Whenever I talk about getting a paid G Suite subscription, I always get the same question: “But what do you get with a paid account that you don’t get for free?” So let’s talk about that. Not only the differences in features, but also in what it means to your business reputation.
Heads up! This post contains affiliate links, marked with an asterisk(*). If you sign up through one of those links you won't pay anything extra (sometimes you’ll even get a discount or bonus!), but I'll get a small commission or credit that helps me to keep delivering this awesome free content to you! I only recommend tools that I use and trust. Read my affiliate disclosure here.
For the purposes of this article, I’m only going to be comparing the free account to the basic account. In general, most business owners are primarily concerned with email, calendar, and file storage so I’ll focus on those first.
Gmail is Google’s email service. With a basic G Suite account you get:
The ability to connect your domain email
Create unlimited group email addresses that multiple users can monitor
Create up to 30 email aliases
Google will transition you from free Gmail to paid for free so that you don’t lose your old emails
So let’s look at what some of those things mean in a practical sense for your business.
If an email is going to be someone’s first impression of you and your business, do you want them to picture you working from your kitchen table after you get home from your day job, or do you want them to picture an actual professional office? If the brand feel you’re going for is kitchen table side hustle, then by all means use an @gmail.com address.
If you’ve already purchased your website domain it’s easy to connect it to Gmail. If you haven’t, you can also search and register your domain directly through your Google account.
Also keep in mind that most email marketing service providers do not allow you to use public email domains like @gmail.com, @outlook.com, etc. That’s because free email services are most often used by spammers. So again, be professional and get your own domain email.
An alias is an email you set up that looks like one thing but is actually delivered to another email. This isn’t quite as nefarious as it sounds. Here are some scenarios where they’d come in handy for your business:
Making you seem bigger than you are: if you’re a small startup or solopreneur you might want to give the impression that you have a team behind the scenes, so you set up multiple email aliases (i.e. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) for the public to use even though they ultimately all get delivered to your single inbox.
Productivity & organization: if you are doing #allthethings in your business, you can set these aliases to automatically sort into specific folders and then set specific times in your day for when you put on your different hats.
Catching mis-spelled email addresses: if you find that people often spell your email wrong, setting up an email alias to catch those can prevent you from missing emails and those potential customers from getting a delivery failure. For example, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, but I also have an alias set up for email@example.com because that’s the more common spelling.
You are running a temporary promotion, contest, job search, etc. and need a catchy email that doesn’t warrant setting up a new user
// Tip // If you have a team of people who are subcontractors and you need them to communicate directly with clients but a) you want to ensure they are representing you/your company and not their own, and b) you can’t currently afford to create unique user accounts for all of your subcontractors, here’s a solution: create 1 new user account for your ‘team’, then create aliases for all of your subcontractors. Make sure that they all have filters/labels automatically applied so at a glance it’s easy to separate out the emails to different aliases. Give your subcontractors the login info for this account so they can monitor and respond to the emails specifically for them.
With a basic G Suite account you get:
Shared calendars and team availability when you have multiple users
The ability to set working hours so external viewers (or team members) can see when you’re available
If you are a solo operation, the calendar for a paid account doesn’t have much more functionality than the free account.
If you have a team, giving them user accounts with calendars will make it sooooo much easier to plan meetings or see at a glance how much available time your team members have to work on tasks and projects. This will definitely make it easier to coordinate with clients and plan out timelines.
File Storage: Drive
Drive is Google’s file storage solution. With a basic G Suite account you get:
30GB of storage (instead of 15GB)
The ability to set default sharing settings for your documents for all users
The ability to set some security around your documents for all users (for example, they can access documents in the cloud but cannot download them locally
If you are a solo operation, the sharing and security won’t mean much to you, but the extra storage room might come in handy.
If you have a team and there are multiple people creating documents, having all of those accounts under your business account is important. Why? Because even if that person leaves, you own that account and have full control over those documents. If you invite people from outside of your domain to collaborate with you inside your Drive, the documents they create are owned by them, which means if they suddenly decide to remove or delete their stuff there is nothing you can do to get it back. And once that outside user is removed from being able to collaborate, all of their documents go with them.
// Tip // If your business is heavy with word documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations these could quickly fill up your storage quota. Instead of buying more space, convert your files to Google docs, sheets, and slides. These file formats do not take up space inside Google Drive which will leave you more room for photos, pdfs, and video files.
Other Awesome Benefits
Support: 24/7 phone, email and chat customer support.
Control over all Google Services under your domain. Did you know that Google has 10 core services and 48 additional services??? If you don’t want your team members to (accidentally or not) set up a blog, or a group, or a Google listing you can turn these services off for them. Or you can set up a group of users and only give them access to the services they need, like Google Analytics or search console.
Google Products in General
Webmail often has an interface that looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2000. Gmail is modern, has so much more functionality (including add-ons and integrations) AND it can be used offline.
No clunky and prone-to-crashing applications that you have to download and run on your computer. And if something happens to your computer, everything is online and in the cloud so you haven’t lost any emails or files.
Because Gmail, Drive, and the Google Calendar are so widely used, they are top of the list for other software providers when they are creating integrations for their own software. Things like:
Calendly, Book Like a Boss
All of the products work together under 1 login, so no more trying to remember your password for your email, and another for your file storage, and another for your video conferencing. Plus many of the services have deeper integration, like saving an attachment in your Gmail directly to Drive, or setting up a video Hangout and having it stream & record directly to your YouTube account.
So what is stopping you from upleveling to a professional solution for email, calendar, file storage, collaboration, chat and video conferencing, forms, and more?