How to Create MindMaps for your Blogging
In today’s lesson, I want to talk about one of my favorite techniques in business for organising my thoughts, helping me to review, plan and organise my business and to think creatively and generate loads of ideas.
Today’s episode is about Mind Mapping. I want to talk about what mind maps are but more importantly I want to suggest a variety of different ways that you can use them in your blogging.
I create mind maps almost every day in my business – they help me in my content creation, how I promote my blog and grow traffic, how I monetize my blog, in my design and much more. In fact – I designed outlined this whole podcast in a mindmap which I’ll show you in today’s show notes.
I’ve got at least 19 ways you can use mindmaps and am going to share with you the mind mapping tool that I use (and suggest some others to check out too).
Here’s the mindmap of today’s show (click to enlarge):
Here’s a mindmap I used as an illustration in a blog post on making money blogging. It was used on this post – https://problogger.com/make-money-blogging/
Here’s a Keynote-Your Future mindmap:
Here’s a mindmap I made on finding blog readers:
Further Resources on How to Use MindMaps in your Blogging
- How to Discover Hundreds of Post Ideas for your blog with Mind Mapping
- Problogger Podcast Listeners Facebook Group
My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board and a series of ebooks and real life books as well, all designed to help you as a blogger to start an amazing blog to create some content that’s going to change the world and make your reader’s lives better in some way. Hopefully, it’s going to help you to make a little bit of money from your blog as well.
We do have a growing number of our audience on the way to full time blogging but the vast majority of our audience are adding an extra income stream into their lives. If you would like to do that, you can learn more over at problogger.com.
In today’s lesson, I want to talk about one of my favorite techniques in business for organizing my thoughts to helping me do reviews of my business, to plan my business and to organize my business as well as to think creatively and generate loads of ideas.
In today’s episode, I want to talk about Mind Mapping. It’s a tool that I’ve used ever since I was a kid. I used to do it on a blackboard at school but today there are some amazing tools that help us to do it. I want to talk about how you can use mind maps in a variety of different aspects of your business. You can use Mind Maps in the creation of content, in the planning of that content but also the outlining of that content, in the planning in the way that you’re going to grow traffic to your blog and how you monetize your blog, how you design your blog in many other ways.
In fact, right now, I am looking at a mind map. I designed this episode in the mind ap. I’m going to show you that Mind Map in today’s show notes. I’ll tell you where to find that in a moment.
In fact today, what I’ve got or you is 19 different ways that you can use mind maps. I would probably come up with a 20th as I’m running along too. I’m going to show you some of those mind maps in today’s show notes. You can find them over at problogger.com/podcast/182, just see some of those examples and to get a full transcript of today’s show.
Last thing I’ll mention is that the Facebook group, our ProBlogger Podcast Listeners Facebook group is going really well. This last week, we’ve had some amazing discussions where the listeners of this podcast have been sharing some of what they’ve been learning, as well as some of their challenges. If you’re looking for a group of other bloggers to journey with, do a search on Facebook for ProBlogger Podcast Listeners and join that group and I’ll approve you as soon as I can.
Let’s get into today’s show where we’re going to talk mind maps.
As I said in my introduction today, today I want to talk about mind maps. Mind maps are something that I use on a daily basis in my business. A lot of times, mind maps get talked about as a way to generate ideas for your blog and that’s certainly one thing that I do with mind maps. But today, I want to share with you a whole variety of other ways that you can use mind maps in your business as well.
But first, for those of you who are wondering what in the world I’m talking about, what is a mind map? Probably the best thing you can do is head over to the show notes where you’ll see some mind maps and you’ll very quickly understand what they are but Wikipedia’s definition of a mind map is that it is a diagram in which information is represented visually, usually with a central idea placed in the middle and associated ideas arranged around it.
