There were several posts here at DragosRoua.com, related to mind mapping, over the last two years. In fact, there were so much posts about mind mapping that I had to create a separate category for them. From an introduction of how and why to blog with a mind map, up to a recap of my most downloaded mind maps, I wrote extensively about this. For the newcomer, mind mapping is a writing technique, which expand the linear thinking by letting you write in different “directions” or “nodes” of a mind map. This seems to be the brain’s most convenient way of representing reality, and it is often used as a creativity enhancement tool.
I found mind mapping very useful when it comes to speed up my management activities. Such as maintaining a blog. Like this one. You know, writing on your blog is a completely different beast than maintaining it. It requires a different set of skills, it takes a certain amount of time, and, like all other activities, can be optimized. If I can use mind mapping to streamline my blogging activity as a whole, why not do it?
My blogging process is the result of several different things: the software I use, the ideas that I want to write about, the posts, the categories, the plugins, the downloads, the revenue strategy… Quite a bit of stuff, right? And is not from the same league, as you already saw, it’s a mix of information, skill, activity and strategy. The challenge is to keep this in a manageable structure.
One very important management principle says: keep everything visible. If there are things on your business that are not visible to you, chances are that your customers won’t seem them either. Keep a broader perspective, try to always look at whole picture. And there is nothing more convenient for the “whole picture” than a mind map.
So, I put my entire blogging process on a mind map, and started to unfold it. Here’s the result:
As I already told you, blogging is a mix of different activities, information and tasks. Must be all visible in order to keep a consistent perspective, right? Must put together all items that create the blogging process and my whole blogging process look like this:
As you may see, there is no specific order in which I added them, and no consistency, some of them are information, like posts and categories, some of them are activities that I have to perform, like promotion and monetization, and some of them are pieces of software, like plugins. Not all blogs may have all the items listed above, but my specific setup does, and I’ll take a wild guess that the vast majority of blogs are pretty much like this.
Might seem a little strange to start with this, but in my opinion this is the most important thing on your blog:, because, at some level, is the main reason for the very blog existence. My blog headline at this moment is: “The choice of a personal path”, and I always try to have it somewhere near me when I write, because it help me stick to my initial goals or values. Your blog headline should be the most important thing of your blogging activities, and is the first thing your readers are noticing about it. You’ll see later if the categories of your blog, or the posts you are writing are a good match for the headline. And you can make the necessary adjustments.
Having categories, and, most of all, having relevant categories for your blog is a must. You cannot have a consistent presence in the blogosphere and you cannot develop an individual voice, without keeping your content formalized. You can write about gadgets or you can write about parenting, no matter your field of excellence is, you do have to put your content in categories. A part from showing your specific skills or subjects, categories are a very interesting SEO aspect, that most of the bloggers neglect. Having your blog categories always in front of you will give a clearer picture of what are you actually blogging about.
Having the title of your posts duplicated in a mind map is somehow redundant, I admit. But is useful. In this node I’ve put all my blog posts, in an archived way: only the title and a link for the actual entry on my live blog. It took me about an hour to copy paste all my blog entries in my blog mind map, but it surely paid off. Not only I realized that I had different productivity cycles, some months with dozens of posts, some months with barely nothing, but I also saw, from a distance, how I mixed my subjects, what was my early intention with the blog, and were I ended up. I think it would be great if some wordpress genie would make an OPML export plugin that will allow to import all my posts into a mind map with a single click. Until then, I’ll do it manually, after the initial effort is not a big deal to copy paste after each posts the title and a link.
If you want to make some money from your blog, put here all your revenue sources. And I mean all your revenue sources, not only AdSense, TLA or Chitika. There are dozens of way in which you can make money from your blog, starting with donations, and ending with specialized reviews for products in your niche, or affiliate programs. Put them there, and for each new information that become available start a new branch. Try to be as verbose as you can, because it will be a tremendous experience to see after a few months how the revenue was influenced by the posts, for instance, or how your revenues are spreading over several income sources. You may find out that you can completely ditch some of your revenues sources, because they are only taking precious space on your blog theme.
Social networking is the buzz today. If you are internet savvy and patient enough, you can attract a very significant part of your traffic through social networking. Put in this node of the mind map all the websites that you are using for social networking, from Facebook to Del.icio.us, or from LinkedIn to Twitter. And, of course, use them. Based on your blog content and social networking habits you will have different results with different social networking sites. There is no wonder recipe for this, you will have to experiment until you’ll find your pace. Write your impressions about each one and review them constantly. But you’ll have more than social networking in your advertising plans if you are serious about your blog: guest posts on other blogs, posting at blog carnivals, contests on your blog or even display or keyword advertising on other networks. Put them here too and monitor them closely.
They are important. Very important, sometimes. They can enhance your blog entirely, like a SEO plugin, or offer a richer experience to your audience, like a “related posts plugin”. Keeping them close and in one place seems like a very wise thing to do. Of course, you’ll always have the Plugins page on your blog admin console, but maintaining a separate lists will show you more. You’ll start to glimpse at several areas or possible developments for your blog that you never saw before. Imagine you are podcaster, started this blog mind map to help you optimize your blogging process, and reviewed it after several weeks. You saw that your regular posts (from the Posts node in the mind map) had a better behavior (from the Promotion node) than the posts that had a podcast associated with them. And you can change your podcasts plugin or make other adjustments. The possibilities are endless, as long as you have a broader perspective.
Is it advisable that you have some downloadable content on your blog. Being it a simple wallpaper or a cheat sheet for a stay at home mom. Or even more complicated, like a mind map, or a wordpress theme, or a plugin. It seems very useful to have the download categories and the download items in a separate container, and monitor it every once in a while. As in the plugins node case, you’ll soon see some connections or start to generate new content ideas. Or even start some comparisons related to the categories or posts and their associated downloadable content.
All in all, that would be my mind map blogging proposal. It’s fairly easy to setup one, you only have to stick to the habit of updating it constantly. And, as a GTD-er, to constantly review it, either daily, if you are what we may call a power blogger, either weekly or monthly, if your blogging habits are a bit more relaxed.
You can download the blogging mind map from here: [download#8#size]. The map is in Mind Manager format, but if you don’t own a copy of Mind Manager, you can buy it here – and that would be an affiliate link, meaning I’ll get paid if you make the purchase. Alternatively, you can also download a free viewer. I do recommend although that you install your own mind mapping software, which will allow not only to view this map template, but also use it, and tailor it to your needs.
The expected results at the end of this? Well, more free time for you, more good posts for your readers, more traffic, and more money. Not to mention: more fun!