What the heck is DNS or SPF?! If that's your first thought, be warned that you may need some time (or help) to wrap your head around this.

This tutorial is for you if:

  • You connected your email via SMTP Server in Email Settings.

  • You have a custom email hosting provider, like Bluehost, Dreamhost, GoDaddy, Hostgator, Hostinger, etc.

  • Your email hosting provider is NOT Microsoft, Hotmail, Outlook.com, Live.com, Apple Mail (mac.com, me.com), Yahoo Mail, Zoho Mail or AOL Mail.

This tutorial is NOT for you if:

  • You connected your email via SMTP Server and your email hosting provider is one of the following: Microsoft, Hotmail, Outlook.com, Live.com, Apple Mail (mac.com, me.com), Yahoo Mail, Zoho Mail or AOL Mail.

  • You connected your email via Default Server in Email Settings.

Understanding DNS records

Before we begin, it's useful to understand the acronyms:

  • DNS stands for "Domain Name System". DNS is the phonebook of the Internet and is responsible for converting domains (e.g. studioninja.co, yourphotographycompany.com) into Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (e.g. 173.194.39.78).

  • Domain Name System (DNS) records are used to provide specific, important details for your domain. The simplest way to understand how DNS records work is to think of it as a phonebook listing.

    • Domain name servers = like a phonebook

    • Domain = like a name listing

    • DNS records = like phone numbers and addresses within the listing

    A DNS record and the information contained within provides sufficient data to route your domain’s traffic accordingly.

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records, which are one type of DNS records, specify what mail servers are permitted to send email from your domain. By adding an SPF record, you will be telling your domain that Studio Ninja's mail server is allowed to send emails from your domain, thus marking any emails you send from Studio Ninja as legitimate (i.e. not fake or phishing). This reduces the risk of such emails going to your recipients' spam or junk mailbox.

Find help articles written by your provider

Next, try searching for a help article on adding SPF records that is written specifically by your domain hosting provider. Here are some examples:

Common steps

If you have a custom email hosting provider, you will need login access to your domain provider's DNS management interface to add an SPF record.

Here are common steps encountered when adding an SPF record but they may not match yours exactly because the DNS management interface will behave differently for different providers.

  1. Login - Login to your cPanel or account.

  2. Go to the DNS Zone Editor - This is where you can manage your DNS records. It can also be called DNS, DNS Management, etc. Note: If you cannot locate your DNS Zone Editor, please contact your provider.

  3. Add a DNS record.

  4. Choose "TXT" if you are asked what type of DNS record you're adding.

  5. You may encounter such input fields:

    1. Name - Enter your domain name or leave blank

    2. Type - Choose "TXT"

    3. TTL - Enter "14400"

    4. Value (can also be Record Value, TXT Value, etc) - Copy and paste the value as shown in your Studio Ninja account's SPF Record Checker popup:


      Note: this is an example. The value that you should use is unique to your account. Please refer to your own account's SPF Record Checker by going to Settings > Email Settings > SMTP Server.

  6. To save this record, click "Add Record" or "Save".

  7. After adding an SPF record, it may take up to 24 hours for SPF authentication to start working. Studio Ninja will check your SPF record every 15 mins and inform you once it’s been found.

Google Workspace (formerly G Suite)

If your email is powered by Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite), you may also have a custom domain e.g. janedoephotography.com

To reduce the risk of your emails going to spam, we recommend that you:

  1. Follow the steps above to add an SPF record in your domain provider's DNS management area with the following value:

    v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com include:spf.studioninja.co ~all


    However, if you already have an existing record, make sure your record contains "include:spf.studioninja.co" as part of the value.

  2. Authenticate your emails with DKIM authentication via Google Admin Console:

    1. Log in

    2. Go to Apps > Google Workspace > Gmail > Authenticate Email

    3. Generate a code and enter the host name + TXT record value into your DNS TXT record with your domain provider (same place as the above SPF record)

At the end of the day, you will have two TXT records (one SPF, one DKIM) added to your domain provider's DNS management area.

Help! I'm lost.

At any point, if you're unsure what to do, please contact your domain hosting provider to ask for help. They can also help you add an SPF record that contains the TXT value as shown in the SPF Record Checker popup in your Studio Ninja account's Email Settings (if your email is connected via SMTP Server).

Other ways to avoid emails going to spam

If you've added a valid SPF record successfully, and you are still having issues with emails going to spam, there are other steps you can take, such as DKIM, etc. Click here to learn more about other methods.

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