- Mind Mapping and Cluster Diagrams
- Using Statistics
- Browse Through Related Blogs
- Social Media
- Use Your Own Growth
- More Useful Tips
In this post we are going to take a look at the fine art of brainstorming. Analyzing the ways and means that some of us use to get those clouds rolling in, and the storms raging relentlessly inside our heads.
I have talked in the past about the importance of the content on your blog, especially for garnering new readers, and so I decided that I would do a post that could help you achieve this content for your site. In this post we are going to take a look at the fine art of brainstorming. Here we will examine the important role that this plays in the creative process, and how it can be a blogger’s most invaluable content contributor.
The creative process is an involved structure with many pieces, fueled by our imaginations. In order to run wild with the process, we need to have the idea that is steering the wheel. For bloggers, this process is no different. But how do we find those ideas when we are facing this topical drought? Well, below are some ideas that tend to work in our house for this pair of creatives, so I thought it was time to share the style behind our storms, in hopes that they might work for others as well.
Mind Mapping and Cluster Diagrams
Cluster Diagrams, sometimes more commonly referred to as Mind Maps, are often times the visual representation and centerpiece of a brainstorming session. Transferring virtual thought clouds to paper have long been a staple in the productivity arena. By generating ideas that center around a single topic, and allowing for sub-categories to emerge through this mapping of your thoughts, you can help maximize the output of your storm.
Most of us, whether we have used them ourselves or not, are familiar with this type of thought structure, and have seen them in some form or another.Â They can be used to thoroughly examine a topic by allowing you to group information into clusters, and follow multiple avenues to draw connections to other areas or ideas. This can lead you to all kinds of content â€˜clustersâ€™,Â allowing you tackle a topic from every possible angle. This also deters areas of your discussion to fall through the cracks, leaving gaps that readers will want filled in.
A great way to understand your readers is to use your site statistics, such as Google Analytics or Mint. This offers some perspective as to what people are interested in. Find out what your readers are seeking, and then work towards giving it to them. This at least gives you a direction in which to point your creative output.
Now if you find that you have covered the area that is being searched, and are bringing people in to your site to the degree that you really cannot find a fresh approach, or at least an updated approach, then donâ€™t. Have the presence of mind to know when enough is enough, and remember that re-hashing the same content over and over only diminishes the impact and effectiveness of your siteâ€™s posts.
Browse Through Related Blogs
Do not mistake what I am saying here. I am not advocating content theft or idea stealing by any stretch of the imagination. Copycatting is not exactly finding your way to your own content, as much as it is, helping yourself to someone elses. But simply browsing through blogs related to your topic can often times spark ideas separate from what you were looking at, yet still would not have come to without this jaunt through the blogosphere.
Another way that this can be especially useful is if you take the time to read through the comments to see if the readers are asking for more information, or have questions that were not addressed. Then you are not stealing their ideas, but you are expanding on them to help supplement the original post (which you should link to and credit so that readers can get the whole pie not just your piece), and fill in any informational gaps on the topic that have gone unbroached.
Another great way to find content that is needed by the community, is by of course, going social. Media, that is. Get out on the various social media networks and find out what questions are being asked, and more importantly, which ones are not being answered. (I should qualify that with relevant questions.) This is another way to connect your content with the community, and that always helps it land.
Try to work a little social media into your brainstorming sessions, and you may just find that they tend towards the more fruitful end of the scale. Though, once again, be self aware and know if this media reach is actually helping, or simply distracting you from your search for content. And know that if you cannot find any questions that need tackling, take the initiative and ask some of your own. Find out via the SM outlets if there are any topics or questions your followers would like to see you take on for the blog. The outlets are there at our disposal, so make the most of them.
Use Your Own Growth
Another great place to look for ideas when you are brainstorming, is you. Look at the path that you have been on, and the many ways in which it has grown, and splintered, and what those changes have meant to your development and shaping. What have you learned on this road that you wished you had known before you got started?
What bumps in the road did you encounter, that had you known about them ahead of time, you would have avoided?
Your personal experience in your field can offer a look into that arena that others may not have noticed themselves. And as unique as you feel your tale will be, it can always assist others in their journey, even if their path does not always resemble your own. As you learn and grow in your craft take your readers along with you. You are a cog in the machine that is your industry, add value to your contributions by offering helpful insights to others from your own growth, so as to help them do the same.
More Useful Tips
- Schedule 1 to 2 half hour sessions a week for brainstorming to keep a cache of ideas. Try to make it a time when you can get through the half hour without any interruptions at all.
- Write down everything, even incomplete ideas. Don’t judge or criticize your ideas while brainstorming, just let them come, write them all down and make judgments later. This is the one time you want to go for quantity instead of quality.
- Keep a small notebook with you at all times so that you can jot down ideas as they come to you – it’s really easy to forget an idea if you don’t get it out of your head immediately.
- Set goals for brainstorming sessions. I might spend an entire session focusing on just freelance article ideas.
- Know the limits of an idea, and extend it as far as you reasonably can. Let it lead you to other places and down other avenues.
- Gap Filling. Identify your current spot â€“ Point A â€“ and your end goal â€“ Point B. What is the gap that exists between A and B? What are all the things you need to fill up this gap? Write them down, and find out what it takes to get from point A to point B.
- Have a backup of your ideas. I recently lost aprox 40 article ideas because I only had them stored in one place.
- Free writing, free speaking, word association and the spider web
- If you feel like you’ve completely run out of ideas, free write for 5 minutes. Write anything and everything that comes into your mind.
Freemind is a premier free mind-mapping software written in Java. The recent development has turned it into aÂ high productivity tool. We are proud that the operation and navigation of FreeMind is faster than that of MindManager because of one-click fold / unfold and follow link operations.
Mindmeister brings the concept of mind mapping to the web, using its facilities for real-time collaboration to allow truly global brainstorming sessions. Users can create, manage, and share mind maps online and access them anytime, from anywhere. In brainstorming mode, fellow MindMeisters from around the world (or just in different rooms) can simultaneously work on the same mind map and see each other’s changes as they happen.
StumbleUpon helps you discover and share great websites. As you click
Stumble!, we deliver high-quality pages matched to your personal preferences. These pages have been explicitly recommended by your friends or one of 8 million+ other websurfers with interests similar to you. By rating the sites you like () it automatically shares them with like-minded people â€“ and helps you discover great sites your friends recommend. Use the search feature to stumble specific topics for ideas.
Cluster diagrams are a type of non-linear graphic organizer that can help to systematize the generation of ideas based upon a central topic. Using this type of diagram, the student can more easily brainstorm a theme, associate about an idea, or explore a new subject. Enchanted Learning offers a collection of printable graphic organizer templates for creating cluster diagrams.
Dabbleboard is an online collaboration application thatâ€™s centered around the whiteboard. With a new type of drawing interface that’s actually easy and fun to use, Dabbleboard gets out of your way and just lets you draw. Finally, the whiteboard enters the digital age!
What are some brainstorming techniques you depend on when your mind is on empty. Share your thoughts with a comment below.