In Step Three of this series of articles on How to Start a Blog on a Budget, we’ll take a look at how you could use a custom domain email address and build your blog’s branding right from the start.

Custom domain email address is important in building your branding.

Still, I’ve seen many bloggers are using generic email address. It’s easy to understand..

Why?

Because custom domain email address isn’t free.

For those who subscribed for web hosting service with Bluehost or SiteGround for example, you might be able to create email address for free. But let’s be honest, most of the email clients that come with your hosting sucks. The interface is bad, the speed is slow, and the features are limited.

Gmail is still my preferred email client. But I don’t want to pay $5/month to use a custom domain email address with Gmail.

In this post, I will teach you how you could set up a custom email address on Gmail for free just like what I’ve done for my website.

Add Credibility to Your Online Business

Why Custom Domain Email Address?

There’s no definite reasons why you have to use custom email address. One thing for sure, using custom email address makes your business looks more credible and professional.

Imagine if getting an email from typeeighty@gmail.com and hello@typeeighty.com. Which email do you think you’ll more likely to open and respond to?

With custom email address, you can create multiple email aliases for different needs. For my website, I create hello@typeeighty.com for my general contact form, yuyu@typeeighty.com for my personal email address.

Having a custom email address makes your business more memorable to your target audience or customer and helps to build your brand.

Having a custom domain email address helps to build your brand.Click To Tweet

List of Custom Email Options

I’ve been using Gmail for the longest time as I can remember. It’s hard to admit, other than  Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook, I don’t really know what other options are available.

If you feel the same, worry not, you’re not alone.

The same question have been asked around all the time even on Product Hunt.

What’s the alternative to G Suite?

G Suite is a set of intelligent apps including Gmail, Docs, Drive and Calendar. It is great for businesses, if not the best, but paying $5/user/month when you just launched your site seems pretty expensive.

There are a couple of options you can consider:

Zoho Mail: Zoho Mail is probably the best alternative to G-Suite. Its free for up to 25 users. You can experience a clean, ad-free, and minimalistic interface. The best part of Zoho Mail is that it’s free plan that support a single domain hosting.

Fastmail: Fastmail is a popular choice for fast and secure email hosting. Unfortunately, to support a custom domain, you’ll need to get their Standard plan @ $5/user/month.

ProtonMail: If privacy is your main concern, you might want to check out ProtonMail. ProtonMail boasts its end-to-end encryption and it ensures that your data is protected by strict Swiss privacy laws. To get support for a custom domain, you’ll be look at their PLUS plan @ 4.00 € /Month for up to 5 users.

As you can see, other than Zoho Mail, there’s no other services allow you to use custom email address for free.

I prefer to use Gmail and still allowing me to send email using a custom domain (@typeeighty.com) for free.

Sounds good?

Keep on reading.

Domain Name Registration from Namecheap

Setting up Mailgun Account

Instead of paying for a G Suite account, there’s a way to add a custom email address to your Gmail for free.

Here comes Mailgun!

Mailgun is a service that allows you to send, receive and track email automatically and it’s free for 10,000 emails a month.

Start using Mailgun and use custom domain email address with your Gmail for free.Click To Tweet

Now, you can use your Gmail account with a custom domain…

… your domain.

Head down to Mailgun and sign up for an account. Make sure you sign up with your Gmail or other email accounts you have access to.

Once you’ve verified and activated your account, your dashboard should look something like this.

Mailgun Dashboard - TypeEighty

Next, you need to add your domain to Mailgun. You can click on “Add a custom domain” link under “Getting Started” or click “Domains” and “Add New Domain” button.

By default, Mailgun recommends you to use a subdomain instead of root domain. That is use “mg.typeeighty.com” instead “typeeighty.com”.

Ignore that!

I had problem sending email from my root domain when I used a subdomain.

After adding a domain, Mailgun will prompt you to verify your domain.

You need to update your DNS Records for sending and receiving emails with Mailgun and for tracking activities such as opens, clicks and unsubscribes.

Go to the DNS provider that you use to manage your domain and add the DNS records provided by Mailgun and wait for the domain to verify successfully.

