The freelance lifestyle is an attractive one. But with all of the flexibility comes the reality that work might not always be as regular as we
Gmail is the de facto email client for independent workers everywhere. More than 1 billion people worldwide lean on Google’s email client for business and personal purposes. If you’re in this sizable (and growing) population, browse the hacks below to make the most of the product for your freelance business.
Trick #1: ‘I have attached…’
Had the “Oops!” moment yet? You send an email to your client that is intended to contain the completed documents. After the Send button’s been hit you realize you forgot to attach the files and an embarrassing “Sorry, forgot to attach the files” email follows.
Worse case scenario: you don’t realize you haven’t attached the files and the client gets back to you with a “Where are the files? There was nothing attached” email. Ouch!
All you have to do to ensure you never forgot to attach the files is type in “I have attached” in your email’s body.
So, for instance, if I am submitting next month’s quota of five blog posts to a client, I’d write “Hi Sandra, I have attached the five blog posts for December….”. Now, if I forget to attach those blog posts and click Send, Gmail will give a warning that says: “Did you mean to attach files? You wrote “I have attached” in your message, but there are no files attached. Send anyway?”. Magic.
Trick #2: Innumerable Email IDs
Most freelancers sign up for and subscribe to several newsletters, websites, and online events. Giving your email address liberally is a necessity if you want great information and possible leads to reach you from the various corners of the internet every single day. However, this opens up several inroads for spam.
The solution? A unique email address for each subscription! One email address on Gmail equals to an infinite number of email addresses. How?
The “+” character can be used to generate infinite number of email addresses. For example, if my email address is email@example.com, then emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. will all land in my inbox. You can add anything after the + sign and still receive emails in your inbox.
I use this feature whenever I subscribe to a freelance writing newsletter, or sign up for an event or just about any mailing list.
So, if I sign up for Marketo’s mailing list, I’ll enter my email address as email@example.com. Now, if I start receiving spam in my gmail inbox and the “from” address is firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll know that the Marketo mailing list has been compromised, and immediately unsubscribe.
Trick #3: Organize The Heck Out of Your Inbox
Labels are the best way to keep a freelancer’s inbox organized. They are essentially markers that you can use to filter and segregate your emails in different folders.
So, if you want to keep all updates from LinkedIn in one folder, because you don’t want these updates overwhelming your inbox or wish to keep updates from a website you’ve subscribed to in another folder, labels are the way to go.
If you don’t already use labels in Gmail, this support page can help you.
Trick #4: Vacation Responder
Always keep your clients, and prospective clients, informed if you’d be unavailable for more than two days.
The vacation responder feature can be accessed by clicking on the gear-shaped button on the top right of your gmail mailbox > Settings > Scroll down > Vacation responder > Turn vacation responder on. In the text box below add in text that informs those who contact you how long you’ll be away and how they can contact you if there’s an emergency.
I find the vacation responder very helpful. For instance, I will be taking my annual 10-day vacation in December. If someone visits my website and decides to hire me to write content for their business, shoots me an email while I am away on my vacation, they’ll know when to expect a response if I’ve set up an auto-responder.
However, if there’s no responder set up, it looks really unprofessional (and I might lose that client) if I get in touch with them 10 days after their email.
Trick #5: Desktop Notifications
Most freelancers complain of a compulsion to check their emails every five minutes. This compulsion affects your productivity.
There was a time, not very long ago, when the first thing I used to do every morning was check my email. My smartphone was right by my side all night. Not any longer.
So, if you share my compulsion for email checking, this feature will be really useful.
Here’s how you set it up: Gear-shaped button > settings > scroll down > Desktop notifications > New mail notifications on. Now every email you receive in your inbox will show up as a notification, irrespective of what you are doing at that point in time.
If you know that you’ll receive a notification whenever an email’s received it will drastically reduce your compulsion to check your email and will help you concentrate better on the task at hand.
Trick #6: Boomerang for Gmail
How cool would it be if you had your own personal assistant to remind you of emails you forgot to respond to, of client emails you have to follow up on, or to simply schedule your cold pitch emails for times when they have a higher probability of getting read?
Boomerang is a third-party add-on for your Gmail that does all this and more. They have a 30-day free trial, so that’s a great way to get started and see how useful it might be for you.
So, there you have it. Six of my favorite Gmail tricks. Share your own in the comments below!