Hey guys! I've heard this a few times, so I figured I should write something about it.
You can get email at your domain, like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ - and in case you're nervous, you may not even have to leave your current favorite inbox! There's actually a bunch of different ways to set it up. I'll try to keep this short, and you can just read the parts that sound like something you want.
These are my actual, personal recommendations based on things I use or am familiar with. Some of the links here are affiliate links, and I may get some kind of small kick-back if you sign up for a service after using them. In cases, we may both get a discount. On with the info…
Here's the TL;DR:
If you don't just want the cheapest way to get email at your own domain name, then the first question you'll need to answer is: Do you want to be able to send outgoing email from your domain name?
Because you can set things up in such a way that you can receive email at “email@example.com”, but not send from that address. It's cheaper, but it's not always what you want.
If you know that you want to send outgoing email from your domain, so other folks receive email that says it's from firstname.lastname@example.org, then you'll want to skip down to the section “I want to send email from my own domain name”.
Otherwise, in no particular order…
The cheapest thing is to get an “alias” that forwards email to your existing email address.
You can use your existing email inbox, and email sent to to your domain will forward on to that existing email inbox. My current favorite place to set this up is at Hover, using their “Forward” email plan. Currently, it's just $5 per year. You will keep using your existing inbox and email address.
This will let you set up a single email address, like “email@example.com”, or “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Any email sent to that address will be sent along (forwarded) to an existing email address that you use, like Gmail, AOL, Yahoo! mail, etc.
You will not be able to send email from your domain. You'll still need to use your existing email address to send email. So, if someone sends email to your new “email@example.com” address, and you reply, it will come from the email address that you had the email forwarded to (your Gmail, Yahoo, etc, address).
If you don't mind that, and just need to get incoming email, I would definitely go with the $5/year forward-only option. I'm using this setup right now for one of my side-projects.
If you only need to receive email, I still recommend going with something as simple as a forward-only service. I mentioned the Hover “Forward” email service, above.
These are usually available for about $5 to $15 per year (usually per email address), which is a great deal.
That will get you a single email address, that forwards all its’ mail to another email address that you already use.
If you want to be able to receive email at many different email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org), you'll need something a little more substantial.
For that, I would recommend setting up G Suite with aliases, or maybe even a “catch-all” address, at G Suite or Namecheap. The catch-all thing is kinda weird, and I explain it near the end. You probably don't need it, but it's an option.
You can still use Gmail and send and receive email from your own custom domain!
There are a few ways to set this up, but the easiest is to use Google's “G Suite” service. This will get you far more than just email, but you don't have to use any part of it that you don't want.
The really basic plan is currently about $5 per user, per year. That's more expensive than other options, but it's still my favorite for a few reasons.
Other good news is that even if you need several email addresses, each “user” can currently have several email address aliases. From their documentation: “You can add up to 30 email aliases for each user”.
If you want to be able to send email from your domain name, you'll need to use an email hosting service. Sometimes these are separate from where you host your website content.
My current favorite place to set this up is using Google's “G Suite” service.
It lets you use all the great Google services (particularly Gmail, with it's familiar interface and awesome spam filtering) from your own domain name!
The basic plan (which is probably all you need) is currently about $5 per user, per year.
Usually one user means one inbox, or email address, but G Suite currently allows “up to 30 email aliases for each user.” It's not quite the same thing as 30 unique inboxes, but it may be all you need. An alias is just that: another name for the same inbox.
For example, if you set up just one user, “email@example.com”, you could set up an alias for “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and “email@example.com”, and “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Any email sent to an alias will actually go to the inbox of “email@example.com”. If you have to reply to an email, it will come from “firstname.lastname@example.org”. But that's probably fine.
If that's not okay, you'll have to create individual users.
If you're willing to forego some of the benefits of the Google/Gmail service, there are lots of other options. Hover and Namecheap both have email hosting plans that start around $20 per year, for an email address and a handful of aliases. I am more familiar with Hover's service, but I've heard good things about Namecheap.
This is a bonus, and probably not what you need. It's a bit advanced, and has some drawbacks. That said, I use it for one of my personal domains. It's called a “Catch All address”.
Sadly, it's not currently possible to set up a catch-all address at Hover, but Namecheap and the G Suite service support it.
Instructions are different for each provider, but essentially you have at least one user or “real” inbox set up. When you set up a catch-all email alias, what happens is that any and all email that is sent to an address that does not exist at your domain is put in the catch-all inbox.
So, for example, you set up “email@example.com”, and “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Any email sent to “email@example.com” will go to his inbox. But any email sent to “firstname.lastname@example.org”, or “email@example.com”, or “firstname.lastname@example.org”, or “email@example.com” will all go to the inbox for “catch-all-dude”.
An email alias is just another name for the same email address.
Assuming you just had one user, you may have just one primary email address. With aliases, you could set up different email addresses that pointed all received mail to the primary email address. So, you could use “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and “email@example.com”, and the mail would come into the one inbox.
If you still have questions, or you want help setting this stuff up, hit me up!