Your Small Business is Worth More than a Free Email Address

Your company must make a professional first impression with potential customers. Don’t set yourself up for failure by being cheap.

I drove behind an electrical contractor’s truck this week. This small business owner had big magnets on the sides of his truck with his company name and email address. It read something like this:

Jenkins Electrical

There was no phone number or website address. Just a cryptic Yahoo email address.

Here are the top 5 questions you must ask yourself if you use a free email address for your business:

1. How are potential customers suppose to remember a random sequence of letters for an email address? (Especially if they are driving down the street)

2. What does a free email address say about your business? Hint: It says cheap.

3. Are you missing an opportunity to build your brand presence online? That email address could just as easily have been a memorable and relevant domain name like

4. What happens if your free email host disappears? Poof! There go all your business emails.

5. What does a free email address say about your professionalism? Please do your business a favor and buy a relevant domain name. Think of this from the customer’s perspective. A free email address could mean you are only a temporary business that may not be there to support the customer post-sale.

Solution: Buy a domain name and set up a website. Get custom email addresses and put up that professional online presence your potential customers will trust.

This post is part of Problogger’s Top 5 Group Writing Project.

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  • Ryan Christensen

    I couldn’t agree more, and stress this to all my customers. It amazes me how many local businesses do this. It’s an incredibly easy (and cheap) investment to get a “” in addition to hosted email these days…

  • Dina at

    God… you’re so right, you’re so right. I’ve made this beef before.

    I love it when the old email inbox is overflowing with new emails, many from clients, many more that are obviously spam. And then you have these lackees who, like you said are not only going the freabie cheapo route, but they aren’t even clever enough to think up a memorable e-persona OR add their NAME, so I that I may know who they ARE.

    I suspect that more than a few copywriting queries have gone unanswered by me because I may have inadvertantly deleted them in the shuffle. To that I say, hey man… get a real email address and then see if I notice you.

    Thanks for this. Good post, Joe!

  • John

    It drives me mad that so many business talk about their brand then present me with a hotmail/yahoo address – after all your own domain name is so cheap these days.

  • Dan Chase

    You are so right, Joe. I’ve been preaching this for years. I also believe in *personal* domains for personal email… especially when you morph it into freelancing. *You* are your brand then! Thanks again for checking out my top five, and including me in your top 4!

  • Joe Rawlinson

    Ryan: You’re right. Cheap and easy really leaves no room for being “cheap” and using a free address.

    Dina: That is a good point you bring up. A free address can too easily be viewed as spam.

    John: Indeed. With a Hotmail or Yahoo address, guess whose brand we’re building? Not our small business brand! That is to say nothing of those ads they insert at the bottom of every outgoing email.

    Dan: You’re welcome. A personal brand is a great thing to establish. What will people find when they start Googling your name? Individuals should definitely establish a personal brand as the day will come when they will wish they had one.

  • Ross at Thrive

    I totally agree, it is a huge problem.

    I’ve gotten so many leads from people just seeing in my email address that I had a domain, then following the links through to the business. It’s really not expensive – everyone should have one.

  • Joe Rawlinson

    Ross: Good point. Your email address becomes free advertising for you and not for Yahoo!

  • adib

    Domain name and hosting is so cheap now. No reason not to get one if seriously want to start business online.

  • John Furst

    I am living on the Canary Islands/Spain and I see even local lawyers, accountants, doctors, small businesses, … promote their *free email addresses*. Some of them even have a Web Site and still go with free email. Absolutely unprofessional. I remember that I had personal domains, mostly for email, long before I took my consulting business online.

    TIP: Smart people can easily guess your Web URL from your own domains’ email address. When advertising space is short, e.g. in a small print classified add, you can have your email address transport your Web address as well.

  • Kathy Hendershot-Hurd

    Securing a domain name and setting up a corresponding web site with email accounts is truly Business 101. I’ve actually had clients who had vendors that refused to work with them until they had a business web site established.

    One client was AMAZED at how differently his consulting business was perceived when he abandoned his email and started using his domain name email instead.

    The devil is in the details and it’s little details like your email address that send huge signals to potential clients.

  • Joe Rawlinson

    I like your tip. The curious can always “reverse engineer” your domain based email address to find your site. Thanks for sharing!

    Perception is key in business success. It is a powerful force that can often be moved by those little details you mentioned.

  • kasuma

    Yah It is Big True. Soon I will have mine as well rather than doing what am doing at the moment.
    Asante sana we say in my languange means( thank you very much)
    DeziK Multimedia Solutions
    P.O Box 62534
    Dar es Salaam

  • Darrell A. Williams

    I always go to the website of people that email me, and I get their address from their email. If it is a free email, I usually delete it. Buy a domain name that represents your business or your own name. It is really does not cost very much. I agree free emails look very cheap and unprofessional.

  • Andres

    You all are missing the point here. I have 20 domains, but still use free emails to post at public places.. why? The reason has 4 letters: SPAM.

    In the past I used my domains a lot an got a lot of spam and now I hate it. Hate it so much that I cannot see a single one, that is why I developed a system to protect myself from this crap without using spam filters that sometimes loses email and clients complain a lot.

    Now I don’t receive any single spam to my main email account, NOT ONE, but that took a somewhat scrupulous system.

    But, the weak part of this is when you send email, you shouldn’t reveal your email, that is why I try that people email me first, so I could create the alias for them and from that point communicate spam free with this person.