Are you a photographer and do you want to showcase your work to the world? But you want to be able to sell your work and not only share it on social media? That sounds like you need a website that puts your work in the best life (pun intended) while giving you the tools to sell to and manage your clients.
A website builder specifically geared towards photographers is Smugmug. To be precise, it’s an online storage platform, come website builder, and photo sharing service. It can be considered a veteran in this niche, having been around since 2002.
- Pros and cons of Smugmug
- Who is Smugmug for?
- How easy is Smugmug to use?
- Smugmug design and templates
- How to manage your ecommerce store in Smugmug?
- Smugmug integrations
- What marketing and SEO tools does Smugmug have?
- Payment options
- Smugmug security
- Smugmug customer support
- Is Smugmug the right tool for you?
Pros and cons of Smugmug
As a website builder for the photography niche, you can create a custom website to display your images, sell prints, and distribute photos to clients. Moreover, it offers cloud storage (think Dropbox or Google Drive) for photographers so that you can store an unlimited number of full-resolution images.
- Ease of use
- You can search your work library by title, caption, or keywords
- Powerful customisation options
- Privacy settings for your work
- Add custom blocks for HTML and CSS
- No credit card details needed to sign up for an account
- Templates make your work look awesome
- No blogging feature
- If you sell a lot of prints, a 15% transaction fee may seem high
Who is Smugmug for?
Smugmug has clearly positioned itself to serve the needs of photographers. You see this not only in its design templates but also in that they offer cloud storage to store your work.
So, clearly, it serves photographers. But if you’re an artist – someone who wants to show and sell their visual work online, it’s also a robust choice.
How easy is Smugmug to use?
As with many website builders, Smugmug also lets you pick a template just after you sign up. During the setup process, you’ll upload your images to populate your galleries or portfolio.
The interface itself is uncluttered, easy to learn and to use. The top navigation gives you options to manage and sell your work. You can get an overview of all your images under the section “Photos” and organise them into folders and galleries. It has nifty features such as apply a watermark that automatically applies to all the images in a gallery. You can set up rules so that new images are automatically added to existing galleries.
As for customising how your site looks like, you’ll find Smugmugs website builder under “Photo Site”. It provides you many options to customise your site, so that the final result may no longer look anywhere near the original template.
You can drag and drop content elements where you need them and every content block has its own settings button for customisation. For those of you who don’t shy away from coding to get exactly what you want, you can add HTML and CSS blocks.
Smugmug design and templates
Although the choice of templates is relatively small compared to an all-purpose tool such as Wix, they’re all putting your work front and centre. The themes show off your work at their best regardless of the screen size of the device it’s viewed on.
How to manage your ecommerce store in Smugmug?
Every piece of art that is displayed on your site has a buy button that offers paper prints, wall art, desk art, and keepsakes. Under the section “Selling Tools” you’ll find everything you need to manage your store, from the sales history to taxes.
You can offer downloads or prints to your customers. Smugmug works directly with printing labs (BayPhoto, WHCC, EZPrints, Loxley Colour) for delivery. Although you can see Smugmug’s recommended prices, setting up prices for your work is less straightforward. In the help section, Smugmug explains that you keep 85% of the difference between the price you set and SmugMug’s default print prices.
If you want to offer photo shoots and sell prints separately, you probably want to have an invoicing option. Sadly, this is missing.
Smugmug lists third-party integration providers so that you can more easily upload or download your work. Note though how it emphasises third-party and that these were not developed by it.
What marketing and SEO tools does Smugmug have?
If you subscribe to its top plan, you’ll have access to its coupon system. Its marketing is limited to SEO tools.
First of all, if you want to optimise your site, you need to see your improvements. And for that, you add your Google Analytics to your site. Next, you can set the homepage meta description and meta keywords.
Of course, you want your images, folders, and galleries to be found too. For your images, you can set titles, captions, and keywords. For your folders, Smugmug lets you add meta descriptions and keywords. Galleries can have a title, description, and meta keywords.
There’s no dedicated blogging feature, but you can “hack” one together by using a special folder. As we have seen, a folder can have meta descriptions and keywords. Next, you create a page for your blog posts. You have to manually add all the elements you want for your blog post.
Smugmug takes care of how your customers pay them and then pay you your profits. Depending on your location, you’ll be paid via ACH (USA) or Paypal.
All sites built with Smugmug are secured with an SSL certificate. All plans include password protection for your photos, galleries, and pages.
Smugmug customer support
When you’re working away on your site, you can access its support centre by clicking the question mark symbol in the upper right-hand corner. Its support centre is searchable and well organised. If that doesn’t answer your question, you can reach out to Smugmugs “Support Hero” via email.
You can try out Smugmug for free for 14 days. It offers 4 plans ranging from $7 to $42 per month which puts it on a similar level with Squarespace.
Is Smugmug the right tool for you?
As a photographer, or in general a creative individual, you’d want a professional place to show your works of art. If you want a website builder that focuses on putting your work in the best light, while also making it very easy for you to upload and manage it, consider Smugmug. Smugmug concentrates on making your photos look awesome while helping you sell them.
However, if you rely on blogging or need more advanced marketing options, you’re likely happier with Squarespace.