Tools We Love: Gmail’s Canned Responses

Tools We Love: Gmail's Canned Responses

Tools We Love: Gmail's Canned Responses

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us! Today’s tool we love: Gmail's Canned Responses!

We did a quick search on One Woman Shop and were shocked to find out that we’ve only mentioned one of our favorite tools -- Gmail's Canned Responses -- exactly once in the past several years. (Hey, with 46 pages of blog content, we can’t remember every single thing we write.)

So, this post is a long time coming, though we do talk about Canned Responses in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook. File this topic under “things that are second nature to us but new to many other people.” (We bet you have plenty of those things too, even if you’re not aware of them.)

A quick overview: Canned Responses are a Gmail Labs feature (Labs = “a testing ground for experimental features that aren't quite ready for primetime”) that allow you to save templates for the emails that you send often. Think: answers to FAQs, your client onboarding process, or step-by-step instructions.

Hands-down, the biggest benefit of enabling Canned Responses is saving yourself time. But we’ve recently uncovered another big benefit: Using Canned Responses can help you remove some of the emotion when you need to deliver negative news, like an application rejection or sponsorship request.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to the Settings wheel on the top right of your Gmail account
  2. Select Settings
  3. Go to Labs
  4. Enable Canned Responses
  5. Hit Save and your inbox will refresh
  6. Next time you compose an email, hit the bottom right-hand arrow in the new message to see (or save) a Canned Response

Here's what it looks like:

Tools We Love: Gmail's Canned Responses

Voila -- the next time someone asks about your contributor guidelines or how your pricing works, you can reply with just a few clicks! Of course, we highly recommend adding a personal touch to every email -- but this gives you a solid base from which to work.

Here’s your challenge from One Woman Shop: Every time you send an email over the course of the next week, ask yourself “Will I likely send this same email again?” If so, save that shit as a Canned Response right away. (Pardon our French -- we get amped up when it comes to saving time.)

How To: Find (Almost) Any Email Address, Part II

Welcome to our How Tos, where we provide you with specific step-by-step instructions for common business questions. Have a tutorial you would like to see us provide? Let us know!

Awhile back, we posted a clever little trick for finding (almost) any email address. We're back today with a few other hacks that you can use in case our first method doesn't work for you.

  1. Google "email," where is the URL of the person whose email you want to find.
  2. Google " AND (contact OR email)." This will often return results for pages or posts that include the person's email address.
  3. Search for the site URL on to find the email address of the site owner. This will only work if they don't have domain privacy enabled.

An Inside Peek at the Solo Businesses of Three YouCanBook.Me Users

As you may have seen us mention a few times, we are huge fans of YouCanBook.Me, a tool that allows you to send your calendar link to anyone so that they can book a time with you- without the back-and-forth that scheduling usually takes. Here's the gist: you create an account, sync it with Google Calendar, create a customized link, and then send that link to anyone who wants to book a coffee meeting, a coaching call, a speaking engagements...or even a social outing!

We chatted with a few of YouCanBook.Me's One Woman Shop users about their businesses and how they use the scheduling tool to simplify their day-to-day life.

Laura Bailey of Samara Skincare

samara skincareLicensed Esthetician and Manicurist Laura Bailey provides facial, brow design, and nail services in Seattle WA at Samara Skincare. With more than 10 years’ experience working in the Seattle area’s elite spas—including the Four Seasons, NW Face Spa at the Woodmark, Gene Juarez, and the Rosario Resort on Orcas Island—Laura brings artistry and passion for all things beauty. Her restorative treatments leave her clients relaxed, vital, and self-confident.

Tell us a bit about your solo business. What does an average day look like for you?

I start my day with business and operations-oriented tasks, then I take my first guest at 11:00 a.m. Most of the time, I’m booked for the entire day. When I’m not booked, I run business errands like picking up supplies or doing laundry or designing/making products. On some days, I get to go home for lunch, which is a treat. At the end of the day, I clean up my treatment room, water plants, dust, and vacuum the hallway/welcome area, so that I’m ready to start the following morning.

How long have you been using YouCanBookMe and how has it helped your business?Any insider tips?

YouCanBookMe has helped save time, increase bookings, and provide a better customer experience since December 2012. Scheduling and confirmation are immediate, in real time. My guests can see my schedule and book an appointment without having to wait for me to call back or send an email. I love that YouCanBookMe syncs with my Google Calendar, so that I can see new appointments on my smart phone or computer. This real-time access to my schedule and client’s questions is a great way to communicate with my guests.

