Email is a huge part of modern day to day communication and a huge part of running a business or a blog. One question that I come across a lot is whether you need to have a custom email address to look professional. By custom I mean having an email with a custom domain, rather than a gmail or hotmail email address. Like my email mcarter @ whitecornercreative.com.
The answer is YES. If you are using your email in any professional or business-like setting, you need a custom address.
The truth is that there is no legitimacy behind a standard gmail or hotmail address. You can see this clearly with Spam comments. If you run a website and get a comment that you aren’t sure is spam or not, you likely look at the poster’s details. If they have a gmail address, something like firstname.lastname@example.org, it doesn’t look very legitimate, and you’re likely going to mark the comment as spam and delete it.
Many online services also place the same legitimacy value in having a custom email address, and even require you to have one. Email newsletter services like MailChimp won’t let you send out a campaign with a gmail address in the ‘from’ section, because it is so much more likely for the email to be accidentally dumped into the spam folder.
Another reason you need to have a custom address is because it shows that you have made an investment. Most people know that to get a custom address, you need to have a website, or at least have purchased a domain name. So, when you use a gmail or hotmail address, it shows that you haven’t invested in your business. When you’re asking people to invest in a business that you haven’t even invested in yourself, that’s not a good sign.
Another vital reason why you need to invest in a custom address is branding. The first time you send someone an email or pass over your business card, they immediately see that you have a professional email and they know how to find your website. Even if your website isn’t up and running yet and you just have a landing page, at least they know how to find you. A custom address carries your brand throughout all your materials, including your emails.
Lastly, why wouldn’t you get a custom email address?! If you have a website – and pretty much everyone does these days – your custom email address is likely included in your hosting package. And, it’s easy to set up, so why wouldn’t you?
How to Set up Your Custom Email Address
I use Dreamhost to host my website and email addresses, so I’ll show you how to set it up through Dreamhost, though it is likely very similar with any provider.
Log in, and then click Mail > Manage Mail in the toolbar on the left. Then click Create New Email Address. There you can enter any address you want, with the ending of your domain name. Since these email addresses are unique to you, you can use whatever name you want, just keep it short and sweet since this is going to be your primary address.
There are lots of settings you can select on the setup page, and they are all fairly straightforward so you should be okay. You can choose to forward your emails to another address, you can set your storage capacity, and you choose your email password.
Once you’ve got everything set up, Dreamhost has its own web mail setup so you can login and use your email through there, or you can add your email address to mac mail or any other program, just like you normally would. Dreamhost has a handy wiki to help you configure it with any program, like their tutorial here on how to add it to Mac Mail.
If you don’t have a website yet and can’t afford to invest in one, that’s okay. I mean, investing in your business is a huge part of finding success, but if you aren’t ready yet, you aren’t ready. The best thing you can do is try to make the best out of a gmail or hotmail address. Something like WhiteCornerCreative@gmail.com is your best option because it is still somewhat professional. But start saving and invest as soon as you can, because although this is an okay option, a custom address is so much better!