This kills me. I see so many people with solid websites, headed with great domain names but their contact email address is a cruddy generic one such as email@example.com, or paul3557hotmail.com. This looks really unprofessional. Setting up a proper domain email address is not difficult, particularly if you have paid for a proper domain name. Most reputable domain name registrars offer this as a part of the package. In Australia, you are best buying your domain names from MelbourneIT, they are a little more expensive, but they are the most professional outfit in the country. Remember, you pay for what you get. You can transfer registration between service providers, and if you have been struggling with a provider,...change.
How domain names work:
Your website is hosted on a web server somewhere. That web server has a unique address, it will be a string of numbers. For example 220.127.116.11 (the address of our web server here at 89 Fullarton Road, where the site is physically hoste. Click on those numbers and you will see it resolves to our website.
A domain name is a neat, appropriate, portable, easy to remember name, such as "atkins.com.au", that is the address you want to publicise. We purchased the domain name from a registrar who set a rule up in the web (www) that says when anyone looks for the address www.atkins.com.au, resolve it to 18.104.22.168. These rules are held in 'domain name servers' (DNS) set up around the world. A change in an address by a registrar, can take several days to propagate around the world. This registration system ensures addresses are unique and sites can be moved around to different servers.
There are some registrars who run scams and trick you into paying too much for your domain name, or do not have the authority to act as a registrar. So beware, use a reputable registrar. I have witnessed a registrar upping the price on a domain I was considering buying. Their site remembered what I was searching for, and indicated others too were interested and started on the hard sell, almost a fake auction. Just spend the extra on a good registrar, it is not worth the hassle.
Your internet service provider (ISP), assuming you have paid for a respectable service, will most likely be able to host your email as well. We use Internode and they provide us with five email addresses per internet service you have with them. Internode then supplies connection details so we can log in and collect our mail either by their webmail client or a desktop/mobile client such as Outlook or Mail.app.
The DNS system then points any web site requests for "www.atkins.com.au" to "22.214.171.124", and any "@atkins.com.au" emails to Internode's mail server.
If you were tech-savvy and a bit brave, you can host your own email using a server and software. But with the importance of the service and volume of spam, we choose to hand this task over to professionals.
If you wish to continue having your email hosted by gmail, hotmail, iCloud or any of the ubiquitous free-ish systems , you can set up email forwarding. Essentially, you log into your account on your domain name registrar's website and navigate to the section where you can set up email forwarding. Here you set up the rules that point from one email addresss to another. For example: "firstname.lastname@example.org" and "email@example.com" to "firstname.lastname@example.org".
The next setup is to configure your email client (Outlook or Mail.app, or etc) to make your replies and sends appear as though they came from the domain email address. In the settings you will find an option to "send emails as", here you enter your domain email address. What you are doing is setting up an 'alias' in your client, and 99% of email clients are capable of this.
Then thoroughly test your new rules to ensure they work.
If this is above your head, get your self a high quality ISP such as Internode. Top shelf ISPs are able to handle these rules and configurations for you. Unfortunately some of the big ISPs have really poor customer service (Bigpond etc), so if you are looking around for a new ISP, consider the cost of configuring all of this into the price. We have found Internode worth the investment over the past 14 years.