Ray’s 3 Options for Your Own Professional me@mywebsite.com Email Address

HI  Everyone!

Happy Wednesday, over this past weekend I was working with some clients and the importance of email addresses came up. In this newsletter I am going to cover 3 options for your own professional me@mywebsite.com email address. 

Take a minute and think "what does you email address say about you?"

Consider your inbox. You have six new emails from strangers, with the following email addresses:
  1. bieber667@aol.com
  2. bill@billwaldon.com
  3. res26mdds@sbcglobal.net
  4. tommfs1982@hotmail.com
  5. christina.alvarez@gmail.com
  6. michael.singh@stanford.edu

Which of these people do you expect has a website? Which do you suspect clicks a lot of animated banner ads? Which ones do you anticipate having the most succinct, well-written message?

Call it stereotyping. Call it filtering. But based on these six email addresses, I know:

  • Bill, Verdun and Christina’s names.
  • tommfs1982 is probably 31 years old.
  • res26mdds is (in my opinion) a sucker for using SBC’s email, because it makes him less likely to switch to another provider.
  • The AOL user either likes Justin Bieber or has a name like Bill Ieber
  • Michael Singh goes to Stanford, or works there in some capacity.

Regardless of someone’s email address, you are likely to open and read most of these emails. It’s a pretty low commitment.

Based on just their email addresses, I start with mildly positive impressions for Bill, Christina and Verdun. I start with mildly negative impressions for the other three. All that may change once I start reading — but only if I start reading.

Considering it takes little time to setup a email like Ray@mywebsite.com  wouldn’t you give yourself a better chance at being read?  I have put together a brief tutorial on

Ray’s 3 Options for Your Own Professional me@mywebsite.com Email Address

“What’s your email address?”

That question may be even more important than, “What’s your website address?”

Your email address is how potential customers, business partners or employers will communicate with you. What will they think if it’s iheartbieber@yahoo.com or stuckinthe90s@aol.com?

No! You need a professional me@mywebsite.com email address. In this article, we’ll tell you the 3 options for your own personalized, professional email address.

Option 1: Self-hosted email

Web hosting companies typically include email hosting in their packages. If you already host your own website, you can also host your email there at no extra cost. The exception is managed hosting companies like Synthesis who don’t provide email hosting at all.

Self-hosted email - email is hosted on the server

When you host your own email, the web server for example.com also accepts emails touser@example.com. The user would then retrieve the email from the server.

This option allows you to create as many email accounts as you need, so self-hosted email is a good option if you need more than one address. You can either send and receive your email through an application like Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, or through a simple webmail interface.

I would advise using a desktop email client with the IMAP protocol for best results. You should also regularly backup your email, just like you need to backup your website.

Pros

  • Included in your web hosting plan at no additional cost
  • Easy to setup
  • Easy to setup to forward to GMail, Outlook, Etc.

Cons

  • If your server experiences downtime, both website and email are affected.
  • The email mailboxes contributes to the disk space for your hosting account.
  • Expect less than great support from your web host for email-related issues. Email is a secondary product which may not be high on their list of priorities.

Option 2: Redirect to webmail

The 2nd option is to use your web hosting only as a forwarder to redirect emails to your webmail service (e.g. Gmail / Yahoo / Outlook.com). This diagram explains how this works.

Redirect to webmail - email forwarded to webmail

Emails to user@example.com are received by the server which then forwards them to the user’s webmail account. The user then retrieves the email from his webmail account. The user can configure his webmail to send emails as user@example.com – yes, even for Yahoo and Outlook.com!

This is a great option if you only need a small number of email addresses. You also wouldn’t need separate logins for your webmail and professional email. You can also redirect general email addresses (e.g. customerservice@example.com) to your webmail.

Pros

  • Use your favorite webmail service to send and receive your professional emails.
  • No need to worry about email backups on the server.

MS Outlook tells recipients the email was sent via your webmail

Cons

  • If your server experiences downtime, you will not be able to receive emails unless sent directly to your webmail address.
  • Email recipients will see that your email was sent via your webmail service unless you take a few extra steps.
  • Doesn’t scale well if you need multiple accounts for additional team members.

Note: It is possible to have Gmail fetch your email from external accounts but I find this solution to be sub-optimal. This is because Gmail only checks for new emails every 15 minutes. There are hacks to get around that, but they are usually rather complex to setup.

Update: We have published 2 KB articles on how to use Option #2 with Gmail and Yahoo:

  1. Setup Gmail to send email from a different address
  2. Setup Yahoo! Mail to send email from a different address

Option 3: 3rd-party email provider

The final option is to use a dedicated email hosting provider for your email. Dedicated email hosting services can provide better features and support compared to free webmail services. Many also offer collaboration features like calendars and full-blown office suites.

3rd-party email provider - email doesn't even land on the server

With a setup like this, emails to user@example.com do not even land on the web server. MX records at the DNS level tell the emails that they should be routed directly to the email provider’s servers. This option can serve a single mailbox for yourself, or for your entire organization.

Personally, this is the option I recommend even for those who only need a single email address. However, you can set things up so you can send and receive from multiple domains into a single inbox, so with 1 login you can be me@mywebsite.com andme@anotherwebsite.com.

The biggest benefit: Unlike the other options, your email is not a secondary or free product. If your email is mission-critical, you need a dedicated email host that is accountable and responsible for your email.

Pros

  • Email unaffected by web server downtime
  • You can choose the best solution for your requirements

Cons

  • An additional cost for your business
  • Slightly more complicated to setup

Choosing an email host

There are lots of options for email hosting. Fastmail provides an email-centric offering which is easy to setup and use. Many businesses also use Microsoft Exchange, another email-centric offering. Domain registrars like Hover and GoDaddy also offer dedicated email hosting. On the other end of the scale are full-blown office suites like Google Appsand Office 365.

In my experience, many people find Google Apps confusing. They end up with multiple Google Accounts (personal and work) and get their logins mixed up – “Did I upload that video to my personal YouTube or the work YouTube. I didn’t even know there was a difference!”

Microsoft Exchange usually involves high costs and a “IT guy” who takes care of the servers, though I think companies like Rackspace and GoDaddy are trying to simplify things with their Hosted Exchange product. Either way, find someone who understands how mail servers work and engage them to help manage and administer things if you go with Google Apps or other enterprise-level solutions.

If you’re a small business who wants dedicated email hosting but to keep things as simple and affordable as possible, I can’t recommend Fastmail enough. They’re easy to understand, have a great product and are much simpler to setup and manage. I have used Fastmail to manage email for 5 different domains (!) for 3 years now and am extremely happy with my decision to go with them.

Finally, keep in mind that you can mix and match the 3 options above. So you could have 1 mailbox with Fastmail for the really important stuff, and forward the less important emails to Gmail. (I do this as well).

If email is important to you, you owe yourself to find a reliable and professional email solution.

And finally, I leave you with this comic from The Oatmeal: What your email address says about your computer skills. Know a friend with an email address like rockmysocks@hotmail.com? Maybe you should send them a link to this article.

Thanks for reading !

– Ray

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