Photographer's domain name and email address

I was reading the latest issue of B&W+COLOR magazine and noticed a theme. Aside from the great photos, many photographers who have their own domain names don't use their domains for their email. WTF?!? Why take the time to setup a domain name and a cool site to show off your work and not create yourself an email address @ yourdomain.com. It is pretty easy and WAY more professional then using hotmail or yahoo. A note about me before I start: I am a professional nerd, more specifically a business intelligence consultant. I have a lot of experience with data, computers, servers, web interfaces, etc, etc. I do this kind of stuff all the time so I have a lot of experience with it. With that said, anyone can setup a domain name and have their own site pretty easily, and it is cheap.

Here are some tips to consider on setting up your own domain name and using it for your website AND email.

If you don't have a site yet:

  1. Get a domain name. It is very simple. There are many registrars out there. I have mine through GoDaddy. Their interface is cluttered and they try to up sell the crap out of you, but if you can ignore that, their administrative site allows me to do anything I want to my domain. You can use GoDaddy or find another company, just search Google for 'domain registrars'.
  2. Once you have a domain name, there are many different options to get a site up and running. You could find a hosting company that does it all, which is the easiest solution. Hosting a basic site should not cost more than $150 per year. If you're paying a lot more, you're paying too much. This hosting will include the website and your email. As an Example, I use DiscountASP.net to host my site. It costs me around $100 / year. They are easy to use and reliable.
  3. My site is run on WordPress, a free blogging platform. Many hosting companies will setup the site for you with a simple online wizard. It takes less than 10 minutes. A list of WordPress hosting companies is on their site. You can also google 'wordpress hosting'.
  4. If you are not technical at all, find a kid who is to help out. I'm sure you have a neighbor, cousin, or nephew who can help a bit. There are also people like me who do this for a living. I of course am available to help. Use the the contact form on my site to send me an email.

Costs:

  • Domain name: ~ $10/year
  • Hosting your website: FREE to  $150 / year
  • Hosting your email: FREE or included with the hosting for your website.

Total Costs: Between $10 and $160 a year.

If you already have a site, and want to switch your email to your domain name:

  1. First thing, contact the hosting company for your site. They will tell you if email is included with your hosting. If yes, then just set it up by following their instructions.
  2. If email is not included, find a free service to host it for you. I personally use Google Apps. They have a free version and it is easy to setup. The hardest part is pointing your existing domain name to their services. This article from Google tells you exactly how to setup this part.
  3. Once your new email address is setup, test it out, make sure everything is working. The hardest part comes next...
  4. Migrate to the new address. I am sure this will be the hardest part of the entire process. You have been using the same email address for the last xyz number of years and have no idea how many people have it, where it is published, etc. Here are some things to consider:
    1. Send everyone in your address book your new email address and ask they start using it.
    2. Setup your old email account to forward all email to your new address. Many providers can also setup an auto-responder. Use it to notify everyone who sends an email to the old account about your new account.
    3. Don't delete your old account for at least six months. Make sure no email is going to it. If you are worried about people sending email to your old address after it is deleted, realize you have a domain name and your own website. A simple google search will bring up your site and new contact info.

If you got this far you might be wondering why go through these steps. The #1 reason is control. If you have a yahoo, hotmail, or whatevermail email address, you have no control over the account. That company could decide to drop their free email service at anytime. Then what? Remember AOL? Everyone had an AOL account. It was cool. Not anymore! They are still around for some reason, but not many people use their services anymore. Ultimately, you will be switching your email address regardless and it will be more stressful to be forced into the switch. If you switch to a domain name you own, no can can take it from you.

I realize the steps above might be a little vague. It is impossible to detail out every step since there are so many different options out there for hosting your domain and email. I just ask you consider moving your email to a domain name you own. It is more professional and gives you much more control in the long run.

Feel free to leave comments or questions and I will try to help anyway I can.