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Industry Trends
December 10, 2021
min read
Elsie Bernaiche

The creator tools that helped build the world of content

It’s not a popularity contest - each creator tool has its own niche and specialty and oftentimes creators need to use multiple tools to get the precise effect and result that makes their content special. However, with more video editing apps now available to creators than ever before it is most certainly a popularity contest when it comes to positioning yourself as the go-to tool that premier content creators should use to make professional, polished and popular content online. 

It can come down to something as trivial as the video thumbnail - you know, the little picture you see in your search results before you click on a YouTube video - that makes the difference between a few thousand views and a few million views on a single video. That minute difference can launch a content creator into stardom. (That’s why Canva is promoting using their service to make Thumbnails on YouTube, USING YouTubers…)

Normal website

Promotional link given to YouTubers


In an assessment of the top 12 creator tools for content creation listed in CB Insight’s Creator Economy Market Map, ThoughtLeaders’ platform ranked the tools by their overall usage, reach, and specialty, i.e. which types of content creators prefer which tools to execute certain types of content. 

The Creator Economy Market Map

Here’s our overall ranking by total pieces of content constructed using these tools, where the creator linked to the app/service they used, or mentioned how they make their content on the transcript level:

Creator tools ranked according to appearance in content

PodBean leads the way by far - both on YouTube and podcast. This is primarily due to content creators linking to their podcast channel within their YouTube content. Take, for example, WhatCulture multi-channel media company which has multiple YouTube channels discussing everything from comics to WWE to gaming:


But they feature on more than 19K episodes of podcast content from 1100+ podcast channels, as well. 

PodBean has focused on gaining traction with these audiences purposefully, as we can see that it’s not just creators linking to their content via PodBean. PodBean has several commercial partnerships that they leverage that get the word out to other podcasters to sign up for PodBean and “start, record, and publish your very own podcast in minutes!”

Podbean on podcasts

They currently promote with 19 podcasters in just under 100 podcast episodes, all of this occurring within the past two months! We expect this to continue to grow, as other podcast tools like Anchor have a long history of promoting themselves within content to drive growth. 

Anchor's presence on YouTube and podcasts

Outside of Podbean, VSCO is the next tool that has the most traction among creators. VSCO is an interesting app that allows you to edit photos, post them and connect to communities all within the app. VSCO is primarily mentioned on YouTube, although there are a few podcasts discussing creator strategies, like Ace The Gram, that mention VSCO.

VSCO's presence on podcasts

They’re in a discussion around Facetune and other editing tools that help you perfect your images in order to grow your IInstagram followers and curate your “brand” on Instagram. I’m sure VSCO has no idea that they’re being talked about on podcast, being a visual editing tool, but educational and instructive material lives very much on podcast as much as it might exist on YouTube via tutorial-style content. 

Emma Chamberlain, one of VSCO’s top creator that linked or mentioned their tool:

Emma Chamberlain mentioning VSCO

But, here’s the thing - last time she mentioned VSCO was in May 2018… what happened there? That also happens to be around the last time she uploaded images to her gallery on the VSCO site:

Emma Chamberlain's VSCO

Her YouTube account and tactics completely shifted in 2018 - that’s when Emma Chamberlain started scoring her first sponsorships (we can check “sponsored content” on her channel and sort by date to see when the first videos started going out). To no surprise, it’s May 2018!

Date of Emma Chamberlain's first YouTube sponsorship

Today, you can see by a quick search of her recent videos, most of her content is sponsored by major partners like Credit Karma, Google, Crocs and more - and she’s still maintaining her audience of 3M average views per video:

Emma Chamberlain's brand sponsorships

Emma played a delicate game of optimizing her social channels over time, and this directly correlates to her general trends around views on her YouTube channel where she’s now making major money in commercial partnerships. It’s clear that leveraging the following she can gain on other platforms feeds her overall “hype” for her YouTube content. 

Emma Chamberlain's YouTube description (July 2017):

YouTube description 2017

Emma Chamberlain's YouTube description (July 2021):

YouTube description 2021

VSCO may rank among the top creator tools with the most mentions, but in terms of current view counts, it’s clear that creators linking and leveraging VSCO are still up-and-coming:

VSCO's YouTube and podcast presence

Looking at average view counts and frequencies we can see these channels are all still growing - by frequency, they just aren’t making a ton of content consistently, yet (Emma Chamberlain has a frequency of 2.88, meaning she’s making a video every 2-3 days), and their videos are ranging from 1000-500K average views per video, nowhere near the view counts Emma Chamberlain was hitting by the time she moved on from VSCO. 

This is reflected in the slight decrease of videos being put out over time linking to VSCO:

Decrease in content mentioning VSCO

VSCO might stand to gain a lot in learning what other platforms are being linked to more than theirs and what those tools offer creators as far as promoting their content to gain followers based on this analysis. 

Not all tools are created equal as we can see from VSCO’s more recent content - based on last published, it’s overwhelmingly technology creators publishing content linking to VSCO, whereas traditionally most of their volume of video attention has come from lifestyle creators. 

This holds true for other tools - take, for instance, the most preferred tool for gamers that create gaming content:

Creator tools preferred by gamers

Lowkey jumps high up in the ranking once we understand that gamers are their go-to user, so much so that they’ve even customized their landing page for it:

Lowkey landing page

Splice and Landr are all about music creators:

Splice presence on social

Landr social presence

Both are promoting themselves within the content, like PodBean, not just being linked as a tool that creators use. Splice offers a free sign-up, whereas Landr is offering freebies within the user - two free “masters” per month through this sign-up link featured by TRACKSTARZ YouTube:

Landr's appearance  YouTube

The final question might be, what type of video works best for promoting a specific creator tool?

A tutorial might be the natural instinct given that creators lean on other YouTubers all the time to learn how to execute specific projects - and as we saw with Ace The Gram, they’ll even tune into a podcast or two for a study session. 

Of the 56K pieces of content that link to any of the 12 creator tools we’ve assessed, 15K, or 26% of that content, indeed does mention a tutorial or how-to instructional. These videos represent 942M views that these creator tools own altogether, or approximately 28% of all the views attracted to any content linking to these creator tools. More than 11K of this content exists on YouTube - that’s to be expected given that YouTube is a primary place where people go to find tutorial content. There might be some worth in understanding how podcast trends are growing in the “educational content” space for creators - any creator tool that can crack the podcast code has a significant advantage on the rest. 

Creator tools can learn a ton about the ideal creator that is using their tool and HOW that tool is being used to ultimately achieve the creators’ goals outside of the usual “make beautiful content” usage case. Many are using these tools to grow their following and ultimately monetize their content on YouTube. Creator tools have significant proof that promoting yourself in a specific content niche will be the surest way to see success that can be scaled, as well as recognize the opportunity in competitors neglecting certain fields of content that represent billions of viewers and thousands of creator channels. Editing and production apps like those listed above will also want to pay particular attention as to how to promote themselves to maximize growth in these specific spaces - what promos are competitors offering that might make my tool the more favorable option? What type of content should my promotion be run on vs. leaning on organic traffic from creators linking to our tool as a resource?

The answers to all this and more lay within our data at ThoughtLeaders - want to check it out? Request a demo here

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