How I Use Notion to Manage Client Work

Keeping a hub of your clients’ important information may be the key to being less stressed and more productive.

Aaron Marco Arias
The Startup
5 min readNov 3, 2020

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Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Many infopreneurs who teach how to “build a writing business” make a very interesting mistake. They usually drive aspiring writers through the journey of attracting clients (through a portfolio, a social media presence, or simply cold emails and good samples), pricing their services, and writing follow-ups. Once you’ve got the client, it’s party time — or so it seems.

These gurus, teachers, mentors, and coaches drop you off at the door of your career, make a U-turn, and hastily drive away. Any extra advice will focus on getting more clients, closing more deals, etcetera. But, how should one handle the everyday activities of a successful writing practice? What if all these people at all these companies you’re mailing actually want you onboard? What about the morning after?

In this post, I don’t intend to share absolutely everything I’ve learned from my writing practice. Even if I wanted to, the result would be far more extensive than my schedule and your patience may allow. Instead, I’d like to share with you a strategy that has prevented me from going mad in the last few months. Spoiler: It’s writing everything down.

Why you need a second brain

In the last few months, as my clientele grew, I learned three great things:

  • I’m not a business, I’m a person.
  • I need to create structures that facilitate that distinction.
  • I have the right to forget.

To do my job to the best of my ability and maintain productive working relationships, I need to have a clear idea of my clients’ goals, preferences, needs, and idiosyncrasies. From “suggest an infographic for every post” to “invoices should be sent on the Xth”.

If you only have one or two clients, you can “store” everything you need to remember about them in your head. No need to put it on paper, no need to write it down.

But, as you start taking on more projects (especially, with clients in similar industries), details may get mixed up. Of course, depending on what you forget or misremember, your fallible memory may or may not have a cost. And that cost could just be wasted time or looking negligent and amateurish in the eyes of your client. Since I’m self-demanding and prone to stress, this is something I understood as a potential problem very early on.

Software developers understand the many-fold importance of documenting their processes. Marketers and creatives often don’t. Let’s say someone who holds a managerial position in a company’s marketing team quits, gets fired, or tries their luck at skying and breaks their neck. If there’s no unified source of knowledge on how to handle their everyday activities, if there are no documented processes, a successor will have to guess and reverse-engineer their way to productivity.

As a “solopreneur”, I don’t have to explain my job to myself constantly. While I’d love to assemble a team and take on a more strategic role, I’m not there yet. So, I don’t have to document processes as much as relationships and preferences.

Why Notion

Cornell Notes System on Notion (Source)

Quoting from Wikipedia:

“Notion is an application that provides components such as databases, kanban boards, wikis, calendars and reminders. Users can connect these components to create their own systems for knowledge management, note taking, data management, project management, among others. These components and systems can be used individually, or in collaboration with others.”

What attracted me to Notion are its versatility, ease of use, and beautiful, calm, slow-techish UX. It favors long documents with embedded elements, and you can organize these documents in sections. It’s like Dropbox Paper, but tidier. I really enjoy this platform, and I’m not the only one.

Notion isn’t the only tool I use to organize my business. For instance, I really dislike how the platform handles tables. Consequently, I use a Google spreadsheet to keep track of invoices and cash flow.

I chose Notion, but you can use any other tool you like. From Google Drive to something fancy. Some look for a platform that will serve as a single hub of all their business-related affairs. This is not the case for me. I tried to use one of those “all-in-one” tools (ClickUp), and I felt pretty overwhelmed by the interface alone.

My essential sections

I chose an extremely versatile but minimalist platform. And I want my workspace to remain minimalist. These are the sections I use:

  • Weekly Content Pipeline: A single page linking to several briefs. A general pipeline for everything I have to edit, write, and send this week. It has four sections: Pending, In Process, Done, and Sent.
  • Briefs: Every piece of content has its own subpage. Each subpage includes important information such as the piece’s title, topic, recommended length, keywords, and sources. Additional thoughts and notes also abound.
  • Documentation: Every client has a subpage. Every subpage consists of a bullet list of things I need to remember regarding how this client works and the project we’re embarking on.
  • Client Directory: The freelancer’s CRM. It’s a single page with a database. The database is a table with six columns: Client name, Country, Industry, Services (I provided them), Contact Name, Contact Info.

Some final remarks

Organizing saves you time. It makes your creative process smoother and happier. Most of the tools you’ll need are available for free. Go and create a digital workspace that accommodates you.

Maybe the idea of keeping all of your client’s information in a single set of subpages doesn’t suit your workflow, so you prefer to have everything in a client-specific Google Drive folder. Consider these ideas according to your own needs and processes. Find out what works for you. My advice is open-source.

How do manage important client information? Did something like this ever occur to you? Let me know in the comments!

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Aaron Marco Arias
The Startup

Co-Founder & Creative Director @ Postdigitalist. Helping B2B startups to grow organically.