Do you ever read The Meh List (subtitle: Not Hot, Not Not, Just Meh) in the New York Times Magazine’s One Page Magazine feature? Well, if I were assembling a Meh List for the translation industry, “Translators who own their own domain but still use a Gmail address” would definitely be on it. I always try to refrain from criticizing other people’s decisions, but here I have to make an exception: just as free business cards with the printing company’s marketing message on them scream “I’m not willing to invest the princely sum of $25 in my freelance business,” owning one’s own domain name but still using Gmail screams (to me, at least) “I’m not willing to spend half an hour figuring out how to set up domain name e-mail.” For anyone who’s not familiar with it, domain name e-mail is like “firstname.lastname@example.org.” You buy a website domain name and then create e-mail addresses to go with it.
But, here I find myself preparing to spend two months in Europe this summer, and my current e-mail solutions are problematic. I love my ISP (Front Range Internet), but Gmail gives me more storage space and a fuller-featured webmail interface. And I don’t want to use a non-webmail interface for this extended stay abroad, because I don’t want to be tied to just one computer. So, all of a sudden I was faced with the prospect of becoming one of those translators who owns a domain and uses Gmail anyway, but I’m here to tell you that yes, you can set up Gmail with your own domain. If I set it up without having to call tech support, so can you. Here’s how:
The issue is that it’s easy to forward your domain name e-mail to Gmail, so that people can *send to* your domain name address. It’s a little harder to *reply as* your domain name address, so that people never see the @gmail.com domain. First, read Gmail’s knowledge base page on “Sending mail from a different address.” You’re probably “A Gmail or Google Apps user sending from an external address,” so open that section of the page and read it.
Basically you just follow the instructions on that page; Gmail advises that if this is your work e-mail address, you should use your domain’s SMTP servers rather than Gmail’s servers. My Unix admin husband tells me that this is to avoid your messages being flagged as spam because the SMTP server domain and the e-mail domain don’t match. In my case, my ISP helpfully has all of their SMTP server information in their knowledge base (you need to know the mail server address, the correct port to use, your username and your password) and all of that worked the first time I entered it. Then I simply forwarded my mail from my ISP to my Gmail address and it seems to be all set. This way, my clients do not see my Gmail address but I can take advantage of Gmail’s massive storage allocations and excellent webmail features.
For more on solutions that can help you work while on an extended trip abroad, you can listen to Eve Bodeux’s and my Speaking of Translation call tomorrow (Wednesday, June 13) at 12 noon New York Time. Or listen to the recording afterward! Here’s the link to the call access information (it’s free and you don’t have to preregister) and we’ll post a recording afterward.