Tis the season for planning! Especially if you are an entrepreneur, it’s time to get obsessive about colourful planners, full year calendars that take up a whole wall, and dreamy goal setting. And if you are creative minded (like me) it is important to really feel the freedom to fully express the whirlwind of ideas and thoughts that are running rampant. All the feedback you’ve been collecting and projects you’ve been silently brewing from 2015 are finally ready to be splayed in whatever paper or digital medium you choose. Shouldn’t you make sure you really get everything out of your system? What better way to let it out with mind mapping!
So, what is mind mapping and how does it apply to your content?
It is a fairly old system of brainstorming ideas in a non-linear fashion; by drawing it out. Lifehacker wrote this great post about mind mapping and how it is more intuitive for the brain to bounce back and forth from different ideas. Mind mapping nurtures and captures this type of brainstorming so that you can fully flesh out everything that’s going on in your head.
It can be used for any type of content planning: for your next e-course, a newsletter, or even your upcoming blog content. It really works with anything!
Just to give you an idea of what it looks like, this is a mind map I did for this very blog post:
Doesn’t look very fancy but I’m always amazed at how many ideas I’m able to get out with this method. It is way more stimulating and fun than doing a bullet point list or just starting to write head on.
How do you mind map?
There are different methods but I’ll describe the simplest steps:
- First, decide what you want to mindmap about in terms of your content: what type of content are you going to focus on? Text posts, audio posts, infographics, videos - really think about what you’d like to try out and what has been working.
For a starting point, you can take a look at your Google Analytics data to see what have been your most popular posts. Go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages.
Here you can see your most popular posts and start to make some hypothesis into why these post are popular. Taking these ideas to your brainstorming session is essential to make sure whatever you are planning is really relevant to your audience.
2. Once you have decided what exactly you are mind mapping about in this session, sit down in a comfortable place where you won’t have too many distractions. Put your phone on silent for at least half an hour, and close your computer screen. Get a large notebook or piece of paper and make sure you have several pens and highlighters. If you’d think it’d help you, grab a tea or glass of water to sip during your brainstorming.
3. In the middle of the page, write out what you are going to be mind mapping about. Keep it simple; writing out the general concept you want to start and discover.
4. If you get any immediate associations with your central idea, write them out. For example, if you are mind mapping content types you want to try out, immediately note them, making sure they branch out of the main topic. If you are stuck, start with the 5W + H: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. This will obviously not apply to all themes, but it will point you in the direction of stimulating your ideas. Going back to the example of content types, maybe you want to look into the pros/cons of each content type and why you are attracted to one particular one. You can start to list out how you are going to experiment with a particular content type: different types of blog content for example.
5. Let loose. Let yourself get messy. Whatever ideas come into your head, write them out and link them to your mind map, organizing your associations.
You’ll see how you slowly get into a rhythm and the more you write (even if it doesn’t make 100% sense) the easier the ideas will flow to you. If you want to use the different markers or highlighters to organize ideas, that fine. Keep in mind the initial stage is to get out as many things as possible, until the page is very crowded.
6. After you feel you’ve exhausted the topic (and if one page isn’t enough, don’t be afraid to go for another), you can take a step back and look for any common themes among what you wrote. Anything surprising? Anything you hadn’t thought of? Just take a moment to let these ideas sit before actioning.
7. The final step is to apply these ideas to your current content planning. Whether it’s a content calendar or an overall plan, have your mind map beside you as a you draft out your strategy.
I hope mind mapping becomes an integrated part of your creative process and is as helpful to you as it is to me.
Currently I’m mind mapping for almost any undertaking: from blog posts, downloadable PDFs, to webinar ideas, it has really helped me feel free and satisfied when brainstorming whatever projects I have going on.
Do you mind map? If so, how do you use it? Let me know if the comment section below.