My email address is ruining my life

“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 your email is [email protected] or [email protected]?

No! You need a professional [email protected] 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 on Bluehost, SiteGround, etc, you can also host your email there at no extra cost.

When you host your own email, the web server for example.com also accepts emails to [email protected]. 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.

Important note: Most managed hosting companies like WP Engine or Kinsta don’t provide email hosting. If your web host doesn’t offer email hosting, skip to Option 3.

Pros

  • Included in your web hosting plan at no additional cost
  • Easy to setup

Cons

  • If your server experiences downtime, both website and email are affected.
  • The email mailboxes contributes to the disk space for your hosting account.
  • The webmail clients are really basic; you’ll be disappointed if you’re used to Gmail or Yahoo Mail.
  • 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.

Emails to [email protected] 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 [email protected] – 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. [email protected]) 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.

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 (screenshot below) unless you take a few extra steps.
  • Doesn’t scale well if you need multiple accounts for your virtual assistant or additional team members.
Recipients can see that the email was sent via Gmail

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 provider for your email like Google Workspace or postale.io. Dedicated email services can provide better features and support compared to free webmail services. Many also offer collaboration features like calendars and full-blown office suites.

With a setup like this, emails to [email protected] 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. This option also allows you to send and receive from multiple domains into a single inbox, so with one account you can be [email protected] and [email protected].

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 set up

Choosing an email provider

There are lots of options for email hosting. Fastmail and postale.io provide email-centric offering which is easy to set up and use. Domain registrars like Hover and Namecheap allow you to add on email services when buying a domain. On the other end of the scale are full-blown office suites like Google Workspce and Microsoft 365.

Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 are more complicated to administer because they are designed to be used by companies with lots of users. Support for small (single user) accounts is also really bad – you have to use their ticket system and you never know when they’ll get back to you. 

I also find that many people get confused with Google Workspace. 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!”

If you’re a small business who wants dedicated email hosting, the two stand out options are postale.io and Fastmail.

postale.io advertises itself as domain emails made easy. Signing up takes seconds and their clear instructions and friendly support will help you get set up in no time. You can access your email through the basic webmail interface, or configure your mobile phone or laptop to work with your mailbox. With lots of great reviews, pricing that starts at $1/mo, you have to check them out. 

Fastmail is what I personally use (for over 10 years now). Their product is user-friendly but full-featured. They include features like undo send, email snoozing, send later, calendar, great mobile app – everything that you’re used to from Gmail. What sets Fastmail apart is their strong focus on privacy and security. Fastmail has been in business for more than 20 years, and it’s easy to see why.

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 [email protected]? Maybe you should send them a link to this article.

About David

David has over 15 years of experience with web geekery and WordPress. That experience spans every­thing from cre­at­ing affordable websites for small businesses, developing custom themes to opti­miz­ing WordPress sites for thou­sands of page views in a day. Say hi to David on Twitter at @blogjunkie.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Phase Creative (@PhaseCreative)

    Great writeup! I’ve recently been discouraging clients from placing their email responsibilities on their webhost (particularly in the case of shared hosting).

    I’ve just signed up for Google Apps.

    Another pro for the 3rd party email provider is that they backup for you.

  2. matt

    http://3mail4.me I currently use 3mail4.me. It is stable fast and seems secure enough. They very care about privacy and that’s good. Honestly I just don’t trust big email companies because of the NSA and all these insane laws they have passed or plan on passing.

  3. @iamzoran

    David, I like Apple everything. Currently I have Business client that uses Exchange Outlook and 365. I think all at the same time. Every time they need to set up new email or change anything they have to call an IT guy at 100/hr. It’s downright cruel.

    I have used BlueHost just for my email management.and they host a landing page. Otherwise I have no websites yet. All the domains are registered with GoDaddy but one.
    Ever since BlueHost ‘upgraded’ few months ago It’s been an absolute nightmare. I need sound advise for me and my client and emails set up I can manage myself. Using C-panel was reasonable with BlueHost. Now I have no access to C-panel from my iPhone or iPad. And these are my tools.

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