What kind of consulting should I do?

If you’ve ever considered whether consulting would be right for you or you’ve dabbled with the idea, you may be wondering how to come up with the kind of consulting business that really leverages your unique skills, interests and attributes. Working through those points can help you find your way.

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Professional email address ideas for common names

Your professional email address may be one of the first ways you make an impression upon prospective clients, employers and contacts. And it’s one thing to come up with a professional-sounding email address if your name stands out. But if you have a name like Robert Smith, Jane Jones, Meiling Li, Jose Martinez or Mo Khan, there’s a good chance your name has already been taken. So what do you do then?

First, read our post on Seven terrible secrets revealed by your email address. You want to be sure that you’re not making the common mistakes that people with any old name might make. So start there.

But, say you’ve already done that. What do you do when your name is taken?

What you can do about your professional email address when your name is taken

Before we get started, it’s important to know any rules related to the host for your email. For example, Gmail does not treat periods as periods. So email to jane.jones and janejones goes to the same person. It’s the same account. If there’s already a janejones, you won’t be able to sign on as jane.jones or jane-jones. But other email providers may allow you to do so.

Click here to send these tips to yourself right now.

Combine your names

  • First name + last name = RobertSmith
  • First name . last name = Robert.smith
  • First name – last name = Robert-Smith
  • First name + middle initial + last name = RobertTSmith
  • First initial + middle name + last name = RTrevorSmith
  • First initial + middle initial + last name = RTSmith
  • First name + middle name + last name = RobertTrevorSmith
  • First initial + middle name + last name = RTrevorSmith

Modify your name:

  • RobSmith
  • RbtSmith
  • RobTrevSmith
  • RobertTrevSmith
  • RTrevSmith

Invert your name:

  • SmithRobert
  • SmithRT
  • SmithRob

However, if you invert your name, some people may forget and transpose the names. Then RobertSmith may start getting your email.

Combine your name with your business, profession, degree or city

  • RobertMLTLaw
  • RobertLawyer
  • RobertChicago
  • RobertSmithLawyer
  • RobertSmithChicago
  • RobertSmithLogistics
  • RSmithMBA
  • RobertSmithMD

Honestly, the best way to solve this is to set up your own professional email address, where you can customize your email to what works for you. Bluehost, our affiliate partner, includes free email addresses and a domain with their $2.95 a month web hosting package. Click here to visit them. 

Business email address examples

You can use name combinations, but, if you have a business, you may want to make sure that you don’t run into multiple people with the same name. You could add a last initial to a first name, such as ChrisD or JorieT. But, if you’re setting up a business email address, we strongly recommend that you set up a business domain and website.

Associations

Did your college give you a lifelong email address? Find out if your old email address is still available or sign up for an alumni account. MoKahn@almamater or mkhan@alumni.almamater may be an easier find than MoKhan@ major email provider.

You can also check with your industry, professional or other associations to see if they offer a lifetime email address.

Set up your own domain

Buy a domain and simply forward the email to your favourite email provider, regardless of whether you have a website set up. You don’t need to have a website to forward your email. Click here for hosting information – we are Bluehost affiliates.

Set up an email address for a specific purpose and forward it

Some people find that they can stick with the long, unwieldy or typo-prone email they’ve been using for years. They do this by setting up a separate email account and forwarding it. So jobhuntrobert@ may be forwarded to RobertTrevSmith82. Some email providers will even allow you to set it up so that you respond from the same account, meaning no one will ever know your secret identity, at least not when you’re replying to recruiters.

Set your email to show your name, not your address

Make sure your email is set up so that messages say, “Jane Jones” or “Jane K. Jones” not “jjonesengineer@”. And use your full name. A client, recruiter or business contact scanning a list of recent emails or trying to search a huge history will not be able to tell “Jane” from all the other “Janes”.  And, honestly, if you’re not in elementary school, most people will need your last name to help distinguish you from others.

Whatever name you choose, keep it professional. And bear in mind the norms for your industry. In some cases, an email such as “TheRealMeilingLi”, “MrJoseMartinez” or “OhThatJaneJones” may produce a smile without reducing your credibility. This may go over better if you’re a graphic designer than if you’re a corporate tax attorney, so weigh up your choice.

Combine a Personalized Email Address, Website and Blog

You may have figured out how to set up a solid email account. But, to be honest, a generic email account will never bring the same respect that one with a brand behind it will.

Problems with Generic Email Addresses

You’re creating future problems. A generic email address from Gmail or your Internet Service Provider may suffice, but what if the email provider changes, closes or falls out of favour? Suddenly, you have to update all your contacts, but possibly also all your logins and accounts elsewhere.

You’re losing a chance to brand. With a personalized domain name, you can build on your professional brand identity, whether you own a company or not.

Creating a Personalized Domain Name

You don’t need a website to have a personalized domain name. In just minutes, you can set up a domain like FirstName@DomainName.com and set that email to automatically forward everything to your favoured email address. You can even configure Gmail or other email accounts to respond using that email address too. If you ever change Internet service providers or email accounts, the change will be invisible to your clients and contacts, since youre FirstName@DomainName.com can just point to the new account.

That being said, it can be even more powerful to sent up that domain to include a business card page, a profile, your professional social media contacts, or, ideally, your professional blog or website.

Why Build a Blog

If you receive my Six Tips for Building Your Expert Status emails, you already know I’m a huge fan of building your professional status by publishing and building authority. Building a blog is faster and easier than you might expect.

With a blog, you can publish and share articles or comment on other articles and content you share. It’s a way to build your voice, your professional brand, your credibility and more.

Why get your own website

With your own website, you can build an online presence – as a professional or as a company.  You can present your professional image, articles, photos…whatever you need to build out a brand. It can be a simple 5-page website or something far more sophisticated. Find out how to set up a website or blog here.

