If it’s an email, it has got to be from Gmail. 
I am a huge Gmail fan. I have five Gmail accounts, each for a different purpose. In fact, my official email id that sports this domain (kaziurooj [at] freelancewriterurooj [dot] com) is also on Gmail.

I don’t need to justify my choice – I am sure almost all freelance writers reading this share my preference. 

In this post I’ll share five simple Gmail tricks that will improve your productivity as a freelancer. All five tricks are very popular and you might know one, two or all of them. I still hope you will be able to take something away from this post.

Trick #1: You Forgot to Attach

Had the “Oops!” moment yet? You send an email to your client that is intended to contain the completed documents. After the Send button’s been hit you realize you forgot to attach the files and an embarrassing “Sorry, forgot to attach the files” email follows. 

Worse scenario: you don’t realize you haven’t attached the files and the client gets back to you with a “Where are the files? There was nothing attached” email. Embarrassment x 5.

All you have to do to ensure you never forgot to attach the files is type in “I have attached” in your email’s body. 

So, for instance, if I am submitting next month’s quota of five blog posts to a client, I’d write “Hi Sandra, I have attached the five blog posts for December….”. Now, if I forget to attach those blog posts and click Send, Gmail will give a warning that says: “Did you mean to attach files? You wrote “I have attached” in your message, but there are no files attached. Send anyway?”. See the screenshot below:

Trick #2: Innumerable Email IDs 

Most freelance writers sign up for and subscribe to several newsletters, websites, and online events. Giving your email address liberally is a necessity if you want great information to reach you from the various corners of the internet every single day. However, this opens up several inroads for spam.

The solution? A unique email address for each subscription! One email address on Gmail equals to an infinite number of email addresses. How?

The “+” character can be used to generate infinite number of email addresses. For example, if my email address is xyz@gmail.com, then emails to xyz+new@gmail.com, xyz+abscdiienfldsl@gmail.com, xyz+business@gmail.com, etc. will all land in my inbox. You can add anything after the + sign and still receive emails in your inbox.

I use this feature whenever I subscribe to a freelance writing newsletter, or sign up for an event or just about any mailing list. 

So, if I sign up for Marketo’s mailing list, I’ll enter my email address as kaziurooj+marketo@gmail.com. Now, if I start receiving spam in my gmail inbox and the “to” address is kaziurooj+marketo@gmail.com, I’ll know that the Marketo mailing list has been compromised, and immediately unsubscribe.

How would you use this feature?

Trick #3: Organize The Heck Out of Your Inbox

Labels are the best way to keep a freelance writer’s inbox organized. They are essentially markers that you can use to filter and segregate your emails in different folders.

So, if you want to keep all updates from LinkedIn in one folder, because you don’t want these updates overwhelming your inbox or wish to keep updates from a website you’ve subscribed to in another folder, labels are the way to go. 

If you don’t already use labels in Gmail, this support page can help you (read each of the sub-sections under organizing  your mail): Organizing Your Gmail Inbox. 

Trick #4: Vacation Responder

Always keep your clients, and prospective clients, informed if you’d be unavailable for more than two days. 

The vacation responder feature can be accessed by clicking on the gear-shaped button on the top right of your gmail mailbox > Settings > Scroll down > Vacation responder > Turn vacation responder on. In the text box below add in text that informs those who contact you how long you’ll be away and how they can contact you if there’s an emergency.

I find the vacation responder very helpful. For instance, I will be taking my annual 10-day vacation in December. 

If someone visits my website and decides to hire me to write content for their business, shoots me an email while I am away on my vacation, they’ll know when to expect a response if I’ve set up an auto-responder. 

However, if there’s no responder set up, it looks really unprofessional (and I might lose that client) if I get in touch with them 10 days after their email.

Trick #5: Desktop Notifications

Most freelance writers complain of a compulsion to check their emails every 5 minutes – or worse. This compulsion affects your productivity. 

There was a time, not very long ago, when the first thing I used to do every morning was check my email – my smartphone used to be right by my side all night. Not any longer.

So, this feature is really helpful for those freelance writers who share my compulsion for email checking. 

Here’s how you set it up: Gear-shaped button > settings > scroll down > Desktop notifications > Chat notifications on. Now every email you receive in your inbox will show up as a notification, irrespective of what you are doing at that point in time. 

If you know that you’ll receive a notification whenever an email’s received it will drastically reduce your compulsion to check your email and will help you concentrate better on the task at hand.

There are several more productivity enhancement tricks in Gmail that freelance writers can use. I might do another follow up post that covers a few more of these tricks.

What is your favorite Gmail trick? Share with us by commenting below.

Share, tweet and spread the word. Also, subscribe to this blog's feed (the subscription option’s given in the sidebar) to receive an update when I add another post.

Author: Urooj Kazi is a freelance business writer. To hire her to write content for your business, visit this website's Contact Urooj page.



11/24/2012 03:34

Awesome as usual. However, I'd like to point out that the `label' function of Gmail is not working efficiently for the past few weeks. If I click on a label in the sidebar, Gmail should sort out only those mails that are tagged with that particular label and the label should be visible as well. For the past few weeks I have noticed that mails that are not labelled show up while clicking on the label in the sidebar.

