Updated: Nov 27, 2020
Content creation is now my full-time job. With a laptop, my phone, and a few other tools, I've grown an engaged following, had my photos published in print, and been featured in numerous major publications. And whether I do this work forever or just a little while, I do know one thing: I'd like the blogging, content creation, and the influencer spaces to become more diverse and accessible.
To that end, I'm sharing every tool, app, source of knowledge, and resource that I have tried, tested, and found useful for Feed the Malik. I've been told to package this up and sell it as a course, to put it behind a paywall, or to charge a monthly fee for access to this information. But I'm opting not to do that, as I want to make the content creation space more inclusive and affordable however I can.
Below find the tried and true tools that I use almost every day. I will also keep this updated as my equipment or tools change. You'll notice that many of the resources are free or affordable, as I've tried to keep costs down while growing Feed the Malik. I truly believe in just starting, using what you have, and building from there.
Some of these tools and resources are only applicable to those creating content on a phone, as I do not own a camera. Similarly, as a food blogger, a few of the listed accessories are most relevant for those working with food. However, most are helpful for digital content creators, bloggers, and business owners seeking to improve their digital presence.
*Some of the links below are affiliate links. I've marked affiliate links with an asterisk. However, all affiliate links are for the exact products that I use regularly for Feed the Malik.
Blogger Knowledge Base: All The Tools I Use As A Full-Time Content Creator
TheMattieJames on Instagram: This full-time influencer based in Atlanta drops gems and hosts regular Instagram lives full of tips and tricks for those seeking to build a career as an influencer. Beyond influencer tips, Mattie often shares information that's relevant to all entrepreneurs who operate in the digital space including ways to optimize your Instagram, tips for making your online presence more professional, etc.
MissBeeBright on Twitter: Brittany's content on Twitter is also targeted towards influencers. However, similarly to Mattie James, you'll find invaluable information about how various social media platforms work, marketing tips, etc.
Instagram Marketing Secrets podcast: No matter your industry or aim, Instagram is a powerful tool to increase visibility and brand awareness. This podcast dives into everything and anything Instagram-related, from hashtags to monetizing your Instagram. There are also some great entrepreneurial tips mixed in! Listen on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
The Food Blogger Pro podcast: Specifically for food bloggers, this is a great resource to learn from others' successes and failures in food blogging, ads, industry trends, and more.
Free email newsletters from Later: Later is a content scheduling tool for social media that I've used for over a year. Their regular email newsletters are full of useful tips for those looking to boost their social media presence. They also have many free training tools that cover everything from leveraging new Instagram features to learning to use Tik Tok.
I've also found this tip to be useful lately: For anyone who has a website, quit using Linktree or other similar services, and build your own links page on your site. Here's why.
Success With Soul podcast: This is a great podcast to learn success strategies for online businesses and entrepreneurs in general through the stories of interesting and dynamic guests.
Apps and Digital Tools
Wix:* I use Wix to build and maintain my website and I also purchased my domain name through Wix. There are various competing platforms to design, build, and maintain a website and everyone has their own preference. Having used multiple services before, I chose Wix as it is known for being easy to use and requiring less technical knowledge. Are there drawbacks? Yes. And yes, WordPress is far more customizable. However, if you're looking for something you can do yourself with little fuss, consider Wix. I know, this contradicts the advice of many. However, as long as your site is easy to navigate and meets a basic level of professionalism, it shouldn't be a factor that significantly hurts or enhances your business. Your content and its value, your mastery of SEO, and your ability to learn and utilize the various methods of driving traffic are what is going to determine how many people enjoy your site.
Adobe: I subscribe to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. It's about $50 a month for the all apps subscription and I can't stress enough how useful it is. I use Adobe Rush for quick video editing projects (and it was a relatively easy software to learn) and use other Adobe apps frequently. Some of them can be intimidating to get the hang of, but Adobe also has great tutorials to teach you the basics and there are a plethora of video tutorials on Youtube.
Instories: I use Instories to make animated, creative Instagram stories that really stand out. These are great for making a cohesive, themed story to drive home a point or add extra oomph to story content.
Later: I use Later to schedule all of my social media content for multiple platforms. There are great tools to help with hashtag strategy for Instagram, link in bio, post analytics, etc.
Presets from Parker Arrow: Learning to edit photos takes a lot of time if you don't already have that skill set. And while you will get faster and more proficient at editing, Lightroom presets can professionalize your photos while you take the time to learn to do it manually. I typically get mine from Parker Arrow and use them in the Lightroom Mobile app on my phone to edit on the fly and save time.
Canva:* I started using Canva about six months ago. I initially tested it out using the standard 30-day free trial offer, started using it and loving it, and then upgraded to the paid version, Canva Pro. I like Canva as its easier to learn and use than other tools such as Illustrator and can do almost everything I need. From media kits to social media graphics and more, Canva likely has a template and tools to get to a finished product I'm happy with.
I take all of my photos on an iPhone 12 Pro Max and I use a Macbook Pro laptop for editing and content creation
*I use this relatively affordable phone tripod with a detachable rind light to shoot selfie videos and Instagram lives at home. The stand extends high enough to capture my face and upper body even when sitting on a tall stool, the phone holder is flexible to tilt up or down to capture the best angle, and the attached ring light is great for making the best of a dim room or dark lighting environment.
*I keep this portable light in my bag at all times. It's great for lighting plates and dishes in dim restaurants for a better photo and the battery lasts for a long time. It's also small enough to fit into a clutch or cute purse for nights when I'm on a date or at an event.
*Is this phone tripod perfect? No. However, it was only $17 and I've been able to make some great overhead videos with it. Yes, it takes some fiddling and eventually I'll want to upgrade. But to start it's been perfectly fine and it folds up small for easy storage.
After using the above tripod for over two years, I've finally upgraded to a true overhead tripod for shooting with a smartphone, and what a difference! I am thoroughly satisfied with this Overhead Pro, I use it almost every day and my video quality is much improved.
*I use these backdrops for flat lay photography at home. They're durable, wipe clean without staining, and are much cheaper than the hinged backdrops that I've looked at. I’ve also found that they can be used for side and 45-degree angle shots if you get creative. I stand one of the thicker boards up on its side and prop it up with a roll or two of paper towels behind it. That forms the back "wall". Then I use a separate backdrop to form the “floor” for the photo.
*If you work on a computer all day long, you might want to invest in a pair of blue light glasses. These were affordable, comfortable and don't slide down my nose, and my eyes feel so much less tired and achy when I remember to wear them consistently while I work.
*When I'm going to take photos outside of the house, making sure I have my light, power cords, backup battery, wall adapters, and anything else I need can be tricky. I use this organizer board to store everything and when I'm ready to go I only have to look for one thing to put in my backpack or purse.