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How to become a content creator: Everything you need

From cameras to tripods to lav mics and more, ZDNET rounded up everything you need to get your start as a content creator for YouTube, TikTok, or Reels.
Written by Kayla Solino, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Allison Murray
ZV-1F Vlog Camera | A camera for vlogging
Black camera on white background
ZV-1F Vlog Camera
A camera for vlogging
View now View at Amazon
Amazon Basics Lightweight Tripod | A portable tripod
Grey and black camera tripod on grey background
Amazon Basics Lightweight Tripod
A portable tripod
View now View at Amazon
UBeesize Selfie Ring Light | A tabletop ring light
Black, tabletop ring light on stand
UBeesize Selfie Ring Light
A tabletop ring light
View now View at Amazon
Hyj Inc Photo Background Support System | A photo backdrop
Photography backdrop set up on a gray background
Hyj Inc Photo Background Support System
A photo backdrop
View now View at Amazon
Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps Subscription | A video editing software
Colorful adobe subscription logo on a gray background
Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps Subscription
A video editing software
View now View at Adobe

In a world of abundant online opportunities, jumping into content creation can feel overwhelming. With numerous platforms and apps that encompass creation from video, audio, photo, and more, deciding what type of content you want to make can feel just as stressful as how you plan to do it. 

Whether you're looking to create short-form videos for TikTok or Instagram, longer-form videos for YouTube, or more static content for platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), or other social platforms, you're going to want to start off by acquiring a basic tool-kit for creation. 

Also: Want to level up your iPhone photo skills?

If you don't know where to get started, let us break dow the basics. From cameras to lighting to essential software, ZDNET has compiled a list of everything you need for content creation, based on personal experience, hands-on testing and research by our team, and expert analysis.

A camera 

It comes as no surprise that if you're looking to enter into the content creating world that you're going to need a camera. Since there are numerous models available across all price points, it's best to consider what you'll really be using your camera for the most (photos, video, vlogging, outdoor film, etc). Below are the best cameras for content creation based on ZDNET's expert research and review. 

Sony's ZV-1F camera is specially designed with content creators and vloggers in mind, combining all the great elements of a Sony camera with easy-to-use content creation essentials all for under $600. This cam features an ultra-wide 20mm lens to ensure everything fits in your frame, even just at a arm's length away, and is equipped with Eye-AF autofocus tracking technology to stay on the move with you.

View at AmazonView at Best BuyView at Amazon

A tripod 

If you're looking to create content hands-free, a tripod is a great accessory. It can also maximize your options for the type of content you can create, too (no more relying on your best friend to take your Instagram pictures). Tripods come in all shapes and sizes, designed both for smartphones and traditional cameras. Here are some of our top picks. 

This 60-inch tripod from Amazon comes with its own carry bag for easy transport and weighs under three pounds. It features adjustable-height legs and rubber feet for stability, offers tilt and swivel functions, and is compatible with most video cameras, digital cameras, still cameras, GoPro devices, smartphone adapters, and scopes.

View at AmazonView at Amazon

A ring light 

Good lighting is a must for most forms of content creation, especially photo and video. Thankfully. there are plenty of options to enhance any lighting situation both at home and on-the-go, such as a quality ring light. The best ring lights offer customized lighting effects to make you stand on on video.

This selfie ring light also doubles as a tripod stand and smartphone holder, making it the perfect tabletop setup for live streaming or creating content like TikTok videos. The ring light features a max height of 10 inches, and is equipped with three different dimmable lighting settings: warm white, cool white, and daylight, each with 10 levels of brightness to choose from. This under $30 purchase is compatible with both Apple and Android phones. 

View at AmazonView at Amazon

A backdrop or green screen

If you're looking to create content from a space that doesn't offer the aesthetics or set up you want, a backdrop or green screen is an easy and affordable way to streamline your content creation process while bringing cohesion and professionalism to your work. 

This photo background support system is a lightweight complete setup that is adjustable to a maximum of 8.6 feet. The bundle comes with the aluminum backdrop frame, four clamps designed to hold canvas, muslin, paper and photos to prevent slip-out, a carrying bag and one white backdrop with creaseless technologies so you can start creating right out of the box. 

View at AmazonView at Amazon

An editing software

If you're embarking on a content creating journey, you're going to need the proper computer software to help you edit and perfect the video, photos, graphics and more you that you generate. Keep in mind that specific content endeavors, like creating videos on YouTube, may require more expensive and expansive software to achieve your content goals. Here are a few of our favorites. 

Adobe's creative suite gives you access to over 20 Adobe applications that can aid or streamline your content creation, including Lightroom, Premier Pro, InDesign, After Effects, Photoshop and more. The Adobe suite allows you to edit video and photo, create graphics and alternative content, generate filters, design websites, and do pretty much anything content related.

View at App Store

You might also need: 

Although we've detailed some of the key items essential for content creation, there's always a few more things to consider, especially when it comes to your supply kit. If you're hoping to make creating online content easier and more efficient, these other options may be just what you're looking for. 

What does a content creator do?

A content creator -- no matter amateur or professional -- aims to create audio, visual, written, or spoken content that helps establish a connection with a particular target audience. 

What is an influencer?

An influencer is any person that influences another individual to say or do something, such as purchase a specific product. In particular, influencers are any person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product, service, or lifestyle by promoting or recommending curated content and information, especially on social media platforms. 

What platforms can I share my content on?

The type of content you create generally dictates which platform is best suited to host your content. While many platforms such as Instagram and TikTok offer similar types of posts and engagement, you may find that one works better for your content than another. 

Similarly, many platforms have a historic standard for the types of content seen on them. For example, YouTube is often home to longer-form videos with creators across all interests. Some popular platforms you can post content on include Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, X (formerly known as Twitter), Threads, Snapchat, Reddit, Facebook, Tumblr, and more. 

Can I make money off of content creation?

The short answer here is yes, you can monetize the content you create. Though receiving payment for your content is not easy to achieve, many individuals are able to make money via their creator status through leveraging things such as large followings, high engagement rates, trusted relationships with viewers, notoriety or extensive education in a particular discipline, affiliate programs or partnerships with brands, and more. 

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