Blogging 101: How do you handle incoming e-mails?

First off, I have to apologize for posting this week’s Blogger behind the Blog series a day late. I had a prior commitment yesterday, so the series got postponed one day. Normally, the series will run every Wednesday.

As my blog grows, I am learning a lot along the way, but I realized a long time ago that to have friends in the blogger world is a really important part of being a blogger. It helps to talk to someone who understands your “world” as a blogger. I have not personally talked to all of these ladies, but I consider them my blogging friends.  I look up to each of them. I appreciate their opinions, and their time is VERY valuable. I know how much work it is to be a blogger, and I want you all to know how amazing these ladies are to agree to be part of a weekly series for 10 weeks in a row. I am very grateful.

If you are checking out this series for the first time today, you should check out the first two weeks of blogging tips.
Week 1: How do you grow your blog?
Week 2:  How do you keep up with your amazing blogs?

Today’s question:
How do you handle all the e-mails that come to you each day. 


Shelley from House of Smiths
Emails, Emails, Emails. gah!
I could spend all hours of the day answering emails… in fact, that’s kind of what I do! :) Emails are part of the job. Heck! Emails ARE the job. Posting, doing projects, and get-togethers are just all the build-up that LEADS to the emails. LOL.
At first emails were overwhelming, intimidating and the fact that I couldn’t clear my inbox up each night sent me into a frenzy. (Me <<<< completely type A, OCD when it comes to work related issues) But then I started looking at emails differently. I started seeing them as a POSITIVE thing. Now for me, emails are a GOOD sign! It means that our site is flourishing and that people want to contact us for one reason or another. It means that we’re making connections and getting peoples attention. So how do I handle my emails? Here are a few tips.
#1. Get rid of the fluff.
Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe. If you don’t visit a company at LEAST once a week… then STOP getting their emails! There’s nothing worse then opening your inbox and having to go through gobs of trash mail, promos and “special offers” that you’re never going to act on, just to get to the important stuff. It wastes your time and can suck you in. I love a sale or promotion just as much as the next girl, but 90% of the time I click over… brows around for too long and never buy. All time that I could have spent answering more important emails.
#2. Answer emails as they come in.
I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve checked my mail on my iphone, read through a few current emails, and then have totally forgotten to go back and reply to them, because they end up getting pushed down in my inbox with all of my other “already read” mail.
This is particularly not good when dealing with potential advertisers or brands who are wanting to work with you. It doesn’t send a good message, and although everyone isn’t a great fit for our blog, I try to at least let them know up front and quickly, so that they’re not waiting around for a response.
Same goes with readers and their questions. I try to answer ALL of my readers FIRST, because they are what matters MOST! If they are taking the time to check out my blog and become avid readers and followers, it’s the LEAST I can do!
#3. Categorize your mail.
I can’t stress this ENOUGH! I have over 65 categories for mail in my inbox. This helps me to weed out all the unnecessary mail sitting in my inbox which = less stress for me every time I sit down to answer emails. Once I respond to something that I know I don’t need to keep, I automatically delete it. If I DO need to keep the email for further reference or because I know it’s a conversation that will keep going, then I bank it in it’s individual category.
This works WONDERS, really helps me to stay organized, and allows me to access conversations and information that I need quickly in the future.
#4. Close your email when you’re NOT working on it.
This is probably my MOST important tip. When I’m working on a post, designing something for my shop, or trying to accomplish any other task online that needs my FULL attention, I NEVER leave my email open. If I do, it never ceases to pull me RIGHT in. Maybe it’s just me, but when I see that tiny number in parenthesis sitting annoyingly next to the word “inbox” in my email tab, I can’t help but jump over and see what those emails are all about… and then tip #2 comes in… and it’s all over.LOL. Try to stay focused on your task at hand, and keep the “answering emails part of your business” for a separate time of the day.
Even though email is a HUGE part of blogging it CAN be contained. Don’t be afraid to supply people with a simple link to your FAQ page on your blog or send out an email notification that automatically tells people that “you care and want to answer their email, but it may take a few days”. I think that readers, businesses, and other people inquiring something from you will appreciate the response and find you considerate of not only their time, but YOUR time as well.

Marion from Miss Mustard Seed
One of the things I love most about having a blog is connecting with other women, so I am very attentive to my e-mail inbox.  I have my blog comments e-mailed there as well and I do my best to answer questions and respond to comments.  Some days it gets overwhelming and I think, “I can’t keep doing this.”  But, I can hardly stand the thought of just deleting them or not looking at them at all, so I am going to respond to them until I absolutely can’t anymore.  Now, don’t go sending me a bunch of e-mail just because I said that!

Email – the blessing and the curse.  As a blogger, you get a ton of emails in your inbox.  Everyday you wade through comments, offers, junk mail, questions and overall bloggy related questions.  It can get overwhelming.  For me personally, I am actually really anal about my email.  I try my very hardest to have less than 20 emails left in my inbox every evening.  If I have more than that I am very overwhelmed and feel stressed.  I try to have the mantra never put off till tomorrow what I can do today. If the email requires more than I care to type I sometimes utilize the voice recorder option on my computer and then attach the file to the email.  People are surprised to actually get my voice recording and, for me, it communicates better than email.  If an email requires a response then I do respond.  If it is an offer I don’t feel good about I thank them for thinking of me but politely decline.  I think it is really important for future advertising options to always answer them even if it isn’t a fit.  You never now when it might fit or they may have another offer.  Don’t just delete those…learn the fine art of a polite, “no thank you,” it will pay off in the long run. I also have email on my smart phone.  That helps to attack my inbox when I am waiting in the carpool line or doctor’s office as well.  I set aside time every morning and evening for email and always will sporadically look at it during the day.  I think the important thing is to have a plan for your email.  Set aside a little time each day to take care of your inbox and it won’t overtake you.

