In a nutshell

  • Research keywords using YouTube’s search bar and SEO tools to find video ideas that people want to watch
  • Look out for popular trends on YouTube by seeing what other creators in your niche are doing
  • Ask your audience what topics they would like you to make videos on

Most creators arrive on YouTube with a sparkling list of video ideas to get their channel started. Over time, however, that list will need to be replenished. The challenge is finding new video ideas that feel more like rare gems and less like redundant lumps of coal. In this article, we’ll go over some strategies you can use to find video ideas that your viewers actually want to watch.

YouTube is a search engine

The first thing to understand when trying to attract viewers to your channel is this: YouTube is a search engine. In fact, it’s the internet’s second largest search engine after Google. No one is going to watch your video if they can’t find it, so it’s important to take steps to ensure your video ranks near the top of YouTube’s search results page. There are many strategies you can use to make sure your video ranks higher. Collectively, these strategies are known as search engine optimization, or SEO.

But how can SEO help us discover new video ideas? The answer is keywords. Keyword research is a core SEO strategy. It involves identifying search terms viewers might use to find videos within your channel’s niche. These search terms, a.k.a. keywords, can be the key to unlocking your next great video idea. Let’s look at two different ways to find video ideas using keywords.

As you’ve probably experienced, YouTube will automatically suggest search terms as soon as you click into the search bar and start typing. You can use this autocomplete feature to identify commonly-used keywords.

For instance, if you type in “cooking,” YouTube will suggest topics like “Cooking ASMR,” “Cooking simulator” and “Cooking recipes.” You can use these suggestions as a jumping-off point for your own content, knowing that viewers are searching for videos related to those keywords. Just make sure to put your browser into incognito mode to ensure YouTube doesn’t tailor the suggestions to your own search habits.

Keyword research tools

For a more sophisticated approach to keyword research, we can turn to SEO tools like TubeBuddy, vidIQ and Ahrefs. These tools and others like them can help you evaluate your target keywords with metrics like search volume and topic saturation. The best keywords will be those with a high search volume and few quality search results. Looking at these metrics can help you determine whether or not a video idea is worth pursuing.

In addition to keyword metrics, these tools can also provide a list of related keywords. Mine this list to find new video ideas in your niche or optimize your target keyword by comparing different metrics.

Choosing a video topic based on keyword research is one way to ensure your content is relevant to viewers’ current interests. But for a more targeted way to figure out what people want to watch, look at what other creators are doing in your space.

Say you have a YouTube channel where you post video essays about popular movies. You just uploaded your hot take on the latest summer blockbuster and you’re looking for your next video idea. Time to head over to your favorite media commentary channels to see what movies they have covered recently. Which of their videos are getting the most views? What keywords appear in their titles? Are multiple creators talking about the same movie and finding similar success? Once you have a sense of which topics are gaining traction, think about how you can give your own perspective in a video for your channel.

While looking at similar channels will help you understand the videos that work in your niche, it can also help to take a look at what’s popular on YouTube more generally. While you might not find many video ideas to pull directly into your own content, you can get a sense of which video formats are trending at the moment.

To take this one step further, try to find a pattern in the types of videos that get the most views, especially within your niche. That way, you can make better predictions about what content will perform well so you can plan your content out further in advance. This approach will also help you break out of an unhealthy trend-chasing spiral.

Your audience

Keyword research tells you how much interest there is in a particular search term, and trend research helps you identify what’s working in your niche and on YouTube in general. But your audience is unique. They tune in to your channel for your specific thoughts and insights. It’s likely they have a wish list of topics they want you to cover. Our final tip for finding new video ideas that your viewers actually want to watch is to ask your viewers directly.

There are several ways to solicit ideas from your viewers. The simplest is to ask them directly at the end of your videos. Viewers are often eager to leave their suggestions in the comments. In fact, many viewers will leave video requests in the comments whether you ask them to or not. Don’t miss out on this treasure trove of potential video topics.

Another option is to ask your community for ideas on Reddit or Discord. Streamers can also ask chat for suggestions. Alternatively, surveys and polls offer a more formal approach to collecting viewer input. Instagram and YouTube Community are both popular polling platforms. You can even make polls on Patreon so that your patrons can vote on the topic of your next upload.

Asking for viewer input directly has the added benefit of getting viewers excited and invested in watching your content when it comes out.

Practice makes perfect

Coming up with shiny new video ideas is a never-ending challenge for content creators. However, spending some time researching keywords, exploring trends and getting to know your audience will make the process much easier. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to top up your list of video ideas with fewer duds and a lot more diamonds.