Harvesting Your Inbox

As a web designer, it is my divine mission to get my clients on the blogging bandwagon.

No, not a root canal, a simple article that relates to your business, I tell the eye roller.

Sure easy for you to say, the eye roller often responds: YOU are a Writer.

Thar’s gold in them there messages!

I deny this accusation. I am not a professional writer.

Because, if I were, I think rationally, why would I spend 90% of my time staring at a tauntingly blank computer screen and less than 2% of my time actually writing stuff  (which mostly gets deleted, truth be told). The percentage remainder of my precious time is spent rewriting what little there is while crying into my hot chocolate and eating my third breakfast donut.

But ever intrepid and addicted to paying bills, I plod on. In my avoidance of the angry empty screen (formerly known as blank paper), I do every other onerous task, including tackling my inbox. And it is there I find hope and redemption: the ignominious inbox with all its demanding, annoying requests for my attention.

As I stare resentfully at the overflowing inbox, the epiphany arrives unbidden.

Why not harvest my inbox? Instead of singing the “I Got Nuthin’ Blues,”  put the devil to work for me. Yeah.

Since I must provide intelligent responses to all my trusting senders, why not use that considered response as the seed for an article? After all, my epiphany continues, that subject is of interest to someone, right? Because they wrote to you. So think of it as a discussion started and write away — right away. There very well be hidden gems lurking in my over-flowing inbox

Epiphany continues: let’s face it, as much as we may resist writing an original article for public consumption, we are actually writing mini-essays each time we respond to an email. What a treasure trove of our best work at our fingertips!

Tip-toe to the gold!

Harvesting Your Email Box (or Making that Piggy Silk)  

Nobody doesn’t complain about the over- and ever-flowing inbox filled with questions that demand answers, explanations, excuses and more. Every email is a demanding infant needing to be fed and you are the mother of all these needy orphans. Here is a sample of some of my babies just today:

  1. Why can’t I find my website online?
  2. How do I resize my homepage image?
  3. Why am I getting the following error message….?
  4. Can you take cat of my cat?

As a website designer, I must answer the questions posed, and except for the one obvious “Hell no!,” all are deserving of a thoughtful, considered answer. After all, these are my clients and I must maintain positive communications with them for future business.

As I transform from self-described humorist or cranky granny, depending on the day of the week, I sincerely seek to give an accurate answer to the questioner. While I may know the answer, to verify my own knowledge of the matter, I do some research to prove my view.

In so doing, I am gratified that I got the gist of the answer correct, but there a couple of changes or considerations since I last thought through this issue.

Being conscientious, I email back what I believe is accurate and thorough information.  And I may have to do this with several emails. Yikes, I just wrote 3 articles without much pain and with great satisfaction by double-teaming my own workload.

But wait!

What did I just do here?

Why, I wrote my next three blog articles, I did indeed. Instead of just hitting reply and sending my informed answer/opinion into the netherworld of deleted emails, I have the great beginning of an excellent article. Here is how to look at it:

  1. Uncovered a need. Your emailer has a real need to know something or they would not have contacted you regarding the matter. It is safe to assume this is an area of interest to more than one reader.
  2. Resolved a need. You have already invested time in constructing an intelligent response and completed the major work of researching your subject matter by dint of responding to the questioner. Add another paragraph or two, and you actually have created an article of value to a wider audience.

    Bullseye, Baby!

  3. Turned a routine task into potential gold. In the old way of handling your email burdens, time and resources invested in responding to an email gives you no immediate remuneration So don’t work for free anymore. Turn that pesky email inbox into a profit center.

Seriously, check your email inbox right now. Yes, now. I promise you there are at least three missives that demand answers that would interest more than just that one person. Write a good and proper response to your muse and voila, you are now a prolific blogger with an unending source of ideas and inspiration.

And if you email me back, I will turn you, too, into an informative article.