There really are very few things that are more fundamental in today’s business world than using email well. Knowing how to leverage available tech tools to manage your email and contacts better is essential to good business practices, but also to setting yourself up to be a professional in your clients/customers eyes.

So here’s a few things you need to know about using email like an adult.

Stop using Yahoo, use Gmail instead

There are few better developed free tools available today than those provided by Google, and Gmail is one of them. Google is single-mindedly dedicated to providing really good tools for no or low cost which are safe and easy to use. That was a lot of words to say: Gmail rarely gets hacked.

Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than your account getting hacked and having a ton of spam emails sent to your contact list. (Some of them might even have viruses, too.)

Now, really, you shouldn’t be using an email with a free service extension (like, say, gmail.com), but we’ll discuss that next.

Stop using Gmail, use your domain’s email instead

If you’re really serious about the whole being in business as an artist thing (which you are, because you’re reading this, and we both know you’re awesome), you already have a website, which means you also already have the option to have a real email address. And by “real” I mean you@yourdomain.com.

In the wild west of the internet, nothing makes a client feel more secure than knowing that they’re emailing a personal email address. People make buying decisions based on a lot of things, and when they’re emailing someone at a Gmail address, it makes them feel less secure about the person they’re doing business with.

If, for any reason, you are unable to have a personal email address from your own domain, you can use Google Apps to get one.

Use a desktop mail program

Make your life easier and configure Outlook or, better yet, Thunderbird (a free, open source email program with lots of extensions and doo-dads that make your life so much easier). Configuring this isn’t difficult and makes your life so much easier. When you have folders and tags and calendars and other tools, dealing with your email is kind of a cinch.

Add an email signature

Having an email signature is a little bit like inviting guests to your home. What might they need when they get there? Well, some snacks and a place to site for one thing. Your email signature provides a similar function. It gives the recipient of your email all the tools they need to get in touch with you, and better yet, they will never be confused about who that email came from.

And now you’re armed and ready to start using email like an adult. Hooray awesome artist! Go forth and email!