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Discover Hundreds of Post Ideas for Your Blog with Mind Mapping

Posted By Darren Rowse 14th of December 2007 Writing Content 0 Comments

MindmappingYesterday I wrote a post on keeping the momentum going on your blog by building on previous posts.

Today I want to extend that post (you knew I would) with a practical exercise that any blogger with a blog can do. It’s something that can take as little as 10 minutes (or that you could do more comprehensively) and something that I do on those days when I’m struggling to come up with something to write about (we all have them).

It’s an exercise in mind mapping – here’s what you do:

Get a whiteboard, piece of paper, note book, tablet pc or something else to write on (there are also various mind mapping tools and software options out there – but I find a pen and paper can work just fine) and draw five circles across the middle of the page. In each circle write the titles of the last five posts on your blog (if you want to do this more comprehensively go back further and do it with more posts).

mind mapping-1

Now take each post in turn and spend a few minutes brainstorming on ways that the post could be extended. For each idea draw a line out from the circle, draw a square (or use a different color) and write the idea inside of it.

Remember last post where I suggested how you could extend a post in numerous ways including by answering a question that a reader asked about it in comments, taking an opposite view point, writing an opinion piece, doing a followup ‘how to’ etc.

The key at this point is to let yourself be as creative and outside the box as you want. Any idea is allowed at this point.

Let me take a recent post of mine (why you should use AdSense on Your Blog) and show you how it might work:

mind mapping-2

At this point I’ve got 7 potential new posts to write that extend upon my original one – coming up with them took me 2-3 minutes – if I were doing this seriously I’d give it more time and come up with 20 or so posts.

These ideas are logical next steps for readers wanting to explore this topic – some of them based upon actual questions by readers. Do this with the other four posts you’ve written and you’ll have plenty of ideas for new posts to cover in the coming week or two.

You might want to stop this exercise at this point if you feel you’ve got enough topics to keep you going – however while you’re in a brainstorming frame of mind – why not take it a step further and think about how you might extend the topics you’ve come up with. The beauty of thinking forward even further is that you could quickly come up with a further 10 or so posts and be able to map out the next few weeks of blogging.

Lets do it now with the post above – just for fun (click to enlarge).

mind mapping-3

You can see that I found some posts easier to extend than others. This is OK as not every post is in need of a follow up one – while others will have multiple next steps (some will even have a longer series of posts that you could run).

You can take this exercise as far as you’d like into the future (you get the idea I’m sure so I won’t keep going).

You can see that I’ve come up with 15 ideas above (not bad for 5 minutes of brainstorming) – some of them for multiple posts (series and ongoing weekly columns). Do it with more than one post and you will find that you’ll often come up with more posts than you can actually use on your blog.

The key when you do it is to let your creativity run wild (because it can take you in some wonderful directions) but then to be ruthless in culling ideas that don’t actually add anything to your blog. Remember – everything that you post on your blog either adds to or takes away from your blog’s perceived value – so not everything that you come up with should make it through to the front page of your blog.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Really a great post Darren, usually I do this kind of thing in my head. The hint to do this on paper is a great one, I haven’t really thought about it, maybe it was too simple.

    Today I’ll start doing this, on a train trip that will take about an hour, so enough time to think about it! :)

  • Wow – excellent post! Gives folks a very simple method for figuring out ways to “extend” their blog and their brand – and that was simply by springboarding off of ONE post and ONE topic. Well done.

  • BW

    Great extention of yesterday’s post.

    Mind Mapping (Brainstorming) is used in a lot of industries, especially for troubleshooting and it is a perfect fit for blogging.

    It is a great way to generate ideas for a series of posts on a particular subject.

    This is something that you should do on a regular basis (and even return to older posts) so that you can keep your content fresh and interesting for your readers.

    Everyone should give this a go for a couple of weeks, to see how their productivity changes (increasing hopefully, but without a decrease in quality).

    Thanks Darren for the post

  • This is a brilliant idea. I was just flicking through my archives the other day, looking for one post in particular, and lots of new ideas for expanding on old posts came to mind.

    I must remember to keep the idea generation, and idea editing parts separate, or I’ll end up dismissing most of my thoughts out of hand.

  • Excellent Darren

    I sometimes sit and just scratch my head thinking of post on my blogs.

    I have heard of mind mapping and have Alex Goodall’s Mind Map for my marketing products but never thought of using it to come up with ideas of my own. That’s pretty cool.

    Thanks, today is as good a time to start my first mind map.

  • This is exactly the way I am starting to plan my blogging schedule. Instead of starting with posts I am starting with a general subject area for each day and then branching out.

  • Wow great idea! I use mind mapping alot but never thought of it for blogging. I’ll try this out and post back with how many new Ideas I come up with!

    Thanks alot!

