Gmail is the de facto email client for the self-employed around the world. More than 1 billion people worldwide rely on Google’s email client for business and personal purposes. If you’re part of this sizable (and growing) population, browse the hacks below to get the most out of the product for your freelance business.
Trick #1: ‘I’ve attached…’
Had the “Oops!” moment already? You send an email to your customer that is intended to contain the completed documents. After you hit the send button, you realize you forgot to attach the files and an embarrassing email follows saying “Sorry, forgot to attach the files”.
Worst case scenario, you don’t realize you haven’t attached the files and the customer comes back to you with a “Where are the files? Nothing was attached” email. Ouch!
All you need to do to make sure you never forget to attach the files is to type “I have attached” in the body of your email.
So, for example, if I’m sending the quota of five blog posts for next month to a client, I’d write, “Hello Sandra, I’ve attached the five blog posts for December…”. Now when I forget to attach those blog posts and hit send, Gmail throws a warning saying, “Did you want to attach files? You wrote “I attached” in your post, but there are no files attached. Send anyway ?” Magic.
Trick #2: Countless Email IDs
Most freelancers sign up for and subscribe to various newsletters, websites, and online events. Giving out your email address freely is a necessity if you want great information and potential leads reaching you every day from the different corners of the internet. However, this opens up several possibilities for spam.
The solution? A unique e-mail address for each subscription! One email address in Gmail equals an infinite number of email addresses. How?
The “+” sign can be used to generate an infinite number of email addresses. For example, if my email address is email@example.com, emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. all end up in my inbox. You can add anything after the + sign and still receive emails in your inbox.
I use this feature when subscribing to a freelance writing newsletter, or signing up for an event, or just about any mailing list.
So when I sign up to Marketo’s mailing list, I enter my email address as email@example.com. If I now receive spam in my Gmail inbox and the “from” address is firstname.lastname@example.org, I know that the Marketo mailing list has been compromised and I will unsubscribe immediately.
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 separate your emails into different folders.
So if you want to keep all of LinkedIn’s updates in one folder, because you don’t want those updates to overwhelm your inbox, or if you want to keep updates from a website you subscribe to in a different folder, labels are the way to go.
If you’re not already using labels in Gmail, this support page can help.
Trick #4: Vacation Responder
Always keep your customers and prospects informed if you are unavailable for more than two days.
The Vacation Responder feature can be accessed by clicking the gear-shaped button in the top right corner of your Gmail mailbox > Settings > Scroll Down > Vacation Responder > Enable Vacation Responder. In the text box below, add text that will let those who contact you know how long you will be away and how to contact you in an emergency.
I find the holiday responder very helpful. For example, I take my annual 10-day vacation in December. If someone visits my website and decides to hire me to write content for their business, email me while I’m on vacation, they’ll know when to expect a response if I’ve set up an auto-responder.
However, if no answering machine is set up, it will look really unprofessional (and I could lose that customer) if I contact them 10 days after their email.
Trick #5: Desktop Notifications
Most freelancers complain about being forced to check their email every five minutes. This compulsion affects your productivity.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the first thing I did every morning was check my email. My smartphone was next to me all night. No longer.
So if you share my compulsion for checking email, this feature will be very useful.
This is how you set it up: Gear-shaped button > Settings > scroll down > Desktop notifications > New email notifications on. Now every email you receive in your inbox will show up as a notification no matter what you are doing at the time.
Knowing that you will be notified when an email is received will drastically reduce your compulsion to check your email and help you focus 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, customer emails you need to follow up on, or simply fill in your cold pitch emails. to plan for times when they are more likely to be 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 can be for you.
So there you have it. Six of my favorite Gmail tricks. Share your own in the comments below!