People love the familiar Gmail interface, but using Gmail with your own custom domain isn’t free, and resorting to firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t very professional. Luckily, there is a way to have it all.
However, I do recommend just signing up for G Suite instead. There's a 14 day free trial, and it's much simpler and more reliable than the hack described in this post. After the trial, it’s just $5/mo so it's really worth the expense. Also, you can get a coupon code for 20% off your first year by completing this form:
If you're a nonprofit, you can get unlimited G Suite addresses for free through Google for Nonprofits.
Regardless of whether you're a non-profit or for-profit, it's best to take the long-term view. If you want to switch later, it will be a pain in the butt to transfer all your emails to Google for Nonprofits or G Suite. But if you still want a quick fix for the time being, here’s a quick workaround to use gmail with your own, custom domain.
Basically, you’ll just forward all the mail from email@example.com to a Gmail account, and change a setting so outgoing mail says firstname.lastname@example.org too. That’s it! So let’s jump right in.
1) Create a Gmail account
You probably already have a Gmail account, and you could use it for your nonprofit’s email, but just like finances, it’s best to keep business and personal separate. It will make things a lot easier down the road if you upgrade to Google for Nonprofits.
Here’s how to make the account:
Visit the Gmail sign-up page and pick a new email address. email@example.com usually works well.
Follow the rest of the steps to create your account, and sign in.
2) Create your custom email and forward it
Chances are, your web host also includes email hosting, or at least email forwarding. If you’re hosted by GoDaddy, 1&1, Bluehost or Hostgator, you definitely have email hosting. For hosts that don't provide forwarding or hosting, checkout Mailgun as a free alternative.
Below are the instructions for each of those hosts. If you use a different host, look at the Hostgator instructions–chances are your host uses the same interface.
Log into cPanel
In the Mail section, click Forwarders
Under the Email Account Forwarders section, Click Add Forwarder
Type in the Address to Forward (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Select “Forward to email address” (email@example.com)
Click Add Forwarder
Login to your account and click your name in the top-right.
Select My Products from the drop-down
Click the Manage button next to Workspace Email
Click Create Forward
Under Forward this email address, type the address you want to forward (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Under To these email addresses, add your Gmail address
Login to your Bluehost account
Under the hosting section click the email link
Click the forwarding link
Click the add email button
Enter the address you would like to be forwarded. (email@example.com)
Choose your new Gmail as the destination for the forwarded email
Log in to your 1&1 Control Panel and select the relevant package
Click the Manage E-mail Addresses link from the Mail panel
Click the Set up forwards link located in the right corner of the page
Choose a name and domain for the forwarding address (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Type your Gmail into the Forward Target(s) box
3) Enable Gmail to send as yourdomain.org
This step will allow you to send email as email@example.com using Gmail’s SMTP servers.
Return to Gmail, click the gear icon, then Settings
Click Accounts and Import, then Add another email address in the Send mail as section
Enter your name and firstname.lastname@example.org, allow Treat as an alias and then Next Step
Enter the following credentials:
SMTP Server: smtp.gmail.com
Username: The part of your gmail address that comes before “@gmail.com”
Password: Your Gmail or App-specific password
Port: 587 or 465
Secure connection using: TLS for 587, SSL for 465
4) Final Configuration
You’ll be sent an email with a verification link. Make sure to click it to enable your new address.
Once you are returned to the Settings page, click Make default next to your new, custom email.
Send a friend an email to test outgoing messages
Have them send you a message to confirm incoming messages
And that’s it! You now have Gmail with your own domain for free!
If you have any issues, comment below and I’ll do my best to fix them with you.