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A Word About Blog Email Management

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Of course, you know that I’m going to have more than a word about anything…but today, I just wanted to do a quick post on something that really bothers me – and hopefully, you’ll weigh in with your experiences and opinions.

I’ve often emailed another blogger and never received a reply. It’s a pet peeve of mine for a number of reasons:

  • I’m a blogger myself. I’m pretty good at estimating the number of emails you get, based on the popularity of your blog
  • I’ve taken the time to put thought into emailing you, often with an idea or suggestion that can help you. You can at least take five seconds acknowledge me.
  • Often, I’m waiting for your reply because it affects something in my life, like a blog post I want to write or a project I’m working on for a client.

The main reason bloggers give for not replying to emails is this: “It’s just not scalable for me to reply to every email.” I see your argument and raise you a hearty, “You’re an idiot.” Here’s why:

  1. As a blogger, replying to emails is part of your job description. I mean, if you care about your community, that is. I don’t expect to receive a reply from you within the hour, but I do expect that if you “blog for a living” you answer your emails within three or four business days – or at least provide an automated email reply that tells me when I can expect to hear back.
  2. If you’ve reached the blogging popularity level where you’re receiving too many emails on a daily basis to keep up and also write posts, then you’re also at the level where you should be able to afford a virtual assistant to help you manage your inbox. If you can’t afford that, something is terribly awry. Namely, you’re not doing a good job with monetization. Don’t want to monetize? Hey, more power to you. But just because you say, “I don’t want to make money with my blog” doesn’t mean that you are justified in being cheap. As your blog gets more popular, you have to spend more money on it if you want it to grow, whether you’re making money or not.
  3. Bloggers who get an abnormally high volume of email often have one simple problem: they don’t address questions on their blog at all. On your contact page, you should have a short list of FAQs that people can read before emailing you. Adding that is guaranteed to cut your emails down significantly. If you’re too lazy to create an FAQ page, don’t complain that your email isn’t scalable.
  4. Every email matters. Something that bugs me more than anything else are bloggers who only respond to names they recognize, even though small-name bloggers or readers without blogs may send more thoughtful, interesting emails. I get it – your blog is a business and you need to make wise decisions about how to spend your time. It’s just funny how you forget how it feels to be “the little guy” when more popular bloggers are suddenly noticing you. You have the power to be someone’s break, just like certain people helped you when you were first getting started.
  5. Don’t confuse scalability with laziness. I know some bloggers who say that email isn’t scalable anymore, but turn around and preach how blogging is such an awesome job because they only have to work five or six hours per say. That means it isn’t that you don’t have time to answer emails. You just don’t want to. It goes back to my first point – email is part of a blogger’s job description.

I’m guilty of allowing emails to slip through the cracks. Sometimes, an email requires some thought before responding, and then it gets lost in the shuffle. I try not to let that happen.

I don’t always reply if the email is a comment that doesn’t necessitate a reply. I like to at least respond with “thanks for reading,” but it isn’t a top priority for me because I know the person isn’t waiting for a response.

I also don’t always reply if the person clearly hasn’t read my site and is so off-base that the email is comical. For example, I once got an email from someone asking to guest post on my video game blog about horse racing. 1) Obviously, they hadn’t even looked at the site to know that “gaming” did not mean casinos/betting. 2) Obviously, they had not read our clearly-marked guest post page which gave directions for submissions, along with an email address (not mine) where submissions should be sent. But even then, it really only takes one second to reply with “no thank you” or a link to the submission page. It has to be a really bad or rude email for me not to reply at all.

Important to also note is that I know that in the middle of a project or exchange of ideas, people sometimes need to put something on a back burner. I might say to someone, “Let me put it on the back burner, I’ll get back to you when I have time” – and I don’t even mind when I haven’t heard from someone I’m working with for a week or so, because I know people get busy. As long as they’ve acknowledged the initial email, so I at least know whether they’re interested or not, that’s all I ask.

Of course, writing this post is dangerous, because I know that I’ve missed emails, avoided my inbox when I wanted to do something else, etc. I’ve been a jerk. No one is perfect. But I think we all need to work toward being better at it.

I’m interested in your thoughts on email management. What are your biggest pet peeves? What are your least favorite email-related tasks? How do you feel about email scalability?


Feedback

7
  • Andy Hayes

    Oh boy.

    I agree, I find it very annoying to see bloggers who don’t reply to comments on their site or respond to emails. It’s just disrepsectful in my book. I’m sure I’m at fault for a few slipping through the cracks, but some people seem to think because they have some traffic they can do whatever the hell that they want.

    In the last 3-4 months, I’ve become crushed with email. It’s now to the point I need to figure out who on my team gets to help, or who new needs to come on board. Regardless, we’ll definitely be doing something about that.

    The only people who don’t get a reply from me are the SEO spammers asking me for links. They didn’t the FAQs, and whoops – was that the delete button – I didn’t read their email either.

    🙂

    • Alli

      Haha, I’m the same way – if you couldn’t be bothered to read my site, I couldn’t be bothered to read your email.

      I’m of the mindset that not EVERY comment needs a reply, especially on sites where bloggers get hundreds of comments on every post. But every comment does need to be read, and some definitely necessitate a reply. It’s especially disheartening when you see someone ask the blogger a question, but they haven’t gotten a reply. It makes me not want to comment.

  • Nikki

    I have another reason they should answer emails … to shut people like me up!! I’m one of those annoying people who will continue to email until I get an answer. If they really want to lessen their email workload, they should answer the first time I send a question and thus lessen their inbox by another 9 emails from me 🙂

    • Alli

      Hahaha, I’m totally like that too. I annoy people until they answer me…or block me! :-p

  • Jennifer Wagner

    I completely agree. In fact, I am more apt to answer emails from other bloggers than anyone else. Even if they are asking for a link exchange, which I never do, I always respond .

  • Michele McGraw

    I try real hard to reply, but I often do the “I’ll reply later” and then it gets lost in my inbox. But I do periodically go through my inbox and reply to all those that got lost in the shuffle. I just say, “sorry I didn’t reply earlier…” and move on. That is what I’m doing today which is why I’ll be responding to all the BWE blog posts that have been put up in the last few weeks because they are sitting in my inbox waiting for me to read.

    I have also just installed Outlook 2011 for Mac (I used to be an avid Outlook user when I was on Windows) and I’m working on creating a color coding system for my inbox. I hate Apple Mail because it’s not good for helping me prioritize. Figuring out a good system is half the battle.

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