Like all “How to” articles. This article will be a step by step guide on how to setup a professional email for yourself like firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve already mentioned the benefits and professionalism of having a professional email in a previous article called: How to Write Professional Emails. You’ll need the following two things to proceed with this tutorial:
- An already purchased domain name.
- A cellphone (for verification purposes when creating the Zoho Mail account we will use for your professional email).
In this tutorial I will attempt to explain everything in the simplest manner since I know many people may not be as adept as me when it comes to computers or the internet. I assure you though that if you don’t overthink the concepts I introduce to you, you may just understand everything. Very often when I speak to clients or people about what I do, they tend to overthink and overcomplicate things.
What is a domain name? In simple terms, it’s just a name pointing to whatever you choose to point it to. Whether that be an email address, a website, etc. Today you will learn about DNS (Domain Name System) on a base level as we will need to edit your domain names DNS to work with your email. DNS simply put is how you point your domain name to use systems online, if you are trying to set your domain name to cover your website, usually you would point your domain name to the server where your website is being hosted (which would be an IP address), if you are trying to use your domain name for a professional email, we would point the domain name to wherever your email will be hosted and managed at. I won’t go more into detail now as I want to begin the tutorial and explain as we go so you can understand better as you are doing it yourself. Prepare yourself to follow along. 🙂
Step 1 – Create your account over at Zoho Mail
Zoho sort of tries to hide the fact that you can get a free account by not mentioning it on the website and hiding it below the paid versions, but luckily we are able to use the service free of charge. I understand though, as a business it’s great to offer a free service, but you do want people to pay so it’s best to not advertise it as free unless you want to be known as a free service. Same goes with any business. Follow the screenshots below to create your account.
After clicking the “Sign Up Now” button, you’ll arrive to a new page with the plans for Zoho Mail, scroll down until you find the “FREE PLAN”. You can click on the “Get Started” button.
Now you have the choice to use a domain you already own or buy one, for the purpose of this tutorial, we are using a domain we already own called julienkos.com, you would enter your domain name here and click “Add”.
Once your domain is added, you’ll need to enter in some details like your name, create your email address, select your country, enter in your cell number, and pick a password. I recommend either using your name for your email, or using info, sales, or support. I feel these are the main email addresses any business should have.
Once that is all done, you’ll receive a text message with the verification code, add that to the verification code field and click verify my mobile. Now your account will be complete and we can move to step 2.
Step 2 – Creating your DNS records to connect your domain name to the Zoho Mail Service
Now that your account is setup, we need to connect your domain to the Zoho Mail service. This means following the steps they request from us to verify the domain, set the MX records, verify SPF and DKIM. Don’t worry you don’t need to fully understand the terms, all you really need to do is prepare your fingers to copy paste values.
You’ll need to have your Godaddy or domain provider account open at the DNS section.
We will start by using the dropdown to select the domain provider you are using. If you don’t see your domain provider in the dropdown, you can select any of them. The selection doesn’t really matter because the values are the same.
Now you will see there is information you can copy. It’s asking us to create a TXT record for the domain in the DNS. So we will copy paste the values into the DNS. Select “TXT” from the dropdown type of record you want to create, then enter the “@” into the name, and copy the value and paste it inside the value field. Then add the field.
Once that is done, return to the Zoho tab and then the “Proceed to TXT Verification”. If it doesn’t work right away, wait a few minutes and try again. Sometimes it can take some time before the DNS propagates through the network.
Once you’ve verified the domain, it’ll take you to the next screen to create the user from earlier. So just hit the “Create Account” button to proceed.
Now you can skip both “Add Users” and “Groups”. Afterwards you should be at the “Configure Email Delivery” page. Here we will need to create the MX records to connect your domain to the Zoho Mail system, so that you can officially receive and send emails via your domain name.
You can copy paste those values into the DNS now, make sure to select MX as the type of record you want to add. Then copy paste the host name, the address and the priority and add each one of the records.
Once those are added, there is no need to do the “MX Lookup”, just click next and let’s proceed to adding our SPF and DKIM records. You can skip these if you want, but I highly recommend setting them up because they are the values that help ensure your emails are received by your clients. They are verification records to confirm your email comes from a credible place. If you don’t set these up, your emails may end up in your clients spam box or worst not even arrive to them at all.
Let’s start by copying the values for the SPF. You’ll need to create a new TXT record in your DNS, so select TXT and input the information.
Once that has been added, we will create the DKIM. Click on the “Proceed to Configure DKIM”, then click on the edit icon (see screenshot below), add a selector (see screenshot below), now type in whatever you like into the selector field. You can even call it selector. It’s really up to you.
After the selector has been created, copy paste it within a TXT record again in your DNS.
Then instead of hitting verify. Click “Back to Setup”, we will wait a bit to verify the SPF and DKIM, because often it will take 30-45 minutes before the DNS has propagated and lets us verify. Skip the “Email Migration” and “Mobile Access” and click “Go To Zoho Workplace”. You should now be able to go to mail.zoho.com and it should automatically have you logged in. You can proceed to the next step where we will verify the SPF and DKIM.
Step 3 – Verify SPF and DKIM
Now you can send emails and receive emails, but it’s important that we verify the SPF and DKIM records we created so that we can ensure your emails reach the people you send them to. The first thing to do here is reach your control panel. In the control panel, you can add new users, or additional emails, amongst many things. Click on the top right where the user icon is, then click on the control panel button.
Now your control panel should open in another tab or window. From there you will be able to open the dropdown for “Mail Administration” and then “Email Authentication” and select SPF, then click the “verify” button.
If that doesn’t work, wait awhile longer and then try again. After it verifies, go to DKIM to verify that one, edit it like I showed you previously and click the verify button again. Then return to the domain list in DKIM and click the little circle icon. We need to make sure it’s green and you should see it says “enabled” when hovering the icon.
You now have a free working professional email. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer them.