For that extra professional touch.
A JobMob reader asks:
I have a professional question. Do you know how someone gets a domain name that is their name? As in [email protected]?
There are actually 2 parts to the question:
1) How do you get your own domain name?
2) How do you use that domain for a website and/or email?
I answered the first question in How To Get Your Own Domain Name, Part 1. If you missed it, you might want to go read it now (the link will open in a new window/tab).
In this article, I’ll focus on the second question.
A quick terminology review:
www.personalbrandingblog.com is a fully-qualified domain name where:
- www is the hostname
- personalbrandingblog.com is the domain name, and
- .com is a generic Top-Level Domain or gTLD but often just called a TLD for short.
In Part 1, I spent a lot of time on TLDs. This time around, the focus will be more on hostnames.
Using your domain name
If you bought the domain name for personal branding purposes, the most common thing to do with the domain is to use it for your personal brand’s website. Much less – but almost as impressive – is to use the domain for your email too.
When you surf the web, the webpages you visit are simply groups of files that your browser copied from another computer over the Internet.
Identically, when you check your email in Outlook/Thunderbird/etc., the messages you download are simply groups of files that Outlook copied from another computer over the Internet.
In both cases, that other computer is called a server because your computer (the client) is asking it to serve (give) files that it hosts or stores.
To find the different kinds of files being hosted, we use a different hostname.
For example, my corporate email used to be served from mail.shareselectmedia.com and my corporate website is still served from www.shareselectmedia.com. Nowadays, most servers are configured so that if no hostname is specified, the server will automatically assume you want to see the website at e.g. shareselectmedia.com.
Now that you understand your website and email need to be hosted somewhere, how do you actually make that happen with your new domain name?
Here are your options:
- Personal hosting
- Web and email hosting with separate companies
- Web and email hosting with the same company
1) Personal hosting
This is the Do It Yourself option. You configure your home computer (or a computer in your home) to host and serve both your website and your email using your domain name.
As you can imagine, this requires significant technical skill which you probably don’t have if you’re reading this, but I wanted you to know that there are people who do it.
I don’t recommend you take this route.
2) Web and email hosting with separate companies
Much less complicated than the first option but still somewhat complicated because it involves managing accounts at different companies, this option tends to be the one preferred by people with more specific wants or needs.
You might consider this option if you want to build your personal website using blog platforms like WordPress.com or Tumblr, click-to-build platforms like Weebly or Wix, or even personal page platforms like About.me or Flavors.me, some of which have paid options for using a personal domain name (WordPress.com, Wix, Flavors.me) while others offer it for free (Tumblr, Weebly).
In my case, all my websites are currently hosted with Amazon.com using their Amazon Web Services and because I like Gmail, my work email is hosted on Google Apps for Domains, a business version of Gmail/Google Docs/etc., which you can get for free here.
With my domains from Namecheap as I explained in Part 1, I just followed their guide to setup Google Apps Email on your domain with just a few steps.
However, this somewhat complicated setup is probably overkill for you, and you’d best choose the last option.
3) Web and email hosting with the same company
Many people choose this option, especially the first time around like I did, and it’s often the best choice for quality vs. simplicity.
A typical scenario involves buying a hosting plan with a hosting provider.
When I first started my company, all my sites and my corporate email were hosted from the same server at Media Temple, a well-known hosting provider based in California. I used their cheapest plan, the (gs) Grid Service at $20 per month, but unless you expect to have a lot of traffic to your website like I did, you can find much cheaper hosting options.
Many hosting providers throw in a free domain registration when you sign up for such a yearly plan, but DO NOT use this freebie to register your personal brand domain, register it with a separate domain name registrar as I explained in Part 1. (This will save you headaches if you ever decide to change hosting companies, because sometimes you don’t even own the free domain.)
Any decent hosting provider will have technical support who can setup your email and website to use your domain name or at worst, help you do it yourself. They will usually have an administration panel and tutorials explaining which forms to fill in and which boxes to check. You’ll only have to do it once and since it’s so common a task for the hosting company’s clients, the admin panel should make it very simple.
My recommendation in this case is again to use Namecheap, which offers both cheap email hosting and web hosting services (for only a few dollars per month, combined), configured to use the personal brand domain that you registered there.