If you’re like me, you probably did mind maps at school and the teachers would often write a word in the middle of the board and put a circle around it and then they would get you to brainstorm things that relate to that word, sometimes as a tool as you’re writing essays. At its most simple, it is a circle with a word in the middle and then other words written around that. You can also add other layers around those secondary words that you put as well. That’s what a mind map is. In general, the most obvious way to use a mind map is for brainstorming. Another way about a mind map is that it’s almost like a list with sublists. I, personally, am a visual person, I find making a list helpful, I like lists and sometimes I’ll do a bullet list and then I have little bullets under the bullets, I have sublists, actually I’m a more visual person and so it’s an alternative to making a list. It’s a more visual way of doing it.
There are some amazing tools around at the moment. I’m going to share some of those tool that I’ve been using to create mind maps in a moment.
For me, mind maps are great for brainstorming, they’re also really good for helping you to clarify your thoughts. If you’ve got quite a complicated thing that you’re thinking through, sometimes to be able to list things out and to visualize those thoughts can help you to clarify those sorts. It’s also really good for anything that’s to do with a system or a routine or a procedure. I’ll show you some examples of these in the show notes but I find when I’m trying to clarify a system in my business, sometimes it’s good to be out to be able to create some sort of a flowchart or mind map to help me to visualize that and make sense of the idea that I’m thinking through.
What I want to do for the bulk of this particular episode is to share with you a variety of different ways that I use mind maps in my business. I’m going to start off with the most obvious one and the one that gets talked about a lot and that is around brainstorming, particularly content ideas.
We’re going to start with the basic and then I’m going to share with you another 17 or 18 different ways that you can use mind maps in other aspects of your business as well. Number one is to brainstorm topics for your blog and to come up with ideas to write about. You can very easily grab a piece of paper and write a list of things that you might want to write about. One of things that I like to do is to create a mind map that in the central node, the node is the central idea, I’ve put the name of my blog.
If I was doing one for ProBlogger, it would be ProBlogger in the middle. And then after that, I might come up with my main categories of content. On ProBlogger, we write about content, we write about finding traffic, we find about building community, we find about monetizing blog, we talk about productivity. I might have those five nodes around the main node, that’s the next level of the mind map.
And then of each of those, I might have different sub categories. In the finding traffic and growing your traffic to your blog, there’s a variety of different ways that you can get traffic to your blog. We might have a sub category on search engine optimization, we might have another sub category on social media, we might have another one on getting traffic from other people’s blogs-referral traffic.
For each of the main categories, there’s probably a variety of sub categories. You can see here we’re getting more granular with the ways that you can grow your blog. Around those five main categories, we might end up with 25 layers. And then around those 25 things, I begin to brainstorm on a really granular basis. In the section on social media as a way to drive traffic, I might start to brainstorm on how do you get traffic from Facebook, how do you get traffic from Twitter, how do you get traffic from Pinterest? And then I might even go further and if there’s three or four different techniques for Facebook then we’re starting to get into the blog post ideas then.
We’re really drilling down into very specific techniques. At the edges of the mind map, once you go right down to the most granular ideas, you find ideas for blog posts. That is one technique that you can use with a mind map to come up with potentially hundreds of ideas for writing about on your blog, in your podcast, or in your YouTube channel.
Another technique that I use to coming up with ideas for my blog posts is something that I wrote about a few years ago on ProBlogger, in a post called Discover Hundreds of Post Ideas For Your Blog with Mind Mapping. I’ll link to it in the show notes.
Another idea that you can do is to actually, as your central node in your mind map, start with a previously written blog post that you’ve already written. You might have a post that you wrote a year ago, go back and find a post that you wrote a year ago. Have that as the central idea and then make a mind map around that. How could you extend that blog post? How can you write an opposing viewpoint? How could you update it for today? What points could you add to it? What questions might your readers have about that particular post?
You can begin to create a mind map extending that idea and hopefully come up with a variety of different blog posts that you could write as a result of that one. You can use as your central node your blog itself and then build categories and then sub categories and blog posts from there or you might start with the blog post itself or you might just choose to do a mind map about each of the categories of your blog as well. That’s what I’ve done on ProBlogger. I’ll share some of those in the show notes today.
