Say hello to a more professional image & use a proper business email – free & paid options

by on September 20, 2011

small business free email address
UPDATED Feb 1, 2013
I see so many small business owners using hotmail or gmail addresses. But have you thought about what a proper business email does for your image? It makes you look WAY more professional.

Getting and using a free business email address used to be really easy with Google Business Apps. But things have changed at Google (no longer a free service) so I’m updating this post with the options that you do have at your disposal (both free and paid) to use a business email for your biz communications.

First off, you must own a domain

In order to set up and use a proper business email address, you need to own a domain. For most businesses this isn’t an issue, since you have a website for your small business, right? But even if you’re not quite ready with a website yet, it still makes sense to buy and own a domain (or several) for your business since it’s getting harder and harder to find good domains. This way it’s yours and you know when you’re ready for your own site you already have a URL. I use Go Daddy (affiliate link) to buy all my domains and for all my hosting needs.

The company you bought your domain name from should offer you an email address for free with domain purchase (from my research it appears most domain companies offer only 1, not multiple domain name email addresses).

A business email through Google Apps

I was recommending Google Apps as the perfect FREE business email for your small business, but this service is no longer free.  From the Google Apps website: “As of December 6, 2012, new accounts for this edition are not available. If you signed up for the free edition before December 6, 2012, you can continue to use this edition for free.”

So for those of you who already took my advice, we’re in the clear 🙂 For those that are still looking for a free professional business email, read on.

Thinking positively, the new price at Google Apps is very reasonable.  There is a free 30 day trial, and after this it is $5/month or $50/paying up front for a year.  There is lots of space (25GB inbox & 5 GB Drive storage), Google Calendar/Docs, 24hr support, and most importantly, the whole point here: your own business email address.  Check it out at:

Use your webmail

Most hosts will provide you with a webmail portal where you can access your emails online. I find most of them to be rather short on features and cumbersome to use. But if your email activity is light and simple, this could work for you.

Free business email with email forwarding

Another option was recommended by my friend Laurent in the comments of this post: “Another simple way is to use Email Forwarding from the company you bought the domain name from. This way you can continue to log in to your existing email (Hotmail or Gmail or Yahoo etc) and still put out a front of a personalized email address”.

You can set up email forwarding from your domain email, so that it nicely arrives in your personal email account (ie. gmail).  From your domain account there should an easy to find “email forwarding” option.  Can’t find it?  Contact your domain name provider and ask for assistance.

I contacted Go Daddy and inquired about what happens when you use email forwarding to your personal email and then reply – does your reply email show your contact as your @domain email or @gmail/hotmail email?  Unfortunately, it shows up as your @gmail/hotmail, so you would be replying to the sender from a different, not so professional email.  (Also, keep in mind that by replying with a different email, you risk being put in someone’s junk folder).

This is not as ideal as a full-on proper business email set-up, but at the very least you can give out a professional email address and use it wherever you promote yourself (social media, business card, etc…).

They also gave me the recommendation of adding a business signature at the bottom of your email so that it still appears as a credible business email.  And make sure that the name you have associated with your personal email matches your business – either your name or your business’ name, so that your recipient does not get confused by the email that lands in their inbox.

Free email clients (but you need to pay for email hosting)

The most common option for business email use is paying for email hosting. This can be as cheap as a couple bucks a month for one email address. This gives you the freedom to use email clients (either online or that live on your computer) using POP and IMAP. This ability is what is missing from regular personal email accounts like hotmail.

There are various free options for email clients.

One is Thunderbird from Mozilla. It’s available for both Windows and Mac. If this the option you’re going to choose, your web host should have instructions available for how to get things set up.

Another is Zimbra from Yahoo. They have lots of paid options so make sure you are looking at their Open Source offering, which gives you free email.

I personally am not familiar with using the above email clients, so if you have any personal experiences, tips to share, or know of other good free email client options, it would be awesome if you could leave a comment below.  

How about a computer desktop solution?

If you prefer to have your email running on your computer desktop (ie. Not via the internet), here’s what you’re looking at…

With a Windows PC, Microsoft Outlook, their email client, is not free. It’s part of the Microsoft Office suite.

With a Mac, you do get access to Apple Mail, which will work for setting up your free business email.

Again, you will need email hosting for the above options.

Hope this update has assisted all in their quest for a free business email address, and, if you know of any other options, please contribute in the comments! It would be very much appreciated!

Image source: dacasdo /

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurent November 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Can’t believe how many times I’ve told people to do exactly what you mention here. This is a super simple, free and easy way to immediately increase your professionalism.

