Are you looking for resources to help you learn more about mind mapping? The Biggerplate community’s Pro membership category is an excellent source for education and a growing suite of services that are focused on the needs of mind mappers.
I recently interviewed Liam Hughes, the founder of Biggerplate, to learn more about PRO membership – why it was created, the services it includes and the value it provides.
Chuck Frey: Why did you create the Biggerplate PRO membership category?
Liam Hughes: Our goal with the creation of Biggerplate PRO membership was to help people get more from mind mapping tools and techniques.
While many people (195,000 and counting) join Biggerplate.com to access our free mind map library, there are also many who join because they want to learn more about mind mapping. Sometimes they are new to the concept and trying to understand how it may fit into their world. Other times, they are more experienced mind mappers looking to learn additional tips and practical applications from other users. In either case, we were not historically doing much to cater for their needs! The creation of Biggerplate PRO was our attempt to better support members at all stages of that journey. The feedback we have received from our PRO members suggests that we have been successful in creating a membership that is as valuable for a total novice as it is for a 20 year mind mapping veteran!
Frey: When did you create it and how many members does it have?
Hughes: PRO membership was launched in July 2018, and there are currently over 1,000 PRO members within our community, representing 57 different countries!
Frey: Who is the typical PRO member? What characteristics do they have in common?
Hughes: At the moment, there is a relatively strong ‘Business’ focus amongst the PRO members, which reflects the overall composition of the larger Biggerplate community. We’ve historically been more business-focused in general, and as such, our community (and PRO member content) generally reflects this. However, we’ve seen significant increases in education content and membership on Biggerplate over the last 2-3 years, and as such, we’re working to increase the education-focused content and relevancy within the PRO membership, to ensure we’re responding to this trend.
In terms of PRO member “characteristics”, I think the over-arching thing that we see again and again is a mindset of continuous improvement, and what might be called “lifelong learning”. Our PRO members seem to have an appetite for learning, and personal and professional improvement. I seems the upgraded membership speaks to that mindset, and attracts people who really want to squeeze every drop of value out of mind mapping tools and techniques.
Frey: What benefits do members get exclusive access to that regular members don’t?
Hughes: The primary benefit for PRO members is access to huge range of live and on-demand mind mapping webinars featuring guest speakers and experts from around the world. We have a live webinar roughly every 2 weeks, and our archive of previous webinars now contains over 100 video recordings that PRO members can access and watch any time.
In addition to the webinars, PRO members have access to an ever-growing library of unique images that can be downloaded and used in their mind maps (and other documents). This particular feature seems to be really growing in popularity as more PRO members discover it, and as we add more images all the time.
Other PRO benefits include exclusive discounts on mind mapping products and services from our Partners and extended functionality for their Biggerplate profile page.
All in all, for $29.99/year, we think it’s a pretty good deal…!
Frey: How does PRO membership help users of mind mapping software become more proficient, productive and effective with this type of software tool?
Hughes: PRO membership is about “practitioner-led learning”, which means tapping into the collective knowledge of our member community and learning from their practical experience of applying mind mapping in a range of jobs, industries, and use cases. I underline ‘practical’ because I think mind mapping has suffered historically as a result of ‘experts’ focusing on questionable pseudoscience and theory, instead of helping people understand how they can actually apply mind mapping usefully (and immediately) in their daily lives.
Our PRO members become more proficient and productive in their use of mind mapping because they see how others with similar challenges, job roles, industry challenges etc have used the techniques, and can therefore extract highly relevant tips and insights. We believe a lawyer will get more immediately applicable learning by seeing how another lawyer (or even a judge) uses mind mapping to approach challenges or opportunities that are unique to that particular profession. Likewise, a school teacher is likely to learn many more practical tips from another teacher about ways to introduce mind mapping into the classroom.
Whatever industry, job role, or mind mapping use case you’re exploring, we have someone in our community who knows a thing or two, and our PRO webinars are our way of extracting that knowledge and sharing it with others. Importantly, what you can learn is inherently more practical, because it is grounded in the lived experiences of people applying these tools and techniques in the real world.
The diversity of our community and their collective experience is really what makes the PRO membership so valuable. It gets away from the flawed notion of learning everything from a single ‘guru’ and expert, and instead recognizes that huge amounts of learning can come from comparing notes with others who may have approached similar tasks slightly differently, or simply be at a different stage on the journey. A quick look at our PRO webinar archive gives you a sense of just how rich this resource has become, and both the depth and breadth of subjects that we have been able to share.
Frey: During the last several years, you’ve made a huge commitment to webinars. How has that been working for you? What kind of response have you gotten from the global mind mapping community?
Hughes: The commitment to webinars was about showcasing two things; firstly, the practical use cases for mind mapping tools around the world. Secondly, we wanted to showcase more of the people behind the maps on Biggerplate. As such, that commitment has worked out amazingly well, and we continue to find new and interesting speakers from within our community who are willing to share their unique learning and tips with other PRO members.
Hughes: Regular (free) members of Biggerplate are just getting access to our free mind map library, which is more than enough for some! However, PRO members get access to everything. They can join all live webinars, and access the entire archive of over 100 on-demand webinar recordings, plus all the other features outlined earlier. We’ve tried to keep things very simple, by saying the with PRO membership, you’re getting everything we’ve got. There are no confusing levels, or pricing tiers to choose from, it’s a simple “all you can eat” model!
Frey: I see that PRO members get the opportunity to post events and have an extended profile. What types of people do those expanded capabilities appeal to?
Hughes: We’re always experimenting with different ‘extras’ for PRO members, and some of these are aimed at very specific sections of our member community, whereas others are hopefully appealing to a broader section.
The ability to post events was really aimed at helping mind mapping trainers, consultants, bloggers etc who might want visibility for their offline or online mind mapping events. In reality, this particular function did not get a huge amount of use, so we’re rethinking how best to adapt this.
Other features, like an extended profile, are for a broader audience, and simply intended to give those who are more active on Biggerplate (our PRO members) a bit more richness in their profile.
Frey: Tell me about the Biggerplate PRO private Facebook group? How does that help to support mind mappers to learn, network and get answers to their questions?
Hughes: The goal is simply to encourage networking and knowledge sharing among our PRO members, who are often some of our most active members. Like any online community, you get back what you put into it, and some of our members have found it very useful as a place to ask for help, learn about new resources, or simply learn what new content is available for them as PRO members.
Frey: Is Certification part of the PRO package, or is that priced separately?
Hughes: No, Biggerplate Certification is a separate product aimed at providing independent validation and recognition for mind mapping software skills, which we think are undervalued and under-promoted as skills in the modern workplace. PRO members do get a discount on the $49 cost of the Certification Assessment, but the two products are otherwise entirely separate.
Frey: What’s next for Biggerplate PRO? Are there any new services you plan to launch in 2020?
Hughes: In addition to continually building the webinar calendar and image library for PRO members, we have a very big ‘to-do’ list when it comes to new features and benefits to introduce!
Without giving too much away, I’d say ‘Curation’ is a big word for us this year, and we have plans in motion that will enable our PRO members to pull together and ‘curate’ content around topics of interest, either for their own benefit, or for the benefit of the wider community. Think YouTube or Spotify playlists, and you’re on the right track.
You can learn more and sign up for Biggerplate PRO membership here. Using the code CHUCK10 will get you $10 off the registration fee!