As an Internet consultant to small businesses, the first thing I always recommend is to register a domain name. Hopefully that no longer needs to even be said, but even so I often see businesses that are not using their domain to its fullest potential.
If you have a small business it is a must to get a domain for it. Your domain name is a part of your brand and is the number one method that people will communicate with you on the Internet. Your domain should be a part of your business cards and marketing by using your email, not gmail. I’m not dinging Gmail (Google) at all, they offers a great service and I highly recommend it, but why have anyone remember email@example.com when you can use firstname.lastname@example.org? Let me show you, it will only cost around 3 cents per day for a .com.
Register the domain
When I started working in the Internet industry, domains were $35 per year and they had to be registered for a minimum of 2 years. Now though, the market has changed and they are much less expensive. At around $10 per year, the benefits of registering your domain name heavily outweigh the cost.
A domain name is not really owned, it is more like leasing. It is important to understand that the lease must be renewed each period. To continue the home analogy, a registrar is like a domain landlord. They charge a fee to lease the domain for a specific period of years. They often provide a discount for registering (leasing) the domain for more than one year. On behalf of clients, I have worked with many of the largest domain vendors since Network Solutions lost the right to manage them all. GoDaddy, Yahoo, MelbourneIT, Namepal you name it – I’ve been on hold with them. All of my domains are now registered through Namecheap. While they may not actually be the cheapest one, they provide the best value and customer service. I have managed hundreds of domains and Namecheap is hands down my favorite registrar. Since I am a developer and registrant of domain names myself, it just makes sense for me to be an affiliate. If you end up buying through my links it will put a little credit in my own Namecheap account. Feel free to just go there directly instead of using the link and use the tutorial below to route your email.
Registering a domain name is pretty simple. Follow the link… see big search box… enter the domain name you wish to register. Do not be surprised if you have to go through a few of your domain options. You have compiled a list of potential names right? Just try until you get one that is available. Get creative, but not crazy. Hopefully you’ll get lucky right away.
When you find the name you want, add it to your cart and check out. Create an account, fill in your credit card and yes, go ahead and take the free WhoisGuard they offer. Once the transaction is completed you will get an email showing your domain registration. At this point you should be logged in, if not go ahead and log into your new account and choose Domains from the left navigation to see a screen similar to below.
Your newly registered domain should be listed in the screen with a expiration date based on how many years you registered for during the process as shown above. The next thing you should do is route the email email@example.com to your real address (at gmail or wherever).
Click the MANAGE button on the bottom right of your domain list, then scroll down to see section labeled Redirect Email as shown below.
Click Add Forwarder to active the form. Next, in the Alias box, enter only the first part of the email you wish to use (the user in firstname.lastname@example.org). In the Forward To box enter your real email address that you use to receive your email at.
Don’t forget to click the green checkbox at the end of the line to save it. Then be sure to send an email to the address to test it before you call it complete.
That’s it, add as many as you want and send them to different locations: sales@, accounting@, billing@ the sky is the limit. Send them to separate addresses or all to the same – You are in control.