Mandi from Vintage Revivals

This question really hit home for me.  This is where the majority of my blogger guilt comes from.  When I started blogging up until my blog was quite a few months old I not only responed to every email but I would go and visit every commenters blog and leave comments there.  I wish that I could still do this!! Vintage Revivals has grown really fast and I try SO hard to respond to emails but sometimes I just can’t get to them.  When life at home is busy and something has to give it is usually this.  I love my readers so so much and would love to not only email them back but sit on the phone for hours and chat.  I also think that some things are a higher priority than others.  If I get an email about Addiction that is my first priority to respond.  Then comes questions about projects (unless the question is already answered in the post) then comes questions about blogging.  I usually spend one evening every other week responding to emails that I havent had the chance to get back to yet and replying to comments.  I am really excited to see what the other bloggers say because this is a huge problem that I would love to figure out a better solution to.  I almost always have a minute to respond if someone tweets me a question or posts in on the VR Fan Page.  Plus, its so much easier to have a conversation and others can chime in. So I am going to work harder on directing questions over there.

Love your guts
Mandi



Funky Junk Interiors

Donna from Funky Junk
Can you spell GUILT? :) I answer questions first and after that, I do what I can. If we’re talking about email notifications from blog posts, I’ll address every comment with some posts, but other times it’s hit and miss due to family priorities.  To make up for it, I encourage Facebook and Twitter interactions which are AWESOME communication tools.

Jamielyn from I heart Nap Time

Checking my e-mails is definitely a on-going task. Usually the first thing I do when I open my e-mail is go through and delete anything that looks spammy, newsletters, etc. I do try really hard to respond to every e-mail that comes in as an advertising inquiry or a reader with a question. A lot of times I’ll get mass e-mails and I tend to skip over those ones. I feel like if someone is taking the time to e-mail me personally, I will e-mail them back. Readers e-mails are by FAR my favorite e-mails to get… and you better believe I have a folder for “happy” e-mails to go back and read when a “not-so-happy” e-mail or comment comes through. :) The best advice I can give is to keep on top of your e-mail. Make folders and organize your e-mails as they come in. I made the mistake of not doing this for the first year and now I have thousands of unorganized e-mails. That’s my two cents… I’m definitely not perfect, but if I can get my e-mail to a big fat ZERO before bed at night… I sleep a whole lot better! ;)  


Tauni, a communications professional from Snap.

How do you handle all the e-mails that come to you each day?

There’s nothing more gratifying to me than an empty inbox. I regularly receive 2-300 emails each day. It’s a lot to process and anyone who’s worked with me knows that if I don’t take care of it right when I receive it, there’s a chance it may get buried.

I have become more efficient by scheduling specific time to take care of email (morning, after lunch and evening) and sticking to the four D’s (wish I could take credit for this one, but I learned it from my friends at Mircrosoft).
  • Delete it
  • Do it
  • Delegate it
  • Defer it

Next week’s question: 
How do you make money blogging?


Stay tuned every Wednesday for more Blogging 101 discussions!

Comments

  1. 1

    Thanks for doing this Brooke! It's fun to hear all of those personal insights!

  2. 2

    Thank you for creating this series! It is so helpful! :)

  3. 3

    I can't wait for next week! I will be very interested to know if people really make money and how they do it! I only blog for fun, but love the series you are doing.
    http://www.shabbytochicqueencreek.blogspot.com

  4. 4

    I am loving this series Brooke! Lots of good info for me! Thanks so much!!

  5. 5

    These tips are wonderful; thank you for hosting this series!
    E-mail likes to play a funny game with me. None comes when I'm focused at the computer and ready to answer, but as soon as I step away, they all come at once.
    oh technology..

  6. 6

    It's been fun reading the other responses to these questions!

    Email is seriously my downfall these days and I used to be so good…It's looking like I may need Shelley to give me some good direction!

  7. 7

    Thanks for this! I have to say I almost fell over in SHOCK the other day when I had emailed a BIG NAME BLOG (maybe HOS?) with a minor question about a stencil used in a project, I had diligently searched for the answer first and when I couldn't find it I resorted to e-mailing NEVER expecting a response. I GOT ONE! And quickly and politely. It changed my view on bloggers :) I appreciate the time that it took. Thanks for all you do!

  8. 8

    I love this blogging series you have! I'm a fairly new blogger & follower ….I can use all the help, tips, suggestions I can get :) Thank you!

  9. 9
    Classy Clutter says:

    I love this segment of Blogger behind the blog. Ahwwwsome! This was a great topic!

    Thanks so much for commenting on our blog today! Not gonna lie, it was cool seeing "Brooke from All Things Thrifty" in my inbox this morning!

    XOXO, Mallory @ Classy Clutter

  10. 10
    prateek_sethi says:
  11. 11

    If there was just some way to log into one account that lets you have seperate addresses for each type of correspondance: blog comments, advertising, family, etc. with that one account, that way it's not all coming into one huge inbox and you never know what that mysterious number in parenthesis means. And you dont have to go log in and out of all your 5 different email addresses. It'd just be nice to see it all automatically organized on one screen. Maybe its already out there, i dont know, there's just so much information everywhere to sift through… I'm already too busy trying to sift through my email to look. HA!

  12. 12

    First of all, let me say that I love your blog. My sister just told me about this series and I am learning soooo much from it already. Thank you for taking the time to do this series.

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