When you start out as a freelancer, every element of how you present yourself is important. If you have an ugly website, people will think you’re an amateur. If your punctuation and spelling and grammar are all over the fucking place, people will think you’re an amateur. If you’re wearing sunglasses and necking a beer in the profile pic you have plastered across the web, people will think you’re an amateur.
And if you have a shitty email address – something you probably don’t even register any more, because you’ve had it for so long – people will think you’re an amateur.
And being thought of as an amateur can only lead to two things in the world of freelancing: a) People not hiring you, or b) People hiring you and taking advantage of you, because they think they can get away with it. (And they probably can.)
Your email address is yet another thing that tells people something about you. So if you want to tell people you’re a professional, you need to get a professional email address.
Hint: your email address is NOT professional if it:
- is a Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, AOL (still a thing?), or any other shit free email provider your mum uses.
- features anything other than your name.
The only way you can likely get away with continuing to use your regular email address is if you’re lucky enough to have a Gmail address with your own name. So if I was lucky (which I wasn’t), I’d have firstname.lastname@example.org. Other acceptable alternatives would be: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s about it, really. No, I wouldn’t even use email@example.com, because it’s impersonal.
Gmail is the only big name, free email address provider that’s associated with professionals. Gmail is what professionals use. I don’t know why. It just is. Probably because it’s good, eh? And you don’t have to have a Gmail address to use it. I use Gmail, even though my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, because the interface is so good and because it allows you to make your emails look professional. So even if you do have your own-name Gmail address, I still recommend taking things a step further.
Here’s what you should do: set up an email address with your own domain name, using your own name, and link it to your Gmail account.
I know, I know: tech stuff, gross. But trust me, this will catapult your professional status up a level or three. Here’s what you need to do:
- Log in to your hosting provider and look for some sort of email account management section.
- Choose your new email address and type it into the appropriate box. And listen, you should really just use your first name, because it’ll be easier to remember, easier to tell people, and easier to type in. And, of course, because it’s more personal, which is important. So none of this info@ or contact@ bollocks, okay?
- If you already have a Gmail account, link your new email address to it using the instructions here.
- If you don’t already have a Gmail account, create a new one using the instructions here.
Aaaand, that’s it. Blammo: follow those instructions and you can expect people to start taking your emails seriously pronto.