What does email have to do with blogging? EVERYTHING.
Think of all the potential emails that show up in your inbox that are related to your blog:
- Emails from blogging networks
- Email subscriptions to other blogs
- Emails about upcoming blog conferences
- Email comments from your blog
- Email updates and errors about your domain, host, WordPress, theme, etc.
- And most importantly, email OPPORTUNITIES!!!
I can’t tell you how many emails I have read when trying to clean out my inbox when I thought, “Gee, this would have been a great opportunity had I responded to it three months ago when I got it.”
It’s pretty lame to write someone from a brand or PR agency back to say and “I’m so sorry I missed your email. With the holidays, I think it must have fallen through the cracks but I’m still interested if the opportunity is still available!” Don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly acceptable to do this because I’ve done it MANY times. But it’s better to respond right away to an email.
Oddly enough, I used to intentionally sit on emails. I thought if I responded right away to a really good opportunity, I would seem too eager. Now, I make a game out of it. I’m quick to respond and often say, “Do I get a prize for being the first to respond?”
But this post is not about blog or influencer opportunities. It’s about clearing the way so you don’t miss any of them. And making sure the important emails don’t get buried in a sea of emails that you thought you might want to read someday. Trust me. I’ve been there.
Let me tell you what works for me and why.
First, let’s talk about that email monster.
When I look at my primary Gmail account for this blog (and I’ll be focusing primarily on Gmail but the same general principles should apply to any email system), it looks manageable. According to my screenshot, I’ve got 298 unread emails. That seems high but totally manageable, right?
It’s when I look at the email counts on my phone that reality sets in.
I have 2,781 unread emails from a combination of my personal email, my blog email, and my work email. It’s unacceptable really. How can anyone feel on top of things like this? Imagine if you had almost 3000 pieces of unopened mail sitting in your house. It’s cray-cray.
So let’s tackle that, shall we? And I know how to do it because I’ve done it before. But clearly, it will balloon up again and you’ll have to revisit these techniques so make sure you save this post some place safe. You’re going to need it.
Did I scare you with the delete word? Don’t be scared. It’s your friend. Here’s how to get started.
If you’re on Gmail, go to your Social tab. This consists of all your notifications of who followed you and who retweeted you and who favorited you and who liked you. Get rid of it. All of it. Right now. If you’re doing social right, you may want to glance at these as they come in but you certainly don’t need to save them. Select all, then select all conversations, and hit Delete.
If you aren’t on Gmail, just search for all emails from Twitter or Pinterest or Facebook or whatever and delete them. There. Now don’t you feel better? Let’s keep going.
Let’s Unsubscribe and Delete
This is my very favorite technique. I tend to sign up for and subscribe to about a million things so I can get whatever freebie they are promising me. It could be free shipping or a 20% discount or a free download but I will give you my email address to get what you’re offering, I have to just remember to then make you go away if you’re not adding long term value to me.
If you’re on Gmail, you’ll find most of these items on your Promotions tab. Here is an honest-to-goodness snapshot of my Promotions tab.
Things I don’t really need? Target. eMeals. Panda Nation (what is that anyway?). BMW and Triumph Motorcycles. Women in the World. Disney Digital Books.
But instead of just deleting them and waiting for them to reappear, I’m going to click on the most recent of these unwanted emails and find the unsubscribe option (if it doesn’t have one, consider it SPAM).
Let’s start with Target. Before your heart starts hurting, I love Target. I’m a huge fan of their Cartwheel app (which is how I got on this list). But I don’t need to see their sales every week. I’m a store browser, not an online sale shopper when it comes to Target. First, I found the unsubscribe button.
Trust me, they didn’t make it easy. The email was so long it was truncated. I had to click to view the full message before I could even scroll down to find the unsubscribe option but I did it.
The next step is even more important. Look at the email address it was sent from. Copy the email address and go to the search bar in Gmail. Then type in:
from:firstname.lastname@example.org (or the appropriate email address)
Select all conversations and delete them. BOOM. Gone. Who needs old sale emails? If you want to save the latest and greatest sale, you can. Just uncheck that box and get rid of the rest.
Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Trust me, it feels good.
Don’t get frustrated. You won’t be able to do it all in one sitting but it’s a great mindless activity to do on your laptop while you’re watching TV with your family.
Organizing the Main Event
Now it’s time for the main event. The REAL emails. The ones that are personally addressed to you, aren’t part of a mass mailing, and might actually be of interest. I have plenty of these unread as well.
This is where I’m going to give you a shortcut. I want you to go through each email from the past 90 days. You can read it, file it, star it, respond to it, or delete it. It’s entirely up to you. Everyone, I believe, has to develop their own system to make sure they stay organized and can find things. But I can help you get to that point.
Review the last 90 days only. If you need to write the “Oh, this slipped through the cracks” email, go ahead and do it. You may be embarrassed that you’re so late in responding but it’s better to see if there is a relationship worth salvaging rather than assuming there isn’t.
As for everything older than 90 days? If you have the time and the willpower to go through all of them, by all means, do so. But as far as I’m concerned…
So here’s your shortcut. After you’ve gone through the last 90 days, select everything else and MARK AS READ.
You still keep it. It’s still available in search if you need it. But it won’t be mucking up that sacred unread email count.
Maintaining that Inbox
Now, where do we go from here? (Yes, I’m hearing a bad Bon Jovi song in my head, right now).
- We STOP subscribing to emails we don’t really want. Or we subscribe to get the thing we want and wait for two more mailings. If you don’t see value by then, UNSUBSCRIBE.
- We DELETE emails that come in that we don’t want, don’t care about, and have no need to respond to. No, you don’t have to respond to the foreign company that wants you to post a link in an old story you wrote. Just delete and move on.
- We PERIODICALLY CHECK our social platform updates and then we DELETE those emails.
- We read emails as they come in and find a system to help us classify in one of several ways:
- Unimportant and uninterested – DELETE
- Not interested but worthy of a response and then DELETE
- Definitely interested – RESPOND as soon as possible
- Might be interested at a later time but no response needed – FILE AWAY
And just like that, your email inbox is a warm cup of coffee waiting to greet you at the start of every day instead of the pile of dirty dishes in the sink from dinner the night before.
Missed the rest of the series? Read Weeks 1-4:
Better Your Blog Week 1: Clean Up Your Act
Better Your Blog Week 2: Revisit Your Social Platforms
Better Your Blog Week 3: Focusing on Your Key Platforms
Better Your Blog Week 4: Marketing Your Content