Another simple way is to use Email Forwarding from the company you bought the domain name from. This way you can continue to log in to your existing email (Hotmail or Gmail or Yahoo etc) and still put out a front of a personalized email address like


Martina December 1, 2011 at 9:02 am

Thanks Laurent! Appreciate the tip about email forwarding. Great idea and really easy! So there really is no excuse 🙂


Waseem May 23, 2012 at 8:47 am

About the tip for forwading.

How to reply from a gmail acount with a presonal account address? What if the address is and sending emails requires authentication to this account, so in this case we cannot reply to forwaded message to my gmail account.
It must be in @gmail account name.
Am I right or there is some confusion?

Please clarify!


Martina May 29, 2012 at 9:38 am

Hi Waseem! Here are instructions for sending emails with different addresses: Does this help with your question? Cheers


Kristal June 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

For some reason, the link keeps sending me to Google Apps Business and I can’t find the Solutions…FREE anywhere. Maybe, I am missing something? I need help =(


Martina June 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for your message Kristal. I can see why you are confused – Google has changed the layout of their site since I wrote the post and they are definitely pushing the paid services 🙂 I actually had to poke around a bit to make sure that they even still have a free service – the good news is they do!

I have updated the post with the correct link and instructions. You should be all good to go now! Cheers


Gill December 22, 2012 at 8:41 am

Hi Martina
Like your article – and I could certainly use a FREE business email address. Followed the link, but only see option for free one month trial or purchase.
Is it still possible to get it for Free?
Any help, new link, would be much appreciated.


Martina January 9, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Hi Gill,
Apologies for the delay in responding to you! Been a busy holiday season 🙂 First off, thanks for the heads up. Unfortunately, it looks like things at Google have changed and they no longer offer a free plan option. Boo! I’m going to do a little more sleuthing into the topic to determine what the best option is now. I will be in touch with you via email once I’ve updated the post.


Angela Kroemer September 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Great article. Professional emails give you that extra edge. When I see a hotmail or a yahoo account, the question that always comes to mind is — How old is that person? And why are they not using a more adult email. The worst is when I see they are still using the same email since high school ( for their business.
Thank you for all your great articles.


Martina September 18, 2012 at 7:52 am

Couldn’t agree more Angela! Appreciate your comment 🙂


Grahame Dunling December 29, 2012 at 11:47 am

I have tried this but it is only free for either 14 days or 30 days then you have to pay a monthly fee of $5.00 or a yearly fee of $50 paid in advance then it is more if you have more than one user.

Or have I gone onto the wrong place.
Many thanks


Martina January 9, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Unfortunately Grahame it looks like things at Google have changed and they are now charging for what used to be a free service. I’m going to look into what the best option is now. I will be in touch with you once I’ve updated the post. Thanks for letting me know!


Megan January 4, 2013 at 11:22 am

Umm. They aren’t free anymore.


Martina January 9, 2013 at 6:59 pm

I know 🙁 Too bad. I’m going to try and figure the best alternate solution. Will let ya know once the post is updated. Do appreciate you letting me know!


Alvaro Fuentes January 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I’m another widower of Google Apps searching for an alternate email service focused to small business. Would be great help to all of us if anyone can share his experience in this topic.

Thanks to Martina for her space and thanks to all of you in advance.


Martina January 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

Thanks Alvaro! Will be in touch once I’ve had the chance to dig into this a little more. Cheers.


Martina February 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Hey folks! This post has now been updated with more options and info now that Google Apps is no longer free. I will be emailing you all that asked about it, but just thought I’d leave a comment here too just in case my email doesn’t make it to you. Hope this helps!


Mohamed April 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Hi Martina,

Thanks for the awesome article!

I’ve tried hotmail’s free option but its quite unprofessional; in-that it sends your mail with a message that reads “hotmail[random number] ON BEHALF OF” which is embarrassing lol.

I’m a student trying to start up a company with minimal funds, so I would really appreciate any other help or recommendation on getting a free professional email address that uses my own domain.

Thanks again,


Martina April 14, 2013 at 9:52 am

Hey Mohamed,
Apart from using the hotmail option, which as you mentioned is not ideal from a professional standpoint, the other options that require email hosting are pretty much roughly the same cost wise (a few bucks a month). It all just comes down to what is the most convenient option for you and your setup.

Thanks for stopping by!



Alvaro Fuentes August 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Someone has tried the Zoho Mail service? Five free accounts, with the option to expand to other bigger (and paid) plans. Check it out in this link:

Any thoughts about this service?


Augustin Maradona Olarian December 24, 2014 at 11:31 pm

I’m using Godaddy website Builder, is there any way?


Martina Iring December 31, 2014 at 10:58 am

Hi Augustin,
I would contact GoDaddy to find out if email is part of the plan that you currently have with them. They should be able to help you figure out what the best route is for you to get your biz email going. I know they have plenty options. Thanks for checking out the post! Let me know if you have any other questions.


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