I just got a fantastic offer in my email inbox this morning – a truly remarkable pill that will rejuvenate my skin, restore my thinning hair, add inches to my height, help me lose 25 unwanted pounds, and it will take out the garbage, walk the dog, and iron my pyjamas. I know, you probably think I’m crazy for not taking them up on their time limited, once in a lifetime offer, but suffice to say, I am going to remain a short, pudgy, slightly balding, and old Canadian dude.
I don’t know if they got my email from the credit card I signed up with, from Old Navy, or from the adult themed website I recently signed up for (I’m a sucker for vintage, non-winning lottery tickets).
Since you are asked for your email address all the time, it’s not surprising that we are a bit paranoid about where that information will go. Is it being shared with unscrupulous Nigerian businessmen, or worse – is it being added to the mailing lists of internet marketers throughout the web?
You could use one of the many webmail services available, like gmail, msn, or hotmail, or even some of the disposable email options, like www.guerrillamail.com or 10minutemail.com, but I’ve started using this trick to comfortably share my email address, while minimizing the worry that it is going to be shared with a million internet marketers. It doesn’t eliminate unnecessary emails or spam, but it does make it a bit easier for you to manage your inbox.
Get Your Own Domain
You’re a smart freelancer or small business person, and you already have your own domain, right? If not, use one of the many domain registrars available, and find a unique domain to claim as your own. With domains running from $1.99 to $13.99 per year, this shouldn’t be too hard on your wallet.
Some ideas to help you choose an effective domain name:
- Make it easy to remember
- Make it easy to spell
- Try to keep it short
- Choose a .com domain if it’s available
- Choose your country code if it’s available
- Don’t choose a meme – it will be passé too soon (firstname.lastname@example.org is not a great idea)
- Choose a professional sounding domain
Choose a Web Host
There are plenty of choices on webhosts. Price is a consideration, but reliability is paramount. If you’re waiting for an email from a client, and your bargain webhost loses it because their service was down at that time, it’s not really that much of a bargain. Look at the available options, and choose the host that provides you the best balance between your budget and expectations of reliability.
You don’t have to create a full fledged website, but it’s a really good idea to put some time and effort to this, especially if you are going to use your new domain as a way for future clients, business opportunities, and associates to find you. A simple landing page can consist of an image and some info about you and your company. It’s well worth the money, even if you never plan on expanding your web presence.
Configure Your Host
To avoid being too technical, here’s a link to help you point your new domain to your new webhost. If you can copy and paste, you can configure your domain servers.
Your new webhost will provide you with a link to configure your website, and many of these hosts are using a package called CPanel to help you configure your new site with a minimum of difficulty. CPanel is not quite intuitive, but it’s not overly difficult to figure out. If your host doesn’t use CPanel, you will probably be able to navigate their system with a bit of common sense.
My webhost uses CPanel 11, but if your host is keeping their backend current, there shouldn’t be much difference for you. Once you’ve logged in with the username/pass that your webhost supplied you, find the section titled “mail”. Then find the icon titled “Default Address”
As you can see, there are a few different options
Discard with error to sender – This is not a great idea. If someone manages to get your domain right, but the first part wrong – you won’t receive their message.
Forward to email address – Choose any email address that you already have. If you send it to your gmail account, you can use your priority inbox to manage your mail. Or just have it forward to your default domain account, and use your favourite email client to manage your mail.
What we are hoping to achieve here is the ability to add anything before the @ in your email address, and then specify the email address that the message is sent to. This might be called a “Catch-All” email address, or something similar, on your host.
A few examples, using the domain www.professionalbusinessname.com (Yes, this is a tad long – but you get the idea):
- If I were applying to a new company(Google), the email address on my resume could be – Google@professionalbusinessname.com. Who wouldn’t hire you with attention to detail like this?
- If I have to give an email address to sign up for anything – OldNavy@professionalbusinessname.com
- To that new girl you’re trying to ask out – hottie’email@example.com (you run the risk of her thinking you’re either a super nerd or super stalker. You decide which is worse.
- Spam_killer@professionalbusinessnamecom – use this with a rule on your email client to automatically delete messages sent to your inbox.
Whatever you want to put in front of the @ sign is irrelevant, as long as the full domain name is correct.
Who Sent That Email?
What I like best about this process is it gives me a good idea about how they found my email address. If I see that it was sent to one of the throwaway names I’ve given out to newsletters, websites, ex-girlfriends, I can look at it if I want to, but if I don’t ever get to that email, it’s probably not going to be that big of a loss.
So go ahead and create your new domain, and then start giving your email out to anyone and everyone that asks for it. You might be surprised at how often your email gets shared!