The one thing everybody can do is have a decent email address. Don’t share one with your partner, especially not if that’s really clear in the address. At best, it’s confusing because you’re both getting the emails and are bound to miss one that’s for you. But at worst, you look like you don’t use email much and today that equals you not being professional, email@example.com
The very best email address to have is one that ends in your own or your own company’s name, so something like @myself.com. You get those by having your own website, which you need to have anyway, and when you do, then @myself.com is an advert for myself.com every time you use it.
If you like your email service and your address, still think about leaving it if you’re on hotmail or the like. Actually, there’s a technical reason here for moving away from certain email services. If your email solely lives on the web rather than on your computer, if you can’t read your old email without an internet connection, move to somewhere that lets you.
It’s convenient to have the emails online but it’s inconvenient to have them only online. Plus, if that service closes down for any reason, you’re at best scrabbling to copy it all off and at worst you’re screwed.
But back to email address snobbery.
To be harsh about it, @hotmail.com says you’re playing at email; @outlook.com says you’re playing but you signed up too recently to get a hotmail account. Then @aol.com says you’re an occasional email user who only sticks with AOL because you’ve given that address to so many people.
If you’ve an @btinternet address then that’s okay but its an ad for BT and if the address is one of those @myself.btinernet.com then either you look sponsored or that you can’t make up your mind.
Similarly, older Apple email addresses are @mac.com which is just an ad for the company’s Macs; slightly newer ones are @me.com which is doesn’t advertise them, doesn’t advertise you and looks a bit egotistical. Currently all new Apple email users have addresses that end in @icloud.com which is fine: at least you look like you know what the cloud is.
But unless you’re really invested in an older address, if you can’t get @myself.com, then go for Google Mail. This @gmail.com is best because it’s short, it’s modern and it tells anyone who knows about these things that you may be a power email user. Gmail comes with a huge array of tools for managing immense numbers of emails and for something that’s easy to use and even easier to sign up for, it still has that faintly geeky air that you may or may not like.
Remember, too, that nobody says you can only have one email address. I have the one I’ll give you here for when you want to complain over my being snooty about your address. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also have a personal @mac.com address and I keep it because I like it, so there. But I also have any number of other addresses you like, specifically because I own williamgallagher.com. Yesterday I set up a new address for an author I’m working with to send me text. Earlier in the week I used a groupon offer but I signed up as email@example.com. If I get a sudden spike in spam and it’s all to firstname.lastname@example.org, their mailing list policy is rumbled and I switch that address off.
So you can use your address as a tool but the one you choose to send people can reveal much more about you than you’d hope.