Brainstorming topics to write about to have as a podcast is probably the most common way of using mind maps on a blog. It’s incredibly effective. I love to do this exercise with a group of people, I find when you do it in a more of a social context and brainstorming together, that’s when the real magic sometimes can happen. But I would put aside a little bit of time every week just to do this type of exercise alone, as well. I think getting in the habit of brainstorming in this way can unearth all kinds of ideas for your blog. Number one thing you can do with mind maps and the most obvious is to brainstorm topics and ideas to write about on your blog.
Another thing you can do in a similar vein is to outline your editorial calendar. Particularly, if you’re going to do a series of content on your blog. This is what I did when I first came up with 31 Days to Build A Better Blog, many years ago now, it was a 31 day series of content on my blog. I came out with that idea late one night and I didn’t really know what the 31 days are going to be until I woke up the next morning and the first thing I did was to get my whiteboard out and to brainstorm the 31 topics that I wanted to cover over that month. I knew that I wanted to take my readers on a journey. I didn’t want to come up with 31 random ideas, I wanted to have them in the right order, I wanted them to be able to build upon each other and so I mind mapped it using a whiteboard.
I created almost like a flowchart style of a mind map where I outlined the topics of each one and I even drilled in a little bit deeper. For each of the posts, I had a sub node around the main node and then of each of those 31, there were two or three other things and each of those were what I wanted to say or do in that particular post. I began to outline those posts in the mind map as well.
If you’ve got a series of content coming up, it might not be a 31 day series, it might be, it might be a seven day series, it might even be just three posts, you can begin to plan that content out ahead of time using a mind map.
Let’s talk about another way you can use mind maps in term of content on your blog and that is to outline a specific piece of content, whether it be a blog post, a podcast, a talk or webinar, a video that you’re doing, you can actually outline that specific piece of content in a mind map and that is what I’m doing right now.
What I’m looking at right now is a mind map of this particular podcast episode. I don’t do this for every piece of content that I create but I thought I’d give it a go today for this particular one. It really did help me to plan this podcast but also it’s helping me to deliver it. Instead of looking at notes, I’m looking at a mind map and I’m working through each of the different sub nodes in that particular mind map and you can go and have a look at it over on the show notes.
You might have a long mega post that you are writing, a really in depth article. Instead of outlining it in a list or on a piece of paper or in a text document, you might choose to do it in a mind map. I would probably only do this for longer pieces of content, longer form content. I do this all the time if I’m preparing for a presentation or a keynote at a conference. This is where I always start with those type of things because when I’m wanting to do a longer piece of content, getting up and talking for an hour in front of people, I need to know how that’s going to flow and so I like to visualize that.
I also do this sometimes with postit notes and that would be the other thing I do. I get a wall and I put all my ideas on post it notes and then I begin to create a mind map on the wall. That’s another way I’m doing a mind map.
Outlining a piece of content. You might actually use a mind map in a variety of different ways, you might actually outline the content as you’ll see in this particular mind map but you might also use a mind map to brainstorm titles for your blog post as well. That might be something that you can do. The piece of software that I use for my mind mapping is called Mind Node and the thing I like about that particular piece of software is that it allows me to create more than one mind map on a document. What I sometimes do if I outline a blog post in a mind map, I might create a second mind map on the same document for titles and where I just brainstorm the titles for that post as well. There’s a variety of things you can do in looking at specific pieces of content.
Another thing you can do when it comes to content is plan out an interview for a podcast or a video. Those of you who listened to the last episode of the ProBlogger Podcast will have heard me interview Robert from Soloism. The way I prepared for that particular interview was to do a mind map as well. I had about seven or eight different areas that I thought out interview might go to. I mind mapped those seven or eight different areas and then I came up with two to three questions I could ask about each of those interviews.
I actually find a mind map really helpful when I’m interviewing people because it’s a little bit more open. It’s not a list that I work through from top to bottom. It’s some areas of discussion that I might explore. I didn’t actually explore all of the things that I planned in that mind map but it gave me some reference points as the conversations flowed. I actually find a mind map helps me to get the conversation flowing a little bit more than a list of questions. If you do interviews, you might find planning for those to be useful with a mind map as well.
Another thing when it comes to the content on your blog is that mind maps sometimes can make really good illustrations to give your readers a visual. Particularly if you want to outline a process for your readers, if you’re teaching them a process, that can be really usefully illustrated in the mind map or if you want to illustrate the possibilities in an idea.
