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Does Your E-mail Address Look Professional

May 9th, 2008

As a small business owner you want to do everything you can to project a professional appearance. Your e-mail address that your clients see is one way of projecting that professional appearance.For example, the email address john@doephotography.com projects a more professional appearance than john341@yahoo.com. How do you get a professional looking e-mail?

  1. Buy a domain name and do business under that name: If you have a unusual last name like Lohrman you may be able to purchase a domain name (lohrman.com) the same as your last name. If you have a more common name like my wife you many have to purchase the domain name that is a derivative of your name like Thomas Grubba  (tgrubbaphoto.com.com). You shouldn’t pay more than about $9 per year for domain registration. Many hosting services throw in the domain registration for free when you host a site.
  2. Choose a hosting service that provides mail service: All good website hosting services these days provide mail servers with site hosting. My favorite is bluehost.com where I host this blog. I costs $6.95/month and they throw in the domain name that’s free forever and the ability to have 2500 different e-mail addresses like larry at lohrman.com or info@lohrman.com, etc. Another good hosting service for photographers is www.foliolink.com. They provide a variety of template sites for photographers.

Once you’ve setup a professional looking e-mail address it doesn’t mean that you can’t still use convenient web based e-mail readers like yahoo mail, Hotmail and Gmail. Most web based mail systems allow you to get mail from any mail server via a feature called POP3. You can configure Yahoo mail or Hotmail or Gmail to read the mail you get at say larry at lohrman.com by configuring the POP3 mail options. Furthermore, when you send someone e-mail both Yahoo mail and Gmail allow you to send mail with the from address set to your domain address so it looks like it came via you own mail server.I’ve used Hotmail, yahoo mail and Gmail but I like Gmail because it has a feature called IMAP that allows you to sync your e-mail across multiple machines so you can view and work on e-mail on several machines and have them all working on the same e-mail database. I’ve posted a tutorial that has more details on how to do this on the tutorial page above. Or just click here to download the PDF.Bottom line is that if you are running your own business there is really no reason to not have a professional looking e-mail address. It’s part of your personal brand.

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9 Responses to “Does Your E-mail Address Look Professional”

  • What I do is pay the $9/year for my domain, sign up for the free version of google apps (http://google.com/a), then point the mx records of my domain to google.

    Now me@mydomain.com is hosted on Google’s servers. I get to use the gmail interface and/or access email via pop3 or imap. You also get as many accounts as you want. Very nice.

  • I agree but with the caveat that if you use john@johndoephotography.com, there better be a website there as well. I’ve tried to look up someone’s website from an e-mail address and if there isn’t one, my opinion of their professionalism plummets.

    Unlike yahoo and hotmail, a gmail account is pretty hip and I think passes as a “professional” e-mail.

  • sorry, that was me above.

  • @ Mark –

    Actually [the free standard version of] Google apps only gives you 100 users, not unlimited.

    I use Google apps as well for my main business email. Works great, especially b/c I work from 3 computers + an iPhone. I run everything through IMAP, except with one computer that I pull my mail down via POP into Thunderbird for archiving offsite from the Google servers.

  • In addition to having an email address through my site (thomas@tgrubbaphoto.com) I had my web designer set up a client log in area that I use to deliver images to my clinets. This eliminates the need to drop off CD’s, which I was doing in the beginning and was way too time consuming.

    I have create a test client area for anyone interested. Log into my web site at http://www.tgrubbaphoto.com/ an you will notice a client log in button in the upper right corner. Hit that and you will be directed to the client page that askes for a username and password. For the test they are:

    Username: test
    Password: client

    For some reason these must be in lowercase to work. Then hit the enter button and you will be redirect to the download page. I have created 3 links for the exercise but there are no images associated with the links, so don’t bother hitting them. Also on the right hand side is a place to enter the client name and contact info.

    What I like about this system is it’s speedy, efficient, eliminates the need to drop off or mail CD’s and the client goes through my web page to get the images. This is much more professional than an emailed link to a ftp.

  • Also, once you get a profession email address – don’t change it. Too many small business change their email address every few years. Every time you do this you risk losing some customers. So unless you positively have to change the address – don’t.

    Neal

  • Larry, I couldn’t agree more. I would like to add that using the email address from your website domain name is the number one way to promote your own website. I can’t tell you how many Realtors (A lot) have nice websites and still use an AOL, Yahoo, or hotmail account. And guess what? You can’t find their website. All of these, including gmail are great services, but have no place in your business communication.
    Be careful not to make the domain name too long or too complicated. More often than not, just your name is a good choice

  • @Missouri – Great point a stable e-mail an phone # are are essential.

  • […] Use “cloud computing” for communication and as many non-photo/video files: By this, I mean use an web based e-mail system like Gmail. I’ve tried them all and I’m convinced Gmail is the best choice because it has a highly redundant server technology and has more services online than than most other alternatives. It allows you to keep spreadsheets, word processing files and presentation files online instead of on your local machine. Even though probability of file loss is low you should keep backups of critical files. Note, you can use web base e-mail systems and still make your e-mail look like it came from you own domain. See my post on this subject. […]

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