    Andrew

  • For people interested in using software for mind mapping, I really enjoy Freemind, which has the definite advantages of running on all platforms and being FREE!

  • For people interested in using software for mind mapping, I really enjoy Freemind, which has the definite advantages of running on all platforms and being FREE!

    Yup, i always use this software for mind mapping my study notes but do not use it yet for blogging ideas.

    So thanks Darren for the tips.

  • I like this idea, especially for those times when you’re blindly staring at the computer screen, wondering what in the world you could possibly find to write about. Definitely a more productive use of time. :)

  • Darren,

    I love this idea! This will truly help me create a near endless resource for post ideas, get the maximum return on my investment used to create previous posts and get the old creative juices flowing. Thanks again.

  • What a great idea! I love brainstorming exercises like this – to come up with great new topics that haven’t been covered on every other website out there is tough. Sometimes we all need to approach blogging creatively to find different information to give our readers.

  • Certainly Darren,

    You’ve hit bulls eye. People, including me, will be curious to know about the things that has happened in the past and its developments that it makes in the future as well.

    Curiosity kills the cat as they say it.

    And, by doing up a follow-up article on a previous it certainly sounds logical to grab the audience as well.

    Cheers.

  • Darren I have to say that there are some of you posts I don’t quite agree with but this one is A class great idea :)

    Definitely worth a try

  • Excellent post. Never thought of it that way. You are obviously a very smart cookie!

  • aha! but of course! This was something I worried about..

    Thank you for sharing this tip with us – a new blogger like me really appreciates the wisdom

    :)

  • Great post. I sort of do this in my head, but not as often as I probably should. :D

  • This is a great idea. I was struggling on what to write next week and now I have something to work on this weekend. Thanks!

  • Excellent post, Darren. Brainstorming can be such a huge process for me and your idea is simple and totally makes sense. Thanks!!

  • Sounds like a great idea to me! Great post, Darren. I think I might also bookmark this for late so I don’t forget… ;)

    Steve

  • Thats a really good brainstorming idea. I’ve had days (weeks) before where I couldn’t come up with a single topic to write about and other days where I was over flowing with too many ideas…

    This way, I could map out a whole month’s worth of posts…

  • I was tutoring a kid the other day who had no idea what to write for his social studies essay. I should have shown him this, even though he wasn’t blogging. Great way to break through any resistance to writing!

  • It is a good idea to use mindmap to see clearly what are the area to explore further and as well as generate more idea. It can also be used for planning your blog future.

    Not trying to teach you how to create the mindmap. But with big monologue balloon, it won’t be clear to see the relation when the mindmap grow really big.

    You might want to check out http://www.buzanworld.com/mindmaps for some samples.

  • This just amazing, it looks so easy, well it will help me unblock my blog block
    Thanks Darren
    Tanny

  • Thanks for the tips. I generally just sit down and brainstorm different ideas and write them down, but now, I’ll definitely brainstorm for future articles like this.

    Thanks,
    Mike Smith

  • If you do use software for this exercise – such as Freemind which NTSRT mentioned which I am a particular fan of – you can turn this into a further asset for your blogging. If every time you add a post to your site, put an entry (with link) into the mindmap, there are some quick benefits…

    1) When you hit “didn’t I write about X?” questions, this tool has the answer easily accessible.

    2) If you have “Previous Posts” in your post footer, a complete map of your site is very easy way to know which posts are best suited to link.

    3) Seeing your categories / topics represented visually might give you more ideas about cross-linking topics. From your example thoughts on adSense – what about some CSS examples of visually enhancing your AdSense bar that tie in with a site theme.

    My current theme features a unique take on this concept – although I’m going to be redesigning it in January 2008 so not sure if it will stay around. Curious for anyone’s feedback on the current theme.

    Good post!

  • Brillaint Post, Darren. Mind mapping is incredibly powerful and this is a great application: blogs. I can’t believe that I hadn’t even thought of that!

  • Thank you for a very timely post. I have done this in the work I used to do but never thought to use it for blogging. I to like pen and paper because you can take it anywhere. I am a traveling blogger. I would rather be at a cafe working than at home.

  • You might try the free web-based Mindomo at http://www.mindomo.com

    I was inspired by this post to sign up for their free acount to test it out. Robust features.

  • Hi,

    Thanks for the excellent blog and tips. I found the blog quite recently and following it for the last few weeks. I have been running a blog which I don’t think was very successful (I couldn’t make much money, it was only like a seldom gift from a stranger :)). After seeing your blog, I decided to start a new blog (http://saltovitale.blogspot.com) and follow your tips strictly to have more success. Finding a subject to write about has always been a problem for me and now I have a method to try out! Hopefully you could check my bog as well to comment on the structure…

  • Great post Darren,
    I have been already doing that on my blogs though. As an example, I give my readers a monthly recap which consolidates the posts for the entire month, so that they can see what they have missed in the month.
    Moreover lot of times it happens that you get some different idea based on the comments or may be a different perspective on your own post.
    It really helps when I don’t have anything extra ordinary to write sometimes.

