While using a free Gmail account is fine when you’re starting out with your online business, over time you’ll want to learn how to create a professional email to help build trust and authority. Most beginners think they need to spend a lot of money Google Workspace or Microsoft 360 in order to get a pro address, but this is not true.
The reality is that you have quite a few different methods for creating a professional email and in this guide I’m going to show you your different options. To continue with this guide, you’ll need at minimum a domain name, a hosting account and access to a free email service like Gmail.
What we will be doing is setting up an email forward from the professional email to the free Gmail account and then setting up an alias to reply as. Last, I’ll show you my favorite email hosting option if you just want to skip all this techy stuff and just pay for a pro email.
Method 1 – Setup a business email with a web host
By far, the easiest method is to use your web hosting account. Granted, this is only for people who have a website and are paying for a web host. But if that’s you, creating a professional business email is easy. Here is how to get started.
With any shared hosting account, (I’ll be using Bluehost) you can create an email for your domain. The problem comes with checking your email. Each time you’ll need to log into your hosting account, go into CPanel, find your email client and log in. It’s tedious, annoying and time consuming.
Instead, create a professional email, forward it to a free Gmail account and setup and alias.
Step 1 – Create a professional email in CPanel
First log into your hosting account. Depending on your web host, you’ll need to navigate to where you can manage email. For Bluehost, this is under the advanced tab:
From this point simply click on “email accounts” and you’ll be able to setup any email for any domain you have added to your hosting account. I suggest creating an email with something like your name at your website, hello at your website and so forth. Have a personal touch to it if possible as info or support is a bit corporate and boring.
Type in the email handle you want and that’s it. You can stop here and just use your hosting account to check email or you can continue and setup a forward and redirect for use with a free Gmail account.
To check your email, simply log into your hosting account, then go to email accounts, then log into your server side email client.
Step 2 – Create an email forward
As it’s clunky to check email on your server, it’s much easier to set everything up to check via Gmail. Now that you have your professional email setup, simply setup an email forward. I strongly suggest you create a dedicated Gmail account that gets everything forwarded too. Now, navigate to your “email forwards” option in your hosting account:
You’ll want to forward email from your professional business email to a free Gmail account of your choosing. What this functionally does is that when anyone sends and email to “hello at your website” it automatically gets redirected to Gmail.
Step 3 – Set an alias in Gmail
Last is to setup an alias. This sounds complicated but it’s quite simple. When you reply to emails that have been forwarded, the reply will come from the Gmail account (obviously). But the issue is if someone emails “hello at your website” and gets a reply from a random Gmail account, it looks unprofessional on your end.
As such, you need to setup an alias to reply as. Go into your advanced settings in Gmail by clicking on the gear icon and navigate to “accounts and import” then click on add another email address:
What you’re doing is that you’re verifying that you own the professional email you want to reply from. So once you click to add another email address, you’ll see a popup:
Put in the professional email you created. Change the name as needed as well. When you reply to emails forwarded to this free Gmail account, the reply will look like it came from this email address.
When you click on “next step” fill out the form as follows:
Now you’ll have to fill out a few pieces of information. It should auto populate the required fields, but if not you’ll need to verify this information in your shared hosting account. Bluehost as a dedicated guide as to their SMTP settings. Your host will provide the same information.
- SMTP Server: This is your servers mail address. It’s usually mail.example.com.
- Username: This is the professional email you setup.
- Password: The password you created for your professional email (not the Gmail account mind you).
Step 4: Reply as your professional business email
The last step is to actually reply to emails from your professional email account. Now that you have added an alias, you need to make sure it’s selected when replying to emails.
This is why I stated earlier that it’s best to setup a dedicated Gmail account that exists only to receive email forwards from your professional email. Last, in your Gmail settings you can also set your alias as your default “reply from” address if you don’t want to manually select it from the drop down.
Method 2 – Setup an email with a domain registrar (Not recommended)
An alternative way to create a professional email using Gmail is to forward from your domain registrar to your Gmail account. This way is more technical and error prone. But if you don’t have a hosting account and just want to get a domain name at a domain registrar like Namecheap for example, it’s your only option.
