Sunday, January 30, 2011

Use Google Apps To Setup a Professional Presence Online For Free

One of the first things you want to do as you setup your cloud-based business, is to establish a professional presence online.  So, what does this include?  Here is the bare minimum:

  1. Your own domain like  Nothing screams out "amateur" more than not setting up your own domain.  Do not skip this step.  If you don't know what a domain name is, you can read up on it here.
  2. Your own email address at your own domain.  Something like
  3. Your own website at your domain.
  4. Your own blog at your domain.
Here's how to do all this, for free.  Ok, Ok, Ok - it's not totally free.  It'll cost you $10 paid to Google, but in my books that's basically free anyway.

Step #1 - Securing your domain  
There are lots of ways to register a domain name.  As with most of what I do at Revelcloud, I'm just going to describe the easiest way.  Seeing as we're going to be using Google Apps anyway, the easiest thing to do is to just let Google register it for us.  Using Google to do this is somewhat buried in their site, but the process is dead-easy and you can finish in under 10 minutes.  And when you're done, you've got your first $10 expense for your business.  Just follow the steps - Sign Up for Google Apps.

Step #2 - Setup your email

When you've finished step #1, you will have your own domain and Google Apps will have been provisioned on that domain.  Now, you just need to go in to Google Apps and create a new user.  To do this:

  1. Use your browser to go to mail.{your_domain}.  So, for Revelcloud is  
  2. You will be requested to login using the name you created for the administration account in Step 1.
  3. In the top right of the screen, click the link for "Manage This Domain"
  4. Next, click on the link for "Organization and Users"
  5. Next, click on the button for "Create a New User"
    • The most professional format for an email address is  For example,
You can repeat this process for up to 50 users.  And it's all free!

Step #3 - Setup your website
Step #4 - Setup your blog
I'm going to combine steps 3 and 4 together - for starters, your website can be your blog.  Later, you can move your website over to Google Sites and separate it from your blog.  Here's how to do it:

  1. Create a new blog.  We're going to use Blogger to host your blog.  Blogger is provided by Google, and it's the easiest to get setup (and then monetize with AdSense later if you choose).  So, just go to, and follow the steps to "Create a New Blog". Use the email address you created in step 2 to log in, and name your blog {your_domain} - for example
  2. Setup your domain.  Now, you're not going look very professional using the to host your blog.  So, what we need to do is to point your domain at blogspot.  This is a bit technical, but you can definitely do it.  What we're going to do is tell the Internet that when someone goes to your domain (like to actually "resolve" that name to a Google server to provide the content.  The detailed steps are here, but here's the short form.
    • Go to in your browser. e.x.
    • Log in
    • Click on the link for "Manage this domain" in the top right
    • Click on the "Domain Settings" tab
    • Click on the "Domain Names" link
    • Click on the "Advanced DNS Settings" link
    • Now, on this screen you should have a link that says something like "Sign into DNS console" and there should also be a user name and password.  When you click this link you'll go to the management console for your domain (this is not provided by Google).  Click this link and login to the DNS console.
    • Now, we need to create one new CNAME alias and one Redirect.  Create a new "CNAME" alias, and type "blog" for the "Host Name" and "".  What this does is creates a mapping that says "when someone goes to, forward that request to for processing".  Bingo, just what we want.  The other thing to do is create a Redirect and type "www" for the "Host Name" and "" for the address.
  3. Now, the last thing we need to do is configure blogger to work on the custom domain.  
    • Go to
    • Login
    • Click on Settings and then Publishing
    • Under "Advanced Settings" set things up similar to how you see them below:

With that, you should now be all setup with a professional presence online for free!  OK, it did cost you $10. If you get stuck doing this, drop me a line in the comments and I'll try to walk you through it.

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