How To Use Email

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I know right now you’re saying “DJ Zimmie, we love your articles about DJing but this doesn’t sound like it’s about DJing…”  Au contraire, mon frère!  Any successful DJ career is chock-full of email work.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to spend more time each week doing email work than actually DJing (laughs and cries at same time).  Any DJ making moves will tell you that they might easily receive 50-100 emails a day.  But regardless of how many emails you do or don’t receive a day, knowing what do with those emails and how to create new ones is key to your business, whatever that business may be.  Also, if your emails aren’t business-related, handling personal emails properly is really just the right thing to do and will make everyone pull their hair out less.


“But DJ Zimmie, WHY are you writing an article about email?”  Great question.  Despite email being one of the most common forms of personal and business communication for the last two decades, many people have absolutely no idea how to use it properly.  In this article I’ll discuss some common misconceptions about email as well as tips to use it properly and things to avoid.  Even if you’re not a DJ, using email properly can help grow your business or at least let people know you have the most basic levels of common human courtesy.
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Step One: Checking Your Email


Rule numero uno:  Check your email once a day.  Stop.  Read that again.  Check your email once a day. (at least) Do you have a phone?  Do you ever go a day without checking it?  JUST PRETEND THAT IT’S THE SAME THING!  Email is a form of communication.  If you checked your email as obsessively as you checked Facebook, I wouldn’t be writing this.  Even on Sundays, when I do zero work, I still skim email subject lines just in case there’s some kind of emergency.  There rarely is one and I usually don’t open any emails.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t see them and they won’t get answered first thing Monday.  (I don’t roll on Shabbas.)


Now that you’ve opened your Inbox, actually read each email.


Remember when you got your first email?  Holy shit.  You couldn’t believe the technology existed for your aunt to tell you about her cat from 3 states away AND enclose a photo of said cat.  You read each email like it was a love letter from a girl in 8th grade.  As you got more emails, you read them less and less until eventually you just skimmed them and barely responded.  If you did respond, it was one sentence and minimal effort.  (We’ll get to replying in just a minute.)


Why read each email?  Because someone took the time to write it and had a reason to do so.  Don’t read it like it’s the credits in a Marvel movie and you’re looking for funny names, actually read it.  Now comes the work…


(This is how I picture you acting when you see emails…)



Step Two: Replying To Emails


This is THE key part of this article.  You have to reply to emails.  I know, it’s hard to believe that other people are trying to get things done (Portland, I’m staring right at you), but, some of those people are waiting for your reply to advance their projects (and probably their lives).  It’s like someone said “Knock Knock”, you made eye contact and then just walked away.  They’re on hold until you come back and say “Who’s there?!”



DJS! There are people emailing you to praise you, to say hi, to ask questions.  These are your fans.  Some of these people may also get you work or move into positions of influence for your career.  Don’t be a dick.  Here’s how to reply to emails…


1.  Reply immediately.  If you had the time to read the email, you have time to reply.  If you’re even reading this article, chances are, you’re not getting the kind of emails that take require an hour-long response.  If you get those emails, you’re most likely a lawyer or someone important like that and you don’t suck at email in the first place (or else you’d be fired).


2.  A status update is better than nothing at all.  Do you require more information than you currently have to answer the questions in the email you just received?  That’s fine.  Just let the other person know.  “Hey Bob, I don’t know what time it starts.  Let me ask Julie and get right back to you.”  (Then email Julie and hope she doesn’t need to read this article.  See how this all works?)  “Hey Chuck, I’m out of town and don’t have access to the files until I get back.”  Great!  At least this keeps me from re-emailing you every few days like an antagonizing asshole because you suck at email.  Then I look like a douche because I actually follow up on things.


Zimmie Email Skeleton


3.  Reply to every question in the email.  You ever ask someone 5 things and they answer 2?  What the fuck is the point of that?  They always choose the important questions to not answer as well.  “Sounds good, what time do I start and what’s the pay?”  “Be there at 8, you start at 9.”  Bruh… I’m already getting too many emails, I don’t need to make this conversation longer.


4.  If your reply is going to more than one person, break one single email into parts for each person, thus eliminating extra emails.  “Julie, you go get the pizza.  Tim, you go get the vaseline.”  See how I don’t have to send 2 different emails AND each person can see what the other one is doing, just in case?  Genius.  (This one doesn’t get reciprocated often.)


