In this segment of my series, I’d like to describe how you can create a Writer’s Dashboard as a series of linked MindManager maps to help you save time blogging and improve the quality of your posts.
Although the following describes how I use MindManager’s to plan, create, and track blog post content, you can apply the basic ideas described below to any series of writing or marketing projects, i.e., articles, columns, landing pages, newsletters, podcasts, online videos, etc.
Why bloggers need a Writer’s Dashboard
I created my Writer’s Dashboard to solve the following problems I was experiencing with my Published & Profitable blog, as well as the other blogs where I frequently post as a guest. The problems included:
- Frustration and wasted time. Writing is difficult when there’s no system for pre-selecting topics before you start to write. The hardest part of writing is often selecting what I’m going to write about. My Dashboard gives me a way to view individual posts as part of a series. It also allows me to begin identifying ideas for each post before I begin writing.
- Reinventing the wheel. By being able to view topics I’ve already addressed helps me inadvertently duplicate previous topics. My Dashboard makes it makes it easier to recycle and reformat content. When you create your Dashboard, you can easily expand previous posts into articles, chapters of books and e-books, speeches, or teleseminars- -and you can condense them into weekly tips and tip sheets. You can also reformat previous posts into newsletters, podcasts, and online video.
- Lost opportunities. Writing success requires consistent daily progress, the same way that marketing success requires consistent visibility. Without a map-based content management system program, consistent visibility and progress is often sacrificed when blog posts are often overlooked, or put off, because of the pressure of day-to-day pressures.
How I plan, create, & track blog content
As described in Part l of this series, my Writer’s Dashboard automatically appears when I launch MindManager. In most cases, it permits 2 or 3-click access to any of my current projects. Notice that only the Main Topics appear when my Writer’s Dashboard loads.
If I’m going to be working on blog posts, I click the + sign next to the Promotion topic. This reveals the maps I’ve created for different categories of promotion writing, i.e., blogs, newsletters, landing pages, and tips.
Next, clicking the Blog posts topic reveals my Blog Post Series map.
The main topics on the Blog Post Series map displays my own blog, plus the names of blogs where I currently post, or have previously posted.
In addition, there’s a Pending topic that contains the names and URLs of blogs where I would like to post. This topic allows me to instantly access the blogs (to see what topics are being addressed) and track my communications with the blog owners. If available, I can also link to their procedures for guest posters.
Tracking individual posts
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. There are 2 ways I can display the specific posts associated with individual blogs.
- If I’m only posting infrequently, like weekly or monthly posts, or a short series of weekly guest posts, I simply add the titles and links associated with each post to the directly to my Blog Post Series map. An example is the 7 Top Content Tips for Bloggers series I prepared for Blog for Profit.
- Frequent posting. On the other hand, I create individual linked maps for blogs where I post every week, or an extended series of blog posts, such as my 26-week Author Journey series on the Active Garage blog, or my 7 Pillars of Blog Content series on the Webchik blog.
Let’s take a look at these 2 alternatives:
If we expand the Blog For Profit topic and select MindManager’s powerful View, Show Topic Only, we see an uncluttered view of the titles of the 7 posts in the series.
Clicking the links associated with each post takes us directly to each post, so we can view how it came out, and track reader comments and Retweets.
More important, if we click the Part 6: Content Management topic, we can see how the Dashboard helps me identify the main points I wanted to include when I write the post.
In addition, there is also a link to the word-processed file associated with the post that is saved on my computer. This is an important safeguard. If something goes wrong with the online blog, I have my own copy which I can immediately access.
But, there’s a limit to how much information I want to add to my “promotional category,” or Blog Post Series Dashboard map. In the interest of keeping things simple, I create individual maps, like my 7 Pillars of Blog Content map, for specific projects or when the volume of blog posts is high.
As you can see from the graphic above, when I created my plan for the 7 post series, I also added the 4 key ideas I wanted to include in each of the posts.
When planning a successful series of blog posts, it’s not enough to just identify the topics for each post! You should also invest a few additional moments to include the main points you want to include in each post.
It’s easier to do this now, at the planning stage, than it will be later, when you’re completing each post! Knowing what you want to include in each post engages your brain. While driving, sleeping, or performing other tasks, your brain is subconsciously thinking about the content of upcoming events, looking for content ideas and connection. As a result, when you sit down to write, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your words will flow.
Finally, before we wrap-up, let’s take another look at the links associated with each Active Garage post. Note that individual posts, when expanded, also contain a link to the location where the text has been saved on my computer. More important, the file location has been spelled out. This is an important back-up to the link to the file, in case the link gets broken when I move my Blog Post Series map, or am working with a printout of it.
Obviously, this doesn’t exhaust all of the possible ways a Writer’s Dashboard can contribute to better blogging, or the success of any of your other marketing and promotion activities. In the next post, I’ll describe how you can use more MindManager features to schedule your writing and delegate tasks to others.
Roger C. Parker, is a best-selling author, coach, and Mindjet Evangelist whose 30 books have sold over 1.6 million copies around the world. He invites you to follow him on Twitter, subscribe to his daily writing tips blog, visit his MindManager Resource Center, and read about his upcoming 3-part Content Management webinar.