  • Very smart idea! As usual… I was about to wonder what to write tomorrow! Your tips will surely help me to improve and, most of all, to make the readers coming back… Thanks!

  • excellent article. never thought of doing this, till now, that is. thanks!

  • I think it is a good idea because it could also lead to deep linking within your own blog which in terms of Google ranking is something to be recommended.

  • Love it, Darren!

    An important tool for me is a way to capture all of those ideas & be able to refer back to them when I’m stuck–I use 37 Signals Backpack for that, and I love it. Simple, web-based and cheap.

  • What an excellent and informative post.

    I will definitely do this.

  • Very good post. I’ve always had problems thinking about good topics to write about.

    I’ve also found that carrying a little notebook around with me helps for when I think about topics while I’m away from my computer.

  • I wonder – would the mindmap model be useful as a sitemap? If you could find a solid css / dhtml way to present the content, extracting the data out of database as a series of nested unordered lists wouldn’t be too much a challenge.

  • The mindjet blog has an interesting related post, see http://blog.mindjet.com/2005/07/blog-better-with-mindmanager

    If you already have mindjet you can also download a blogging template here. Also, the writing an article template on Mindjet is a good way to ensure your blog postings are comprehensive http://www.mindjet.com/doc_eng/Mindjet_Writing_an_Article_Windows_%20Map.mmap

  • Admittedly I don’t use paper for this but I quite often start at the beginning of my blog and look for posts that could be extended upon. I also look closely at the keywords used to find my blog and think about posts that can expand upon those.

    I use notepad for note taking on these journeys and save the files for future quick look ups. As a file appears to be complete I delete it at this time only 2 have been deleted out of 11 so most can be added to almost infinately. Especially as I find new social and technological updates to the everchanging new music industry.

    Speaking of which I am adding a ad to this post hope you don’t mind the question is what is record label 2.0 and my thoughts can be found at http://blog.timelineonline.org/2007/12/record-label-20.html only for those who are curious. Especially since it is music not blog related.

  • Excellent idea, will use it next time. My personal preference until now has been to go the other way – with selecting a topic or area where there are many aspects to cover, then listing them all out in the beginning, sometimes even writing the entire LONG article – and then breaking it up into smaller posts for my blog.

    That way, I have to spend less time coming up with ideas, and more time researching each component.

    A good source for ideas is the Google Hot Trends list – http://www.Google.com/trends/hottrends/

    All succcess
    Dr.Mani

  • What a fantasic idea, I can see that as a way to really stop that what am i going to write today feeling. A great way to also take action and move forward

    Thank you
    Suzie

  • I love mind mapping. I haven’t yet applied to to blogging but I’ve used it for constructing ideas for books, stories and web sites (and blog, just not the actual posts within). I’m going to spend some time doing this tonight. Thanks for the great idea!

    -Melissa Donovan
    Writing Forward

  • Nice … mind mapping or concept mapping, that approach has been around for a long time, but this is a really sweet application. (I’m a very lukewarm proponent … my http://gnodal.livejournal.com started out as an effort to survey the field as I floundered around for an alternative.)

    I think the operative point here is that our blogs can be well structured and well ordered without needing to be exhausive and encyclopedic … which means that a nice set of tags that really work for us personally will do the trick; there’s no need for us to stretch trying to arrive at something canonical.

    Good stuff … heck, good sense!

    congrats

    –bentrem

  • Very informative post. Coming up with content is the hardest part for me as a new blogger. I am going to start brainstorming about my posts away from the PC more now.

    I just subscribed to your feed a week ago and I now understand why you call yourself the ProBlogger. Thank you for the advice.

  • You can actually use mind mapping to generate separate ideas from the initial post topic, not just for follow-up posts. If extend the ideas far enough, you can reach completely unrelated ideas that constitute new posts.

    If anyone is interested, I’m offering free ideas for your blog if you describe a specific problem you’re having on your blog.

  • Darren — it’s no wonder you never run out of ideas!

    Idea generation is one of the trickiest things for me, so I will absolutely try this out.

  • Legend!

  • Thanks Darren! For a new blogger such as myself your post came at the perfect time. I had generally just been waking up in the morning, and wrting what had first come to mind. Not exactly reliable, but so far it had worked OK. I can see however, the value of brainstorming/ mindmapping, and am looking forward to putting it to use post haste!

    While I am at it, I am mighty glad you are here sharing your acquired wisdom!

  • Darren,

    Really thumb up for you !

    Such a great post…

    Thanks…