Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The E-Domain

Though the focus of The Do-tique is life in our physical domains, I wanted to take a look at the world of the virtual home as it is full of DIY projects waiting for attention! 

Over the past few months, in anticipation of an effort to connect face-to-face with colleagues in my own industry and to meet and learn from new contacts in another related industry, I thought it would be wise to create a business card that represented me as a professional contact. 

Wikipedia: Attorney's Card, 1895

The personal business card is about acknowledging that networking takes place on both a personal and professional level in many sectors. We network with other professionals to learn from each other as colleagues. In the business/sales setting, we work to create connections on behalf of our employers when we are representing them to potential or existing clients. Two functions, two cards - use each appropriately.

Some options I looked at for personalized cards were: and
Both had great design templates, but I went with the local (and awesome!) student print shop this time around since they had the best price, quickest turnaround and it allowed me to order a small "tester batch" and I'll save the larger order until I'm done "testing" this look.

The big question that came out of this thinking was how to create an email address that would be connected to my "personal brand" and communicate professionalism. I understood that was going to make me look like a teenager. See Marketing Actuary for a discussion on this very topic. 

I ended up with a custom website and matching email address that are perfect for my purposes. The process was not as intuitive as I thought, so I wanted to share what I learned in case it is something you might be considering yourself.

Step 1 - Purchase your site name

Did you know that you have to buy a URL? I didn't. 
I spoke with my telephone and internet provider about purchasing the name from them. The service included email addresses at that URL, but their pricing was fairly high.
Instead, I purchased my site from an online retailer called
I chose the very most basic plan and the cost was $4.95 per year and I got that pricing by searching "netfirms promo code 2011" in Google and finding a coupon code that was valid.

Step 2 - Create a Google Apps account

The reason for this is that there is a cost to create an email account at your URL through Netfirms. Google allows you to create an email account with the ending for free through their Apps program. In essence, it is a Gmail account without any visual association to Google.
Google will take you through a process to confirm that you own that URL before initiating the account. You can also migrate the website over to Google Apps and use their free templates for web design if you are a novice like me.

Step 3 - Download onto your desktop

Do you want to deal with more webmail? Really? The answer for me is, "NO."
The solution: I was able to set everything up as a POP account that automatically downloads into my MacMail program. I can check email remotely through webmail if I want to, but for everyday use, it's all nicely automated.

I am certain that there must be another way to set all of this up at a low cost, but this was the path of least resistance that I was able to find. What do you think? Is there an easier way? Is anyone else thinking along the lines of carrying two cards?

As Joan tells Peggy about her typewriter in Episode 1 of Mad Men:

"Try not to be overwhelmed with all this technology. It looks complicated, 
but the men who designed it made it simple enough for a woman to use."

DIY Rating: 5 

As the Marketing Actuary suggested, the most knowledgeable 
person I spoke to happened to be an undergraduate student.

In terms of the DIY aspect, I regret that I didn't employ 
an expert here who could have set this up in much less time.

Perhaps my road map will help other DIY'ers!


  1. It is not quite clear to me where your website is actually hosted. You say you bought the name from NetFirms for $5/year, but who is providing the servers on which your site is located? The NetFirms plans I see on their site range from $5-15/month. Is it hosted by Google, like your email, and was that free?

  2. Good question! I'm still not sure this whole thing is clear to me - maybe a question of how well they are marketing their services to non-tekkies!

    Looking at it again, I think I might just have done what they call a domain name registration, which they have now for $7.95/yr regular price.

    I'm creating the "look" of the site by using the google apps sites software. You can alternately host a webpage free through Google Sites, but you have to call it unless you buy your own domain name (which I did).

    If you or any other readers have clearer information or ideas, let me know! As I mentioned, this only got a 5 on the DIY rating scale because it really wasn't that easy to figure out!

  3. It sounds like Google is hosting the site for you, but they are only displaying the name you purchased. That's a good strategy, as long as the usage requirements for your site don't exceed whatever limits Google imposes (if they impose any). Nicely done!


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