Step 1 – Setup a forward in your domain name registrar
All domain name registrars allow you to forward email. Simply navigate in your settings to where you can add a forward. For Namecheap, it’s under your “domain” tab.
For the alias, that is simply whatever your professional email is. Like “hello at your domain name” in this example. Then, type in the email where you want everything forwarded to. I’m forwarding everything to a free Gmail account.
Step 2 – Setup an alias
You will now need to setup an alias. An alias allows you to reply to any email with your professional email. So when you reply in Gmail, the response will look like it came from your professional email instead of the Gmail account.
To get started, click on the gear icon and add a new email account under the “accounts and import” menu item:
Once you attempt to add another email address, you’ll need to verify your ownership. First add in your professional email that you have forwarding in Namecheap:
In Namecheap, we setup an email forward for our professional email for this domain name to redirect to Gmail. When you select next step, you’ll need to setup your email address:
You will have to set a few different things, regardless of your domain name registrar. Here is what you need to add:
- SMTP Server: This must be set to smtp.gmail.com because you’re using Gmail.
- Username: Your Gmail account that has all the email being forwarded to it goes here.
- Password: The password for this select Gmail account is required here.
Last, make sure the port is changed to 465 as that works best when using a domain name registrar.
Step 3 – Reply as your professional email
The last step is to simply select your professional email when replying to email. It’s easy to do, when replying simply select it from the drop down:
In your advanced settings you can select the professional email as the default “reply from” email if you like. That’s all there is to it when setting up a pro email using only a domain name registrar.
Troubleshooting authentication errors
This way is prone to technical errors primarily surrounding not being able to add your email as an alias in Gmail. Here are tips to help you troubleshoot any authentication errors you happen to run into.
First, if you get a “critical security alert” all you need to do is permit access and that should resolve any problem. Next, if you’re still having problems you may need to allow “less secure apps” in order to resolve authentication errors:
You can find these settings in your Google account under the security tab. For most users, this should resolve any errors. If authentication errors still persist then navigate to g.co/allowaccess and allow device access.
Method 3 – Get an email hosting account
The last way I want is to purchase dedicated email hosting from a web host. This is the method you want to use once you’re getting a lot of emails, need more advanced tools and want more security and privacy than what a Gmail provides.
Functionally, this is a private email server. Once you purchase an email hosting account, you’ll have to setup a few things. First, you need to decide which of your domains you want to create an email hosting account for.
Setup a mailbox and the DNS settings
Once you signup for an email hosting account for a specific domain you’ll need to navigate to “advanced DNS” and set “private email” as the mail settings. Next, simply manage the email for your domain. It’s an intuitive interface where you can add and delete mailboxes and check your email.
Please note that from now on, you’ll have to log into Namecheap to access your email. Alternatively, you can setup an email client like the Mail app on Windows or the IOS Mail app.
What to look for in an email host
As you’re shopping around you will want to look for are how much data you’re able to store for both email and media like images. You’ll also want to know how much adding additional mailboxes to your account costs.
My two favorite email hosting plans are from Namecheap and Dynadot. Namecheap is better if you need a lot of storage, Dynadot is better if you need multiple mailboxes.
With Namecheap, their starter plan is a low cost choice that is ideal for a solo entrepreneur. You get 1 free mailbox (like “hello” at your website), 5 GB of email storage and 2 GB for files. For anyone starting out this is more than adequate. They do charge roughly $8 per year for each additional mailbox.
Dynadot only provides a small, 2 GB of storage and if you need to increase that you’ll have to pay more. However, they provide unlimited mailboxes while Namecheap charges per mail box. Dynadot also has one plan that costs a very affordable $15 per year.
How to setup a professional business email conclusion
So that is it for this tutorial on how to create a professional business email. You can go the free route where you setup an email forward and an alias in Gmail or you can get a dedicated private host.
For most, setting up a forward is the most cost effective way if all you’re doing is replying to emails from a simple contact form on your blog. But when the time comes, it’s a good idea to use a private email service like what Namecheap or Dynadot provides.
For organizations and small teams, it does make sense to invest in a Google Workspace account if and only if you’re going to be using all the services that come with it.