If you are a social media content creator, I am sure that you love to use as many tools as you can in your design process to save some time. Me too.
So, there are a lot of tools & extensions I use in my design process based on the content and design needs. But there are only 10 that I use very quite common.
Here is a list of tools and how I use them in my content creation workflow.
1. Trello (FREE)
Trello is a list-making web application and I use it to plan all my content. When I say content, I mean, Instagram posts, reels, blog posts (the one you are reading right now), Youtube videos (Maybe in the future), etc.
I started with Google Keep initially which is also free, but Trello is a very well-organized application.
This is how it works: First, you need to create a board that will contain many lists. Like, blog content can be a new list. Instagram reels can be a new list. Linkedin posts can be a new list. So a list is like a subfolder and a board is like a folder. Now, in a list, you need to create cards. Every new content idea can be a card.
So, If I get a content idea to post on reels, I’ll go to the “Instagram reels” list and create a new card in it. So a card ia like a file in a subfolder.
Ok, what’s inside each card?
You’ll write all the content, add the brief, add the hashtags. Add as many details as you can so the card will act as a guide to you (or your team) when you start creating that content piece.
This is how I used Trello to create an Instagram carousel:
Once you’ve posted the creative on social media, you can delete the card by clicking on “Archive” (bottom right) and then “Delete”. It’s that simple.
Alternatives: Asana, ClickUp, Workzone, Taiga, Notion.
2. Adobe Photoshop (Paid)
While most marketers use Canva I like to use Adobe Photoshop. I’ve talked about the Canva vs Photoshop thing already, and it’s just a matter of choosing what’s best for you.
The reason why I love Photoshop is because of the creative freedom. Although the learning curve is pretty steep and not so easy to use, it gives you the power to create things that you imagine in your mind without any limitations. Hmm, that’s so deep!
If you are interested to learn Photoshop, check out my story, how I’ve learned it and how you can too, here.
Alternatives: Canva, Snappa, Visme, Adobe Spark, Easil, Crello.
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3. Freepik + More
Freepik is a website that I visit almost every day. Like I’ve told you, I use photoshop which basically means it won’t provide you any templates to start designing, unlike Canva or Snappa.
And that’s when Freepik comes into play. For example, let’s say if I want to design a quote post, what I’ll be doing is, go to Freepik and search the word quote. These are filters I’ll be checking on during the search: Free, Vectors, PSD.
Some other keywords I can use are quotations, box, text box, etc.
Whenever I find assets (lines, shapes, backgrounds, etc) that I feel would fit into my design, I would just download them. Then extract those visual elements and import them to photoshop. And that’s how I created all these designs:
Some more websites I like to use are free PNG websites like cleanpng.com, pngtree.com, etc.
Alternatives: Vexels, 365 PSD, Vecteezy, Freevectors.net.
4. Pexels & Unsplash
These are some of the few free stock image websites I use. I mostly use these photos as a kind of mockup for the Etsy templates that I create. But I try not to use them in content creation.
There is nothing wrong with using stock photos in your designs, but too much of those can kill your brand image. Your brand might appear fake on social media.
For example, if you are designing for a food business, then you can search for pizza or a burger (whatever you are promoting) and use the one that you like in your designs. Like what I did here:
But that same can’t be done in Real Estate or maybe when you are trying to build a personal brand. Or at least I think you shouldn’t use them that often. To use them or not, depends on you and the niche you are working on. After all, your goal is to make the designs look better.
Alternatives: Pixabay, Shutterstock (paid), Istock (paid), Burst, Picjumbo.
Most social media posts need a website, email or phone to be added in the footer. Would you draw all of those icons? No, you should go to Flaticon.com. That’s where I’ll go.
This is my no.1 go-to site for all kinds of icons and minimal clipart needs in my designs.
Freepik is also a good source to find icons for your social media designs. Iconfinder is another similar website that you can go to especially if you want to find similar icon types (solid, outline, etc.).
Remember that I rarely use these icons directly in my designs. I edit them a lot to make all the icons in a creative look similar in terms of style.
So you saw a nice picture from a laptop on picjumbo.com (a free stock image website) and want to use it in your design. Now, the problem is, the laptop is placed on a table, and you don’t want that including the background.
Just go to remove.bg and upload the image. That’s it. Magic.
Obviously, it’s not perfect. I have to re-edit that in Photoshop, but that’s fine. The tool has done most of the work. All I need to do is a bit of erasing around the laptop.
7. Whatfont, Colorzilla, SVG Grabber
I’ve already talked about the free extensions and tools that a designer should use to save some time here.
But I thought I’ll mention some of them that I use the most from the social media design perspective. Here are they:
- Whatfont: To find out the fonts on a web page.
- Colorzilla: To find out the colors on a web page.
- SVG Grabber: To download the svg files on a website.
I don’t use them quite often, but I’ve installed all of these on chrome to use when needed.
Inshot is an android and IOS video editing app. Most useful for content creators who make reels and short videos. I use the paid version as I like to use some cool transition effects that are available for the pro users only. Anyway, it’s a one-time purchase only (INR 2000).
From trimming videos to adding text, stickers, transitions, etc. it gets the job done easily. I’d recommend trying if you haven’t.
PS: If you use after effects or premiere pro, you don’t need to use this.
If you are recording audio in an app, then this tool can help you cut the parts you need. I use the Recforge app to record my voiceovers (mostly for Instagram Reels). I’ll then send these voice clips to my laptop via email and use mp3cut.net to cut the audio snippets that I want.
There are many other “free online audio cut tools” out there but this something I liked as it’s so easy and you can add the audio fade in and fade out easily with this tool.
10. After Effects (Optional)
The reason why I feel this tool is optional is because of the price. You need to buy the whole adobe plan to get this, unlike Photoshop which you can get for 10$/month if you purchase the Photography plan.
Otherwise, this tool is awesome and you can make stunning motion graphics for your reels, Facebook ads, repurposed youtube videos, etc.
PS: I borrow the Adobe account from my designer friends to use this tool.