I have a field on my schedule page for questions/comments. My insider tip is to check each booking, because sometimes a guest has a question or concern they’ve entered.

Sometimes new guests are unsure about using this tool to schedule an appointment because they’re confused about how to use the tool or hesitant about using technology to schedule an appointment rather than talking to a person. On my website, I have information about the process and I direct guests to this information. When guests call to make an appointment and get my voice mail, I have a message that tells them they can schedule an appointment online. Once a guest books an appointment for the first time, they trust that the process works.

Also, the folks at YouCanBookMe are incredibly responsive. If you have a question, they’ll get back to you at lightning speed. I have an icon (favicon) on my website, and I wanted it to appear on my online booking, too, so I emailed my request to tech support, and they took care of my request that same day.

We're all about digital productivity tools and tips, but we want to know: what's your favorite old-school strategy or tip?

My favorite old-school strategies or tips are to take appointments on time, invite guests back after a service is completed, and send guests out the door with a few postcard menus or business cards for referrals. I have a referral rewards program as an incentive. When a guest recommends three new guests, I offer $50 off the next service. Most of my guests are professional women and they often forget to take care of themselves. When I realize I haven’t seen them in a while, and I see some open time slots, I reach out through email, inviting them to come in. This strategy has been well received.

Lastly, ask for what you need. I have a team of people I work with since I cannot do everything myself. If I need photos, I contact my photographer. If I need help with writing, I check in with my talented editor friend Kelly Malone from WordsUp Communication.

How do you unwind after a day of running your solo business?

At the end of the day, I make time to connect with family and friends. My husband is a fantastic cook, so we always make sure to have a healthful dinner together in the evenings. Self-care is so important. I make sure to get treatments myself. A few times a month, I go to a cozy spa in my neighborhood for a soak, steam, and sauna. I have to admit that sometimes I unwind by researching something new that one of my guests shared with me during our session. I love learning new things and seeing I can incorporate the new information into my body of knowledge.

Sherri Willson of Designer Label Gal

designer label galThrough Sherri’s love for rescuing greyhounds, she accidentally stumbled upon the labeling business. She sold greyhound return address labels and, when she lost her corporate job, she started Designer Label Gal to continue her hobby and work with clients. Recently, Sherri opened up two more businesses; Designer Lotions N’ Potions and Designer Alchemy Jewelry.

Tell us a bit about your solo business. What does an average day look like for you?

Busy, busy, busy.  Being a solo business owner, a typical day comprises designing, printing, answering emails, completing request for quotes, invoicing/billing/accounting/finance. No two days are the same. I work 7 days a week sometimes all day/night. I love it- I wouldn’t continue doing it unless I did.

How long have you been using YouCanBookMe and how has it helped your business? Any insider tips?

I’ve been using YouCanBookMe for approximately a year. I find running an ecommerce business can be a bit cold. When you are creating personalized products, I find communicating directly with the client is beneficial. This way I can hear their voice, get an idea of who they are, which better equips me with the tools I need to design the perfect item for them. YouCanBookMe makes it easy for clients/potential clients to book an appointment to chat with me.

We're all about digital productivity tools and tips, but we want to know: what's your favorite old-school strategy or tip?

I believe in the Golden Rule- one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. I take pride in the customer services I offer and I make sure to provide the highest quality products available.  I spend quite a bit of time researching for newer, better materials and always creating new products.  I make sure to listen to what my clients need/want and do my best to provide it and then some.

Louisa Chan of

louisa chan

Louisa helps coaches, trainers and teachers and thought leaders set up and grow heart-centered business; business that you can be proud of. Louisa is an established business coach and consultant who has worked with multi-national corporations as well as solo-preneurs. You can find out more about Louisa and get marketing tips from and connect with her on TwitterFacebook or Google+.

Tell us a bit about your solo business. What does an average day look like for you?

I start my day with mindful meditation pondering and reaffirming my vision, setting priorities and reminding myself why I am doing what I am doing.

There are two main parts to what I do every day and they are marketing and delivery (or operations). As a small business owner, I make it my priority to brand and promote my services, so the world knows of the message I have to share and the service I offer.  I connect, meet, network and build relationship online or offline through traditional method as well as digital marketing.

