Curtis Wilcox wrote: “Have you never heard of a loss leader? Have you never heard of “freemium” products or services?”
Loss leader is a good match for Cloudflare’s DNS service, not so much for google mass-market services. Google definitely has customers–advertisers. gmail and their other ‘free’ services exist solely to attract the fodder–user data–that they indirectly sell to their real customers.
Google’s mass-market services aren’t freemium either, because you can’t get a paid account from google unless you’re a business or institution, and even then they routinely violate user privacy so they can make more advertisers more happy. (Makes google more happy too, since now they’re collecting money from both sides.) E.g., storing K-12 student data (which is protected by FERPA) for the future, then when the student stops being a student, they start monetizing all that stored data. They say 'oops, it was an accident and won’t happen again. Then it happens again.
My still current recommendation for email is Fastmail.com, even though they had a bout of dropping some tidbits mail on the floor a while ago (not enough to get me unsubbed). $50 per year if you want to use your own domains. They include more features than just email–you can host static web pages, and they also have webdav, caldav and carddav for file, calendar and contacts syncing needs. The $50 account gets you 25 GB email space plus 10 GB of file space. ($90 gets you 100 GB / 50 GB.)
I’ve run my own mail server for many years, and $50 a year is a good price for reliable service that won’t go belly up or sell out to a data aggregator. If only they’d add mailing lists for an extra fee, I’d drop my own server in a nanosecond. Mail servers, especially for outgoing mail, are a constant hassle and need a surprising amount of care and feeding–just ask Adam!
One other possibility that I don’t have experience with might be to move the domains to gandi.net. They include what looks like nice fairly basic email features in the domain registration fee, and also caldav. But afaict they don’t include web sites or carddav, or mail service for domains that they don’t host. I also don’t know how well they work. Getting a domain there to try it out is on my list, but not all that high up.