I remember the good old days before I took up writing and blogging full time.  I had one simple email address which I used for everything.  Sending and receiving emails, signing up to websites and promotions. And MSN messenger (remember that!?).  However, having taken up writing more seriously the need to use a second email address is much more apparent.  So that’s what we’re looking at today.

The main problem really is spam.  Everyone gets it.  And everyone hates it, at least I assume they do.  Admittedly there might be the odd grandmother in Alaska who doesn’t get a lot of visitors who enjoys receiving unsolicited emails from everything from Indian web developers to erectile dysfunction pills….  But they’re certainly the exception to the rule.

So yeah, we hate it.  And it’s virtually unavoidable.

Why do we get spam?

Spam is a mixture of both marketing and scams.  Genuine companies want as many email addresses as they can get their hands on in order to try and flog you their many wares, or drive traffic to their website through newsletters and offers.  While of course there’s nothing wrong with responsible marketing, with the option to opt out, it’s the companies who refuse to take no for an answer, or spam people who didn’t ask for it that are the real problem.

Then of course there are the outright scammers.  People with no right to your personal information, churning out ludicrous offers like promised riches or free holidays when in fact they just want to rip you off and steal your hard earned money.  The rule of thumb for these guys is easy.  Trust nobody.  Apple never contact you because your account is ‘locked’ and HMRC never contact you with an email link to claim back overpaid tax.

Just don’t fall for it.

Whichever category your spam falls into, it’s annoying isn’t it.  It clogs up your inbox.  It wastes your time.  It makes it harder for you to interact with your genuine emails and generally makes your life miserable. It’s true, email providers have got a lot more savvy in recent years.  You can ‘train’ your inbox to spot spam when it comes in by flagging up the dodgy stuff and marking the clean stuff.

You can even dig deep into the advanced settings and set up a whole number of rules such as which words appearing in email titles and addresses should be automatically forwarded to the spam folder.  But that’s not a perfect system, is it, and really?  Who’s got time for messing about doing that all the time?  Wouldn’t it be better if you simply received fewer emails and didn’t have to go through this rigmarole?

And that’s where the classic second email comes in….

Do I need a second email address?

In my opinion, yes you do.  You see, after a certain length of time spam appears virtually inevitable.  If you’re active online you’re bound to put your email address into various sites.  If you’re seriously active online such as a web developers, writers or freelancers then you might be putting your email into different sites on a virtually daily basis.  And I quickly found that if you use your personal email it’s just going to get swamped.

And worse still, the more your email address is ‘out there’ the more susceptible you are to yet further spam.  You see, the more ‘active’ your address is, the more likely it is to fall into the wrong hands.  Companies signing you up to endless marketing, websites displaying it online for all to see, companies not protecting their data properly, employees stealing or misusing data, companies refusing to action ‘unsubscribe’ requests.

There really does come a point where your never going to get your email inbox ‘clean’ again, as the address has simply fallen into too many unscrupulous hands.  So what’s the answer?  Get another one!

I’d never thought of that.  Go on…

It’s a really obvious idea, but surprisingly few of us use separate email addresses to separate our ‘genuine’ emails to our ‘throwaway’ ones.  But this can make a huge difference.  For example – let’s say you set up a brand new, fresh email address that you’re only going to give out to the most trustworthy recipients.  Close friends. The government.  The Pope.  Nobody else  Then you can set up either a brand new second email address for your ‘throwaway’ business, or even use your old one that’s clogged up with spam anyway.

Here’s a few ideas of how it could work, and what each address could be used for:

Clean email

  • Job Applications
  • Personal Emails
  • Passport Applications
  • Professional Enquiries
  • Bank statements
  • Paypal
  • Ebay

Throwaway email

  • Social Media
  • Wifi hotspots
  • Free Online Tools
  • Web Signups
  • Forum Accounts
  • Comments Sections

Starting to make sense?  So the idea is that anything you want to keep professional, where you want to actually communicate via email you use your ‘clean’ address and anything where you’ve got no desire whatsoever to hear from the company ever gain, you simply want to gain access, you use your ‘throwaway’ address.

The difference it makes is enormous.  If I check my ‘throwaway’ email address I’ve now got thousands of notifications, marketing emails and general rubbish that it would take me years to read.  That’s the point though.  I don’t intend to. I really only used to to sign up and get the information or access I needed.

And then I go to my ‘clean’, fresh email address I know pretty much that every email I receive is a ‘real’ email.  It’s something I’m going to want to know.  It’s someone I might well want to reply to.  And that’s been invaluable.

Second email addresses are perfect for freelancers.

As I said earlier, this wasn’t something that was a huge problem for me previously.  I wasn’t spending as much time online, or signing up for the sheer volume or tools and sites that I now use to help my in my day to day writing.

But since that’s pretty much my day now, the good old second email address that I never use, never clear out and never pay much attention to has proved invaluable.

As with everything in life, it’s not a perfect system.  Some spam still sneaks its way through the net to my true email address and eventually I’ll probably have to refresh it again and start another new one, with another clean slate.

But compare that to wading through endless emails, unsubscribing, turning off notifications and generally telling people to ‘leave me alone’ I’d say it’s a huge net victory.  And well worth a shot for anyone working in an online capacity.

So give it a try, and let me know how you get on.

All the  best.