A really good example of that is a post that I wrote on ProBlogger many years ago now on How to Make Money Blogging. Many of you will have seen that before if you go to problogger.com/make/money/blogging, you’ll see the mind map that I had there. I’ve got a second version for that now and that mind map has the different ways that you can make money blogging. There’s about 30 different ways that you can make money blogging there and I have categorized them. That particular mind map has been shared tens of thousands of times around the internet. People love that and I see other people using it in their presentations all the time. It’s a really good way of outlining possibilities. You might find using a mind map is good for you in planning content but also can be a part of the presenting of that content as well.
The last thing I’ll say in terms of content and using mind maps in your content is that sometimes they can be used in video presentations as well. This is not something I have ever done before, but I have seen a number of bloggers do screen share videos where they actually walk through a mind map. If you’re teaching a procedure, if you’re teaching a workflow, if you’re teaching something that goes through different possibilities, you can use that mind map in a video.
Again, one of the things I love about Mind Node, which is tool that I use, is that you can fold in the nodes and then reveal the nodes. You can hide all of the sub nodes and then reveal them one at a time. That’s really effective when you are using a video. If you’re doing a screen share video, you can then walk through that mind map. That might be another ideas if you do a lot of videos.
These are some of the ways that you can use mind maps when it comes to content; brainstorming, topic ideas, outlining a series coming up with the outline for a specific piece of content, planning an interview, using them as illustrations on your blog and then doing a screen share video. These are some of the ways you can use a mind map for content.
Let’s move on a little bit now to some possibilities in using mind maps in the promotion of your blog, on the marketing of your blog. One thing that I like to do if I’m planning any sort of series of communications, whether it be a sequence of emails if I’m creating an autoresponder series on my blog or a little funnel of emails that I want to send people, mind maps can be really useful in designing the flow of that type of communication.
You might have a blog and you’re starting an autoresponder sequence, series of emails that is about welcoming new readers to your blog. You might want to send them seven emails over seven weeks. You can design that sequence of emails using a mind map. Email one, what do you want to achieve in that email? You want to just welcome them and ask them a question. Email two, you might want to introduce them to your Facebook page. Email three, you might want to introduce them to some of your old content, you can begin to design a sequence of emails in a visual kind of way using a mind map. That’s one thing you can do.
You can do the same thing with social media messaging. If you’ve got a campaign of social media messages that you want to get out over a series of time, you can use the mind map to design that type of communication sequence.
Another thing when it comes to marketing your blog, and this is something I’ve not done myself but I’ve seen other bloggers using mind maps for their keywords in search engine optimization. They brainstorm the different keywords that they want to rank for and keep track of what they’re doing with SEO. Again, it might be another possibility for you.
Another thing you might want to use a mind map for is to design a social media strategy, the process that you use to promote a blog post. You might come up with a strategy for every piece of content that you create, you want to share in these places, you can use the mind map to design that process. You want to post to Twitter five times, you’re going to post to Facebook three times and then begin to outline at what frequency do you want those posts to go out. Mind maps can be useful in that way as well.
Let me just go through a few other possibilities for mind maps and you’ll see all these outlined on the mind map I’ve created for this particular podcast. You can use mind maps in the monetization of your blog. This is something I do every time I’m doing an affiliate promotion of a product that someone else has.
We’re actually about to do a promotion on Digital Photography School of the bundle of products and ultimate photography bundle of products. It’s worth $4,000 and it’s being sold for $100 or something along those lines. What we’re doing is promoting that bundle over a series of weeks. We’ve outlined the communications that we want to send over that period of time. We want to send a series of three or four email. What is each of those email going to say/ We want to have a series of blog posts on the blog that promote the bundle. What are they going to say? We want some social media to support that affiliate campaign, what are they going to say? At what intervals will they be sent out?
We can design a whole campaign of promoting an affiliate product using a mind map. The same can be true if you’re launching one of your own products, say you’ve got an ebook or a course that you are launching or a printable that you want to launch. Actually map out how you are going to promote that product. Are you going to start with blog post? How many emails will you send? What social will come as a result of that?
