polar patterns, and even a tap-to-mute sensor with LED. And while looks don’t matter, this line of mics sure is striking.
Price: $89.99 (regularly $139)
Gaming, vlogging, or simply sitting in a chair all day can be murder on your back if your seat is less than ergonomic. This chair provides lumbar support, and the high-density foam offers better contouring and comfort. It’s a fantastic office chair, even if you’re not a gamer or content creator.
Best Desktops and Laptops for Content Creation
In the old days, if you wanted a solid gaming rig, you needed to build it yourself or drop thousands of dollars on a pre-made one. While the world of pre-built gaming desktops is still a minefield, the SkyTech Shadow 3.0 is a powerful, sleek-looking machine. Overclock to your heart’s content, and play everything from Call of Duty Warzone to Fortnite.
Sometimes, the best gaming PC isn’t a PC at all. Laptops are packing serious heat these days. The Acer Predator comes with an Intel Core i7-11800H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060, and 16 GB of ram. It even has optimized cooling and image settings, should you choose to use it as a desktop computer with a big fancy screen.
3) MacBook Pro
When it comes to content creation, there’s the MacBook Pro, and there’s everyone else. When it comes to editing video, graphic design, and workflow, it’s truly unbeatable. You can probably get away with saving a little scratch by buying a legacy model, but the newest 2021 line offers unrivaled speed and performance for content creators.
Best Content Creation Software for Video Editing
The Adobe Creative Suite is a one-stop shop for creators who do it all. Whether you need to cut a podcast together with Audition, edit a video in Premiere, or create branding materials in Illustrator, Renaissance creators will get a lot of use out of the suite. —Daysia Tolentino
Price: 7-day free trial, then $52.99 per month
Final Cut Pro is a highly capable and respected tool used by professionals. It’s also a little more straightforward to use compared to other similarly feature-rich tools like Premiere Pro.
Unlike Premiere Pro, Final Cut is a one-time purchase. That’s great for those who hate subscriptions, although you have to manually download updates. And it’s only available to Mac users. —Grace Stanley
Price: 90-day free trial, then $299.99
Easy to use, fast and great for social media. It’s cheaper than most advanced software while still having more features than most free options. You can also use it in conjunction with Premiere Pro and Creative Cloud apps. —G.S.
Price: Free trial or subscribe for $9.99 per month
Best Content Creation Software for Building Websites
4) Wix Pro
Wix is a widely used and highly reviewed drag-and-drop website builder. It’s rich with special features and customization options while also being easy to use. Wix offers eight paid pricing tiers, four of which include eCommerce capabilities.
Price: $14-39 per month
The WordPress.com website builder is an easy-to-use platform originally created for bloggers. It offers both free and paid templates and is very customizable.
For eCommerce, you can install the plug-in WooCommerce (which is free, but advanced features are available for purchase). —G.S.
Price: $14 per month
Easy to use and customizable drag-and-drop website builder with options for unlimited storage and eCommerce.
Offers a free plan in addition to three levels of paid service. Most creators will want at least a mid-level $12 plan to remove ads. —G.S.
Price: $12 per month
High-quality design templates, intuitive and user-friendly drag-and-drop system. Positive reviews for customer service. Plenty of options for personalization, eCommerce, and creating a consistent aesthetic across your pages. Less complicated than some of its competitors, making it more approachable but less customizable. —G.S.
Price: $23 per month
Best Content Creation Software for Graphic Design
Figma has cloud-based software with lots of room for personalization. It’s great for more experienced designers who would like to start their designs from scratch and collaborate with others. —G.S.
Price: $12 per month
2) Canva Pro
Canva is quick and easy to use with lots of free pre-designed templates and elements. For those who want to customize a lot of design elements, managing layers can be a little tricky. This fall, it launched a video-editing tool as well. It’s not just for startups and nonprofits; creators have a serious tool on their hands. —G.S.
Price: 30-day free trial, then $119.99 or $12.99 per month
3) Snappa Pro
If you just need a few simple graphics and you’re a total beginner at design, Snappa is a good option. The limit on free downloads is a bummer though. But the pros are there: It has a user-friendly interface, plus a vast library of templates and photos. —G.S.
Price: $10 per month
Best Content Creation Software for Project Management
Are you juggling multiple projects? Do you have a team of people behind your creations? Project management tools are useful in planning, scheduling, collaborating, and delegating tasks.
Popular software that consists of lists, timelines, and boards. Works well for task automation, assigning work as well as due dates, setting team goals, and submitting work requests. My personal favorite free option with unlimited tasks, projects, messages, and file storage. —G.S.
Price: $10.99-24.99 per month
Includes boards, lists, cards, comments, attachments, due dates, task automation, and more.
A great rival to Asana, for a slightly lower price tag. Good free plan, too. —G.S.
Price: $17.50 per month
Includes board, list, box, calendar, and create-your-own workflows. You can add comments, assign tasks, chat, and share attachments. —G.S.
Price: $19 per month
Best Software for Email Marketing
Mailchimp is a well-known platform with an established reputation. It has an intuitive interface, which makes it easy for creators to organize and manage email campaigns.
The platform includes tools for automation, templates, email customization, campaigns, segmentation (targeting certain parts of your audience), and A/B testing (testing the performance of variations on emails).
It also hosts all kinds of non-email-related features for social media, eCommerce, building websites, surveys, and more. —G.S.
ConvertKit has a good drag-and-drop interface with some template and customization options. It’s great for automation, eCommerce, and building emails, campaigns, segmentation, A/B testing, and creating landing pages.
The pricing tiers are also titled “Creator” and “Creator Pro,” so you know who they had in mind. —G.S.
Price: Sliding scale based on subscribers; for 1,000 it’s $0-$59
Omnisend is kind of the above-and-beyond option here in terms of templates and customization.
It can automate sophisticated workflows, integrate SMS into your campaigns, perform A/B testing, target segments of your audience, and provide analytics. The platform hosts a large library of templates to choose from and customize.
It also works for eCommerce if that’s something you’re interested in working into your email marketing strategy. —G.S.
Best Software for Stock Music
PremiumBeat is a subsidiary of Shutterstock, and it offers a sound library with a wide variety of genres and styles. All tracks are also exclusive and cleared for copyright. For non-web advertising or revenue-generating content, you’ll need a premium license, which costs a flat rate of $199. —G.S.
Price: $64.95 per month
The entire library of Bensound was created by one artist and features a wide variety of music. Most notably, almost everything is free to use if you credit the artist. But there are likewise paid licensing plans that price depending on your use cases. —G.S.
Best Software for Photo Editing
VSCO is a popular and highly-rated app known for its high-quality filters and presets. You can take advantage of VSCO’s very popular hashtags, #VSCO and #VSCOcam. It has great tools for resizing, stretching, tint, clarity, highlight, shadow, and more. You’ll have to pay for the full toolkit, but it’s a pretty affordable price. The free plan is solid for the basics! —G.S.
Price: 7-day free trial, then $19.99 per year
Lightroom is particularly popular among photographers and designers who use social media and want both a desktop and mobile application. Advanced features include the infamous “healing” brush tool, spot editing, tone curve, noise reduction, exposure, contrast, exposure, shadows, presets, cloud-saving, social media experts, and more.
I personally find Adobe products to be very intuitive to use and convenient, although they are typically more expensive than other popular options. —G.S.
Price: 7-day free trial, then $119.98 per year