5.  Write emails like an intelligent adult.  These aren’t text messages to club girls.  “Cool!  C U 4 sooooosh B4 da club!”  Use capitalization, punctuation and proper grammar.  If you see a squiggly red line under something, you’re probably spelling it wrong.  Also, don’t use fonts and colors that make me think I’m reading a children’s book.  12 point Helvetica is the Swiss Army Knife of fonts.  Also, nothing says IDGAF like a one sentence shitty reply via iPhone to a massive email thread about a project.  (If it’s an important email and you don’t want the “…sent from my iPhone” signature, either change the signature or if you can’t match it to your other account, wait until you get home to look more pro, if it can wait.)


lemonade stand comic sans web


Pro tip:  Most of the time, people can see what you’re doing, thanks to social media.  If someone is trying to reach you via email and you were “too busy” or “didn’t have your phone on you”, be sure they can’t hop on your Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / SnapChat / Periscope to see you being “too busy” by posting cat videos or “not having your phone on you” by posting things on your phone ALL FUCKING DAY.  If a project is being held up because the guy who was “slammed with work” was posting on FB about binge-watching The Walking Dead, that guy might not be on future projects.


Step Three: Writing New Emails


You need to handle some business with someone (or even just communicate in general) and you want to use email for it.  Great!  Email is great because it’s the most robustly formatted option you have.  You can enclose pictures, videos, change fonts, add bullet points, etc.  I also type really fast so I can put a lot of info into an email very quickly.  You also have a trail of the conversation that you can forward later, save into folders to organize, etc.  We’ll get into all that later but right now let’s talk about the clickity clack.


1.  Does this email even need to exist?  Emails are like boomerangs.  When you throw one, it usually comes back.  If you send out 50 emails when you wake up, guess what’s gonna be in your inbox later?  Probably a whole bunch of emails.  Can you Google the answer to your question?  Is this a quick text or call that won’t require an electronic trail.  If your email is about the population of China, try this instead.  (let me google that for you)


2.  Use email.  That’s right, actual email.  Facebook isn’t email.  Texting isn’t email.  People tell me “Dude I emailed you.”  No you fucking didn’t.  I can search all my email accounts for your email in 2 seconds, even if it went to spam.  You know how insane the spam filters on Facebook are?  They’re insane.  Know why?  Because 90% of everything on Facebook is spam.  I recently found the spam folder in Facebook and had messages from gigs from 2 years prior.  I replied and apologized but still.  Also, Facebook sucks.  Don’t use it.  I hate it.  If I don’t look at my Facebook for a week, assuming I even SEE your message, that’s a big delay.  Gmail is great.  If you’re on a Mac, Apple Mail is a super easy way to manage multiple email accounts. 
P.S. Facebook sucks.


3.  Take your time.  (See notes above about writing like an intelligent adult.)  Get all the info you need to convey into one email.  Describe things and try to proactively answer any questions that your recipient might have.  This makes the reply email shorter (assuming they actually read your email, see how this works?!)  Does more than one person need to be on this email to eliminate multiple emails?


4.  Keep it professional.  People can’t really detect emotion, sarcasm, etc. that well electronically so when in doubt, just be polite and professional.  You don’t want to lose business or piss someone off because they didn’t get your joke or don’t know you and therefore don’t understand the “vibe” of what you’re saying.


Pro Tips


My System


Here’s what works really well for me.  Figure out your own system but peep game…


After I roll out of bed and make that cup, I check my email.  I look over the headlines just to make sure I didn’t get an email at 7 am about X and then another at 9 about the same thing.  If I did, I might want to read them all first before I respond to something that got answered later.  Then, starting with the first email I got received, I read and reply (following all the rules above).  Then, I go do things with my life and don’t hit my email again for anywhere between 1 and 4 hours.  Here’s why…


If people are in front of their computer, before I can respond to the most recent email I’ve received, I’m getting responses to the email I just sent.  i.e. I haven’t even read email from 9 am and I’ve got a response to my response from the email I got at 7 am.  What this means is, I could possibly never get away from my computer and just keep replying to replies.  So reply to what you have, send the new emails and go do shit.  I usually check in after I finish a few tasks.  Nothing is on fire.  If you suck at email, checking and replying 3 times a day would be magical.  I don’t want anyone to have a seizure so let’s start with once a day and build from there.


Keep Your Inbox Cleaned Out


KAT 56k emails web


Your inbox is not where emails live.  It’s where you see emails that you have received and require attention.  How do you keep your inbox clean?  Funny you should ask…


Organizing Emails (Folders Are Your Friend)


Almost all email clients have a customizable folder structure.  If you’re using one that doesn’t, switch immediately because it’s dookie.  I personally have several gmail accounts and I use my Apple Mail program to see all my emails for each account easily and also move emails between folders for organization and storage.  I’ll use receipt emails as a simple example.


receipt email folders web


If I buy something online and get an email mailed to me, I file that away to have for tax time.  Either it goes in my “Personal” folder or my “DJ or Tax Deductible” folder.  It doesn’t live in my inbox.  This applies to all emails.  If you’re working on a project, make a folder for it.  Get a particular type of email often?  Make a folder for it.  Then if you wrap up the project, you can always delete the folder or file it away in a different folder to keep your folder structure clean.


You Can Do Eeeet!


If you actually do 50% of what I listed in this article, your career will start moving so fast, you’ll be retired by next Thursday.  Your friends will praise you for being so engaging and your social calendar will be full to the brim.  Rock!

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