A custom email domain uses your website’s URL in your email address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, giving your business a professional brand image. To get a free custom email domain, sign up for hosting, pick a domain name, create your custom email address, and link your address to an email client, such as Gmail.
While there are few truly free custom email providers, you can get a free email domain as part of a web hosting package with Bluehost. For only $2.95 per month, users get access to five free email addresses, a free domain, and domain privacy as part of reliable, WordPress-friendly web hosting. We’ll be using Bluehost throughout this article, so be sure you create an account.
Here’s how to get a free custom email domain in five steps.
1. Choose a Domain Name & Sign Up for Hosting
While you can sign up for email and web hosting by going directly to Bluehost.com, we recommend that you use the search widget below to find a domain that fits with your business. When you find one that’s available, you will be taken to Bluehost to complete the account setup process.
Find an Available Domain Name
Before you can set up your free email domain, you need to determine if the one you want is available. To search available domains, use the Bluehost domain search tool below.
Choosing your domain name is one of the most important steps in getting a free business email address since it is part of how your business is represented online. To ensure you pick the best possible option, make sure that your domain matches your existing business name and branding, is easy to remember, and is professional.
Here are the top tips for coming up with a domain name:
- Use .com whenever possible: People tend to assume that business websites end in a .com extension; by ensuring your domain ends in .com, you are avoiding any confusion; users also seem to trust .com domains over other business domains, such as .net, .co and .io; this extension might also have search engine optimization (SEO) benefits for your business website
- Include keywords in your domain name: Adding targeted keywords to your domain name can help make your domain more memorable while ensuring it ranks higher in Google search results; consider adding in your location and any relevant keywords people might search for; for more assistance, use a tool like Ubersuggest to find high-ranking keywords
- Consider adding a prefix or suffix: If your current business name is unavailable as a domain, try adding prefixes, such as “the,” “my,” or any short adjective or suffixes like “biz” or “co”; for example, if people have heard of Cornerstone Bakery, and see the domain “thecornerstonebakery.com,” they will still recognize it in search results
For more guidance, check out our top 25 tips when choosing a domain name.
Once you have found your domain name, enter your account information. You will also be prompted to add on various features to your hosting package. While there are many you can select, it’s recommended that you select at least domain privacy.
By law, your contact information becomes public after registering a domain. By selecting “Domain Privacy Protection,” however, Bluehost will add their own information to the registry rather than your own. This reduces spam mailings and spam email.
2. Create New Email Account
Once you’ve selected a domain and created your account, you’ll land on Bluehost’s dashboard. On the left menu, click the link that says “Email.”Enter an email name and password to create a new email account. Your email name is what appears before the @ symbol, such as email@example.com. On Bluehost’s Basic hosting plan, you can create up to five email accounts. On the Plus plan, you can create an unlimited number of accounts.
There are many tips for choosing the format of your email address name. However, the main rules are to adhere to a standard format for all emails within your company and to make sure that you have a generic email to field general customer questions.
Here are the most important tips for choosing your custom email address:
- Use a standard format for all employees: For example, you might include their first initial and last name (JSmith) or full first and last name (JoeSmith); the format you choose will depend on how many employees you have and the amount of privacy you want to maintain
- Create generic email addresses for your website: Giving visitors general email addresses to contact for questions about support, sales, press, and other general uses both look professional and keep your business better organized; emails to these addresses are often forwarded to individual employee address, which we will cover later
3. Access Your Email via Bluehost
A little further down on the Email menu, you’ll see a list of email addresses you created. To access the inbox for any of them, click “More,” then “Access Webmail.”
To access your webmail inbox quickly in the future, head to Bluehost’s login page and click “Webmail Login” (not “Hosting Login”).
4. Connect Your Email to a Third-party Email Provider
To use your Bluehost email on a third-party email client or provider, you need to add your full account information — including your email username, password, and mail server details — to your client. Below, we walk you through how to do this with Gmail. We also include links to full instructions for other clients, such as Outlook and Apple Mail.
Connect Your Customer Email Address to Gmail
Log into your Gmail account; if you don’t have one, create your Gmail account. From your inbox, click the gear in the upper right-hand corner (below your user picture), then select “Settings.” Select the “Accounts” tab at the top, scroll down, and click the “Add a mail account” button.
This will open a pop-up window where you’ll enter your new Bluehost business email information, including your full custom email address, your Bluehost password, and your email server information. Your server will be in the format of mail.yourdomain.com, as illustrated in the screenshot below. For more information on the right server information for your email address, click here.
Once you have added all the necessary information, click “Add Account” at the bottom of the pop-up.
Now that your mail account has been added, you will want to ensure that you not only receive your new address emails in your Gmail inbox but that you can also send emails from Gmail using your free custom email domain. To do so, select the first option from the next screen, “Yes, I want to be able to send mail as firstname.lastname@example.org” and click “Next.”
