Throughout my content creation journey, I’ve gathered a range of free tools that have helped me with scripting, filming, editing, publishing, and promoting my YouTube videos.
In this guide, I’ll be sharing my top 7 (actually, more like 9) favorite tools that can help you optimize your content creation process.
Tool 1: Pixlr
Pixlr Background Remover is a simple online tool for removing the background from an image.
The tool automatically detects any object in the foreground of your image and removes the background, leaving you with transparency instead.
I’ve found this to be especially useful for creating thumbnails where you want your face included but with the ability to create a more interesting background. I’ve also used it for creating product photos or social media posts.
The automatic removal seems to work well, especially if your image is sharp enough, but if it doesn’t get it quite right, making finer adjustments to remove parts around the subject is easy.
You can then download the finished image, without the background, so you can use it in whatever software you wish, or upload it to Canva, which is our second tool.
Tool 2: Canva
Canva is an online graphic design tool that can be used for free to create various designs such as thumbnails, logos, social media posts, and more. The platform is user-friendly and even beginners in graphic design can easily create their desired designs by choosing from the thousands of templates available and personalizing them by modifying colors, text, fonts, and images.
I utilize Canva every week to create engaging Instagram stories that promote my podcast. In addition, I have also turned to Canva for inspiration when designing some of the thumbnails that you may have come across on my YouTube channel.
While a few of the templates and stock footage require a premium subscription, there are still hundreds available on the free tier. Therefore, I highly recommend signing up for an account and exploring the options that Canva offers.
Tool 3: Thumbsup
If you’re serious about YouTube, Thumbsup is a website you can’t afford to miss. It enables you to experiment with different titles and thumbnails and see how they will appear in various locations on YouTube, including desktop, mobile, homepage, and suggested videos. This allows you to ensure that your thumbnail is visible even at the smallest resolutions.
I use this tool for every upload on my YouTube channel to check the title length and ensure that it doesn’t get cut off. Additionally, it allows me to confirm that none of YouTube’s user interface elements obstruct any important elements in my thumbnail.
Furthermore, Thumbsup lets you toggle between YouTube’s light and dark modes, ensuring that your thumbnail stands out regardless of the mode your audience uses.
Tool 4: Design Gradients and Coolors
Design Gradients is a straightforward website that showcases a plethora of stunning gradients and their corresponding color hex codes. This is a useful resource if you ever need a background gradient or want to create new gradients for the lighting in your videos.
Coolors is another website that generates complete color palettes that complement each other aesthetically. You can even lock certain colors and generate new ones until you find a suitable color scheme for your project, whether it’s for thumbnails, icons, or emotes.
These websites can be incredibly valuable for anyone needing design inspiration or seeking to streamline their design process.
Tool 5: DaVinci Resolve
When it comes to video editing software, my recommendation is no longer based on whether you want a free or paid product; it’s simply DaVinci Resolve.
Gone are the days when I suggested Adobe’s Premiere Pro, as it now feels outdated and ridden with bugs that cause crashes. Furthermore, it’s not fully optimized to take advantage of the advanced encoders found in our NVIDIA GPUs.
DaVinci Resolve, on the other hand, feels modern and comes in both free and paid studio versions. The free version doesn’t feel restricted and provides you with a wide range of editing, color grading, visual effects, and exporting options, similar to those of modern editing software.
I genuinely believe there is no reason to learn anything else these days, and if I were starting from scratch, I would 100% choose to learn DaVinci Resolve.
If you’re interested in learning more about DaVinci Resolve, I recommend checking out some excellent YouTube channels like MrAlexTech and Patrick Stirling, both of whom offer fantastic content on the platform.
Tool 6: Photopea
Photopea is a browser-based image editor that offers around 80-90% of Photoshop’s features for free, directly in your browser.
One of the best parts is that it can even open Photoshop PSD files. So if you’ve ever downloaded a stream design or thumbnail PSD file, you can easily open it, edit any layer as you want, and export it, just like you would in Photoshop.
If you’re familiar with Photoshop, all of the tools should be easy to use. Even if you’re new to it, the layout is so similar that you can easily follow any Photoshop tutorial on YouTube and achieve the same results with Photopea.
I always keep Photopea bookmarked in my browser since I often need to edit PSD files while away from home. It’s a valuable tool to have on hand!
Tool 7: Pexels
Many YouTubers make the mistake of not incorporating enough B-Roll footage to keep their audience engaged. While capturing your own footage is ideal, it may not always be possible due to equipment limitations or distance from certain locations.
In such cases, stock footage can come to the rescue, and the website Pexels is a great resource for free stock footage that can be used in your videos. The website has a vast library of searchable videos available in different resolutions to suit your project.
The best part is that you don’t even need to create an account, you can simply browse and download any video that you wish to use directly from the website.
Tool 8: Notion
Notion is by far the most efficient workspace I’ve ever used for collaborating with others. I’ve been using it for around 4 years now, and it has become an essential tool for my workflow.
You can customize templates and databases to suit your specific needs, making tasks as simple or complex as necessary. Databases can be viewed as Kanban boards, calendars, or tables, which simplifies the management of multiple projects with numerous team members.
Notion offers a free personal plan that you can use indefinitely, or you can opt for a paid version if you want to collaborate with multiple team members. My Notion setup was initially based on Thomas Frank’s video from a few years ago, but I have made several modifications over time to better suit my needs.
To be honest, I could probably create an entire video about how I use Notion for my YouTube channel. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in. However, I highly recommend using Notion to manage your content creation. It’s a total game-changer.
Tool 9: Mercury
The final tool that I’ve heard a few members of the community have enjoyed using is called Mercury by StreamElements. It’s essentially a handful of tools that help automate some unique functionality for your YouTube channel.
You can do things like dynamically update your YouTube banner with subscriber goals, or thank your latest members in YouTube descriptions that automatically update.
For anyone using Patreon, you can even automatically generate graphics that thank your latest supporters that you can put in your videos.
StreamElements are constantly adding to this list of features so I’m hopeful that in time this could become a useful tool on your YouTube Swiss army knife.
As with all of our guides, below we have included a full video tutorial if that is your preferred method of learning.