The other part of it is in the design of the product, in the same way you can outline a blog post in a mind map or a series of blog posts in a mind map, you could outline that course that you’ve been thinking about doing in a mind map, or that ebook that you’ve been planning and you start as the central node is the central idea of the ebook and then of that comes the chapter titles and of each of those chapter titles comes the sections that you want to be in each of those chapters and then you can begin to come off each of those with some points you want to make in those. You could plan a whole ebook, a book, a course, using a mind map in some way, brainstorming what the content will be and then brainstorming how you are going to launch that as well.
Monetization, you can use mind maps in all of those ways as well. And then there’s a variety of other things you can do with mind maps that I’ll quickly whip through. If you are beginning to hire people in your team, you can use mind maps as an organizational chart. This is an exercise I did a couple of years ago, as I was thinking about who do I need to work with me at ProBlogger. I’d been working on Problogger largely by myself for a number of years and so I began to map out the different roles that I was doing to keep ProBlogger running and then I began to look at each of those roles and assessed was I good at those roles or do I need to find someone to help me in those roles? What roles weren’t being done?
Having that mind map helped me to work out where the holes were in my business in terms of people and team members and also as I began to add people in, I was able to put their names there and I describe their roles, and worked out where there was overlap, or where I needed to put other people as well, where we needed to find other resources.
An organizational chart, you can use mind maps in the design of your blog. If you were wanting to do a redesign of your blog, you can actually map out the different pages that you want and what you want to happen on each of those pages using a mind map. You can map out your navigation, your menus in a mind map. It can be used in the visuals of your blog.
If you’ve got a big goal that you’re working towards, and this is something I got from Jason Stevens over in the Facebook group when I asked yesterday, how are people using mind maps? He say he uses mind maps to help him with big, hairy, audacious goals and I can really understand that. If you’ve got a big goal, you want to launch a blog for example, if you haven’t got a blog yet and that’s a big goal, it’s audacious, you don’t know how are you going to do it. Start with that as your central node and then begin to brainstorm what you need to do to get that big goal into reality.
Again, talking here about the tool that I used, Mind Node, one of the things I love about that tool is that you can turn your mind map into a todo list. You can add little check boxes to different elements of the mind map that you do. You can brainstorm what you need to do, outline the steps that you need to achieve whatever that goal is that you’ve got and then as you do them you can check them off and it tells you how far along the process you are into completing that goal that you have. Any kind of process that you need to work through that feels overwhelming, lay it out on the mind map and begin to tick off those things.
Another thing you can do with mind maps is to create a reader persona or an avatar. I talk about this quite regularly. Sometimes, it’s really useful to have a picture of who your reader is. Why don’t you go to Google images, find a random picture of the type of person that you think might read your blog, put them as a central element of your mind map and again, with Mind Node you can use images in your mind map so you put that in there and then you begin to brainstorm and develop these picture of who they are. You might have a sub node coming off demographics, what language do they speak, where do they live, how old are they? You might have another sub node, spending habits, how do they spend money as it pertains to your topic. You might have another sub node, the questions that they have, their frequently asked questions and you begin to brainstorm that. You might have another one, their challenges. You might have another sub node, their dreams. You begin to get this picture of who it is that is reading your blog. You may want to do some surveys to find out the answers to those things and then again you plug those things in. You develop this avatar of who is reading your blog all based on a mind map. That’s another thing you can do.
You can use mind maps to do to do lists, as I’ve already mentioned. If you’ve got anything that you want to achieve, any sort of list, if you are more of a visual person and you find lists really not that helpful, again the mind map might help you with that.
You can use mind maps to do analysis or review of your blogs. Those of you who do SWOT analysis on your blog every year, one way to do that is through a mind map. You might have in the central node your blog’s name and then you have off that subnodes the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Off each of those, you come up with the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is the more visual way of doing that type of review on your blog.