Then I would check with my team on status for the various projects and get ready to deliver any training, coaching or consulting services that I have committed to. Sometimes this can mean going into client's office for consultation or meetings, other times it could mean delivering an onsite in company seminar or workshop that runs 2 or 3 days. Other times it could mean doing online consultation or phone coaching.

What are your greatest successes/challenges as a solo business owner?

Knowing what to focus on and not get drawn in to reaction or fire fighting mode has helped accelerated my business growth. The greatest challenge for a solo business owner is that she has to take care of every aspect of her business and this can get overwhelming if you do not have a clear plan of execution and work at it proactively and relentlessly. Although there are many moving parts in a business, not everything is equally important and I focus on marketing and delivery.

Without marketing and promotion, you don't get visibility. Without visibility, you don't get traction or traffic. Without that you don't have prospects to build relationship with and without that you don't have clients to sustain your business.

I focus on channels that work best for my market. Since I serve coaches, corporate trainers, teachers, thought leaders and other professionals, my prospects are on LinkedIn. Knowing who my ideal clients are and where they meet is key to knowing where I will focus my energy on and what message I will convey to draw them into my circle.

How long have you been using YouCanBookMe and how has it helped your business? Any insider tips?

Slightly under a year. I used it for prospects to book my time for private consultation and coaching. It frees up my time going back and forth with administrative work and it's pretty easy to set up and use. There's also a free version if you want to try it out. Solo business owners do not have time to spend on admin tasks, so leverage on technology and outsource it to your digital assistant or your virtual assistant so you can focus on the things that generate revenue.

What other tools do you use to streamline your processes and save time?

To stay in touch with trends and updates, I use Feedly to keep up with industry news. If I find something interesting, I will then save it on Evernote. which helps me store everything I want to refer to later. The good thing about Evernote is that I can access it on any device (iPad, iPhone and desktop) and I can save all kinds of media, including text, images, audio, links, and the search functionality is pretty good - so I can easily pull out things I want to refer to.

I use Copy and Dropbox for project work with clients and collaborate with my team. It works both as a central storage as well as a collaborate tool and I can access it anywhere anytime.

I also use Stride to help me manage my leads and track sales. There's a plan for freelancer which handles 25 deals and there is a free version if you want to try out the features.

Want an upgraded YouCanBook.Me account?

YouCanBook.Me has graciously agreed to upgrade the accounts of three lucky One Woman Shop readers for three months. The benefits of a Premium account:

    • Link to more than one Google Calendar (for those of you who have multiple color-coordinated calendars!)
    • Send appointment reminders (to cut down on cancellations)
    • Offer a menu of up to 10 services (for those with multiple business offerings)
    • Send a follow-up email (to gather feedback and encourage repeat business)

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This is a sponsored post from YouCanBook.Me. As always, we only work with partners who provide tools and services that we find value in. 

7 Creative Ways to Use Boomerang to Manage Your Email

We love the email tool Boomerang so much that we pay for the premium version- with hundreds of emails going in and out of our inboxes each week, the free plan just wasn't cutting it. The two main features of Boomerang are to 1) send emails at a later time and 2) to be reminded if someone hasn't responded to your email.

Here are some creative ways to utilize these features in creative ways to save yourself time and your sanity.

So that people don't know how late you're working: Sometimes you work until 2am- and that's okay! But maybe you don't necessarily want to advertise that fact to everyone you're in touch with via email- so use the "Send Later" feature to make it look like you're writing emails at a more- ahem- normal time.

To avoid bombarding people: If you're like us, your mind works in a million directions, constantly coming up with ideas to implement. The downside of this is that it might result in tons of emails to contractors, teammates, or clients. Avoid "email bombardment" by scheduling your emails to send several hours or days apart.

So that clients don't assume that you're always available: Even in our fast-moving digital world, many freelancers and solopreneurs choose to only be available to their clients and customers during standard hours, like 9am-5pm. And we commend them for that! But let's say that you want to work later one evening but don't want your clients to begin to expect that you'll always be available at 8pm. Draft your emails, choose the "Send Later" option, and your clients will be none the wiser.

To make sure no outbound email goes unanswered: Let's say you're emailing twenty potential clients or reaching out to ten bloggers on behalf of a client. Sure, you could track all these contacts in a Google spreadsheet (which is probably still a good idea!), or you could just mark each email to "boomerang" back to your inbox if it's unanswered. First emails are very often overlooked or forgotten about, so sending a follow-up can increase your response rate immensely!

