The easiest guide to email for new home businesses

There is a lot of waffle on the internet about how you should present yourself online. It’s generally believed to be offputting to customers if you have a commercial email address such as a Gmail or Yahoo address. But is that always the case? When is it time to invest time and money in a custom email address for your company? (2 minute read)

This article covers:

  • When you don’t need a custom email
  • When it’s time to get a custom email address
  • How to set up an email address with your company name
  • The best email clients for self-hosted email

When you don’t need a custom email:

Contrary to popular belief (mostly written by people with shares in web design companies), you don’t always need to spend time or money setting up a custom email. Some businesses will be just fine with a normal personal email address from Gmail or Yahoo. This works best for anyone who doesn’t do much business online and doesn’t have time to check lots of email addresses.

Business types that don’t need a custom email:

Plumbers, gardeners, counsellors/therapists, mobile hairdressers, builders, garden centres, used car sales, electricians, joiners, car mechanics, man-with-van, furniture restorers, church leaders, fencing companies, pool maintenance, horse stables, vets, personal tutors, taxi drivers, chip shops, newsagents, fishmongers.

Generally, if your business is a one-man-band you don’t need a custom email address– in fact, a fancy email can put customers off in some industries because they might worry that their messages will go to a receptionist when they want to get in touch with you directly.

Business types that benefit from a custom email:

If you work in partnership with other people (e.g. a legal practice), work in tech, or work in a industry where your clients are on a mailing list, you probably need a custom email address.

How to set up an email address with your company name:

First you need to buy a website. To do this, you have to make separate purchases for your domain name (the website address you want) and your hosting (the space on an online server to store your site). Don’t worry about setting up an actual website, you can go into the back end of your hosting company and set up a company email. Most hosting companies have step by step tutorials to help you do this. One thing you’ll need to do is choose an email client and set it up. An email client is a program that lets you read your emails. The best-known one is Microsoft Office’s Outlook.

The two best email clients for self-hosted email:

Outlook: Most people have used this at work or at college, so it’s easy to find your way around if you’re familiar with it. It also boasts a lot of advanced features (such as the ability to undo send if the recipient hasn’t read it yet). However, you have to pay for it as part of the Microsoft Office Suite (which is annoyingly now only available as a monthly subscription), so it might not suit every budget.

Apple Mail: It comes pre-loaded on all Apple Macs, so you can use it without spending any more money. It’s easy to use and simple to find help pages and tutorials online because other people are using it, too. Thunderbird: This is Mozilla’s offering. It’s free, so if you’re on a Windows machine and can’t afford Outlook, this could be a good alternative. Cons include a lack of online support, lack of basic features, and no obvious way to change the email “from” address (or to receive emails from multiple addresses) which makes this no good for anyone with more than one business (e.g. a professional author with two pen names).

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