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Content Brainstorming Tools for 2013

Content Brainstorming Tools for 2013
When it comes to content marketers, there is one question that always piques our interest – Where do others get their ideas? And with more brands creating content than ever before, it can be challenging to continually keep ahead of trends, churn out fresh concepts and repurpose ideas – let alone do so across multiple platforms. To inspire the creation process, I’ve highlighted a few resources to help guide your brainstorming and idea generation efforts for 2013.

Whether it’s a long-form blog post, a resource article, an infographic or video, a good brainstorming process should be your jumping off point to fuel ideas. Not only is it helpful in uncovering new topics or trends, but also in tapping into the perspective of others and steering creative direction.

Here are a few brainstorming techniques to try out for your next group session:

…but first a few ground rules as a good reminder:

  • Encourage Free-Thinking, No Boundaries
  • No Criticizing or Dismissing
  • Keep the Process Moving
  • Let Ideas You Don’t Understand Go


A simple, graphic form of listing ideas by jotting down thoughts on a large writing area and making connections by associating ideas with color-coded circles or lines, indicating other relationships by linking.

  1. Write down an idea or topic in the middle of your space.
  2. Start adding words, in no particular order, that relate to the main idea.
  3. Once you’ve exhausted ideas, ask who, what, when, where and why to prompt new thoughts.
  4. After the space is filled, look for any patterns among words.
  5. Group thoughts that are related or repeated by color.
  6. Use the groupings to provide areas of focus for your concepts.

Brain Writing

An alternative method to brainstorming that tries to encourage uniform participation within a group is brain writing. Like brainstorming, it is designed to generate lots and lots of ideas in a short amount of time and typically follows a 6-3-5 method: 6 in group/3 ideas per round/5 minutes per round.

  1. Give everyone a brain writing sheet.
  2. Hand out sheets with space for a topic or keyword at the top of the page and space where ideas can be written.
  3. It can be a different topic for each person or the same for everyone.
  4. Write ideas.
  5. Pass the sheet to the next person, who adds more ideas, using the existing ideas to build off where possible.
  6. Keep going until your done.

Trigger Method

This method involves brainstorming as many ideas as possible, then selecting the best ones as “triggers” to expand on. This is also referred to as the “Idea Purge Phase.”

  1. State the objective or topic.
  2. Have the group write many ideas rapidly on a sheet of paper.
  3. Take a two minute break.
  4. Continue the exercise for an another minute.

In some cases, traditional brainstorming methods may best suit your team environment and goals. For those who prefer virtual collaboration, there are a variety of online brainstorming tools available that can help you move past a topic or idea that seems stuck.

Online Mind Mapping Tools helps to organize thoughts or jumbled information through the use of text bubbles – making it easier to sort ideas and start planning.

Mindjet is a great way to expand your ideas in a graphical way and lead your imagination in new directions. You can download the software for free with a 30-day trial offer. The application will walk you through the process of creating a sample mind map and familiarize you with the various features.


Word Storm visualizes the association between words by creating a map of closely related words. Start with a keyword to use as a jumping off point for this word association tool. You can also tailor the search to be narrow or broad by selecting the number of words returned. Scroll over each word for various definitions.


And if you still find yourself at a dead end…Just Google it! As one of my colleagues likes to say, “it’s worth a Googin.” Type in a keyword and let Google’s automatic search do the work by filling in suggestions based on relevant topics.

I hope the creative tools and resources in this article will help you to start 2013 with a focused mindset.

How does brainstorming work with your team? Please let me know in the comments below.

Join The Conversation

  • Jul 1 Posted 3 years ago Adio Morel

    Hey, i would like to know why you didn't talk about Producteev comindwork or these are the best i found when i was looking for a brainstorming and collaboration solution. By the way here is a review of what i am talking about :

  • Jan 8 Posted 4 years ago joewozny

    Like the idea of visually mapping content ideas. Mindjet does a good job of this. Also coloured pens and paper work well to initially create the idea of the content you wish to create and the relationships within the content.  Joe Wozny,  Author of The Digital Dollar, Sustainable Strategies for Online Success

  • Jan 4 Posted 4 years ago cfrey

    Mind mapping is a powerful tool for brainstorming content ideas. But you can also use it as an idea file to keep track of all of your content ideas. In addition, you can use the prioritization features of mind mapping software to identify those ideas with the greatest promise that you want to tackle first.

    Mind mapping software can also be quite useful for creating a visual outline for longer-form types of content. Essentially, it allows you to create a "skeleton" for your article, white paper or other type of content, identifying what's missing, what needs more detail and what's superfluous - BEFORE you begin to wrap paragraphs around everything. It works very well!

    Like therobbie22, I wouldn't recommend It's a bit too light weight. There are many programs and apps with varying price points and capabilities. To get a better idea of what's out there, I recommend looking at the product reviews page on my Mind Mapping Software Blog:

    I also urge you to think more broadly about how to use these powerful visual tools to manage other aspects of your blogging business, including these:

    I'd also like to highlight one other content brainstorming tool: Roger C. Parker's terrific Content Catalyst. You can read my review of it here:


  • therobbie22's picture
    Jan 2 Posted 4 years ago therobbie22

    I've used It's effective, but it doesn't look very professional. For mac users, I'd suggest MindNode. 

  • Dec 31 Posted 4 years ago Abhijith Jayakumar

    Interesting article, while few of the tools really got me thinking, few I could start using today.

    Under "Brain Writing" Point 6, it should be

    "6.      Keep going until *you're* done."

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