You can also include some advanced features like forwarding specific emails (using the filter facility) to a particular Gmail id to another email id. Suppose I have been extensively using darling.parsi.love@gmail.com for exchanging mails with my loved one (shhhh! do not disclose this to my wife). It is obvious that I will not use this email id for business purposes. However, my smartphone is set for this particular email id. So I just set a filter for parsi.writer@gmail.com to forward specific emails sent to it to darling.parsi.love@gmail.com

11/24/2012 08:35

Hi Parsi,

Thank you. :)

Labels have been working perfectly fine for me. Something awry with your settings perhaps?

That's a nice feature you've shared. Considering I have five different gmail ids for five different purposes, I am sure I'd find it very useful.

As for my comments on your email id choice, I'll let you know on LinkedIn. :)

11/24/2012 06:43

A very interesting and useful good article. Thanks for the tips.

11/24/2012 08:13

I'm glad you found it useful!

Rick Myers
11/24/2012 16:28

Hi Urooj,
I'm sorry to bombard everyone with my dumb questions but the internet is relatively new to me and there's a lot I do not know.
Is G-Mail the same thing as Yahoo! e-mail? I have had one e-mail address for around 4-years and I use it for everything. Is this advisable or should I diversify and have more than one account? Let me know what you think, as you always seem to have a handle on all-things freelancing.
Thanks, Urooj

11/25/2012 08:52

Hi Rick!

Nice to converse with you off LinkedIn. :)

Your questions are not dumb. The fact that you aren't afraid to ask them makes you far smarter than most of us.

Gmail is the same thing as Yahoo email - both are used to send emails. They are like Fedex and DHL - I could send you a courier via either.

However, I'd strongly suggest you switch to Gmail - it's a lot cleaner, faster and better overall.

And, yes, you should have more than one email. Reserve one for business purposes alone - to interact with clients. The other one could be used for personal uses or when signing up for newsletters etc.

Also, when you choose your username, i.e. the xyz in xyz@gmail.com, do not be afraid to use your name. Your current one makes me smile, but it doesn't sound too professional.

Hope this helps!

Best regards,

Rick Myers
11/25/2012 17:18

Hi Urooj,
Point taken and I will try to find my way to Gmail and create a new email account. I'd been thinking lately that my current email address is a bit nonsensical for business purposes and that a change to something less absurd might be a pragmatic move. Believe it or not, there are some people I know that my current address makes perfect sense to. A friend I hadn't been in contact with for 35 years, saw said address on a social network site and knew exactly who he'd soon happily be reunited with. I will keep that address but will follow your good advice and get an adult address enacted ;)
Thanks again, Urooj. I am glad you posted your website, as I'm sure it will be most helpful in my quest to return to freelancing.
Take care,

11/25/2012 02:23

I can't believe I didn't know about #1, #2 and #5 even though I've been using Gmail since forever... Thanks for sharing these tips, Urooj. Sharing them with my twitter followers :)

11/25/2012 08:53

Hi Ali!

Thanks for commenting and sharing. Really glad you found 60% of the post useful. :)

Kathi Bloy
11/25/2012 05:07

I don't have Gmail, but am thinking I should. Sounds awesome! I use Outlook folders with my other email accounts, but having labels and those other features too makes Gmail sound like a great way to go. Thanks for the great tips!

11/25/2012 08:56

Hi Kathy,

I am a fan of Outlook too, but Gmail by itself is awesome. For instance, you can actually unsend an email in Gmail!

I completely recommend a Gmail account, Kathy. Have a great day!

Gayatri Rao
11/25/2012 08:39

Hi, Urooj,
Pls also mention in which browser all these work cos I find that the desktop notifications don't work on Firefox. It says I have to upgrade to Google Chrome. I don't know about Internet Explorer since I use only Chrome and Firefox. But I do have to mention that all the above information is very useful.

11/25/2012 09:02

Hi Gayatri,

I had no idea that desktop notifications didn't work in Firefox. Thanks for pointing it out.

I have Firefox installed, but use Chrome for all purposes. I am sure there are some extensions that Firefox users can install to get notifications working. (http://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/793304)

Best regards,

11/26/2012 02:00

Hey Urooj, interesting post!

I use #3 and #5. And regarding the first one, I just happened to type 'I have attached' in one email back when I was looking for work & forgot to attach! But thankfully, this pop-up helped me then. Now I know it's an automated Gmail response :)
I've also recently started using filters in Gmail. God bless the guys who thought about this!

By the way, your post reminds me of the essential fact of life: We may be doing a particular thing every day, but hardly do we know its importance, unless prompted by someone else!

11/27/2012 22:03

Hi Rehana,

Nice to 'see' you here! :)

That was exactly how I learned about "I have attached" too! I am glad for filters too - my inbox would have been a dreadful mess otherwise.

11/27/2012 08:58


Great article -- I definitely learned some things!

