I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone working in the Search Engine Optimization and in particular working on either content marketing and/or link building campaigns has at some point struggled with coming up with new content ideas.
There are various brainstorming techniques as well as tools designed especially to help you with this task. What I am going to discuss here today is mind mapping, or to be more specific, how to use mind maps to brainstorm content ideas.
What is mind mapping
A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. Just like the example below.
The term mind map was coined by a British author and TV personality Tony Buzzan
Mind maps have multiple uses, you can use them to take notes, to study, brainstorm ideas or even plan a new website.
Tips and Tricks
Before we start, there are a few great tips and tricks to brainstorming with mind maps effectively. If you follow and remember these little pieces of useful information, then you are sure to have no trouble when it comes to brainstorming.
- Have a clear idea of what the topic is.
- Define your desired outcome.
- The subject title should be the mind map title to remind you what you are brainstorming.
- Add branches and topics and the sub-branches with their sub-topics without worrying about organization for now (you can organize it later).
- Brainstorming is all about letting the idea flow freely from your mind.
- Take a break when you run out of ideas or become tired from concentration. Return to it after a short break.
- Once you have collected all of your ideas you can start structuring and organizing them.
Brainstorming content ideas with mind maps
Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for eagerly – how do you brainstorm content ideas with mind maps? Well, once you have followed the steps for preparing your mind all you need is some paper and colored pens or some mind mapping software.
Here is how you can brainstorm ideas using mind maps.
1) Place your main topic in the center of the page.
2) Close your eyes, take a deep breath and let the ideas come to you.
3) As the ideas start to form, draw arms for your mind map and label them.
4) As your ideas become more detailed, make sub-arms from the key ideas and write short, detailed notes. As you think of content ideas think of all the questions your audience may ask. Look at your keyword research spreadsheet and include these in your mind map as well.
5) You can continue expanding until you have explained and described your ideas to the best of your ability.
6) Out of quantity comes quality. You can now pick up the best ideas from your mind map.
Your final result should look like the example below.
Group brainstorming with mind maps
If you are brainstorming in a group, make sure you have someone to record the ideas and a ‘leader’ for the session to keep things organized and under control. You will also want the group to be small.
Mind mapping tools
There are a lot of tools available online and in the App Store both paid and free or you could simply use pen and paper. I suggest you try a couple (using free trials) and pick the one which works for you best. Some of the tools are very simple others can let you add links, images and attachments to your mind map.
To get you started here is a short list (in no particular order).
- mindmapfree.com– quick and easy to use, free, browser based tool.
- MindNode one for Apple fans, available for Mac, iPad and iPhone. Very nice, clean design.
- SimpleMind – available on Windows, Mac, Android & iOS.
- iMindQ – available on Mac, iOS, Web, Android and Windows.
Mind mapping is an amazing and versatile method that allows for us to be creative and really get our ideas down in an organized and highly structured manner. I hope this post will inspire you to try mind mapping and that it will help you with brainstorming your content ideas.