Doing a great job is all about having the right tools, and YouTube content creation is no different.
There are, of course, the obvious. You need a camera and some way of capturing audio, and you can’t really get by without video editing software.
However, that’s a given. What’s less obvious are the tools that sit even further behind the scenes. And, today, I’m going to introduce you to five of the most important for me.
But, first, a quick caveat. This isn’t one of those guides where I say “everything on this list is free, so there are no excuses!” because that simply isn’t the case. I’m going to list a bunch of things that – bar one – cost money.
You may have one or two of them already, but if not, I’d recommend treating each one like a business investment by budgeting for when the time is right.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
1. A great laptop
I’ve spent a great deal of time editing my YouTube videos on both a fixed desktop computer (in my case, the brilliant M1 Mac mini), and on a laptop (the super-powerful M1 Max 16-inch MacBook Pro).
After much deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that the latter is the best approach for me, and, I suspect, for most other YouTubers.
We thankfully live in a world where computing power and speed have been democratised – particularly if you’re a Mac user. That means you can obtain a brilliantly capable laptop to play the role of a mobile video editing rig without breaking the bank.
The ability to edit virtually anywhere has made a huge difference to my production process. It’s why I heartily recommend freeing yourself from a fixed editing position and going mobile with the best laptop you can afford.
2. Noise-cancelling headphones
I have a bit of an unfair advantage here because I regularly review noise-cancelling headphones and consequently have about ten pairs to hand at any given moment.
That aside, I can comfortably say that I wouldn’t be able to do my job as a YouTube creator without a decent pair of noise-cancelling cans.
I don’t use them for video editing (I’d never recommend doing so with Bluetooth headphones due to latency), but I do use them for writing, and as I’ve noted many times before, writing should play a central role behind the scenes for any YouTube channel.
With a great pair of noise-cancelling headphones wrapped around my ears, I can lose myself in video scripts and absolutely smash them out of the park.
This brings me to the next tool…
3. Brain.fm (or a great bunch of playlists)
Once in a while, an app comes along that changes everything, and that’s exactly what happened for me when I discovered Brain.fm.
I’ll let my full review do the talking, but Brain.fm simply pipes music into your ears that’s tuned for either productivity, relaxation, sleep, or meditation. I use it solely for getting stuff done, and I’ve not found anything that helps me slip into a deep work state as well as Brain.fm.
Without the combination of my noise-cancelling headphones and Brain.fm, it would take me far longer to write the blog posts that eventually become my videos.
There are alternatives, of course, and if you’d rather not stump up for Brain.fm, a scour through your music streaming service of choice should unearth some great productivity and focus playlists.
4. iPad mini
Anyone who follows me will know that I’m a bit obsessed with the iPad mini. I’d waited years for Apple to update its smallest tablet, and when the iPad mini 6 finally hit the shelves in 2021, I immediately jumped on it.
So, why is it an essential YouTube creator tool? There are a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I highly recommend getting into digital note-taking if you’re serious about becoming a productive, efficient YouTuber. Unless you’re a staunch advocate of traditional pen and paper, the ability to easily find and search for your past scribblings on apps like Nebo offers serious quality of life benefits for creators.
The combination of the iPad mini, Apple Pencil, and Paperlike screen protector is unbeatable for digital note-taking.
Secondly, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better content consumption device than the iPad mini. It’s small enough to make long YouTube sessions perfectly comfortable, and can be slotted into bags, backpacks, tech carry cases, and even certain trouser pockets without any hassle. It’s perfect for research or catching up on your favourite creators.
I couldn’t run my YouTube brand without Notion. It’s the central location for all of my planning and content tracking and has grown beautifully with my business.
If you’re unfamiliar with Notion it’s basically the project management app that pretty much every YouTuber uses. This doesn’t make it the only option, of course, but there’s a good reason it’s so popular with that crowd.
Notion can be built in pretty much any way you see fit. If you want a simple kanban board to keep track of your videos, it’ll do that. If you want to link your blogging strategy to that of your videos, it’ll do that. If you want to build a full database of your sponsors, review units, brand contacts, and profit and loss, it’ll do that, too.
Everything in Notion can be neatly linked together, and every single thought, idea, or plan you have for your content creator business recorded, quickly. It is utterly brilliant and the best news is that there is an awesome free version.
I’ve got a lot planned for Notion this year. I’ll be launching a Skillshare class, eBook, and creator template. So, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter to be the first to hear more.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with the stuff I’ve recommended above, remember – you don’t need all of it right away. What’s more, there are free alternatives you can opt for instead, until the money starts rolling in.
Use the computer you have already. Pick up your trusty old in-ear headphones and find those focus playlists on your streaming platform of choice. Ditch the idea of digital note-taking for good, old-fashioned pen and paper. Do whatever’s needed to simply get going with your YouTube channel.
Once the revenue starts to build, I’d then recommend revisiting this list and treating yourself to one or two of the tools above. Consider them important investments in your productivity and success as a creator!
Take my free video editing class
My latest Skillshare class, Video editing basics in Final Cut Pro X (for YouTube success!) is live and free to try:
This post includes affiliate links