Are you a small business owner or freelance individual that takes business calls on your personal phone? Or are you paying for an additional line and cell phone? Get Google Voice, which allows you to have a free, custom phone number that rings your existing cell phone and transcribes your messages.
I’ve been using Google Voice for years, both as a freelancer and for my small business.
But here’s what to do to get started with Google Voice.
First, you need a Google account. With that, you’re able to choose a phone number that will ring one or multiple phones. It doesn’t replace your current phone, but acts as a secondary, virtual phone line. This post will cover the primary reasons Google Voice is essential for a freelancer or small business.
1. Get a Custom Business Phone Number
You pick a phone number of your choice to become your Google Voice phone number, then associate it with a phone. No need to buy a second phone. No need to pay for another phone line. It’s free. You can choose your area code, making it easier to target certain customers. Then browse through a list of phone numbers. This allows you to choose one that’s relatively easy to repeat, or one that spells out certain words. Mine is 323-744-0707
2. Create Custom Voicemail Greetings
Record a professional voicemail greeting for your business, and keep your personal one. When customers call your Google Voice number, they get your “business” voicemail greeting, and it will seem as though they reached your “office line.”
3. Transcribed Voice Messages and Text Messages
All your voice messages are transcribed. This is super useful if you want to scan through your messages, search for a particular message, or are in a position where you can’t listen to your voicemail (like a boring meeting). You can also have voice messages sent to you as a text or email. For the most part, the voice to text is fairly accurate, though it does make a few mistakes for fast talkers. And of course, you can receive and send text messages from your Google Voice number.
4. Screen Incoming Calls
I love this feature. You can set up your phone so that when someone rings your number, you can choose whether to answer it or send to voicemail and listen in. So say it’s an unknown number, or someone you don’t really feel like talking to. Send them to your voicemail. You can listen to them as they are leaving the voice message, and choose to pick up the phone in the middle if it’s something important.
5. Take Vacations or Off Hours by Auto Sending Calls to Voicemail
Turn off your Google Voice number. All calls will not ring your phone, but go straight to Voicemail. Leave your personal number on for friends and family. Take a real vacation. Or schedule in non-business hours. Set your Google Voice number to only ring your phone during office hours, and go straight to voicemail on evenings and weekends.
6. Google Voice App Integrates with Smartphone
If you have a smartphone, the Google Voice App makes using the second line very natural. Use your regular phone app to make calls from your personal phone number, and open up the Google Voice App to make calls and text from your Google Voice business number.
Other phones are a little tricky – Google Voice generates a second “Google number” for all contacts, which you use if you want to call through your Google Voice number. So for example, if one of your customer’s numbers is 555-555-5555, then Google will generate a new number for them, like 333-333-3333. So if you call their real number (555) then it calls from your personal phone number. If you call their Google-generated number (333), it calls from your Google number. So you essentially have to keep track of 2 phone numbers for each business contact. Confusing? Yes. But you’ll get past it. It does this for all phones, but those with Google Voice apps can make calls through the app, so you don’t even have to worry about all this.
Those are just some of the main features that I find useful when for running a small business operation, or just for individuals needing a separate line. Before my business, I actually used Google Voice for all my job applications and interviews. This can be adapted for anything – a sports line, school line, club line, spam line, whatever – any situation in which you want to keep your personal phone number private and separate from anything else, but don’t want to buy a separate phone. Keep in mind that Google Voice does use your regular cell phone plan minutes, but text messages are done over your data and free.
Check out Google Voice, and watch some of their videos below. If you’re currently using it, do you find it helpful? What are your favorite features?