I was one of those super “early adopters” of Google Apps back when Google Apps was completely free. That’s right, Google’s amazing “Google for Work” service for businesses was once completely free!
Sometimes this early-adopterness in me is a major distraction and pain, and sometimes it’s a huge benefit and gain. In this case, it was a major gain! I registered my domain and sat up some services, chiefly being an official email of “contact @ rileyadamvoth.com”, somewhere around 2008. A few years later when the rest of the world realized how amazing Google for Work services are, Google began charging all the new folks who signed up. I already had many emails set up! Woohoo!
The Gmail user interface undoubtedly blew the janky host-provided email services out of the water in the past (*ugh* you remember GoDaddy’s email service back then? I nearly cried for my friends anytime I’d see it!), and even with many of them having updated their host-provided web-based email accounts, they’re still pretty horrible! Though they offer some other good stuff, the Gmail for your official domain-branded email address is by far the best service you get, making the monthly cost worth it for most organizations. And, I do believe in paying for good software if you can!
But, what if you’re boot-strapping your organization to the max, or you’re just a small time blogger that wants to look official, and you can’t afford to pay the monthly Google for Work payment for their services? Well, you have two pretty simple options:
Options If You Don’t Want To Pay For Google For Work / Google Apps:
(1). You can set up your email to pull into a desktop or mobile app such as Apple Mail, Outlook, or any number of pretty-great third-party apps out there. This is usually how most people do it, and so there’s tons of instructions online and provided by your domain host. I won’t get into it here.
One quick tip though: the Gmail (and Outlook, for that matter) native apps on mobile devices do now allow you to add in your third-party accounts like the third-party apps do. It’s pretty slick for mobile, but you’re still stuck if you wanna check them on your larger devices.
However, as crazy as it sounds, I’ve actually always preferred checking my email in a web interface for a number of reasons.
- I like the consistency of it (the web apps are consistent across all browsers and devices).
- I do most of my work in browsers anyway (and now even have a Chromebook which only runs web apps).
- I’ve always had specific systems and folder structures for my email (that work best in the native web apps).
- Google allows for easy switching between account that you don’t want merged (the user switching in the right hand corner).
- You can easily allow access to the account by just sharing the password with trusted staff and know the options and folders and such will be consistent and maintained.
- There’s an easy way to import all the accounts into one inbox that you do want merged and yet obviously label them to easily see which address they were sent to for quick sorting. This is what I’ll explain now…
(2). You can still import personal domains you want into one Gmail account and send mail as that address!
Yep! I have done this for years and it’s actually quite simple. It’s just not well known. So I’ll show you the easy way to do this by walking you through how I have it set up for myself and team members with the large blog and online community I run called TheMajestysMen.com.
First, you need to have your personal domain branded email set up with your hosting provider. So if it’s Bluehost for example, you go through the Cpanel once logged in and set this up (just follow their instructions). Since Cpanel is basically the same for every host, you’ll do the same things even if your host hasn’t updated their user interface quite as nicely as Bluehost has recently…
Once you have a few domains created, you’ll be able to see the page for your email account like this:
You’ll then go down the left hand side and choose “Email Configuration”. You’ll get a screen with all the info on it that you would normally use to set up your email in your desktop or mobile app. However, we’re not going to use it for that…
If you do not have access to these, then you need to ask your organizational administrator or your hosting provider. These are easily accessible by them, and if you have someone who won’t give these to you, then you need a new provider or website developer – plain and simple.
Once you’ve located this information from your host, the fun begins! Leave these open, and now open a new tab in your browser to log in to your personal or main administrative Gmail account.
Once logged in to your Gmail account, you’ll want to go to the Settings gear icon in the upper right hand corner, click it and drop down to the menu item, “Settings”.
You’ll then navigate to the Accounts and Import tab where you’ll see options to setup additional email addresses to both
- Send email as an alternative address you own (super great feature!).
- Check email from a different address you own.
This is where the magic happens!
It’s also where the details happen (and really, really matter)!
Adding An Email Account To Your Gmail Account
Begin by clicking on the “Add a POP3 mail account you own” link. This will open a little pop up box for you where you’ll configure the details, that you still have open in the other tab, from your hosting provider.
Add your email account here.
I have three tips I would strongly advise:
- UNCHECK the box to leave a copy on your server. There is no reason to leave a copy on your server. This will only take up space and you do not want that happening because, after this, you’ll never log in to your server based webmail again.
- CHECK the box to add a label to the new emails. This is so handy! If you see in the screenshot of my inbox a few back, some of the addresses coming in have their own color and label. They still come to the inbox (I’d never advise skipping the inbox) but they’re easily distinguishable. So add a label, and then later, once this is set up, give that label it’s own distinct color from your inbox label settings. You’ll be glad you did!
- Use your secure connection if you possibly can (sometimes, for different reasons with hosting and configurations, this doesn’t always work.
Now go back and make sure you do basically the same process to set your new email address as one that you can Send email from, which is different than receiving your email from. If you can do this first process though, you can do the next. The settings for that are right above it.
My one tip for the “Send email from” would be to make sure you have it clicked to “Reply from the same address the message was sent to”. You can see this in the screenshot above. You’ll be glad you have that marked and so will the people who are emailing you and your team — avoids a lot of confusion. Ha!
You’re All Set!
See, that was pretty easy! Now, you can check your email from anywhere — any browser and even any mobile app. It’s all working through the same account!
Happy looking official and doing it for cheap! :)