From marketers and entrepreneurs to influencers and nonprofits, there are lots of people out there who like the idea of live video but aren’t sure what to stream about. They may be sold on the benefits of livestreaming but short on topic ideas. If that’s you, don’t be dismayed. Coming up with topics and ideas for your livestreams is a fun and crucial step — but it’s not the first step. And if you’re running into trouble generating ideas, it may be because you haven’t yet done the earlier steps in developing a live video content strategy.

You should only turn your attentions to choosing topics once you’ve already defined your goals, identified your audience, and chosen the niche for your live videos. (Each of those linked blog posts will help you complete said steps in order.) At that point, you’ll have a strong foundation for your content brainstorming and planning, and the entire process will be much easier.

Getting your live video ideas on paper

If you’re following along in our live video content strategy series, you should already have a document where you’re keeping track of your strategy as you develop it. Open another document that you don’t mind getting a little messy — it’s time to do some brainstorming.

Write your niche at the top of the document, and then start listing all the subtopics or aspects of your niche that you can think of. There are no wrong answers at this point; just get them on paper.

If you sell tools, for instance, and your niche is DIY home handiwork for beginners, you might write down various tool uses, types of projects, best practices, fundamentals, storage, etc. If you already know there are specific topics you want to cover in videos, write those down as well. Write down all the FAQs that you get that are related to your niche. Write down what you wish your audience knew or understood. Let each item inspire more items until you have a lengthy number of could-be topics. You can also write down events, workshops, panels, demos, interviews, and other live content ideas that don’t necessarily cover just one topic within your niche.

If you’re still short on ideas, start typing your existing ideas into Google or YouTube to see what autocomplete queries pop up. This gives you a good indication about what people are searching for when they’re looking for information related to your niche.

Additionally, you could try looking at video playlists or blog feeds from your competitors — or unrelated industries entirely — to see what types of content other people are producing. It’s remarkable how well headlines can translate from one industry to another. ”Five skincare basics you can’t live without” can easily translate to “Five household tools beginners can’t live without,” which could be genuinely worthwhile, well-parsed content. And in a live-video format, you could provide not just a list and description but also a brief demo and Q&A. The search queries that bring people to your website (viewable through Google Analytics) are also an excellent place to get live video idea inspiration.

Getting your live video ideas in order

Now that you have a bunch of options on paper, it’s time to streamline your ideas by categorizing and prioritizing them.

Categorizing them will help you identify potential topic series. Series are useful not only because they allow you to go in-depth with relevant topics but also because they help you build a week, month, or quarter around a single theme. Using a series format also helps your audience know what to anticipate. As you put topics into categories and see your series shape up, add any additional or related topics that you may have forgotten the first time around.

Seeing your content in categories, start to prioritize the topics or series you’d like to cover first. You can denote priority by numbering topics or rearranging them. Which topics must be understood in order to understand the rest of the topics? Which ones are most relevant to your audience, based on what you know about them? Which ones will answer the questions your audience members are asking? Which ones will best establish you as a trusted resource in your niche? Questions like these can help you identify how important a topic is and, therefore, how to prioritize it.

Taking video ideas from planning to execution

With categories and priorities now identified in front of you, you should have a clear picture of the topics or series that are most important to start with — as well as a logical order for these topics. (It’s perfectly fine — even advisable — to start with a single series. Though it can work well to run multiple series concurrently, you probably don’t want to start with more than two or three series at a single time.)

Now that your brainstorming document has served its purpose, return to your live video content strategy document to make things a little more official. Add a new section with the title "Topics and Series," and then add the topics or series you're going to start with as you launch your live video content. Ideally you have at least 15 content ideas spanning one or more series. This could easily be three months worth of content (more on timing in an upcoming post). Be sure to list topics in the order in which you're going to cover them.

In the next steps in our live video content strategy series, we’ll cover how to choose channels for these live videos and and then how to create a content calendar to ensure all these excellent ideas get executed. When you create your calendar, everything starts to feel real. Ideas become plans with timelines, deadlines, and stream dates, which is when the fun really starts to happen.

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