How to move forward with your professional address and website

Whether you’re building a domain name, blog or a website, you can take some of the same steps:

  1. Pick a focus
  2. Choose a platform
  3. Find somewhere to host your blog
  4. Select your domain name
  5. Set up and design your blog
  6. Start writing and posting
  7. Go live!

1. Picking a Focus for Your Blog

Take a few moment to consider:

Are you creating a blog or a website? A blog presents your posts. A website can offer up information about you, your resume, portfolio, services, testimonials – whatever you want. Setting up a website only takes a little more time, if you just want something basic.

What will your website or blog be about? Is it about you, your company, an approach, a specific topic?

Got an idea? Great! Let’s move.

2. Choose a platform

To put together a blog or website, you need a platform. I’ll come right out and say I prefer WordPress. You could choose something else, like HTML, Drupal, Wix, Shopify, Weebly or another service. But I like WordPress. I find it easy to use and I use it for all my personal and business sites…and it’s what I usually recommend for clients, too. It’s open source, has a ton of plug-ins, a large user community and it’s free.

3. Find somewhere to host your blog or website

Think of this part of your blog or website experience as the campsite for your tent! You’ve got all your camping gear ready, now where will you pitch your tent? You need somewhere to keep your blog or website. I suggest starting with a hosting provider that provides a lot of prepackaged services, if you’re just starting. You can always move up to your own server or more customized packages, if you’re more experienced or if your budget allows. I’ve signed up as an affiliate partner for Bluehost. I take you through all the steps to signing up here.

4. Select your domain name

A domain name – the URL for your website – should tie into your brand and your message. Your own name, your business name or another strong brand will likely work best. I like using the name suggestion tools at Nameboy and Webnames when I’m stuck for ideas. You can buy a domain name at one place and then port it over to the place you choose for hosting, but you may find it easier to keep everything at one place, if you’re still learning all this. Bluehost does both, which is one of the reasons I partnered with them.

5. Set up and design your blog

I recommend using one of the packaged themes, until you get a bit more used to things. You can also cruise through the templates at WordPress or ThemeForest.

6. Start writing and posting

You can just make a list of topics and start writing. But, for best results, you might want to create a bit of an editorial calendar – a list of what you’re going to write and when. I keep mine in a spreadsheet, but you could just as easily write it down or put it in a document or on an actual calendar.

7. Go live!

When you’re all set, release your work to the world! You can choose whether to use word of mouth, a marketing campaign or other strategies and tools to tell others.

If you want to set up your own site, you can look at the hosting packages at Bluehost, along with my post on how to sign up and set up your blog, website and domain. I’m an affiliate partner, which means I receive a commission if you sign up. These aren’t the only places you can get set up, but, when I took a look around for some packages to recommend, these seemed to be the best fit for Consultant Journal readers.

Looking for ways to build your expert status? Get our special mini course, 6 Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status.

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Consulting Fees – A Guide for Independent Consultants

Learn proven models for setting your consulting and freelance fees. Our new book trailer highlights some of the content and review from Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

Almost 10 years ago, I wrote a post on how to set consulting fees. At the time, there was nothing else online. The post went viral and people started contacting me for more information. I’d dared to talk about money – a taboo subject – and, to top it off, I was sharing how I went about setting my fees. Soon, Consultant Journal had a loyal following and I’d published a short ebook. Over the years, I’ve expanded and refined that information to develop a full book, available both on this site and through bookstores worldwide.

Need help with your rates? Pick up a copy of Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants.

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Building a sustainable business means more than green choices

Building a sustainable business is what can hold your prospects for the long haul – it’s about more than choosing recycled paper.

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Should you be on Facebook?

I got a call the other day, from a small business owner. They said they knew they didn’t need to be on Facebook because their market isn’t on Facebook.

“Who’s your target market?” I asked.

“Men with money.”

“Men with money are on Facebook,” I replied.

In fact, about 31% of Facebook users are 31-54, according to statistics from Jetscram.

And more than 72% of households with incomes above $75,000 use Facebook, according to Statista.

In fact, if you use Facebook ads, you can target users by income and other demographic factors.

However, PPC ads are just one way to get to people on Facebook. Facebook pages, social sharing, news stories, images and quotes and other content can reach people on Facebook.

But, even if your target market uses Facebook, it may not be the best place to meet your market. It makes a lot more sense to put together a marketing plan, based on research and strategy, and target your market based on careful thought.

I mean, sure, maybe your market is on Facebook. Maybe it’s on LinkedIn. Maybe it’s standing at a bus stop, looking at the daily paper. Maybe it’s in a board room, talking to other key influencers or at a concert, looking at a t-shirt. There are a million ways to market and Facebook – in all its iterations – poses just one method.

The more important thing is to figure out your market, the best way to reach them and the best messages and tools to use.

But don’t discount a medium just because you think your users eschew social media. Take the time to get to know your market – and the statistics behind the social medium. You might be surprised, for example, to see just how many key influencers and household decision makers use Facebook and LinkedIn. Make strategic decisions and take the time to learn more.

Related:
Should you market with PPC ads?
Putting together a business plan

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You can’t market with a garden hose

You can’t market with a garden hose – you need a strategy that hits your target full-on.

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How to Google yourself

Have you ever looked yourself up in a search engine? Find out how to Google yourself – and why.

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Following in someone’s footsteps

Following another person’s footsteps can save you time and energy, even when you’re ultimately finding your own way.

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How to introduce a speaker

Wondering how to introduce a speaker? Learn about this important role and get tips for the task of speaker introduction.

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Is The Motley Fool targeting BC parents and their $40?

Is a Motley Fool ad on The Vancouver Sun targeting BC parents and their $40 temporary education supplement? As a marketing consultant, I’m intrigued.

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