After clicking “Next,” you will be brought to a screen that asks you to verify your Bluehost email address. Return to your Bluehost email inbox and look for the email from Gmail with your verification code. Copy that code, return to Gmail, and paste the code into the verification box to confirm you are the owner of that email address. Click “Verify.”
Now that you have connected your Bluehost email address to Gmail, try using your new custom email domain. Click on “Compose” in Gmail to open a new email. In the “From address” field, you will have the option to choose between your Gmail address and your new custom email address from Bluehost. Choose the one you want to use when sending your new message.
Connect Your Email to Other Email Clients
There are many great third-party email providers to which you can link your custom email domain. Get step-by-step instructions on how to do so by clicking on the links below. If you have email software that’s not on this list, contact the software provider for guidance.
- Outlook 2016 – Windows
- Outlook 2016 – Mac
- Outlook 2013
- Outlook Express
- Apple Mail
- Mozilla Thunderbird
Keep in mind that in most cases, you will have to manually update account information in your client if email servers, usernames, or passwords change in Bluehost. For more information about likely account changes, contact Bluehost directly.
5. Setup Email Forwarding (Optional)
Email forwarding lets you direct email to another email address automatically. For example, many businesses choose to have a generic customer service inbox, which may look like email@example.com. Email forwarding allows you to push all incoming email to this generic address to individuals within your company. This ensures that employee names remain private while all customer service questions are addressed in a timely manner.
To set up email forwarding, go to the Bluehost email manager menu and find the option called “Forwarders.” Click that to add a new forwarder. First, enter the generic or specialty email address in the “Address to Forward” box. Then, enter the email address of the person to whom these emails should be forwarded in the “Forward to Email Address” field.
It is possible to forward emails to multiple people. If you want emails to forward to multiple addresses, click “Submit” and create another forwarder.
”Having a professional email is serious in business. When people use a free Gmail address [such as firstname.lastname@example.org], you have no idea if they’re a real professional, scam artist, or pauper too broke to set up a real email account. If they do have a successful business but are using a Gmail domain, it tells me they’re too lazy or clueless to learn how to create a professional email and have emails forwarded to their Gmail account for free.”
― Ky Trang Ho, SEO Specialist & PR Consultant, Key Financial Media LLC
5 Free Custom Email Domain Alternatives
Bluehost isn’t the only way to get a free custom email domain. There are a number of alternatives, although many require you to purchase hosting to get the free domain. Keep this in mind — along with the features that come with your free email — as you consider your options.
Here are five alternative ways to get a free custom email domain:
- 1&1 IONOS: Free domains are included in their ultra-low-cost email hosting plans, starting at just $1 per month
- Flaskmail: FlaskMail offers a free 30-day trial, then charges $4 per month for an email domain and email hosting
- Wix.com: If you need a website and don’t have coding skills, premium Wix plans start at $11 per month and come with a free domain; you can manually set up email addresses on this domain, then connect them to a third-party email client like Outlook
- Google Domains: You can purchase a domain through Google starting at $12 per year, and then connect it to Gmail for free
- Hostiero: Connect a domain you already own and use their free email hosting plan that allows you to create a custom email using your domain
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do I Choose a Professional Email Address?
Professional email addresses follow a standard format of email@example.com. First, your email address needs to use your own company’s domain — not a third-party domain like firstname.lastname@example.org. There are different ways to format the name or first half of your email address, but it will most likely be something like firstname@, lastname@, or firstinitiallastname@.
How Much Does Business Email With Gmail Cost?
Each email with Google starts at $5 per month. While this is relatively affordable, it’s not as attractive as Bluehost’s $2.95 starter plan with five emails — especially since you can use Bluehost email within Gmail for free.
What is the Best Way to Structure a Professional Email Signature?
Email signatures should include the following basic elements: Your first and last name, position title, company, your email address, phone number, and a link to your company website. There are many different ways to design the email signature; check out our article with 27 Business Email Signature Examples From the Pros for ideas and inspiration.
How Do I Build an Email List?
How businesses go about building email lists varies from business to business. However, many businesses have a newsletter signup form on their site and promote giveaways on social media in exchange for email addresses. To help you find the best way to collect email subscribers, read our tips on building an email list.
The Bottom Line
By using a custom email domain, you align your email with your branding and business name, increasing credibility and trustworthiness. This, in turn, increases customer engagement and sales. And because getting a free custom email domain is easy, every business communicating with customers via email should get their own.
While there are a few ways to get a free custom email domain, Bluehost is likely the best option. It offers a free domain and five free custom email addresses with its $2.95 per month web hosting package. Click here to get started and set up your own professional email address in less than 15 minutes.