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BTS: We switched to Notion from Basecamp (at least, for now)

Earlier this week, we made a big change here at The Sweet Setup.

We have stopped using Basecamp for managing our publishing calendar and editorial process.

Why leave Basecamp? We love it. We have been using Basecamp for more than five years. It’s how we manage all of our course and product development, and it’s how we manage our other sites (The Focus Course; Tools & Toys).

Basecamp is simple and structured. It keeps everything centralized with no hassle or stress.

Compared to the new tool we just moved to which is much more fiddly, and doesn’t even have all the features we need as a whole team.

So why switch?

A few months ago, the team and I realized that our editorial process was not working well for us.

The challenges we have been facing include:

  • No clear space to put ideas.
  • No shared visibility into what other members of our team were working on.
  • No clear, big picture of the lifecycle of an article as it moved from idea to done.
  • A lack of clear expectations and requirements for each article.

We knew that we needed a new approach for how we, as a team, take ideas and turn them into published articles on the website.

The tools we use for managing our editorial calendar need to allow anyone on the team to take an idea and begin building it into an outline and then into a published article.

And we need easier team communication around articles that are in process.

In short, we want to create more work, more often, with less effort.

And, frankly, Basecamp has been getting in the way of that.

While Basecamp is great at a lot of things, it is terrible for managing an editorial calendar.

In Basecamp, every message, task, and calendar event is a separate item. This makes sense for managing a big project because all of those items are inside the project.

But that sort of structure does not scale down well for publishing editorial content several times per week. It would be a nightmare to treat every single blog post and every single article as if it were its own project (trust us, we’ve tried it).

And since the messages, tasks, and calendar items don’t really overlap with one another, there is no easy way to have high visibility into what is going on with the editorial calendar on any given day. And no easy way to take one idea and move it all the way through to completed.

And so, we decided to move to Notion.

Notion has a lot of pros as well as its fair share of cons.

The thing we love most about Notion (so far) is how we can manage each article with its own due dates, editorial status, content outline, and more. All that information stays with the article itself as it moves along the editorial process.

And we can view our editorial calendar in multiple ways. We can see a calendar view that shows all the upcoming article due dates and publication dates. Or we can see a Kanban board with the status of each article: On Deck; In Progress; To Review; Published.

Notion can also host all of our internal documents, files, tables, and more. These are things we use quite a bit in our process and its why we opted for Notion rathe than Trello.

Notion is very flexible and powerful. We can build exactly the system we need to support our editorial calendar. This is also the weakness of Notion — it can be fiddly, it can be easily over-engineered, and it has a learning curve.

We’ve committed to use it for the next 2 months and see how it helps to clarify and improve our editorial processes.

There are always new tools and apps popping up that offer to help us be more productive and creative.

But if you are always switching to the new shiny thing, it can be difficult to get into a consistent habit of actually completing your work.

However, if you stick with a tool out of sheer stubbornness, or to avoid any and all “switching costs”, then you may find that you are holding yourself back.

It is okay to outgrow your tools.

My advice before switching to something new, is to get first clarity about what is broken with your current system and tool. Decide how things needs to be improved and what a better system would look like for you. Then find a tool that will support your new workflow (instead of the other way around).

Update: After 2-weeks with Notion, here are our first impressions so far.