I’ve produced over 300 videos for my channel. Some were published, others were shunned for life. Allow me to walk through my quick and dirty process of coming up with ideas for YouTube and beyond.
1. Start with What You Know
If you’re a content creator, then chances are that you consume other content creators’ work. You’re watching your favorite YouTube channel, you’re reading your favorite Medium writer, or listening to a Top 50 podcast. Take a look at the type of content they’re producing and riff off their success.
It’s a way to get your brain thinking like a world-class content creator. Add a slight twist to their concept.
World Class Creator: “How to Improve Your Instagram Game”
Your Idea: “How to Improve Your Instagram Game for YouTubers”
Go more specific. Or go in a totally opposite direction.
SERIOUS NOTE: Do Not Hang on Step #1 for too long. There’s a fine line between biting and homage.
2. Brain Dump
Now let’s dive into original idea creation. It’s honestly a numbers game. The Art of the Brain Dump is to unload as many ideas onto the page as possible.
90% of these ideas are awful. That’s okay.
Use this to your advantage. If you know that 9/10 ideas are bad, then you need to write down 10 ideas. One of them will be decent enough to work with. Write down as many bad ideas as you can think of.
Whether in the morning, throughout the day, or at the end, relieve the brain of all your ideas. I’ve found that writing down ideas throughout the day helps me because it means that I won’t lose the idea later in the day. Find your own rhythm.
3. Save Your List
These ideas can’t live in your head forever without risk of them changing or being forgotten. Find a way to store these ideas.
When I first started producing episodes for my YouTube channel, it all started with some printer paper and creating a list 1–100 and slowly filling out that list. Then I moved on to a notecard and writing down one idea per note card. I began to lay out the notecards on the floor to get a broad few of my ideas.
Lately, I’ve found Trello to be the best for ideas storage. I create columns for ideas and write down my ideas as 5–7-word phrases. I used to write 2–3-word phrases but would later forget the specifics of the idea. Flesh out the idea as much as you can as quickly as possible.
4. Rank Your Ideas
As mentioned above, my use of Trello and note cards allows me to rank my ideas and sort through the bad ones. Don’t look at your bad ideas with anger and scorn; they’re the stones on your path guiding you to better ideas.
Rank your ideas using your OWN strategy. If you’re aiming for more views or subscribers then tackle the most “clickable” topics. If you’re aiming for creative expression and self-fulfillment then go for the ideas that interest you the most.
5. Still Stuck? Read Books.
My best ideas have spawned while reading books. To caveat, I’ve been reading non-fiction books about filmmaking, cinematography, self-help, business, and social media. Reading these types of books puts me into a certain mindset- it primes my brain. Occasionally, my mind will wander as I’m reading and that’s when those great ideas happen.
I have not been able to have these same awesome moments when browsing Instagram, watching YouTube videos or listening to podcast. My brain is just too focused on that content to allow for a moment to breathe and think.
Written by Jordan P. Anderson
Jordan P. Anderson is a cinematographer and content strategist based out of the Washington, D.C. area. Jordan takes on projects by first understanding a client’s business and their needs as a company. Knowing the core strategy, Jordan is able to produce effective and compelling video content to help solve the client’s pain points. In total, Jordan has worked on over 400 videos and campaigns aimed at solving his client’s problems.