If you haven’t heard of Airtable yet, let me be the one to razzle dazzle you! It’s a more visually appealing way to use spreadsheets. They describe their own product as part spreadsheet + part database, which I think is accurate.
The first step to using Airtable for managing your clients is to simply start creating your “database” of information. Don’t overthink or feel like you have to map out exactly what you want it to look like at first.
Simply create a new base (as they call it) + you’ll quickly see that it feels like a prettier spreadsheet.
Since I work in websites, the first column that I use is the name of the site typed out. You might use client names here or project titles, that’s up to you. (I work with the same client on multiple projects, so I like organizing content this way.)
Once you have your initial list in the first column, it’s time to figure out what other data you want to curate.
Some of the tidbits that I have in the spreadsheet are the client name (as a select option), what services they use (as a select option), the year + month the project launched, the site URL, their contact preferences (weekly summary email vs multiple emails throughout the project) + checkmark columns to track which process emails they’ve received.
Fill out your spreadsheet with whatever column types + content you care about. Don’t be afraid to get rowdy with the information you gather. Since this is a database, the more information, the better.
In Airtable, views are ways to look at the data you’ve gathered + are what I think is magical about this service.
I often look at clients based on the service they have hired me for to see a few things — which services are converting the best + if I have room to take on new retainer or hosting clients. To get that information with a quick glance, I created a Grid View that hides almost every field in the initial database but the client name. I then set it to group by the service type (even though that field is hidden) + I have the easy to follow breakdown you see here (the client names are blurred for confidentiality.)
I also have Views set up by renewal month (for hosting + retainer clients), active clients (to hide those that are past clients) + project stage (so I don’t have too many projects going at one time). While I often use the grid layout for my filters, they offer other options like a calendar or kanban style. Airtable can work with how your brain best processes information.
The initial database that we created (that looks like a basic spreadsheet) is called a table in Airtable lingo. Think of it like a tab in an Excel or Google spreadsheet. You can create multiple tables (tabs) + link the data together, which is pretty incredible.
I have started to track client tasks in Airtable so that everyone on my team knows who is responsible for what task + what stage that task is in.
I set this up by creating a new table (tab) in the same base that I have my client list. I have columns relating to tracking tasks like request date, assigned individual, status, screenshots + notes.
One column that I have is the client name, which is linked to the client list in the first table. That way I can select from a dropdown list of clients + pull any other important information directly into the task table from the client list. (My favorite is pulling in their preferred contact method so that whoever is working on the task knows how to communicate that it’s complete.)
Having this table allows the tiny blue orange team to have Views based on who the task is assigned to or what the status is. I can quickly toggle between the tasks that I am responsible for + making sure that we don’t have too many unresolved tasks waiting for action.
Another reason that I love Airtable is that I dig learning from how others use it.
They have templates that you can use to avoid starting from scratch, but also the Airtable Universe which shows off how other Airtable users take advantage of this tool.
There are free + paid plans, but I have been more than pleased with the free version for the last year. It provides me with all of the features I need to track my current + previous clients, when I’ve last communicated with them + what services I can market even more to potential clients.