Thursday, September 18, 2014

Creating an Email address at your own domain

In the Family Tech column that ran in the September 18, 2014 printed edition of Prince William Today, I discuss how a business, and individuals, receive the most cachet with an email address that is to their own domain.

That is, a business is taken more seriously if its email address is Info@JoesPlumbingPWC.com than if it were Joe3272@comcast.net.

You need to do a few things to send and receive email at your own address.  You need a domain name, and an email server service.  Thankfully, both are relatively inexpensive, and easy to setup.




Once it is setup, you can send and receive email pretty much as you do now, through the email client you likely already use like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or many others.

The first thing to do is find a suitable domain name.  As the column explores, most of the good dot com addresses are gone, or are held by what are called domain squatters.  These are folks who have bought domain names, and are not using.  They are holding them hoping someone will buy the rights to the domain from them.  For example, Diamond.com sold for seven and a half million dollars.  Sex.com sold for over thirteen million.

That's why when I looked for my own personal domain, I didn't even enter a bid for Stout.com.  No doubt the domain holder dreams of a brewery buying it.

There used to be only a few domain like dot com, dot org, dot net, and two letter ones like dot us, and dot uk.  Now there are hundreds with additions like dot name, dot info, dot camera etc.

You buy a domain at domain providers.  There are many.  I use Hover.com.  It works like many of the others.  A lot of its competitors, like GoDaddy.com, forever nag you about add on services they offer.  Hover pretty much leaves me alone, except to alert me when a domain needs renewal.

When you go to Hover, it asks you to type in the basics of a name.  When I typed in Joes Plumbing, I received this notice :


So the dot com is unavailable.  But some other domains are available, at varying prices.

Further on down the list, I found a couple that were more appropriate.






How cool would Joe's the plumber look with an email address of info@joesplumbing.plumbing ?

The cost is a bit higher, $38.81 a year, but trivial as a marketing expense.

Once you click to Add to Cart, it becomes like any other online purchase.  But instead of a product being shipped to you, you now have use of JoesPlumbing.plumber for a year, and are able to renew it each year.

An individual too should consider having their own domain, and receiving email using it.  Having your own personal domain is the start of building your own personal brand.

Why would you need a strong personal brand?

Lets start off with a bigger-than-life example.  Recently, actors have found themselves losing out on major roles because the other actor up for the part had more Twitter followers than they did.  The producers felt that following would translate into ticket sales.

You can see how if you run for office, having your own domain would be good.

Also, in almost any profession, having a web page at your own domain speaks to a certain competency with technology; highly desirable by employers.

It is also a place for you to have a blog, publish your articles, host your resume and many other uses.  You can, and should. still use social media like Facebook, Twitter and blog hosts like WordPress or Blogger, but have the content too at a site you control in case those others go away, or decide to eliminate older content of yours.

I typed a friend's name into Hover while researching for this post, and I was astonished the dot com was available.  I immediately contacted her and urged her to register the site right then and there.  There is so much she can do with it.  She already has a strong online presence, this would only enhance it.

There are viable domains even for common names :




Once you've purchased your domain, you next need to subscribe to a site that will both host your email, and any web pages you want to create.

 For the sake of this post, I am assuming the reader is an individual or owner of a truly small business.  Larger businesses would already have email and a website provided by an in-house guru, or from an third party web site developer and hosting service.

Next,  you need access to an email server.  These are computers running at a hosting company that send and receive email for you on your domain.

Google Apps for Work will host email for $5 per user/month.  Or services like ServerMX.com offer mailboxes for less than $2.00 per box/month.

There are also sites that host both your email and your web pages.   The one I use is a smaller, lesser know one that actually costs me a couple bucks a month more than competitors.  I am loyal to them because I tried to cancel once, because I wasn't using the service much, and they said they'd stop charging me, but leave the site operational.  Almost two years later, I started using it again, and resumed paying.  Have to love that kind of service.  That service is PHPWebHosting.com.

They are a bit more technically oriented though and not always intuitive for a new user.  This post at Lifehacker.com from 2012, lead me to several more consumer oriented hosting sites.

Be sure the plan you choose will serve your email, as well as your web pages.  

They tend to run from $5 to $10 a month, often with discounts if you pay for a year at one time.

In today's other post about creating a business or personal webpage, we talk about sites that offer easy ways to make a web page.  Those sites do not host email, so be sure to read both posts before choosing a hosting site.  It may be best for you to do with separate email and web hosting services.

For email service, you provide the hosting server with your domain name, and their mail servers receive and send email to and from that address.

You can use your normal email client, most likely, to send and receive the emails.

The nuts and bolts of setting this up can be a little complex, and differs for each web and email hosting site.  However, these are consumer sites, so they likely have good help information and tech support people to assist you.  Likewise, your domain provider, like Hover, have help available for linking your new domain to your new hosting service.

Overall, the steps are :

  • Link your Email server to your domain
  • Setup email boxes (i.e. Joe@JoesPlumbing.com, Info@JoesPlumbing.com, Quotes@JoesPlumbing.com)
  • Link you email client to the new domain
Once you do all that, congratulations, you now have email at your own address.

Creating a small business website, or a personal web page is another matter.  See this blog post for details.

And if you use this information to setup your own domain, please tell us in the comments.




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