Gmail is a fantastic email client, and I highly recommend it for podcasters. I'll show you how to use Gmail without giving a gmail.com address.
Why not firstname.lastname@example.org?
Many podcasters are shooting their professionalism and branding in the foot by giving an @gmail.com email address. This is like B&H telling all of their customers to buy from their Amazon.com store instead of directly from them.
If you already have a Gmail account, checking your podcast email account (or multiple accounts) can be annoying, time-consuming, and also introduce a delay in your receiving important feedback. You can get around this issue by forwarding the new Gmail account's messages to your old account, but that still has the branding problem.
Instead, I highly recommend having a unique, understandable, and branded email address for your podcast, like email@example.com. This is easy to setup once you follow some basic instructions.
1. Own your own domain (optional hosting)
No matter where you host your website, you should have your own domain for your podcast. Make your unambiguous, easy to remember, and short. You should use this domain everywhere, so make sure its easy to say, spell, and type.
If you don't already have a domain, I can register domains for $15 per year.
2. Create an email forwarder
With some domain registrars and all good web hosts (like BlueHost, HostGator, or Site5), you can create email forwarders that look like regular email addresses but only serve to forward any email to a different address. This would simply be called an email forwarded. There's no mailbox with this account, simply a pointer.
Choose a name for the email account that makes sense and is easy to say, spell and type. I like “feedback,” because it's common, understandable, and unambiguous.
I've heard other names that I don't think work well.
- “podcast”—This seems redundant to me to say “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
- “suggestionbox”—This is much harder to say and spell, and sounds limited to only suggestions.
- “me” or “us”—It's short, sweet, and personal; but what if you switch from being solo to cohost, or vice versa? This also doesn't sound as professional.
Set this email address to forward to your Gmail account.
Immediately, you can now receive email to this account. But the email will come from your personal Gmail account, so continue with these steps to be able to send from your new account.
Podcast network address or separate addresses?
I used to give the email address “email@example.com” in all of my podcasts. This certainly worked fine, but it was neither helping nor really hurting my branding. But it did mean that I had to read every email just to know which podcast it was for. This made it inconvenient for me, and probably caused too much thinking on my listeners part: “Why am I emailing noodle.mx when I want to email The Audacity to Podcast?”
Now, I have separate email addresses for each podcast. This maintains consistent branding within those podcasts, and means I can setup a filter in Gmail to automatically sort my incoming email into folders for each podcast (see below).
3. Add a “Send mail as” in Gmail
- Login to your Gmail account (whichever one(s) you want to receive your Gmail).
- Go to your Accounts and Imports: click on the gear icon and choose “Settings,” then go to the “Accounts and Imports” tab.
- Look under “Send mail as” and click “Add another email address you own.”
- Enter your name as you want it to appear when you send email: I recommend either your own name, your podcast name, or combining both.
- Enter the email forwarder address you created.
- Read about “Treat as an alias” and decide which option is right for you.
- Probably deselect if multiple people have access to the email address.
- Probably select if you're the only one with access to the email address.
- Now comes a technical decision about sending through a server.
For now, let's just use the first option. Send through Gmail if you don't mind your personal Gmail account being in the technical stuff of your email in the form of “sent on behalf of firstname.lastname@example.org.”This option is no longer available, so you must use your own SMTP server.
- Send through _____ SMTP servers if you want this account to appear completely detached from your personal account. See #5 below for more details about this.
- Send the verification email, which you should receive to the same Gmail inbox. Either click its verification link or enter the confirmation code.
4. Create filters to automatically label/sort email
Now you're ready to send and receive email with your new podcast email address! Let's make a filter in Gmail to do some stuff automatically for you.
- Go to your Filters: click the gear icon and choose “Settings,” then go to the “Filters” tab.
- Click “Create a new filter.”
- Enter your new email address under the “To” field.
- Click “Create filter with this search »” and Gmail will show you the results of the search.
- Select what you want Gmail to do when you receive email to your podcast address.
- I recommend “Apply the label” and create a new label or use an existing one for your podcast.
- Choose to star it if you want it to stand out among other messages when it arrives.
- Select your appropriate importance setting. (I make all podcast email unimportant—not because you're not important, just because I get so much they easily crowd out my business emails, which are what helps me buy food.)
- Optionally select to apply this filter to any emails you've already received.
- Click “Create Filter.”
After this, all email coming into that email address will be label and appropriately sorted based on your selections.
5. Hide your personal Gmail address with your own SMTP server
If you chose to send email through Gmail's servers, then your personal Gmail address will be exposed in the technical headers of every email you send. It will look like “sent on behalf of email@example.com.” If you don't want this, then you'll need to follow some more technical steps to use your own outgoing email server (called an SMTP server).
Gmail now requires that any outgoing email with a different address use a third-party SMTP server. You can use your web hosting information, or get an SMTP server for literally pennies per month from Amazon AWS (I pay under 10¢ per month for this).
- Go back to your domain registrar or web hosting control panel and create a regular email address. It really doesn't matter what it's called, and you'll only have to create one. I recommend “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
- You'll need several important things:
- Mail server username
- The password you set (please don't write your passwords in a document! Use LastPass instead!)
- SMTP/outgoing mail server (SSL if you want a secure connection, which I recommend)
- SMTP/outgoing mail port
- Any special notes like “server requires authentication”
- Incoming mail server (used for later)
- Go back to Gmail's Accounts and Imports settings.
- Click “edit info” for the email account you need to modify.
- Click Next until you get to “Send mail through your SMTP server?”
- Switch to send from your own SMTP servers.
- Enter the information from when you setup the email account in the order of these fields (especially choose the port before you select SSL or TLS).
- Click “Save Changes,” which will verify your information and close the window if there aren't problems.
Some web hosting companies or domain registrars will not allow you to send through your SMTP server unless you're also regularly checking it for receiving email. Just assume this is the case and follow these steps.
- Go back to Gmail's Accounts and Imports settings.
- Under “Check mail from other accounts (using POP3),” click “Add a POP3 mail account you own.”
- Enter the information and select any other options you want. They don't really matter because you won't care about this email address.
- Save your settings.
Gmail will then check this email account, which verifies that you're using it to the hosting company or domain registrar.
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— Daniel J. Lewis (@theRamenNoodle) August 6, 2012
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