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A Word About Blog Email Management


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?

Is Email Taking Over Your Life?


The first thing I do every morning is answer my email. During the day, I check my email multiple times. Before I go to bed? Yep, email. One more time. Just in case.

Answering emails is a part of the territory if you’re a professional blogger, or really any kind of online professional. Sometime, though, I think I overdo it. Do I really need to check my email so often.

I started thinking about how often I check my email because I read an article on Mashable called “The Truth About Email” and was surprised at the one of the stats they posted – 19% of people surveyed check their emails while in bed. That number jumps to 31% among 18- to 34-year-olds.

I was surprised…but I’ve done it. There are nights when I’ll work while sitting in bed before I go to sleep and mornings when I’ll do some work from bed while having a cup of coffee.

My theory is that this number is so high because so many people are starting their own blogs. Even before quitting their day jobs, many are publishing content online, either as a hobby or side job to make a little extra money. It would be interesting to do another poll, this time just with bloggers, both full and part time. I’m willing to bet that email in bed is even more common among bloggers!

Although it is a task that we have to do is we want any kind of success, email can easily take up way too much time. I’m a guilty part when it comes to this, since I easily click on my email to check it 20+ times a day. More if I’m doing a project I find boring, unfortunately.

Confessional: The other day, I was answering a rather long email, and in the middle of doing it, I opened a new window to check my email. That’s right; I checked my email while I was answering an email.

I know some people limit the number of times per day they check their email. I’ve found that it doesn’t work for me to do that to myself. I just get panic-y that I’m going to miss an important email or an email that will make my job easier. If it works for you to say, “I will only check my email at 8 AM and 5 PM every day, more power to you. If that doesn’t work for you like it doesn’t work for me, here are a few tips you can use:

  • Create a folder called “need to answer.” If something isn’t pressing but does demand a reply, put it in folder and set aside time at the end of the day (preferably before you get into bed!) to answer these emails. It’s more efficient than answering emails one at a time as you receive them during the day and also helps you keep need-to-answer emails separate from other emails you want to save, like email newsletters.
  • Forward all emails to a single address. You might have different emails for different blogs, a personal email for friends, etc. I know I do. Forward them all to a single address that you can check during the day. Just make sure you answer emails from the correct account!
  • Set up your cell to make a noise when you get an email, if you have a net-friendly phone. I think there are some desktop clients that do the same thing, essentially – ping when you have a new email. Of course, if you get hundreds every day, that’s not going to work, but if you get more like a dozen every day, this saves you from going through the log in process even though you don’t have any new messages.

My last bit of advice? Use a separate email for signing up for things like contests and newsletters and such – anything that might put you on a spam list. That way, you aren’t checking non-necessary crap during the day – you can just sort through that when you have time to pull out the legitimate emails. Keep a separate email address for your blog or work, because those are the emails that really matter and need the quickest answers.

Ok, I gave my email tips – your turn! How do you keep email from taking over your life?

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