Most Designers Leave a Horrible Impression with This One Mistake
When a prospective client is looking to hire a graphic designer, they’re not just looking at you. They’re looking at a handful of designers. The amount of time he or she may spend reviewing what you have to offer could be as little as 10 seconds. In that time, they are judging the book by its cover. Only once you’ve impressed them upon first sight will they continue to look into inquiring about your services.
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Needless to say, first impressions are important. You want to display yourself as a professional, and nothing screams “I am not a professional” like having an email address from a free carrier.
Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, AIM, NetZero, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, or any address that comes that comes with your ISP subscription.
For personal use? Sure. I use Hotmail myself for personal emails and various other online-related tasks that have nothing to do with business.
For business? Absolutely not. Using a free email carrier for business purposes is like showing up to a wedding in jeans and a t shirt.
Why does this matter?
When someone hires a freelance graphic designer, they’re hiring a businessperson. A businessperson is someone who invests in themselves. When you reach out to a client from a Hotmail address, you’re backhandedly communicating that you do not invest in yourself. Why should someone invest in you when you don’t even want to invest in you?
In addition to the unprofessional stigma attached to free carriers, it also suggests that you do not care about your image. This is especially damning for graphic designers because appearance is what we do. We make things look nice and visually-appealing, and this requires a lot of attention to detail. When your website is hosted on Weebly and your email address has @yahoo.com attached to it, you’re broadcasting either being okay with a second-rate appearance, or not paying enough attention to the details. These details matter, and you are going to be judged on them.
An example of a professional email address
Ideally, your email address should either be your first and last name, or just your first name, @your-own-domain-name.com.
For example, the email address I use for business purposes is email@example.com. Professional, to-the-point, obviously not free, and it even goes as far as telling the viewer exactly what I do in addition to promoting my business with every casual contact.
Don’t have a domain name? Get one. With companies like Google and GoDaddy offering domain names for as little as $0.99, there’s really no excuse not to have your own domain name in the year 2015 if you’re a working professional and wish to be perceived as such. Even if your domain is only your first and last name .com. Would you want somebody else owning that domain name?
Even if you have no use for a website, there’s nothing wrong with leaving it blank and purchasing the domain simply for the sake of having a professional email address. Something as simple as Kevin@KevinsLogoDesigns.net speaks so much better about you than KSwag89@yahoo.com. Not only that, but a viewer will look at your email address and think, “Kevinslogodesigns.net, I wonder what his website looks like…” then proceed to view, where you can impress them and entice them to hire you even further.
If you don’t have a website, you can always arrange to have the domain name redirect to your profile page on your chosen freelancing platform. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, this is what I did when I was first starting out and didn’t yet have a website developed.
First impressions matter
Quick little anecdote.
I was walking home from the store last week when I saw a plumbing company’s van parked on the side of the road. The van was branded with the company’s logo, name, phone number, and a Yahoo email address. The first thoughts I immediately had were that these people are either…
1. Stuck in the year 2001 and do not realize the importance of their online presence, which would make hiring them slightly questionable, or…
2. Are not very tech-savy, in which case I’m not sure I would trust that they’re up-to-date on any kind of new technological advances in the plumbing industry that I may like to know about. Or…
3. They’re a really small operation of 1-3 people and don’t really need more than a free email account (and probably don’t even check it on a semi-regular basis,) in which case I would have to wonder if they’re resourceful enough a company to get the job done if I were ever making a hiring decision for a plumbing job.
All three of these assumptions could very well be wrong. This could just so happen to be the most innovative plumbing company in town. Those were my first impressions, though, and they didn’t speak very kindly of them.
Where to start
In order to have a professional email address, you’re going to need a domain name and hosting. Typically, you’ll pay for the domain name on a yearly basis and the hosting on a monthly basis. Popular providers that I know of are GoDaddy, HostGator, Bluehost and Google.
The provider I use is HawkHost and I couldn’t be happier with them. I don’t know what the competition is currently offering, but with HawkHost I pay $10 per year for the LogosByNick.com name and $5 per month for unlimited hosting and bandwidth for both my main website, my WordPress blog and my email accounts. Not to mention, the customer service is prompt and attentive. They once replied to a support request on a Saturday evening. Good customer service goes a very long way with me.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Do your homework and find out which provider has the best solution for your needs, and if you decide to go with HawkHost I would greatly appreciate doing so via my affiliate link.
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Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design.All stories by: Nick