To maintain inbox zero: Let's say you're about to head out of town for the weekend and don't love the idea that your full inbox will haunt you all weekend. Go set your emails to boomerang back at a designated time- maybe late Monday morning. Clear out your inbox, reset to inbox zero, and poof- out of sight, out of mind- just in time for a work-free weekend.

To buy yourself some time: We love this Boomerang tip from Alexis Grant. Often times, you'll send an email, only to have someone immediately reply- now you feel compelled to respond back right away too, right? Instead, set your email response to send in several hours, giving you at least a free few hours before the recipient's reply lands in your inbox. Note: this shouldn't be done with time sensitive emails!

To automate your systems: Do you have a weekly or monthly email you send out (we're talking something simple, not a fancy email marketing email)? Maybe it's a monthly reminder to your website contributors or your clients- when you have a few extra minutes, take the time to draft several months of emails in advance!

Do you use Boomerang? How do you use it?

How To: Find (Almost) Any Email Address

Welcome to our How Tos, where we provide you with specific step-by-step instructions for common business questions. Have a tutorial you would like to see us provide? Let us know!

Ooh, do we have a good little trick up our sleeves today! You know those times when you've searched all over someone's website only to come up blank on an actual way to contact them? Maybe they've hid their email address to prevent email overload or maybe they just overlooked the fact that it's nowhere to be found. Either way, if you're dying to make direct contact (tweets, Facebook messages, and repinning their pins doesn't count here!), then read on.

Use this trick to make contact with potential partners, establish a relationship with a hot shot in your industry, seek sponsorship from a company, or recruit a contractor.

Note: in order for this to work, the person must have an email address tied to their domain. So, you wouldn't be able to find a Gmail address- the person must have registered [email protected].

Here are step-by-step instructions for finding (almost) any email address.

  1. First, find and note the domain of the person you want to contact
  2. Plug the following formula into Google: "*" (that's quotation mark, asterisk, quotation mark, the @ sign, and then the domain you want to search), then search
  3. Scroll down the results pages until you spot what looks like a valid email- it might be the the person's name, [email protected], [email protected], or something else (f this doesn't work, there may be no email address registered with that domain, so you'll need to find a different way to make contact)
  4. You now know that you've found a valid email and can use it to contact the person directly!

Megan of Flawed Perfection Jewelry has graciously let us use her website and email address as our example. Let's say we want to to contact Megan about a partnership- if you pop over to her contact page, you'll see that her email address isn't listed. If you're hellbent on finding her email address, try this: Google "*" and note the link from about halfway down the page:

little email address trick

Aha! We now know that Megan uses the email address [email protected] and can get to work on contacting her!

Was this trick helpful? How are you planning to use it?

P.S. We did a follow up post on other tricks for finding email addresses if this one doesn't work!

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How To: Insert Social Media Icons into Your Email Signature

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Did you see our snazzy email signature back in the day (before Sara joined #TeamOWS)?

how to insert social media buttons into email signature

We're not trying to brag -- we just thought you might like to know how to incorporate social media buttons into your email signature in order to let your email contacts -- whether they're potential clients, customers, or hires- know that you're active on social media.

Here are step-by-step instructions for inserting professional but fun social media buttons into your Gmail email signature (the steps for other email providers are very similar):

  1. Log in into your Gmail account
  2. Hover over the "gear" icon and select "Settings"
  3. Under the "General" tab, scroll down to the email signature box
  4. Under your name and other contact information, select the "Insert Image" icon
  5. Find social media icons (Canva has a great list of 49 sites where you can find free icons and both Icon Archive and IconFinder have good selections. You can also Google "free social media buttons"). Be sure to examine the copyright license to avoid any infringement before using any icons you find
  6. When you find social media buttons that you like, choose a size (we recommend 32 x 32) then right click on the image and select "Copy Image URL." Go back to your email signature and paste the URL into the "Add an Image box." If you are satisfied with the image preview, click "OK"
  7. Next, highlight the icon you just inserted and click the link icon (the one that looks like a chain). Here, input the URL that you would the user to go to if they click on one of your social media icons- for example, for a Twitter icon, we would enter
  8. Be sure to test the link. If problem free, repeat the process for all social media icons you hope to include.
  9. You're done! Sit back, relax, and know that your email contacts now have an easy way of connecting with you on social media

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