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Custom-domain email addresses (free)

Gunar Gessner

Gunar Gessner

Jun 3, 2020

An email address with a custom domain name makes us look so much more committed. This guide will help us set up email forwarding, using a free (and Open Source) service, and how to set up GMail to Send As.

It gives us the full experience of sending and receiving emails. There is no lock-in. We won't need to call anyone to cancel our subscription. And if needed, we can take our domain anywhere else in the future. It's our piece of digital real estate. Let's appreciate the fact that we can (at least) own digital land.

This guide assumes we have a GMail account. That we are willing to use to send and receive emails on our cusom domain. We would rather not have to rely on big G but there is no free lunch. We may adapt this guide to any other (paid) email provider, as long as they offer the Send As feature from Step 3.

# Step 1. Register a Domain Name

Pick a domain name registar. I recommend porkbun.com. They're as cheap as the competition, they have a nice intuitive interface, and they offer whois privacy for free. Which means our names, addresss, and phone numbers won't be publicly available information. And I don't understand why other registrars charge for it.

# Step 2. Forward Incoming Email

Pick an email forwarding services. Mailgun is my favorite, but as of 2020 the smallest plan that includes Inbound Email Routing feature is the $35/mo one. That's way too big if we're not going to be sending thousands of emails every day.

A free option is forwardemail.net. It's free and open-source. Which means, we don't have to rely nor trust their servers. Download the code from GitHub and we can run our own server. We know that managing email services can be a huge pain, so we're better off just use the service funded by the community.

Moving forward let's assume we've signed up for forwardemail.net, followed the steps outlined by them, and got a working email forward. That is, email sent to our@domain.com gets forwarded to our personal@gmail.com.

# Step 3. Setup Send As

GMail allows us to send emails as a different sender. Here let's just link to forwardemail.net's documentation. If we're using Mailgun instead, similar steps apply.

# Concusion

This guide has shown us how we can use a single email account to send and receive emails from custom domains.

Bonus

One more tip I would like to share. At the time of writing, I am building a startup with a co-founder. We did not set up two different email addresses. Instead, we've set it up so that we both receive all email.

To do that, craft the TXT record as such: forward-email=founder1@gmail.com,founder2@gmail.com. Then each one of us followed Step 2 to set our own email addresses, like founder1@customdomain.com and founder2@customdomain.com. This while we can send emails with our names on them, both of us will receive any email sent to either one of us. It keeps is in the loop at all times.