You know what used to stop me dead in my tracks, when I’d sit down and try to turn my carefully planned editorial calendar into written posts and pieces? Boring, uninspiring topics.
In a mad rush (and likely using one of those crazy ‘generate 300 blog topics in 5 minutes’ kinda prompt posts), I’d brainstorm topics and slot them into dates on my calendar. Sure they fit the bill of what my blog was about and what could interest my readers – but they'd do nothing for me when I sat down to write.
A little like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde – my right-brained, organized planning side would be satisfied, but my more creative, left-brained side that actually created the content would feel cheated and uninspired.
I learned the hard way that quality really does mean much more than quantity (unfortunately it took me several attempts before I actually learned this lesson).
That’s where the process described below came from – one that would generate topics that I wanted to write. Because 5 topics that got me thinking 100 mph about everything I could include were worth way more than 20 topics that I dreaded having to think, never mind writing, about.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that my blog would only be a success if the content fulfilled my passions – and as a bonus, it would help and delight my readers.
Introducing my Tantalizing Topic Mind Mapping Technique
Before you get started, make sure that you’re all set up. Have a whiteboard or several pieces of blank paper, a clear desk or table, colourful markers and plenty of tea (or whatever your beverage of choice happens to be).
Step 1 – Start with a general list of categories that you cover
Compare these against what you know your potential customers are interested in reading about from you to come up with 3-5 broad topics you can cover on your blog.
For example, if you’re a web designer who only does 1:1 work with clients, writing blog posts about how someone can DIY their websites, wouldn’t be the best way to go. The people who want to read those posts aren’t your potential customers. Better topic categories might be: Website Strategy (related to overall business strategy), Preparing for Your Web Project, Education about Working with Designers, Branding, etc.
Step 2 – Create a mind map for each category
Write the category in the middle of the page (or whiteboard) and add 5 branches: What, Why, When, Where, How
Also, add a side column for ideas that come that don’t really fit in any of these categories.
Step 3 – Generate ideas based on these parameters
What are the WHATs: What concepts/strategies/techniques do you need to introduce to your reader? Examples – 4 Types of Homepage Strategies, What a Business Coach Can Do For You, 9 Inspiring Examples of Living Room Layouts
What are the WHYs: What objections might your reader have about working with you? How can you answer these? Examples – Why a Professional Website Can Make or Break You, 7 Reasons Hiring a Wedding Coordinator is the Best Wedding Decision You’ll Make
What are the WHENs: What timing considerations do potential customers contend with? Examples – When to DIY and When To Hire a Professional Web Designer, How Soon Should You Book Your Wedding Photographer
What are the WHEREs: What location (physical and digital) decisions do your readers have to make? Examples – The Best Places to Find Inspiration for Your Website, What Social Media Scheduling Tool Will Work Best For You
What are the HOWs: What tutorials/processes can you teach them (that won’t replace working with you)? Examples – How to Hire a Web Designer that Gets You, How to Create Your Event Budget
Post types that are always fun ideas? Behind-The-Scenes, Interviews with complementary experts, Case Studies showing your latest projects or client’s successes
Step 4 – Create Your ‘My Juicy Post Ideas’ List
Once you’ve finished mind mapping for all of your categories, highlight and transfer the posts that get your blood pumping the most onto a final list of post ideas.
Criteria for Making the Topics Team:
• You have a lot to say about the topic
• You know your potential customers will click to read that post
• You’re excited to write about that topic