Email Hell

Can we talk about email for a second?

Nevermind any argument that email is a dying form – we’ll just agree that over the years the function of email has morphed. Agreed?

What I want to talk about is where you get your email from. Your email provider.

In the beginning…

Back in the 80’s and 90’s email was simple. You got your email and your email address from whoever provided you with internet (likely over dialup!). This was usually AOL or Prodigy or Mindspring or Yahoo, etc. When you signed up for your AOL dialup service, using the free 60 minutes CD you got in the mail no doubt, you chose a username and that username became your email address [at] aol [dot] com. One of my first ones was ATLJEEPX [at] aol [dot] com. Easy enough.

At work your company issued you an email address using the domain chosen by your company. If you worked in IT you possibly had options for how that email address was formatted. I remember fondly changing my christopher.barnes [at] westwoodone [dot] com to just chris [at] westwoodone [dot] com. Yay, minimalism!

And so it was.

Then when Google launched Gmail in 2004 and became popular in the years that followed we saw a movement away from ISP provided email and towards an ISP agnostic gmail [dot] com address. This usually was your Google account name followed by [at] gmail [dot] com but at least this way when you changed internet providers you didn’t have to change your email address. More importantly this allowed you to change email internet providers since you no longer had the complication of losing an email address you had used for years and given to everyone.

Maybe you had an me [dot] com account from Apple or later an icloud [dot] com account. Email-as-a-service providers grew in popularity and people moved away from their att [dot] net or comcast [dot] net or yahoo [dot] com email.

Mostly. Well… the younger folks did, anyway. Maybe you have a parent who is still using an aol [dot] com email address?

Which brings us to today.

Today we have a TON of options for email including custom domain email. For a small monthly or yearly fee you can use Google Apps G Suite Google Workspace or Microsoft O365 and a custom domain for your email.

Step 1: buy a custom domain from Google Domains (usually $12/year).

Step 2: sign up for either Google Workspace for as little as $6/user/month or Microsoft O365 for as little as $5/user/month and link your custom domain.

For just a small investment you can go from chrisbarnestech [at] gmail [dot] com to chris [at] chrisbarnestech [dot] com.

I think this is more professional. When I send out a resume I can send it with a professional personal domain email address vs a Gmail address which, as an IT professional, conveys to the potential employer that I know at least the basics of how the internet works. Hopefully.

Do you own a company?

If you own or run a company – whether 1 person or 1000 people – you really need to stop using Gmail for email. Let’s say you run a lawn care company: you paid for an expert to setup your business (or you put the time in to learn how to do it yourself). You paid for equipment. You paid for advertising. Maybe you’re paying a crew of employees. You paid for Quickbooks to handle everything. You went to the trouble of getting a logo and graphics.

Then why in the Hell are you still using jimboblawncare [at] gmail [dot] com? So unprofessional!

For just a tiny investment and with basically no technical know-how (you could skip step 2 above and just forward your domain’s email to your gmail account for starters) you can have jimbob [at] jimboblawncare [dot] com. Oh, and this could even get you down the road towards a professional website since you already own the domain!

In the future…

With the prevalence of artificial assistants, Teams, Zoom, etc I foresee the importance of email on the decline. Will we ever be free of email? Doubtful. So in the meantime take a weekend afternoon and set yourself up right!

I hope my first blog post helped. Maybe you learned something. Maybe you want to correct me on something. Maybe you have better ideas than me. Maybe you agree with me! I invite you to continue the conversation here in the comments. Thanks!

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