You really should get a custom domain.
I like having “hayman.net” for my domain name. (I registered that one over twenty years ago – I wish I had been fast enough to get “hayman.com” – but that was for many years a cash register company in the States, that has now mutated into a consulting company. But they are also Haymans (no relation) so that’s cool.)
A domain can be as cheap as $10/year.
What can you do if you’ve registered your own?
- Have whatever simple, easy to remember, easy to say email address you like, forever. You can set things up so that email to YourSimpleEmailAddress is magically forwarded to YourActualComplicatedEmailAddress.
i.e. Let’s say you registered the domain name “YourLastName.com”.
Now you can tell everybody that your email address, forever, will be YourFirstName@YourLastName.com.
Doesn’t that look better and more professional than “steve1964@myCableCompany.com”? And if you ever switch email addresses – maybe you’ve dropped the cable company – you don’t need to tell anybody that your new email address is now “email@example.com”. They can keep using YourFirstName@YourLastName.com as if nothing ever happened. You just change the mail forwarding setup. And …
If you’re looking for a job, which email address do you want to tell them – FootballFanGoArgosGo1983@BigHonkingCableCompany.com, or Steve@MyDomain.com ?
Set up similar email addresses for friends and family.
My dad has a simple email address now, one based on his name that is easy to remember, and he has been known to brag about this vanity address to his friends. I think he says “my son runs the internet, that’s how he managed to get hayman.net”
Set up emails for your kids that just forward everything to your email address, so you can gently introduce them to email. I have been known to register a domain name and email forwarding for somebody else’s new baby as a thoughtful gift. I think this is a thoughtful gift. Wouldn’t you like to have a permanent, easy to remember email address from the day you were born? (Other people disagree. I’m still trying.)
Make a single email address that goes to BOTH Mom and Dad.
We did this any time the school or anybody else wanted an email contact.
We told them to use MomAndDad@OurDomain.com – and those emails were a simple address that forwarded to BOTH parents so that we’d each see the important communications.
Make a catch-all address, if you like, so that ANY email at all sent to WhateverYouLike@YourDomain.com will be forwarded to your actual email address.
Then you can invent a new email every time you register for something.
Tell the newspaper that your address is, say, “WashingtonPost@yourdomain.com” and you can instantly recognize emails that come from the paper to you.
Or if you need to register for some throwaway site, don’t give them your real email, give them ABrandNewMadeUpAddress@yourdomain.com . You can always arrange later that any mail sent to that address will be magically deleted.
Have a blog with an easy to remember domain name, like this one – “blog.hayman.net”, instead of (in my case, at the moment) “shayman.micro.blog”.
I like micro.blog but if I ever get tired of it and want to move to wordpress or tumblr or something else, I can keep using “blog.hayman.net” and just change a few settings so that that address now refers people to wherever my blog actually is.
If you happen to be using micro.blog, there are some good instructions here on setting up a custom domain.
Have a web site that actually redirects people to your Facebook page or your blog page or anywhere else. We’ve done this for my wife’s travel business, a simple URL – TakeACruise.ca – that redirects to her travel agency’s web site.
We can change that redirect later to point to anything else, but she can use this as part of her brand.
The hardest part, of course, is thinking of a good domain name that isn’t already in use.
All the good .com’s are gone. Every-possible-last-name.com has been registered, sometimes by a company that wants to sell you some email forwarding services.
But I bet you can think of something.
Maybe you register lastnameFamily.com or TheLastnames.com or some other variation?
Maybe .net or .ca or any one of hundreds of new top-level-domains that have been created recently?
Where to start?
There are plenty of registrars who will register the domain name you’ve dreamed up, and let you set up email forwarding like I described.
Most will let you search for domain names across .com, .net, .ca, .club, .construction, .family and hundreds of other top-level-domains at once.
I happen to like Namecheap and EasyDNS but there are lots of others.
Let’s say I was doing this today.
I’d go to namecheap.com and there’s a search box on the main page. Type in “hayman” and it’ll start searching … and we see …
- hayman.com (taken)
- hayman.net (taken – wait, I already have this one)
- hayman.ca (that’s me too)
- hayman.co (Available! Premium! $5,532.50/year! No thank you!)
- hayman.live (Only $2.48/year for the first year)
And many more.
Pick one, sign up, pay Namecheap, and you’ll own your domain.
Let’s say you like “hayman.live”. Namecheap then gives you a web site where you can set things up so that email to, for instance, “firstname.lastname@example.org” gets forwarded to “steve_hayman_2314238234@CableCompanyIHate.com” and you never need to tell anybody your ugly cable company email address again. Just tell them “email@example.com”. Any mail anybody sends to firstname.lastname@example.org will get magically forwarded (by Namecheap’s servers) to your real email address.
And if you choose later in life to switch from cableCompanyIHate.com to phoneCompanyJustAsBad.com or me.com or gmail.com or anything else,
you don’t need to tell everybody in the world what your new address is; you just return to namecheap.com and fiddle with the forwarding.
Don’t forget to renew your domain every year. If you’re serious about this, set up automatic renewal. You don’t want to forget to renew “hayman.live” and then have all your incoming email stop working – or, worse, somebody else registers YOUR domain name and won’t give it back unless you pay them big bucks. Actually happens.
You’ll have to set up your Mail program so that mail you create says “From: email@example.com” instead of “From: steve_hayman_2314238234@CableCompanyIHate.com”
- Pick a reputable domain name registrar.
- A .com domain still seems to have the greatest prestige, for no particularly good reason other than .com has been around the longest. It’s also getting really hard to find a.com domain that hasn’t already been chosen. There’s nothing wrong with using .net or .ca or any of the hundreds of others – but if you can find a simple .com that’s still available, use that.
On the other hand, ma