How to use Obsidian to build a second brain as an online coach

By Johnny and Yusef

Remember, as an online coach, you are a knowledge worker.

Clients are coming to you for your expertise, synthesis, and structuring of knowledge.

And they’re expecting you to bring the best of your expertise.

But where are you holding all of this information?

You can only keep so much of it in your head.

And a lack of system for storing information is still a system — it’s just a bad one.

So, it’s your duty to your clients to build a second brain.

We’re going to run you through how you can do this using Obsidian.

And if you’re not sold on why you should have a second brain, we’re going to cover how it can help you as an online coach.

Why build a second brain?

A photo of someone drawing a mindmap
Writing clarifies your thinking and helps you level up as an online coach.

Building a second brain will help you build the gold standard version of any of your client resources, so that you can create best content for your clients.

And because writing clarifies your thinking, it will also help you level up as a coach.

So, how do we do it?

And why should you be using Obsidian rather than, for example, Apple Notes?

Why Obsidian?

Apple Notes is a very good tool for administrative stuff, tax management, insurance documents, and just keeping an archive of general boring documents that you need to use.

But for building a knowledge and wisdom management system, you need something like Obsidian.


Over time, your notes start to build on each other and link together. Obsidian’s a dedicated vault for your notes and ideas.

The other massive benefit is that Readwise integrates with Obsidian (if you haven’t heard of Readwise, take a look at our previous article about how it will change the way you read).

Anything you read, whether it’s an article, book, or transcript from a YouTube video, goes straight into your Obsidian and you can start connecting those thoughts.

So, Apple Notes is great for tasks. But you don’t want the idea that you have to buy some sellotape on Friday to be forever immortalised in your second brain.

Another tool we love for tasks is Todoist, and we talk about how it can help you with task management in this article.

And as for Notion, this is great for online collaboration, client management, team management, project work, and content planning. You can read more here about how to use it to manage your online personal training clients.

So, you can see how different tools can serve you well for different purposes.

But what makes Obsidian so powerful for building a second brain?

We’ve written an overview of some of its key features below.


Markdown is formatting notes by typing different symbols.

For example, if I want to turn something into a heading, I type a hashtag. Or you can put text into bold font by pressing Command+B.

Markdown means that you’ve got something that can be imported into any other system and still be completely functional. So, in 100 years, if you dig up an old markdown document, it’s still passable by any text editor.


Linking is where Obsidian really comes to life.

  • You’ve got atomic notes; the individual, molecular pieces of notes
  • These then become bigger ideas
  • They get plugged together like bits of Lego, building larger and larger structures
  • Eventually you end up with a map of content.

Obsidian will allow you to create an index page by pulling together all these notes from different places.

So, you’re using your second brain to do the lifting.

This lets you easily click through different notes and connect them all together.

Eventually, they all start to take form and become an emergent structure.

Writing then just becomes assembling, rather than having to write something new each time.

And by updating your notes in one place, Obsidian will update them everywhere else.

Mentions and graphs

An image of a second brain
Obsidian creates a graph to show how all your notes fit together

Obsidian also automatically finds mentions of words, both linked and unlinked.

This allows you to go in and link them all together if you want to.

It will even generate a local graph of anything connected to a specific word or term, and show how it all fits together.

You can see from this graph that you’ve got big sections – these are tags for you, which you can move around. And it’s fun to zoom in and out to see the different clusters of topics.

So, how do you start creating a Second Brain from nothing?

When you’re building your second brain, you can be messy and create scraps as you go along. Or, you can also be structured and create a map of content. The great thing is that you can switch between these two styles of thinking.

As an example, let’s say you’ve just read an article about carbohydrates. You can use markdown to create a header and then start getting down some notes for the final piece.

Once you’ve done that, you can create potential links to new notes.

You can click on the links to create new notes and connect them to multiple other concepts.

In the graph view, we can then see how your notes link to different things, and can even see the direction of those links with arrows.

This is all massively helpful for recalling ideas.

And if you ever have to write something from scratch, you’ve already got the building blocks to put something together.

And you can keep going back to graph view to surf your ideas and see what’s connected to what.

Using Readwise with Obsidian

A photo of a person highlighting a text
You can highlight sections of an article using Readwise and they’ll appear in their own note on Obsidian.

If you’re reading an article on Readwise and want to highlight sections, you can then sync them in Obsidian.

They’ll then appear in their own note that’s categorised by Obsidian.

Searching a related term will bring up the article, tell you who the author is and provide the link if you want to go back to it.


We can also use the canvas to create notes from The Vault, which is a folder on your local file system where Obsidian stores your notes.

This lets you drag in notes from different categories and connect them visually to something else.

This is helpful if you prefer a more visual, mind map style of organising your notes. You can also make flowcharts.


You might find that plugins help make you more productive.

By going into Settings in Obsidian, you can search for Community Plugins to find a repository of plugins.

We’d recommend ‘Various Compliments’ and ‘Strange New Worlds’.

Various Compliments means that when you start typing something, it automatically finds and suggests a link based on what you’ve already stored in your second brain.

Strange New Worlds finds words that are linked, and shows them in your notes.

Getting started

Obsidian is pretty customisable, so we’d recommend just exploring it and having a play around for yourself.

Don’t get overwhelmed with the number of things you can do on there – pick things up as you go depending on what you need it for. And over time, you’ll start to build things up.

This way, when you come to create something new, you’ll just have to assemble the bits that are already there.

What’s next?

If you’re interested in content process, you can also view the below video on beating the social media algorithm. This covers:

  • scripting
  • content idea generation
  • recording
  • publishing
  • scheduling
  • repurposing
If you’re interested in content process, watch our video on beating the social media algorithm.

If you’re new to us and want to find out more about our the processes we use at Propane, you can sign up for free online training. This provides a full overview of how to become a successful, profitable online coach.

We also cover content process in full depth as part of our paid programme, and you can book in a call with us if you’d like to have a chat about what else the programme involves (or would just like to know how we might be able to help you grow your business).

Book a call here

free video guide: ⬇️

The EXACT process we used to build PropaneFitness to 15k/month: