Monday, February 18, 2013

Free Google Apps: how to create and map it to your own domain

First of all let’s recall our aims: If you want to begin your own startup, or just bring online your already existing offline business, in any case, you have to create your own online infrastructure, and we will do it by using set of Google tools.

So, if you want to create your own site on your own domain, or want to create your own blog on your own domain, or even want to create your own web application (such as Twitter, or Pinterest, or any other less known), or just want to have your own email address with your own domain name (for example: some_name@some-company-name.com, or anything like this), you can have any combination of these four elements or all of them. But to implement this, first you have to create Google Apps account and then map it to your own domain name. Of course if you already have registered domain name you can map Google Apps to it, otherwise you also have to register it. Domain name registration is the only step which might require some money spent from you – something around $10.

Although, starting on December 6, 2012, Google will no longer offer new accounts for the free edition of Google Apps. But if you follow my instructions from previous article you still can get account for such free Google Apps edition. This free Google Apps account is limited by just one user – not much, but it is quite enough for our purpose.

Of course, you can as well use a paid version of Google Apps for several users, so called Google Apps for Business. It is a very good solution in case your company already has several employees, and you want to get a convenient and reliable IT solution for your company. The process described below will be applicable in any case.

So, returning to our aims, we need to have Google Apps account at list to achieve next porpoise:

– By using Google Apps you will map your domain and its subdomains to different parts of your online infrastructure. For example you can implement next schema:

– Also you will use the Google Apps Sites (one of the service included in Google Apps suite) in order to create and develop your public site.

– After mapping you Google Apps to your domain you will get branded email addresses in your domain, similar to this: some_name@ some-company-name.com.

Please follow next instructions in order achieve these goals.
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1. Get started with Google Apps for free

You have to start from the point Accessing Admin panel of Application from the previous article, continue to the Add Domain dialog and then click to the Sign up for Google Apps… link. After that you will be moved to the start of Free Google Apps account creation process.
started with Google Apps for free

First of all, you have to select your domain name. A domain name is your online business identity or online brand. It can be used to host your organization’s website (e.g. www.some-company-name.com ) or email address (e.g. some_name@some-company-name.com ).
If you already own domain name and you would like to use it with Google Apps, just enter it and push Submit button and skip some of the next steps. (But you will have to confirm that you own this domain)
Otherwise, you can select and register (purchase) your domain name right now, start by clicking Find domain button.

2. Select domain name and Create account

After you click Find domain button the screen will slightly change. Now you have to imagine some domain name which should be appropriate for you brand and business. Enter this name and click Check Availability button.
Select domain name and Create account

Probably first try will not be lucky, since most common and obvious domain names already registered by someone. But please don't be frustrated and don't hurry. The selection of the good and free domain name might be a challenge but it is very important, since this domain name will be your online identity or brand for a long time.

After several attempt you will succeed and will find good and available domain name!

Next you have to fill remaining fields, accept Terms, and Submit form.
Google Apps login

Please take in account that since you are registering for free edition of Google Apps with just one user, the Username from this form will also be your email address, so please select something appropriate to be placed on your visit card. (Although, you will be able to change it late.)

After you Submit this form your account will be created. So, Congratulations!

Next step is Purchase your Domain Registration. Actually, if you click Cancel button on next screen you will be able to return to purchase later, but I recommend you to complete this process right now.

3. Purchase your domain registration (actually, this should be called: setup and verify your billing profile)

Google apps: Purchase domain
For your domain registration you will be charged by $12 or something like this (can vary a little). This registration should be renewed yearly until you want to keep this domain name yours.
I recommend you to select Enom in Registration is powered by list, mostly because further instructions in my articles will address this registrar (but if you use another, the instructions will be very similar). So, check marks and click Continue button.

One more screen to review purchase, accept Terms and Continue:
Google apps: Purchase domain
On the next two screens you will have to enter your billing attributes and complete the purchase by using your Credit card (recommended as fastest method) or Bank account. Everything is very similar to usual purchase on any other online store.
Google apps: Purchase domain
Google apps: Purchase domain


There is one trap on this Set up your billing profile form – it is email address in Primary billing contact section. Google suggest to use your recently created email, and it is really possible to use it, but it will be more comfortable if you will use some other already existed email address (later you will be able change it back, if it will be needed). The reason is that: right after you submit your billing profile Google will try to verify this email address by sending verification email to it. But in order to properly access recently created mailbox you will have to do some more setting in your Google Apps first. So, if you will use some already existed email address, you will be able to perform verification without interrupting this instruction.

Please take in account that you will not be charged for your domain registration right after completing this forms. Google just will verify provided billing information, if you use Credit card Google most likely will just try to hold one dollar on it. You will be actually billed after the first day of the next month and, please remember that, you will be billed only once (Once per year).

So, Google will verify your payment method and your billing information. You also have to find verification email sent to your mailbox and click the verification link in it during this verification process. Only after that your domain registration purchase will be completed (although you actually still didn’t pay for it).
After submitting last form you will be transited to the Google Apps setup wizard screen. Since process of verification can last some time, you probably will see here the notification message telling that it is still not completed.

4. Google Apps setup wizard

Google Apps setup wizard

Next we will walk through this wizard briefly. Actually you can skip to the conclusion of this article since in general we already done all that we planned for this article. In next articles we will return to configuring some Google Apps services (Gmail and Google Sites) in more details.

If by some reason you previously Cancel purchase, you can return to it on next step of this wizard:
Google Apps setup wizard
If you already successfully have completed domain registration purchase you will see something similar to the next screen:
Google Apps setup wizard

Let’s move on, and on the next wizard step select “No, it's just me ...” option and click Next button, since we are use free edition of Google Apps for just one user.
Google Apps setup wizard
Next steps of wizard you can just move through without any changes in settings, just to see and familiarize.

5. Some verifications

In order to be twice sure that everything is Ok please visit some additional screens and verify this.
Firstly, verify that all required services are toggled ON (at least Gmail and Sites), turn them ON if accidentally they still turned OFF.
Google Apps setup

Next, visit the main Dashboard screen and click Gmail icon.
Google Apps: Gmail
After that, Gmail service will be opened in new window (or in the new tab) and you can play with it a little, at least open and read Congratulations message.
Google Apps: Gmail
And finally, you can return to the Google Apps window, open Domain settings / Subscriptions & Billing interface and then click the Access billing account link. There you can verify your Subscriptions, and your Billing profile and settings, and also verify Transaction history, and you can fix it if something goes wrong with your purchase.
Google Apps: Subscriptions & Billing
Please take in account that you will not be charged immediately, you will be actually automatic charged on the first day of the next month. Sometimes people forget about it and then become alarmed when they suddenly will be charged some weeks later.
Google Apps: Subscriptions & Billing

Of course if you would like you can Make a payment manually right now or at any time later.
Google Apps: Subscriptions & Billing
Just remember that in any way you will be charged just once per year for the domain registration.

What's Next

At this point, we've created Google Apps account, selected and purchased your own domain name and have linked these things together.

Now you can add to your business card your own, newly registered, branded email, something like this some_name@some_company_name.com.

Next we will dive deeper in in Google Apps configuring and using. In particular, we will start with the Sites Google Apps service: you will create your first Site and map it to your domain, for example as www.some_company_name.com it will be the first publicly accessible element of your online infrastructure. After that you will be able to put the URL to your own brand site to your business card as well as branded email address.