If you followed my previous post, I am using Google Cloud’s Cloud DNS to manage my domain DNS. This is how your DNS records should look like more or less.

Google Cloud DNS - TypeEighty

As you can see I added:

  1. MX records that specify how the email should be routed with the SMTP server.
  2. TXT records that’s known as SPF and DKIM that’s required for sending and receiving email with Mailgun.
  3. CName record is optional. You could add this if you want to track opens, clicks and unsubscribes.

Once you have updated your DNS records, go back to the Domains page and click on your domain.

Scroll down to “Domain Verification & DNS” section and click on it to expand the tab.

Finally, click on the “Check DNS Records Now” and you should see green checks on each of the records indicating that your domain is verified.

Then click on the big “Domain Verification & DNS” header to expand it, and click the “Check DNS Records” Now button.

You should see green checkmarks on the MX and TXT records indicating that setup was successful.

Buying a domain is easy

Setting up SMTP Credentials

Now that your domain has been verified. It’s time to add some email addresses. If you’re not on your domain page, go back to your domain page.

Your domain should be active by now.

Mailgun Domain - TypeEighty

Click “Manage SMTP credentials”. This page will list all the email addresses that can send or receive emails for your domain.

And click on “New SMTP Credential” button to start adding your email address and password.

Mailgun SMTP Credentials - TypeEighty

For my website, I’ve set up 2 email address: hello@typeeighty.com and yuyu@typeeighty.com.

You can add as many as you want depending on your needs.

Setting up Email Forwarding

This step is one of the important steps you need to do to make sure your Gmail account can receive emails to the custom email addresses your created earlier.

Email forwarding basically will forward emails that the server received to the specified address.

In Mailgun, you do this with Routes.

Click on “Routes” on the top navigation and click “Create Route”.

If you’re like me, just launched your site and you’re doing everything by yourself. I would create a route that would catch all emails sent to my custom domain and forward all those emails to my gmail account.

Which means, email sent to hello@typeeighty.com and yuyu@typeeighty.com will be forwarded to my gmail account.

Catch All Route

Mailgun Catch All Route - TypeEighty

This is the simplest route. Just check the “Forward” checkbox, enter your Gmail address and set Priority to 1. And you’re all set.

This setup works fine for me right now. But as my team is growing, I might want to assign different team member to handle different email address or I might set up another email address from another team member.

When that happen, our “Catch All” route won’t work as it should be anymore.

I will need to apply multiple different routes so that emails can be forwarded to its respected recipient.

This is example of route that I would implement in the future to accommodate that.

Mailgun Route - TypeEighty

So I might assign a team member or a virtual assistant to handle any enquiries sent to hello@typeeighty.com for example.

Good thing about Mailgun’s Route is that it’s easy to test the route and check where the email will be forwarded to.

Mailgun Route Test - TypeEighty

As you can see, once I added the new route and set it to lower priority, the new route will take effect.

Mailgun makes it easy to receive and forward emails.Click To Tweet

Setting up Custom Email Address on Gmail

Now you can receive emails on custom domain and Mailgun will forward emails to your Gmail account.

What about sending email from your custom domain?

Let’s add those email address to your Gmail account.

Go to “Accounts and Import” in Gmail setting. Click on “Add another email address”.

Gmail add email address - TypeEighty

Enter the custom email address you created earlier. Click “Next Step”.

Gmail add email address - TypeEighty

Enter the following settings:
SMTP Server: smtp.mailgun.org
Port: 587
Username: The full email address, e.g hello@typeeighty.com
Password: Enter the password you used to create the email address in Mailgun

Click “Add Account”.

You’ll need to enter confirmation code that Google sent to the email address which is forwarded to your Gmail.

Voila!

You’re done.

Do you know you can add other email address to you Gmail? No more switching emails.Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

Having custom email address is important for you and your business. It helps to build your branding and makes you look more credible.

With service such as Mailgun, we can save at least $5/month for a branded email address.

Now you can send email using custom domain right from your Gmail for free up to 10,000 emails a month!

If you have any questions, leave a comment below!


Yuyu

I am a Front-end developer, design lover, coffee addict, technology enthusiast. Has strong passion for productivity, new ideas and problem solving.

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