Whilst I am semi-active on Twitter, email remains my primary method of speaking with potential advertisers, partners, and customers.
I receive dozens of emails every week through this blog. Unfortunately, a large number of emails come from time-wasting choosy beggars who want something from me, but are not willing to give anything in return.
Without doubt, time-wasters are the silent killer of productivity.
An individual email reply might only take a minute or two to write, but if you take into account the time that subsquent replies take up, it is obviously a serious problem.
Now consider that a blog like mine can receive dozens of emails from time-wasters every week. Clearly, this is a problem that needs to be tackled.
Over the last few years, I have been addressing this problem head-on to ensure I am more productive with my time.
Make It Clear What You Want
A common tip in productivity books is that you should only check your emails at set times during the day. This helps you avoid jumping back between email and allows you to focus on the task at hand.
It's great advice, but perhaps a more important goal is to reduce the number of emails you get from time wasters.
By making it clear what you want, and do not want, you can reduce the number of emails you receive through your website. The emails you do receive should generally be more targeted.
One way I have reduced emails is by putting a detailed note above my contact page form that explains that:
- I do not offer help by support or email free of charge
- I do not participate in roundup posts
- I do not guest post
- I am not interested in infographics
- I am not interested in reading “Your Amazing Article”
The email requests for me to participate in roundup posts, or share someone's infographics or articles, tend to be sent from email software that blasts emails out to thousands of people at once.
I hit the spam button on all of these.
Despite stressing what I want on my contact page, some people will still complete my contact form and make requests for things I state I do not offer. I generally just ignore these emails, but if someone has just copied and pasted a generic email template, I occasionally hit the spam button.
Do Not Beat Around the Bush
It only takes a few seconds to scan an email and see words like “Infographics” and then send it to the spam folder.
Unfortunately, many time-wasters are not as obvious as this and may come across as potential clients initially. You will be surprised by the people who can waste your time.
For example, I have had long email conversations with legitimate businesses that sell products and services that cost over $500. Yet it is only after a dozen or so emails that they advise me that they want me to write a long detailed reply free of charge and cannot justify paying for one. Or they want me to spend hours showing them how something on my website works in exchange for a free trial of their product. The best way to tackle these people is to be up front in your initial reply.
Please do remember, however, to never judge a book by its cover and give everyone the benefit of doubt. Sometimes big companies are unwilling to spend money, however some of my best clients have been small business owners; despite their budgets being tiny in comparison.
Be clear about what your fees are from the beginning.
For example, if someone asks to guest post on my website, I advise them right away the charge is $300. If they are not happy with this fee, well it's “Thank you and good luck”.
Likewise, if someone wants me to write for them, I direct them to my services page and stress that I will not write for them free of charge.
I cannot stress this enough. You need to be clear to people what your terms are from your first response.
Add More Information to Your Website
With a blog such as mine, most of the emails I receive are related to similar topics; whether it be advertising on this blog, advertising on another website I own, or working with me on YouTube.
Due to this, my initial response to emails tends to be similar.
You can create canned standard email replies for this in Gmail and other email services; but I prefer to just put all information on my website and then simply send a link to that page in my reply.
Some of you may not want to do this as it might mean you need to share sensitive information such as pricing publicly. For me, this is a small price to pay as being public about everything allows me to reduce the total number of emails I receive. As you would expect, the emails I receive are more targeted as a result of this.
My advertising page is a good example of how Itransparent I am.
My advertising page not only explains what I offer, it also allows people to pay for the service. All the information they need can be found here, therefore I do not need to keep going back and fourth via email.
Many people are not happy about the fact I do not participate in link exchanges or that I charge people for spending time helping them. That is their problem, not mine. I do not want to work with people who expect everything free of charge. Nor should you.
I have no doubt that fellow website owners and bloggers can relate to a lot of what I have said in this article.
Regardless of what type of business you operate online, you are going to have to deal with time-wasters.
Unfortunately, time-wasters cannot be completely eliminated, however you can significantly reduce the time you spend speaking with people who do not help your bottom line.
Be clear about what you want and make a conscious decision not to engage with people who are not serious about working with you.