When I started Solopreneur Diaries, I needed a business email address. I didn’t want to use my personal email, because [myname]@gmail.com doesn’t exactly scream successful business, now does it?
So I set up a couple of email addresses through my webhost, both ending with @solopreneurdiaries.com. But I had some problems actually using those email addresses. Receiving email was fine, because I set up forwarders to send all incoming mail to my personal Gmail account. But if I wanted to initiate or reply to an email, I needed it to come straight from the source. I tried using the webmail interfaces provided by my webhost, but they were just dreadful. Clunky, lacking in features, and just plain ugly.
I have Outlook, so I decided to configure my custom email addresses to work with it. I’ve done this before and knew that it wasn’t that hard. My webhost provided directions, which I followed, and all seemed well. Emails coming in right and left.
And Then the Problems Began
I replied to an email from a friend and got an auto-reply that my email was undeliverable. Hmm. Not good, but I chalked it up as a fluke.
A few days later, I initiated an email that was also declared undeliverable. This email was going to a person I didn’t know, so I thought the email address must have been bad.
When it happened a third time, I realized there was a pattern. It seemed that emails I sent from Outlook were not being delivered. I decided to test this theory. I sent emails from Outlook to my personal Gmail account and they came back as undeliverable. I logged into one of the dreadful webmail systems and also sent emails to my personal Gmail account. They were delivered, but with a weird little question mark and a message saying that Google couldn’t verify that the message actually came from me and not a spammer. Huh. That’s not the message that I want other people to see when I email them.
At this point, I knew I need to go a different way. I vaguely knew that it was possible to set up Gmail to work with a custom domain, so I did some quick Googling and found a blog post with instructions. The reality was not quite as easy as that blog indicated, so I wanted to share my experience. Follow these steps to set up your own custom email address with Gmail.
How to set up Gmail with your own domain
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- Go to the Google Apps site.
- Click the green Get Started button.
- Fill in the basic information asked for (name, current email address, business info.)
- It will ask you whether you want to use a domain name that you already own or buy a new domain name. Since I already have a domain, I chose the first option.
- Next, you will create your Google Apps account. Choose a user name and password and prove you are not a robot.
- You will have the option to add additional people to your account (or additional email addresses for yourself).
- If you told Google that you wanted to use an existing domain name, this is the point where you verify that you own that domain. Google will provide you with a bit of code that you copy and paste into your website’s <head> section. If you have a Genesis theme, this is super easy. Go into Genesis Theme Settings, scroll down to Header and Footer Scripts, and paste the code into the Header Scripts box. (If you have already added something to this box, such as your Google Analytics code, just paste the new code below it.) If you are on WordPress, but don’t use a Genesis theme, here is a plug-in that will allow you to easily add a script to your header.
- Next you will log into the Control Panel (i.e. cPanel) at your web host.
- Your next step is “Delete existing MX records.” I have no idea what this means, but in cPanel, I saw an icon called MX Entry, so I clicked on it. Your cPanel may be a little different than mine, so look for something that says “MX.”
This is when it gets a little hairy. This message was near the top of the MX Entry page.
I forged ahead, holding my breath, in spite of the warning. I saw 2 MX entries at the bottom of the page. I took a screen shot, just in case, then I deleted them.*
- Google provides specific instructions to create five new MX entries, so just copy and paste.
- Now, click the button that says “Verify Domain and Set Up Email.”
- The last step is to log into your new Google Apps account. It will prompt you to decide on the kind of account you want. One version is $5 per user (i.e. email address) per month. The other version is $10 per user, per month, and includes unlimited storage and additional features. I didn’t need those, so I went with the $5 option. You will also need to enter credit card information at this point. Oh, and I have some coupon codes for 20% off. If you would like one, please leave a comment.
You’re all done setting up your custom domain to work with Gmail! Yay!
The first 30 days is free, so if you decide that you don’t like using Gmail with your custom domain, you can cancel before your card is billed.
For my money, if this saves me the frustration that I was dealing with, while also allowing me to have a professional email address accessed through a user-friendly interface, $5.00 a month is totally worth it.
*My email is, in fact, working. So I don’t break anything. Whew!
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