I recently discovered a great Mind Mapping tool that fits in perfectly into my content production work flow.
Once I have an idea for a podcast episode or blog post I create an outline and flesh it out from there. Preparation and planning are very important when it comes to podcasting. Trust me I know… coincidentally (not) the episodes that had the most preparation were almost always the best. Sometimes you get lucky by winging it but most of the time you lose.
If you fail to plan then you plan to fail
Anything worth doing requires some effort to get it done properly.
Do you “wing it” when you have an exam or do you study and prepare for the test?
If you care about the results you prepare as best you can.
When doing a presentation at work most of us take it seriously and plan for the event because we don’t want to look like an idiot.
The same should be true about our podcast episodes and blog posts.
Winging it in your podcast will produce low quality content unless you are a highly experienced podcaster and you know the topic inside and out.
If you have written or presented on the topic before then maybe you can get away with not preparing. But otherwise, you will end up with crap.
How do you plan your content?
There are tools you can use to help structure your content creation workflow.
OneNote or Evernote is great for capturing ideas and references, writing your show notes or articles, and for archiving your material to easily find it later.
I know people who like to use Workflowy, Todoist, and Trello. Most of these apps have loads of features and allow you to collaborate with others simultaneously.
There are dozens of other great apps that you can use to map out your content.
I am a huge fan and power user of OneNote. I use it for almost everything but I find that using Mind Mapping software for the initial idea structure works best for me.
Mind Mapping is a tool designed to get your thoughts on paper (or digital paper) as quickly as possible. Originally, mind maps were drawn out by hand as a useful brainstorming and planning tool. Now, we can use software to create mind maps and edit them easier without burning through a ton of erasers.
Mind Maps allow you to let your ideas flow quickly and naturally and then to organize and group them in a way that makes sense to you.
By using a mind map I can start with my central idea and branch out quickly into the key points I want to cover. During this process, new ideas pop into my mind and I easily map out a topic into bite-sized segments.
There are many great mind mapping tools available.
The first mind maps I ever created was back in high school and a teacher taught us how to use mind maps using pen and paper to help us organize our homework. This was before mind map software existed… I don’t think I had mind map software on my commodore 64.
My next mind mapping experience was FreeMind which is a great Open Source option with lots of features and functionality. However, it is a desktop app and doesn’t work on mobile devices.
Then I discovered Mind 42 which has a chrome extension allowing me to work on my mind maps on whichever computer I happen to be using. This is a big plus for me as I do use more than one PC.
I’ve also used Skapple which is an awesome mind map tool from the creators of Scrivener. It is more like a digital scrapbooking application than a true mind mapping tool. It has some unique features but is a standalone PC or Mac app which limits its usefulness for me.
Having some of my thoughts in an iPhone App, others in an Android App, and others in a desktop app doesn’t work well. Especially if you can’t export into a common format.
Simple Mind is awesome!
A couple of months ago I was taking a Udemy course by Mark Timberlake and he talked about Simple Mind and how he uses it to plan and organize his Udemy courses into sections and modules. Simple Mind is mind mapping software for iOS, Android, and Desktop PC or Mac. This piqued my interest as I didn’t have a good option for mind mapping across all my platforms yet.
Mark did a good job selling the benefits of Simple Mind so I downloaded Simple Mind Lite for iPhone and after trying it out I purchased the pro version of both the iOS app and the Android app. Later I bought the desktop version and I find I use it even more now.
Now I can create and edit mind maps from my iPhone, my Android Tablet, and my two laptop PCs.
Simple Mind is the best mind map software I have used so far.
Here is why I like Simple Mind so much:
• Syncs with Dropbox (Pro version).
• Easy to use on Mobile
• Simple user interface to create new nodes, etc
• Colour coded to differentiate between thoughts
• Easy to move ideas around within the mind map
• Can create multiple central themes
• Can attach pictures, documents, videos, etc within a note
• Extensive export options
• Can export to outliner programs
• Can export them to Scrivener as an outline
Syncing with Dropbox:
The dropbox integration allows me to make a change on my app in my Android Tablet and Instantly see the changes on my iPhone. Because I use both devices to create and edit my mind maps this feature is AWESOME. Once I have the desktop version of the app it will sync there as well. Easy to use on Mobile: Simple Mind has a ton of great features but it doesn’t feel complicated when using it on a mobile device. I can easily create new nodes and child nodes without any headaches. Simple user interface: Simple Mind has a well-designed user interface. The menus and options are generally right where you expect them to be.
Color and Styles:
You can create Mind Maps with bright colours, pastel colours, black and white, grayscale, etc. And there are different styles that can change the look of your mind map significantly.
Create multiple central themes:
In Simple Mind, you can create more than one central theme within the same canvas. You can also link child nodes from different nodes or mind maps together which is a big plus.
Attach pictures, video, or documents
If you want to use your mind map to store reference material within the document you can. Just attach the file to the node and there it is!
Extensive Export options:
You can export your mind map as a PDF, PNG, JPG, FreeMind file, OPML file, and more.
Once I complete the mind map I open all the nodes so they are visible and export them as a PDF. I then add the PDF to my OneNote and now I can work on the content within OneNote to create the post or prepare podcast show notes.
Recently, I have also been exporting the Mind Map to Scrivener as an outline. I have been playing with Scrivener and may use it more if I like it as much as I think I will.
This is one of my favorite features now.
The image below is the SimpleMind map exported as an OPML file and imported into Scrivener as an outline.
This makes it easy to flesh out the content as the outline is built automatically from the mind map.
Either way, I like to have the content in my OneNote because I can literally access OneNote from any device. Scrivener is stuck on my laptop… and I can’t access it on mobile.
I also like to export the Mind Map as an image that I can use in the Blog Post, on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, as part of a SlideShare presentation, and anything else I can think of.
Simple Mind is a great tool to help you plan out your content and it will help you make sure that you don’t end up with crap. But don’t over plan your show either. If you spend too much time planning you will fall victim to paralysis by analysis. This is not where you want to be. Quickly plan out your content and SHIP it. Remember, as some wise person said… money loves speed.