Sometimes I get a client who is starting from scratch and needs to get a domain name, branded email accounts, and web hosting (or sometimes they have the domain name already).
Here’s my process to get that all set up, along with some tips and tricks. Note, the order is important to minimize the amount of work you need to do.
Domain Name Hosting
Often my clients already have a domain name on GoDaddy. For clients who don’t have a domain name, I recommend getting it on Namecheap because they are cheaper and include privacy (i.e., not listing your name, phone number, and address in the whois info) at no extra cost, whereas GoDaddy charges for that “luxury”.
I strongly recommend that my clients own their own domain names and not let a developer own them. Your domain name is a valuable asset to your business or organization. You need to control it!
I do, however, need access in order to set everything up. Registrars like GoDaddy and Namecheap offer delegated access, where you can grant your developer revokable access to your account. This is a good way to grant user access to your domain name host.
In any case, get your domain name first. It will make your life easier for the rest of the steps.
Custom Email Accounts
Next, I set up email. For custom email accounts, I usually use Google Workspace because it’s low-cost ($6/month) and most people are familiar with Gmail. You could also use Microsoft 360 or one of many other alternatives though.
During the setup process, Google can automatically interface with registrars like GoDaddy to make your DNS settings for you as long as you are logged into your domain name host. That’s why it’s best to get your domain name first, and stay logged in for this part.
Once my email account is set up, I can add my client’s email users one at a time. There is a provision in Google Workspace to add accounts and simultaneously send an invitation to people’s existing email addresses, which is a great feature.
Google Workspace also lets each user have an alternate email address. For example, if you want “firstname.lastname@example.org” to go to an existing user, you can make that an alternate address for that user (but you can’t assign the same alternate address to multiple users)
If you need an email address that forwards to multiple users, you can create a Group. If you want people outside your organization to be able to email to that address (for an info@ address for example), be sure to set “Who can post” to that group to include “External” in the Access Type settings for that group.
Next, I give my clients Super Admin privileges to the account so they can completely manage it themselves without me.
Now that we have a domain name and emails, it’s time to set up web hosting. I have a separate article on choosing web hosting, but for most of my clients, I use Siteground because their servers are reliable and fast.
I sign up using the email I just created or ask my client to sign up and give me delegated access. Once I have access, I get the IP address of the webserver and copy that to the A-record of the domain name DNS record. If you’re not a web developer, this probably sounds like Greek, but you can find tutorials online on how to do this.
Once I have verified that I can get into the account with my delegated access, I change the contact email to my client’s email address so they will be informed when the hosting needs to be renewed.
An Easier Way?
There is actually an easier way to do all of this. Namely, you could get your domain name, email, and web hosting all from the same company, like GoDaddy or Siteground for instance.
But any seasoned web developer will advise you not to be tempted by the convenience of “one-stop” shopping. Rather, it’s best to use the best providers of each individual service. In other words, use the best domain name provider, the best email provider, and the best web host, even if they are not all the same company. That is because migrating any one of these later is a pretty big pain in the a**.
Let’s say you have all three services at Siteground and want to migrate your web hosting. You won’t want to leave your email there and pay for full price web hosting just to get the email account; you’ll want to move that to a cheaper dedicated service. Same for your domain name. So now you have to migrate three services instead of one. And like I said, migrating any of one these is a hassle.
So, that’s why I use three different services for domain name, email, and web hosting. I use the best so I don’t have to migrate later, or if I do want to change one service, I only need to migrate that one service instead of all three.
I hope this was helpful. Please leave your questions in the comments! – Brian