The last thing I will say for mind maps is I sometimes like it when I’m in a conference to take notes using a mind map. It depends a little bit on the type of presenter and whether they’ve got a structure to their talk. I like listening to people who have a structure to their talk but you can actually take notes using the mind map, that can be helpful as well. It’s like when people do a visual note taking and they draw the notes, it’s a step towards that, I guess, but it’s more word based. There are some of the ways that you can use mind mapping in your blogging and I’m sure there’s a lot more that can be said as well.
Just a few final thoughts and again, if you’re following along on the mind map outline of this podcast, you’ll see where I’m going with this. I find mind mapping is more useful with a group of people. It’s a social experience that can really come alive there. It’s something that you can do by yourself but do use it if you have a team, if you are in a mastermind, it can be really useful. If you’ve got a mentor, if you’ve got people working for you. Involve other people in it, you’ll find that it does bring things alive.
Again, that was something that Jason mentioned on the Facebook group as well. You don’t have to use software to do this. I have mentioned a few times, I use my white board, I have two white boards in my office and sometimes I love to do it with those white boards, sometimes I like to do it with paper and pen. I always sit with a pad next to me. As I mentioned before, I used post it notes as well. The thing I like about post it notes is that you can write things down and then move them around, which is similar to the software that I use as well.
I’ve already mentioned many time in this presentation that I use Mind Node and I’ll link to it in the show notes. I’ve got no affiliation with them at all, it’s just a tool that I find really useful. It’s a Mac tool and it’s also on iOS, so on your iPhone and iPad. One of the things I like about that is that it syncs between them using iCloud. I can create a mind map on my computer and then within minutes it’s on my iPhone and iPad as well so I can update it when I’m on the go as well. It can be shared with other people and whether they’ve got the tool or not, it also can be exported to PDF as an image if you want to embed it into your blog post as well. As I mentioned, it can turn elements of your mind maps into tasks, it can become a to do list. You can also add in visuals as well. You can bring in little icons or you can bring in an image to use as more of a visual representation of the things that you’ve got in your nodes.
The other thing I love about it is that you can have multiple maps on the one document. When I’m planning a blog post, I will often plan the outline of a post in one map, I’ll plan titles for that post and have a little map and brainstorm there and then sometimes I will even have a third mind map on that same document of how I would promote it on social media. Some little taglines that I might use to promote that particular post.
The other thing you can use in Mind Node as well is that it has a notes function. For each of your nodes, if you want to write more about that particular node or that particular category, if you want to take a node, if you want to leave some links in there for yourself for further reading, you can expand that even further and have those notes as well.
Mind Node is my tool of choice, it’s not a free tool. You have to pay to use that, you have to pay to get the Mac version and then again to get the iOS version, which is a bit of a pain but I find that it’s just incredibly intuitive and simple to use. Having said that, there’s a lot of other tools around and if you do a Google search for mind map tools, you will find just like 100 of other things. Some of them are free, some of them are Mac only, some of them are Android only, some of them are web based tools and I’m going to list a few of the ones that I’ve seen and that you have recommended in the Facebook group as well. I’ll list them over on the show notes today.
Mind mapping is an amazing tool. I use it every day in my blogs and I know a lot of you do as well. Particularly useful for those of you who need something a bit more visual than just a list. Essentially, it is a list. The thing I love about it particularly using the tools that I use is that it’s a list that I can drag around and I can rearrange and that these are much more visual for me.
I’d love to hear though whether you use mind maps, if you do what tools do you use? Are you a paper and pen person, are you a whiteboard or a post it person, or do you use some kind of app or web based tool? You can tell us all about that over at problogger.com/podcast/182 where I’ve got a full transcript of today’s show and there will be all the links to the tools that I use and the others that I found and there’s some examples there of different types of mind maps that I’ve used as well. I’ll show you there the mind maps for this particular podcast which will show you how you could outline a blog post or a presentation but I also got some mind maps there of courses that I’ve used the mind maps to outline and other things as well.
Thanks for listening today. Hope you found this useful and I hope to see some of the mind maps that you create hopefully over in the Facebook group as well. Again, do a search for ProBlogger podcast listeners on Facebook and join in the discussions that we have there every day over on Facebook. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week on the ProBlogger Podcast.
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