By Michele Linn published May 24, 2012

Get Inspired and Organized: Mind Mapping for Content Marketing

If you are like any content marketer or writer I have met, you may have been challenged to consistently come up with new ideas. And, even when the ideas are flowing, how do you keep them organized — either by piece of content or by project? Both of these problems can take a huge amount of time and leave you spinning your wheels.

One approach I have been using to generate ideas and keep them organized is mind mapping. Mind mapping is a way to visually diagram your ideas around a topic or theme. The ways that you can use mind maps are endless, but here are some examples specific to content marketing. 


Because blogging requires a steady flow of new content, it can be tough to crank out ideas week after week. Mind mapping can be a great way to brainstorm.

Here is a very basic mind map I developed about blog posts by type. For instance, at CMI we publish several kinds of how-to posts: traditional step-by-step instructions/lists, interviews, research, case studies, and more. By breaking out post ideas by type (green bubbles), you may get inspired with different ideas (orange bubbles), and you can see where you have gaps in content. As you see below, you can also create related content, such as what we did with our report of the Brandpoint/CMI Digital Content Marketing survey and the follow up post that looked at how brands and agencies differ (blue bubble).

Another way you can use mind mapping for blogging is by looking at the posts by topic. In the very simple mind map below, the main topic I brainstormed on is Blog Posts (yellow bubble). All the bubbles in green represent the different categories we have for blog posts. And the orange bubbles are the various ideas I had for potential topics, authors, or existing assets that can be leveraged/promoted through posts. I’m always amazed by how many more ideas I get when I look at the information visually.

Outlines for content

You can also use mind maps to prepare outlines for any kind of content you are working on, such as eBooks, white papers, videos, and more. It can be useful to develop outlines via mindmaps instead of jotting ideas on paper or in Word because ideas seem more fluid and you may see opportunities on how to rearrange content to make things flow better.

Below is an example of a partial outline for the recent Ultimate Guide to Blogging eBook we recently developed. The yellow bubble is the name of the piece of content, and the green bubbles are the main sections of the eBook. The orange bubbles are a breakdown of specific ideas in each section.


As a note, you can also outline each blog post from the mind maps in the blogging example above.

Checklists and templates

Several weeks ago, I started thinking how to improve and systematize the way we distribute our content at CMI. While I ultimately developed a template that serves as my checklist, this idea started out as a mind map. As you can see, the green bubbles are the main channels we use for distribution, and the orange bubbles provide specific details for each channel as needed. I simply jotted down ideas and then translated it into a Word doc to make it easier for me to follow and share. Many mind mapping apps have a quick way to create outlines, so you don’t need to recreate your text.


Repurposing content

As you have heard time and again, it’s necessary to reimagine your content in many forms to be efficient and address the various ways people like to consume content. Taking a cue from Tom Pisello’s post on 23 Ways to Leverage a Blog Post for Content Marketing Success, I created this mind map. The green bubbles represent the various ways that research can be used, and the orange bubbles provide specific topics if a breakdown is needed.

Other mind maps

If you are looking for other ideas on mind maps, check out these sites and posts:

While the mind maps above were created with, there are a lot of options available that I am trying. If you use mind mapping, what do you use it for? What is your favorite app? I’ll be doing a follow-up post in a few weeks that looks at various options, so I’d love to hear about your favorites.

Want more content marketing inspiration? Download our ultimate eBook with 100 content marketing examples.

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • Muhammad Ayaz

    Hi Michele! Great way of presenting the idea of mind mapping and some times I faced little problem to get the things as I scheduled but than I follow my written notes those really helps me.

    Thanks for sharing very informative article.

    • Michele Linn

      Thanks, Muhammad!

  • Elizabeth Joss

    Hi Michelle, I’m very keen to learn more about mind mapping and have recently been reading Tony Buzan’s book ‘Use Your Head’. This is a pretty old book but Buzan’s mind mapping techniques are still relevant for bloggers today. I’ve been using Mind Meister ( for mind maps. I really prefer it to and find the interface much easier to use. A great feature of Mind Meister is that you can use it to collaborate with others. I haven’t tried out this feature just yet but I think this could be increasingly useful for content teams. 

    • Michele Linn

      Thanks for the suggestion on Mind Meister. I’m definitely going to try that out. And I’ll check out Tony Buzan’s book as well. 

      Appreciate the ideas!

  • Jason Bell

    Hi Michelle, do you have an email address I can send you a message at? If you do not want to post it, you can email me at jbell (at) mindmaple (dot) com

    • Michele Linn

      Certainly. My email is michele [at] content

    • Michele Linn

      Certainly. My email is michele [at] content

  • Datadiary2012

    Thanks Michele Linn
    this blog is very nice

  • Jmlump

    Great topic, Michelle.  Mindmapping is an approach to generating ideas that preceeds the current computer apps/tools.  You owe it to yourself to go back to the source–either Tony Buzan, or his student, Michael Gelb, to learn more of what’s behind it. It is, as you suggest, a great way to see connections and generate new ideas. 

    • Michele Linn

      Thanks for the great idea. I’ll check out Tony and Michael. 

  • Jessica McKeown

    Hi Michele–great post! Love the idea of learning more about mind mapping software as I am a visual person. I will check out and MindMeister, and I look forward to reading your follow up post.