Ultimately, it boils down to a balance between cost, features, and risk. It's always tempting to simply jump on the lowest-cost solution, but the fact that email is ubiquitous keeps this from being the smart play. It's nearly impossible to escape using it, which means your users, your customers, and the guts of your business have all come to depend on it in different ways. You need to discover those ways, evaluate them, and then choose a service that either meets or improves on them. This takes time, discussion with your IT staff, and some investigation; these are steps you don't want to skip. Otherwise, you'll pay for it later.
Many hosting plans offer a free domain and at least one free email account with a matching email address ([email protected]). Bluehost offers the best deal; its $2.95/month Basic Shared hosting plan offers a free domain and five free matching email accounts or addresses. Other hosting providers that also offer a free email address to match a free domain in their plans include GoDaddy and InMotion, although for a higher monthly fee than Bluehost.
Even if you’re not running a burgeoning business, there’s the personal branding component to what an email host can offer. Maybe you’re a graduate student building your personal portfolio and publishing your resumé online when your realize Corporate Hiring Managers are less likely to respond to [email protected] Wouldn’t it be nice to reach out from [email protected] instead? Or maybe you’re establishing a side biz to bring in some extra cash. Would you rather folks considering you for freelance work reach out to [email protected] or [email protected]?
If you need a domain for the long term―two or more years―it’s wiser to pay a small fee for a .com domain instead. This looks more professional and is generally more trusted by visitors. However, if you only need a temporary free domain name―for a test site, for example―and aren’t too concerned about appearances, dot.tk provides a simple, free alternative. Click here to get started with dot.tk.
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