With the variety of free email services available today making any number of accounts is easy. What we may not consider at first when doing so, however, are a few factors that work in subtle ways.
Is it easy to tell someone?
Particularly if you’re in business or do a lot of networking, it’s surprising at first how many times you may find yourself telling someone your email address verbally (or over the phone). Hey, “prettybutterfly0678” might sound like a cute name, but it’s probably not how you want to represent yourself in that setting and isn’t always easy to convey.
- Try to avoid using numbers or inside joke names that others won’t know how to spell without you arduously doing so for them each time.
- Whenever possible, keep it short.
- Pay attention to the domain suffix as well; an otherwise ideal email address can be complicated by a domain that is complicated or is unclear when said over the phone.
A good example of that last point is Microsoft’s Live mail. I had a Live account for awhile, but found that “live” rhymes with too many things and it became confusing in phone calls. Not a big deal the first couple times, but if you find yourself correcting people or having to spell it out too many times it will become bothersome. Their new Outlook.com email, on the other hand, kind of solves that issue. If you say “email@example.com” the likelihood someone will misspell that is small.
A humorous aside: when Gmail was new and many had not heard of it yet and I would tell people my email address, some made a perplexed face thinking the “G” stood for gangsta. When I would tell them it was Google they’d reply with a chuckle and a resolute “Oh!”
Acquiring Your Own Domain Email
A popular piece of advice that’s been given for a long time is to use an email tied to a domain you own rather than a free email service because it looks more professional. In other words, “firstname.lastname@example.org” looks better than “email@example.com”. While in many circumstances this is still true, it’s starting to matter less and less with the surge of popularity of free email services.
The one advantage to making your email at your own domain is that you’ll never run into an issue where the “perfect” username is taken.
Consolidating Your Email
If you’ve had an old address for many years and don’t want to transition everything over, or if you’ve got multiple accounts for different purposes, checking all of them can be a chore. Traditionally unless you used applications like Outlook or Thunderbird there was no simple way to catch them all at once.
Many free email providers now offer this (including Gmail and Outlook.com). You can, for instance, set it up so that your Gmail account checks up to 5 other email accounts via pop and funnels them into the same inbox. The advantage of doing this versus simple email forwarding is that this way you can send emails as the other addresses from within Gmail, and no one will know the difference. (You can also create filters to take mail to certain addresses and put it in folders so your actual inbox is bloated.)
If you’ve got a smartphone, this also means you can use one app for email and still be checking multiple accounts, which can save battery life.