Email is a fact of life; there’s no escaping it. And many of us probably have multiple email accounts, perhaps one for work and one for personal life. Double the number of emails and you double the amount of headaches and the potential for organization nightmares. [Read more…]
How many emails do you send every day? Not only are you using this valuable communication tool to send finished assignments, but you’re probably relying on it to touch base with previous clients and reach out to new ones. You’re using it to correspond with sources and verify facts. And you’re probably also sending emails for personal use too—even freelancers do that.
You might think you’re alone as a freelancer, but you’re not: Most people are in a bind with email. That’s because there are nearly 200 billion emails sent – each and every day. And if you kept track of your time dealing with email, in all likelihood you’d probably be spending nearly one-third of your time dealing with it. In fact, how many of you face email management issues, such as too many notes in your inbox, a difficult email filing system, or even loss of emails because you’re so inundated. [Read more…]
As a freelance writer, the environment you work in may be private and informal, but that should not be emblematic of the way you conduct your business. The work you generate for yourself depends very much on how you build and maintain business relationships, and the majority of those relationships are lived out through email. Communicating professionally and politely with editors and others who influence your paycheck is essential. To prevent rubbing those you interact with the wrong way, read on for some helpful pointers.
1. Avoid All Capitals
Have you ever received an email with words and phrases in all caps? If so, it probably wasn’t a very fun read. To avoid having that effect on the folks you communicate with, avoid the urge to use that type of emphasis. It comes off as yelling, and it can be viewed as disrespectful. Say what you want with proper grammar and if you’re that upset about something, cool off for a minute and then pick up the phone.
2. Always Include a Salutation
Regardless of whether or not you already have a great relationship with someone, always include a respectful salutation. Even if it’s just a quick “Hello” you increase the chances that your email actually gets read, and this is especially true when reaching out to folks for the first time.
3. Think of the Recipient’s Perspective First
Right before you hit click, scan through your message and read it from the perspective of the person receiving it. When you do that, you might find parts of it that aren’t perfectly clear, are incomplete, or are potentially misleading. Since email communication doesn’t allow you to read your recipient’s face, you have to anticipate any parts of your message that may be harder to follow and correct them in advance.
4. Make Your Point Quickly
There’s no point in dawdling with your messages – everyone is busy, including yourself. After your salutation, get to exactly what you want to say, make it thorough and clear, and end the message. That said, balance brevity with congeniality. What you never want is to come across as terse.
5. Skip the Humor Altogether
No matter how well you might know your recipient, keep humor out of your emails. It’s too easy to be misconstrued and may also be taken as offensive, which is the last thing you want. Save the jokes for phone conversations or in-person discussions.
Because of the fluid nature of the Internet and freelance work, you generally don’t have to respond to things as quickly as you would in a traditional working environment. Just don’t abuse that luxury. Don’t let emails hang around in your inbox for days without so much as a quick response – if you wait, you give potential employers and other blog owners the impression that you don’t care or aren’t serious about your work. If you’re in the middle of a big project, type out a quick reply saying you’re going to provide a detailed answer soon. Showing dedication and professionalism is the best way to keep your employers happy, and that goes for all forms of correspondence.
What ways can you think of to send emails more professionally?
Dave Adams is a freelancer and online marketing professional who writes about careers and small business.
Gmail has plenty of hidden features that can really help you up your freelancing game. One in particular has made me able to handle the stack of email that comes my way every day much easier: canned responses. By creating a few template emails that handle most situations and saving them as canned responses, you can speed up your ability to respond to sources, send out queries and more. Here are just a few ways canned responses can help you out.
- Process HARO responses: I use Help A Reporter Out to find sources, but I can often wind up with sixty responses to a request. I have a standard response that I send out to those sources who I can’t actually use. I also will save my questions as a canned response — if I’m interviewing two people for the same article, I’ll often start with similar questions, although I may customize them.
- Speed up query letters: While every query letter should be customized to the editor you’re sending it to, some sections — like your writing experience and contact information — aren’t going to be very different between emails. I’ve created a template that includes a paragraph that I include in every query, as well as a general template to remind me to include the important parts of a query.
- Explain your rates: Prospective clients may email you, wanting to know what you may charge for a project. You can write a standard response that you always use or create an estimate template — either option is just as easy with canned responses.
- Send out reminders: I handle most of my invoices and other paperwork with my clients by email. That includes sending out reminders to pay invoices, sign contracts and other emails that don’t really need to be written from scratch every time you send them out.
- Make sure your finished project is complete: I’ve put together a template for sending completed projects to clients. It reminds me to attach both the project and the invoice, and includes a few standard paragraphs about revisions and further work. This template has saved my bacon more than once — I’ve almost forgotten to attach the actual project to an email I was about to send a client. A small note in my canned response made all the difference.
If you’re interested in using Gmail’s canned responses feature, you’ll need to turn it on in Gmail’s settings. It’s listed under Labs. Some other email tools have similar capabilities to create email templates.