Situations arise where we need an email account setup using the domain we own. Like in my case, with my side consulting gig, it became more important for me to have a real email with my business domain name to present myself professionally.
Having an email for your business or blog with the domain provides a higher level of professionalism which cannot be achieved using a Gmail or yahoo account. At the same time, it helps segregate emails coming from my family and personal contacts to the ones I receive from my business contacts.
The goal of this blog post is to provide a step by step set of instruction on how one could set it up for free, assuming you already own a domain name for which you are paying annual renewal costs.
In this process, we are going to use three different services one of which you may already have. They are the following
Now let us get into the details
Cloudflare is a DNS service provider with both free and paid plan options. For this application, we will only use the free plan. DNS stands for Domain Name System, that directs traffic coming to a domain name (such as example.com) to the server which is hosting the website or email service. In simple terms acts as a Post Office transferring mail based on the address on the envelope or package.
Signup for a free account with a username and password. Once logged in click on to add your domain. Choose the free plan and click next.
Cloudflare does the work of importing the DNS settings from your domain registrar (Godaddy or Google or Namecheap).
Unlike the image above you may or may not have all the information. For this tutorial we will focus only on the MX records.
Click Continue and select the Default option. Cloudflare will provide you information on how to transfer the DNS management to Cloudflare. It basically involves adding the Cloudflare Nameservers at your Domain Registrar.
NOTE: The transfer does not change the role of your Domain Registrar on the renewal or maintaining the domain ownership records. It just transfers the DNS management to Cloudflare.
Login into your Domain Registrar, Godaddy.com or domains.google.com or the one you bought the domain and update the Nameserver information.
It may take up to 24 hours for this information to be updated but usually happens in few minutes to an hour.
Setup ImprovMx for email
To setup email, visit www.improvmx.com.
Fill in your domain name and the forwarding email address, preferably to a Gmail account as the next steps involve setting up and accessing the email through your personal Gmail Inbox.
Follow the steps as directed by ImprovMx. It includes adding or updating MX and TXT records on Cloudflare.
NOTE AGAIN: The DNS update is now done in your Cloudflare account and not your Domain Registrar since you have already transferred the DNS management to Cloudflare.
As always, it may take up to 24 hours for this information to be updated but usually happens in few minutes to an hour.
Setup your Gmail
So far so good but now we need to be able to see your and reply to the emails received on your [email protected]. For this Gmail’s free service comes to the rescue.
Login to your personal Gmail account and leave it open on a tab.
If you have enabled 2FA (two factor authentication) in your Gmail account, which I strongly suggest you do, there are some additional steps to undertake.
Create an app password using the steps provided in this link. Google will verify your ownership with this app password. Select “Mail” under app, and “Mac” under device. Hit “Generate”. Copy and keep for later.
Switch back to your Gmail tab and click on Settings which a “gear” icon on the top right of the window. Then, select “Add another email address you own” under Aliases.
Set your forwarded email (your alias) and your sender’s name. Uncheck “Treat as an alias”.
Fill in your email information. SMTP is smtp.gmail.com, port is right already. Username is your Gmail address (incl. @gmail.com). Password is the app password you had created earlier. Leave TLS enabled as is.
Once complete you will receive an email from Gmail asking you to confirm ownership with a code. Fill in the code in the popup window, and you are all set.
Try sending a test email to your new domain email and it will show up in your Gmail inbox. You can create rules to label emails coming to this newly created email address.
One more step to avoid replying from you personal email address, in your Gmail settings > Accounts ensure you have it set as the following so that it replies from the same account the email was received in.
When composing a new email, you will have the option to pick the FROM address by selecting the right account from the drop down. By default, Gmail will pick your personal Gmail account as the FROM address.
Now you are all set with your email belonging to your own domain looking professional to your clients or sorting your emails between personal and business as you deem necessary.
I would love to know how it has worked for you and if you have any suggestions please leave them below in the comments below.