Your website is only one way you present your professional “face” to the world. Your email address is another that many freelancers may not think about. While “catsrulz87(at)hotmail(dot)com” is okay for your family and friends, it’ll raise eyebrows with your prospects and clients.
And what about using Gmail or Outlook? Can you use that or do you need to use your own custom domain address?
All good questions. There are many ways and reasons to choose a professional-looking email address, so let’s dig in.
Professional email address ideas
Start with your name
The first place to start is with your name. This may be difficult unless your name is uncommon or unique, but it’s a good starting point.
You can also add in some special characters which can help you get your desired name, such as underscores (_), periods (.), and dashes (-).
Combine your name with a profession, city, or degree
Your personal address may contain your personal likes, dislikes, favorite baseball team or food, but your business one should not. You could, however, add in your city, profession, or degree to make it memorable.
Using special purpose email addresses can be a great way to track emails and also hide your main email address (since spammers will often look on websites for addresses to spam).
For example, use hello(at)domain(dot)com on your Contact page.
Other examples include:
If you choose this option, remember to forward the emails to your main address so they’re not lost.
Using your own domain versus an online service
So far we’ve covered ideas for part of your professional email address. Let’s look at the second part, the domain.
Can I Use Gmail or Outlook?
In earlier days of the internet, using an online service like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! mail were frowned upon as it didn’t really look professional to clients (even though there weren’t many options for email providers back then).
Today, however, having a @gmail.com or @outlook.com address isn’t as “bad” as it used to be. Ideally, you’ll use the domain of your website, since that’s your branding face for your clients.
Why you should use your custom domain
- You’ll have a cleaner and more memorable email address. Because there are no other addresses on your domain, you are able to get the exact one you want. It’s easier to communicate to prospects and clients and it’s easier for them to remember.
- You’re not tied to an ISP or email provider. Websites and email addresses are dynamic entities that you can move from ISPs or web hosts, so it’s more challenging to notify everyone when you move it. “Hi everyone, please send all mail to me(at)domain(dot)com instead of me(at)aol(dot)com.” There will always be someone you forgot about, a prospect you spoke to last year that you didn’t include on your contact list that will finally want to work with you, only they can’t get in touch with you anymore.
- You emphasize your branding. You’ll reinforce your brand with every email you send to prospects and clients.
- You’ll avoid spam filters more often. Many corporate email filters screen out online email providers like Gmail and Outlook, but your domain email should make it through every time.
- You need one to send an email newsletter. No matter which provider you use (MailChimp, ConvertKit, Get Response, etc.), they require a domain-branded email as the “From:” address.
- It looks like you’re running an actual business. A domain-branded email address demonstrates your legitimacy as a business. Prospects and clients will have more confidence and trust in you because it gives a better impression when you reply with it.
Options to avoid when creating your professional email address
As you go through the options for your email address, there are a few things you should avoid, as they may complicate your communications and generally make life difficult.
- Long email formats: If your first and last name are short (Jim Kay), then using firstlastname(at)domain(dot)com is easy (jimkay(at)domain(dot)com). If your name is long (Jonathan Gardenhouse), then you may want to consider using a different option (like jgardenhouse(at)domain(dot)com).
- Numbers: Adding numbers to your address make it difficult to say out loud, as people may wonder if it’s the numeral (4) or if it’s spelled out (four).
- Identifying information: Adding information like your birth year, middle initial, or anything else similar can be useful to create a unique email address, however it doesn’t look as professional as it could. Plus, you may unwittingly be giving out information that hackers and other black hat online criminals can use to hack into your online accounts since this information is often used to verify your information.
- Nicknames: Shortening Jonathan to Jon or Matthew to Matt is fine, but Sparky or Tiny aren’t.
- Strange prefixes: This usually happens on social media sites where your preferred username is unavailable, but try to avoid adding prefixes to your email address as it looks strange and may be hard to pronounce. For example, “TheJuliaBorgini” or “ItsJuliaBorgini.”
You may spend a lot of time thinking about your business email address, but you may not be thinking about it from a branding perspective. A professional email address speaks for your business when you’re not ‘actually’ speaking, presenting your freelance writing business as a trusted partner for your clients.
It can be a challenge to choose just the right one, so we hope these tips help you the next time you set up a business website or address for your next email marketing campaign.
Have any cautionary tales of when your email address did you wrong? Share in the comments and we’ll commiserate with you.