Setting up your business email address with Google Apps
You have a shiny new domain name and perhaps you even have a brand new sparkling website. But what about your email address? Are you still emailing clients, suppliers, customers and colleagues via your Hotmail, Gmail, Apple or Yahoo address? Or perhaps your website came with its own email account and is still hosted with the terrible services that domain registrars and webhosts generally offer.
Sending email from your own domain immediately conveys a much more professional image, makes you more trustworthy and reinforces your brand. Setting it up, though, can be a bit of a pain. So instead of having to outsource any changes — like adding new users — I’m here to help lead you to email freedom!
Whether you’re using an email from a free web service or you’re locked into a terrible hosted solution, I recommend using Google Apps for Work. It is what I use in my business and it’s what I recommend to my clients. So let me outline some of the benefits.
Why use Google Apps for Work?
Google Apps for work is just like Gmail, but for your own custom domain. So if you are already using Gmail then you will be familiar with the interface and functionality and the transition will be easy. Below are just some of the benefits:
- 30GB of online storage for file syncing and sharing (Google Drive) and your email.
- A good spam filter.
- Great search functionality (if anyone can do search it is Google).
- An easy interface to answer, read and organise emails.
- Up to 30 alias email addresses for your blog or business (e.g. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com etc).
- Online text documents, spreadsheets and slides via Google Docs.
- Easy to use admin controls.
- 24/7 phone and email support.
- An integrated online calendar (Google Calendar).
- Video and voice calls (Google Hangouts).
- And if you actually don’t like the Gmail interface you can still use your favourite desktop client, through the IMAP or POP mail protocol.
- 99.9% guaranteed uptime.
What are the costs?
So, I have told you about all the reasons I use Google Apps in my business but before we go any further let’s talk about the costs.
Yes, Google Apps used to be free. When I set it up for Puppy Tales I got all those features and didn’t have to pay a thing. But now there is a cost. It is $5 per user per month or $50 per year if you pay upfront. This still represents a great deal for me, so I don’t mind adding it to my business expenses. People have suggested that I can add a custom domain to my gmail account through email forwarding without it costing anything. But this is not strictly true. Your email then needs to be hosted somewhere else and you’ll need to pay for that storage and management. If I got my email hosted through my domain registrar that would cost me $5.24 per month with no email aliases, only 1GB of storage and none of the other features. So the cost of Google Apps is well worth it.
Setting up Google Apps
I’ve had several clients keen to set up their Google Apps account but unsure where to start, so I’ve found it handy to have a step-by-step guide to help them through it. Now, for your benefit, I’m publishing my no-fail, easy-to-follow guide to setting up your business’s Google Apps account.
1. Go to the Google Apps homepage
Go to www.google.com/a and you will arrive at the Google Apps for Work homepage. There is lots of information on this site about pricing and features, but if you are ready to go hit one of the green ‘Get started’ buttons.
2. Get started with Google Apps
There are three boxes to fill in:
- Your business name (can just be your own name if you don’t have a separate business)
- Number of employees (“1” if you are the only person in your business)
- Your country
3. Select a domain to use
You can either select to ‘Use a domain you already own’ or ‘Buy a new domain name now’ with Google. I am going to assume you have already bought your domain so we will choose the first option, but I have heard good things about Google domains so buying with them might be something to consider.
4. Create your Google Apps account
This form is pretty straight forward but a few tips are:
- The username or first email address can be anything you want but I would put your main address in here. In my example I’m using firstname.lastname@example.org
- Your recovery email address must be something you already own and use and should not be on the domain you’re setting up. I use my personal Gmail account that I have had for years.
5. Set up Google Apps for work
Now have a Google Apps account! (You are also sent an email to your recovery email address to let you know.) But you do have a few more steps to go before you can use it. The next screen you go to is ‘Set up Google Apps for Work’. Here it has a big tick next to ‘Set up a business account’. The only thing on this page that you can click on is the next step of adding people to the account. So hit the blue ‘start’ button.
6. Add people to your Google Apps account
If you are migrating your team from another email service add them now. If you don’t and it is just you hit the check box to say you added all users and you can move to the next step. Note: make sure you do add all existing team member emails if you want them to come across.
7. Verify your domain and email setup
This step sounds hard but we are nearly there so keep going. Verification is required so Google knows you actually own the domain you are setting up your email on. This ensures a random person can’t set up and send email from your domain.
As you can see from the screen shot below, Google has detected my domain is hosted with GoDaddy so I have the option to hit the verify button down the bottom to allow Google to go and confirm the details with GoDaddy. BUT if this doesn’t work for you there are other options.
7a. Verify by adding a meta tag
Read Google’s instructions carefully, but essentially you can add the meta tag they provide into the HTML of your homepage. If you are on WordPress many themes (such as Headway and Genesis) have a space for this (in Headway, it’s under Headway > Options > Scripts/Analytics > Header Scripts). If your theme doesn’t support it then there’s a plugin you can install called Insert headers and footers that will provide an easy-to-edit header section. Just copy the code that Google provides into that section.
7b. Add a domain host record (TXT or CNAME) or upload the Google HTML file to the root of your domain
If you choose one of these alternate methods Google will step you through accessing your domain control panel, creating MX records, deleting MX records and saving MX records.
Depending on your technical capabilities I would go with the method that saves you time. For me that was just letting Google and GoDaddy talk to each other. By hitting the first verify button Google prompted me to login into GoDaddy and from there it was just a matter of me clicking “Accept” to allow Google to submit changes on my behalf to the domain name (DNS) records for lisakatemiller.com.
8. Verify your domain and set up email
After allowing Google to make changes to your DNS records you come back to the ‘Verify your domain and set up email’ screen and you have a progress bar indicating how long your site will take to verify. Mine said four minutes, I think it actually took two until… domain verified! An email is also sent to your recovery email address to say you have a new email on your custom domain.
9. A 30-day trial and billing details
You are now set up and on a 30-day free trial. The last step that Google prompts you to do is put in your billing details. This is so at the end of your trial your account isn’t suspended. If you want to put in your billing details after you have tried the service out for a few days/weeks you can. Personally, I put my credit card details in at this stage when I set up my Lisa Kate email as I knew I would be using the service and didn’t want to bother with this later. If you do go to the billing page you will be given two options: you can either pay month by month at $5 per user per month OR you can pay for the whole year and only pay $4.17 per user per month (which is $50 a year).
Once you choose your plan make sure you put in the right amount of users, if it is just yourself then 1. If you have a promo code (contact me as I have a few that save you $10 per user) pop it in and then you’re ready to agree to the conditions and put in your credit card details.
I hope this tutorial has helped you get your professional business email set up and running. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Have a lovely week!
P.S. This post does not include affiliate links. I am recommending this service because I use and love it myself, and recommend it to all my clients.