I have been using Gmail to manage the kim@kimbookless.com webmail account that is associated with my professional website. It was working fine and was much better than trying to use webmail directly. For some reason it simply stopped working -- messages weren't reaching me. My web hosting company said it was a Google problem and suggested I use Thunderbird instead of Gmail to manage my webmail account. I'm doing that, but I don't like Thunderbird much more than webmail.

Do you know if it's possible to get someone at Google to help with Gmail problems? I'm guessing not, but I thought I'd ask!

Thanks so much.


11/27/2012 23:35

Hi Kim,

In my case, I registered my domain using Google apps, so my kaziurooj@freelancewriterurooj.com email is on Gmail by default - which is how I wanted it.

The media house I used to work full-time for had a webmail account and I disliked it. It was ugly and inconvenient. I added it to my Gmail account and it worked perfectly. No issue ever.

It isn't possible to get someone at Google to answer your questions - they'll direct you to their help section (http://support.google.com/mail/) or their forum (http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!forum/gmail). Check if you can find the solution on either of these.

I wouldn't mind taking a peek and tinkering with your Gmail account to see if there's any troubleshooting I can do, if the above two resources don't help. Just tweet.


11/28/2012 08:14

Thanks so much, Urooj. I might take you up on your offer! I don't know how many inquiries and client messages I might have lost as a result of the Gmail problem and I'm hesitant to get back into it. I don't like Thunderbird but it does seem to be working ok. It's a nuisance to check an extra email account, though.

11/27/2012 12:31

The trick with the "+" also works with periods, sometimes easier to throw in than the plus sign. Nice tips

11/27/2012 23:39

Hi Dustin,

Glad you liked the tips.

From what I've read and experienced, periods are ignored by Gmail. So, kazi.urooj@gmail.com is the same as kaziurooj@gmail.com.

The same is not true for +, however, as gmail ignores "all" that comes after the + and before the @. So, kazi+urooj@gmail.com is not the same as kaziurooj@gmail.com.

Hope I made sense. :)


11/28/2012 14:18

Helpful. Thanks. #1 didn't work for me, though.

11/29/2012 08:41

thanks for the great article! I use gmail as well for my freelance email and I learned some new things for sure that I can use to be more efficient and effective. I hope you are gathering all this great information for your upcoming book :)

Question: I use a gmail account as my freelance writing contact address. I keep hearing in the writing world that having a "regular" account looks unprofesh. Right now, as I'm "up and coming" getting a xyz@XYZ.com is an expense I'd like to put on the backburner.

As someone who uses gmail and seems to be working regularly, what's your take?


11/29/2012 08:56

Hi Helen,

You are psychic! How do you know about my plans to write a book?

To answer your question: I personally don't think having a "regular" email account looks unprofessional. If you've taken a look around my site, you'll see that I have given a @gmail.com address as my contact email.

I have a xyz@xyz.com email address, but I feel it's too long. Besides, normal gmail addresses are easier to remember. So, don't worry about it.

11/29/2012 09:27

You generously offered to help me with my gmail problem so I wanted to return the favor. I'm a publishing consultant and would be happy to talk with you about your upcoming book! More info here: www.kimbookless.com.

02/27/2013 02:30

Hey, First tip you provided is very very helpful for me. Many of the time i forget to attach file now i am not worry because of the tip you provided.
Thanks and keep sharing such type of wonderful tricks and tips.

05/22/2013 09:53

The first holiday is the hardest. After that you learn when to go, where to go with good wifi coverage, or whether to arrange someone to cover, or whether it’s ok to take a complete break.
I like to go to Asia because it’s so cheap there. It’s actually cheaper to live there in a hotel than it is back at home. So if I stay for long enough and rent out my apartment in the UK I actually save money by being on holiday!
I’ve found the best time to go on vacation for a freelancer is between December and February. Things naturally slow down a bit then.

06/17/2013 01:28

Gmail is the most user friendly mail provider according to me and this has many functions that give the mail users wide options. The introduction of Gmail has minimized the time period for sending a mail. The simplicity of functions makes Gmail more popular to common users than other mail providers. This write up gives great description about Gmail and it was very informative. Good job!

06/24/2013 04:43

This article is just perfect, I read it just is not coming off, thanks to the author for his efforts. Then set out relevant and interesting information in a language that is understandable to all, despite the complexity of the open issues. The author just has specialized education on the subject, and certainly a professional in this field.

07/22/2013 02:57

Already gmail presents lot of facilities for their users. Now those facilities offered in this website is really super and its all bonus for them.

08/20/2013 01:30

Wow! Really rocking. I can ever seen like this benefits provided in this list before anywhere. Hands off to the admin.

09/12/2013 04:05

In this enter I’ll moiety five elementary Gmail knacks that determination rectify your productivity as a freelancer. Sum five jests are mere vogue besides you ability comprehend person, pair or sum of them.

09/15/2013 22:10

I agree with the above that this post will make all freelance writers to do their work very easy manner.

10/08/2013 14:13

This is such a wonderful resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing web sites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It?s the old what goes around comes around routine. My best wishes.


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12/09/2013 03:07

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