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People love the familiar Gmail interface, but G Suite isn’t free and resorting to email@example.com isn’t very professional. Luckily, there is a way to use Gmail’s email client with your custom email address.
To create a free custom domain email with Gmail, just register a custom domain, sign up with Gmail, forward the emails to Gmail, and enable Gmail to send as your domain email address. You can immediately start using your new, professional email address for your startup, blog, business website or nonprofit!
However, I do recommend just signing up for G Suite instead. It’s much simpler and more reliable than the hack described in this post. In addition to a custom email address, you’ll have tons of extra features that make it easier to collaborate, share files, or add or remove users on your domain:
- For example, I have multiple @thedigitalnonprofit.com emails that I can use depending on the situation, like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.
- And when I hired contractor, it took 2 seconds to give them a firstname.lastname@example.org email so we presented a consistent brand.
- During the contract, I could make files & events shareable with all TDN employees to easily collaborate
- Finally, when the contract ended, I could freeze their accounts with 1 click so my business’ info is safe!
All of those benefits were possible because I had G Suite. Sign up here to get a 14-day free trial and 20% OFF your first year!
Get 20% OFF your 1st year of G Suite + 14 Day Trial
Enter your email here to get your 20% off coupon code! Google requires that we send them individually.
One last note–if you’re a registered nonprofit, you can get G Suite for free via Google for Nonprofits. Regardless of whether you’re a non-profit or for-profit, it’s best to take the long-term view. If you want to switch later, it will be a pain in the butt to transfer all your emails to G Suite. But if you still want a quick fix for the time being, here’s a quick workaround to use gmail with your own, custom domain.
Basically, you’ll just forward all the mail from email@example.com to a Gmail account, and change a setting so outgoing mail says firstname.lastname@example.org too. That’s it! So let’s jump right in.
1) Create a Gmail Account
You probably already have a personal Gmail account, and you could use it for your custom email, but just like finances, it’s best to keep business and personal separate. It will make things a lot easier down the road if you upgrade to G Suite or Google for Nonprofits.
Here’s how to make the account:
- Create a Gmail account here and pick a new email address. email@example.com usually works well.
- Follow the rest of the steps to verify you phone number, create your account, and sign in.
2) Create Your Professional Email Account Domain
Next, you’ll need to register your custom domain with a registrar that offers email forwarding.
If you haven’t registered your domain already, you can sign up with Bluehost to get a domain name, email hosting and web hosting all for just a couple bucks a month. You can even use this tool to see if your domain idea is available:
(You may need to disable adblock to use the tool)
Why do we recommend Bluehost?
Well if you’re looking for a professional email, you’ll probably want a website to go with it. Bluehost includes a domain name free if you sign up for web hosting, and they’re pretty much the gold standard when it comes to web hosts.
Even better, we have an exclusive Bluehost discount for you! Use the tool above or link below to get 1) a domain name, 2) website hosting, 3) an SSL certificate, and 4) email hosting for just $2.95 a month.
If nothing else, they have a 30 day money-back guarantee and pretty stellar support, so you can easily change your mind later.
3) Forward Emails from Your Custom Domain
Now that you’ve got a domain name, you’re going to route emails from your professional address to your Gmail address, so that you can continue to use the Gmail interface.
Below are the instructions for several different web hosts.
If your host isn’t listed: Look at the Hostgator instructions–chances are you have the same cPanel admin interface.
If that doesn’t work: Your domain registrar might not include email forwarding. You can transfer it to Bluehost, and you’ll also get web hosting as a bonus!. Just click “Get Started” on this link, and on the 3rd step or so put in your existing domain name rather than searching for a new one. They’ll guide you through the rest.
- Login to your Bluehost account
- Under the hosting section click the email link
- Click the forwarding link
- Click the add email button
- Enter the address you would like to be forwarded. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Choose your new Gmail as the destination for the forwarded email
- Click submit
Hostgator / Any cPanel Host
- Log into cPanel
- In the Mail section, click Forwarders
- Under the Email Account Forwarders section, Click Add Forwarder
- Type in the Address to Forward (email@example.com)
- Select “Forward to email address” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Click Add Forwarder
- Login to your account and click your name in the top-right.
- Select My Products from the drop-down
- Click the Manage button next to Workspace Email
- Click Create Forward
- Under Forward this email address, type the address you want to forward (email@example.com)
- Under To these email addresses, add your Gmail address
- Click Create
- Log in to your 1&1 Control Panel and select the relevant package
- Click the Manage E-mail Addresses link from the Mail panel
- Click the Set up forwards link located in the right corner of the page
- Choose a name and domain for the forwarding address (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Type your Gmail into the Forward Target(s) box
- Click Save
3) Enable Gmail to Send from Your Custom Email Addresses
Now that we have emails coming in to Gmail, this step will allow you to send email as email@example.com for free with Gmail’s SMTP servers.
- Go to this link. If you can enable “Less secure apps,” do so.
- If you get an error, it’s probably because you have 2-Step Verification enabled, like me. Go here to create an app-specific password instead.
- Return to Gmail, click the gear icon, then Settings
- Click Accounts and Import, then Add another email address in the Send mail as section
- Enter your name and firstname.lastname@example.org, allow Treat as an alias and then Next Step
- Enter the following credentials:
- SMTP Server: smtp.gmail.com
- Username: The part of your gmail address that comes before “@gmail.com”
- Password: Your Gmail or App-specific password
- Port: 587 or 465
- Secure connection using: TLS for 587, SSL for 465
4) Final Configuration
- You’ll be sent an email with a verification link. Make sure to click it to enable your new address.
- Once you are returned to the Settings page, click Make default next to your new, custom email.
- Send a friend an email to test outgoing messages
- Have them send you a message to confirm incoming messages
And that’s it! You now have Gmail with your own domain for free!
If you have any issues, comment below and I’ll do my best to fix them with you.