In one of my previous articles, I provided instructions on how to set-up an email address using a custom domain with Outlook.com. So instead of providing your business email as email@example.com, you would instead provide it as firstname.lastname@example.org. The latter option provides a more “business-professional” image of you and your business. Since the time I wrote that article and now, Microsoft has changed its policy with regards to free hosted email solutions using custom domains. As of April 11, 2014, Microsoft has incorporated the custom email domain solution as a part of it’s Office 365 product. As such, it is no longer free, right now that option costs a minimum of US $4.00 per user per month. I must say that this is a very good price for small to medium businesses who need business email for less than 10 people. However, if you are a sole proprietor who needs to save/cut cost as much as possible there are always other options out there besides Microsoft and Google.
Let me introduce you to Zoho Mail, one of the best online email services you probably have never heard of. Any feature that Microsoft or Google can offer, in terms of email, Zoho can offer it too. In fact, Zoho has features that neither of the industry giants have, e.g., providing an ad-free inbox. What’s more is that they offer free email hosting, with support for a custom domain, 5 GB of storage and support for 10 users… for FREE. If you or your company is serious about emails, Zoho Mail would be a better option than Gmail or Outlook.com. One of the main reasons I say this, is because Zoho supports DKIM. This is a very important feature which prevents the emails you send from being sent to the recipient’s “SPAM” folder. Google supports the feature, Microsoft does not, both are paid services. It should also be noted that Zoho Mail supports other features, including an online document editor, speadsheet editor, presentation editor, Dropbox integration and email marketing champaign.
As with my previous article I will be providing instruction on creating an email account that uses a custom domain name. The instructions are virtually the same, the only real difference is that we are going to be using a new provider to host our email accounts.
Prerequisites needed to start us off:
- A registered domain name (e.g, www.yourcompanyhere.com).
- Access to your domain’s DNS editor with the ability to add a MX and TXT records.
- A regular email account with Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.
If you are still interested in creating a custom email address for you or your business, let’s begin.
- Visit http://www.zoho.com/mail and click on big red “GET STARTED” button. This will take you to a page that lists the different option bundles in a price table. We are interest in the free option, so will click the big red “SIGN UP” below the section. [screenshot 1]
- We should now be on a page that provides 2 text entry fields. The first field is where we entry our existing domain, then we click the “ADD DOMAIN” button. (The second option on this page is if you want to purchase a domain from Zoho. This option is only available for paid accounts, so we are not concerned about this area.). [screenshot 2]
- After the previous step we should now be on a sign up page that asks for the regular sign up information – name, password, ID and email address. We’ll enter the required information. The ‘Zoho ID’ is going to be your main administration account ID and email. Also the contact email is where you are going to enter your regular email address, this where they will send you the account activation email. [screenshot 3]
- The next page will provide you with a check-list of steps that needs to be completed in sequential order. The first of these steps is to verify that you own the domain you signed up with. The great thing about these next few steps is that each step provides wonderful instructions on the page that explains how to complete the required set-up. They will also provide you with steps that require you to create or update DNS records.These steps will have to be done where you initially purchased your domain (GoDaddy, NameCheap, etc ). Also note that some of these procedures are going to require some wait time (20 minutes – 24 hours), while the DNS records are updated. [screenshot 4] [screenshot 5]
When you are finished with these steps, you should now have at least one email account using your domain name. To make sure everything is up and running, I strongly suggest that you try sending an email to and from the newly created email address. If you followed all the steps I provided, along with those by Zoho, you should now have working email accounts for you and your company.
The only thing that is left is starting giving out your new email address to friend and colleagues (they’ll be very impressed).
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