Gmail is great. It is powerful, sleek and easy to use. Using gmail with a custom domain for free makes the platform even better.
Sending emails from an @gmail address works for personal situations. Sending emails from @mydomain.com is necessary in professional and business settings. If you’re on a shoestring budget, or you just don’t want to pay $5 or $10 a month for Google apps to configure your custom domain email address, you can (and should) use gmail with a custom domain for free.
There are three steps involved, and you don’t need to be technically savvy to set this up.
- Enable email forwarding
- Setup SMTP server
- Create a Gmail alias
Our first step is to setup an email forwarding via a simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) service. Here are a list of email forwarding and SMTP services that have “free” pricing tiers that you can use.
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SendGrid allows free users to send 12,000 emails a month. That is the most of the four companies listed above. For the example below I am going to be using mailgun. If you want to use Zoho check out this comprehensive tutorial.
Go to mailgun and signup for an account with your @gmail email address. Make sure you use your @gmail address – you need to do this in order verify your account.
Once in mailgun, head to the primary dashboard page. Scroll down to the “Sending Domain” section and click Add New Domain and add your domain name. (As of March 2019, Mailgun has updated their user interface design, but the steps below still work).
Follow the domain name server (DNS) instructions and add the DNS records with the service that manages your DNS.
I manage my DNS for shefska.com with DigitalOcean.com, so I simply add the DNS records there.
If you registered your domain name with GoDaddy or Namecheap and are not sure how to set up DNS records simply google “how to set up DNS records with XXXX”. There are plenty of tutorials out there.
Next, click on Domains, and then click on your domain name. Click on Manage SMTP credentials. Create a new SMTP credential for the custom domain email address you want to use (for example, “firstname.lastname@example.org”). Enter in that email, and a password. You’ll need these credentials again in Gmail. Don’t forget them!
This is the most “technical” aspect of setting up your custom domain with Gmail for free.
Next we’ll tell Mailgun to route emails it receives to your gmail account.
Click on the Routes tab and then click on Create New Route. Enter the following information:
Be sure to use your email addresses in place of mine!
Next, go to Accounts and Import settings page in Gmail. Click on Add another email address you own under the Send mail as section.
Enter the email address that you just set up in mailgun and press next.
- Server: smtp.mailgun.org
- Port: 587
- Username: from the SMTP credentials section above, e.g. “email@example.com”
- Password: the password you set in mailgun SMTP Credentials
Click Add Account (it says Save Changes in mine because I have already set this up), and confirm your email by completing the verification process. Nice! You’re done.
If you want, you can set your new email address to be your default on the Accounts and Import settings page.
There you go, 10,000 free emails per month from your custom domain name in gmail!
Using your free custom domain with Gmail
At this point you’re all set. Leverage Google’s alias feature to choose which of your now many email addresses you want to send as, and configure your mailgun forwarding with more specific rules if you need to.
If you get stuck, have any questions, or just need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to email me at zach (at) shefska.com. I refer to this tutorial frequently!