Smugmug Follow-Up

Some of the most popular posts here have been my SmugMug vs. Zenfolio review I wrote around 11 months ago.  While I am very content with my decision to go with SmugMug, I felt it was appropriate to write a bit of a follow up for those curious with my thoughts after this amount of time.

Background Information

I began my search for an online photo hosting service to market my photography about 11 months ago.  During this process, I began documenting my experiences with both Zenfolio and SmugMug as I attempted to make a decision.  My criteria had mainly to do with my ability to easily place photos online, allow customers easy access and above all, provide exceptional print service.  Furthermore, I wanted to maintain a consistent look and feel to my online presence so I wanted to be able to customize the look and feel of the photo hosting site to match that of my main web page.  With those ideas in mind, I wrote the following articles analyzing my experiences.

As is discussed in the third article, I decided to go with SmugMug and have been very pleased.  My SmugMug powered site can be found here, or by clicking on the “Photos” item in the menu bar at the top of this page.

SmugMug Summary

My contentment with SmugMug has grown over the last 11 months and for my needs, I’m confident I made the right decision.

To start with, SmugMug has continued to provide user updates.  Their pricing interface has improved dramatically since I began using it.  It looks very similar, but is simply much more functional as they have performed subtle upgrades that allow me to price photos in a quick and simple manner.

Additionally, it seems to me that there have been some server upgrades going on behind the scenes.  While I never found the service to be slow, I have noticed that it seems much snappier as of recent – especially when performing administrative tasks.  It is these types of updates that really make me a satisfied user as it appears that the people running SmugMug are attempting to keep things running smoothly without waiting for problems to arise.  I can only wish more online services where this proactive in their approach to customer service.

The final, and perhaps the most notable update since I have been using SmugMug is the addition of Bay Photo as a printing service.  While their prices are a bit higher than the former EZ Prints, their service is second to none from my experience.  This is not to say that I no longer use EZ Prints, but for all my more artistic work, Bay Photo is my first choice.

SmugMug Print Quality

To be honest, I have done very little printing on my own.  However, I printed enough from both EZ Prints and Bay Photo to know that either will print beautiful photos.  As mentioned above, I have switched all of my more artistic work over to Bay Photo printing.  While I’m not sure all of my customers will be able to appreciate the difference, Bay Photo is known for it’s superb color correction.  While I feel that my images do stand on their own with regards to color accuracy, I like knowing that someone will be ensuring that they print as good as they look on my screen.  For those curious, this service is an extra charge when using Bay Photo but for me, I feel it’s worth while.  It is possible to disable by the site owner (not by the customer).

NIKON D50 @ 62mm — ¹/160 sec, ƒ/7.1, ISO 200 | zoom in
Moody Cornfield

Metallic prints can be really fun for certain scenes.  I have had the above photo printed using the EZ Prints Metallic service and it came out stunning!  The golds of the corn really stood out and made the entire photo quite dramatic.  I have yet to order a metallic print of the same image from Bay Photo, but I am confident that it would be just as gorgeous!  Both EZ Prints and Bay Photo offer metallic printing in most sizes which is a huge asset for me.  If you’re so inclined, clicking here will take you to the above photo in SmugMug where you could, if you wanted, order a copy for yourself.  It will be printed by Bay Photo and you can select any of their printing styles including Metallic.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m very happy with SmugMug.  I feel that the service they provide is excellent and I have no problem recommending them to anyone who is interested in selling their photos, but doesn’t want to go through the hassle and expense of setting up a custom purchasing interface.

If you’re so inclined to check them off, you can save yourselves $5.00 by signing up using my coupon code cbGIGu2TvRQWM, or by clicking here.  Not only will this make the initial cost a bit less, but it will save me a few dollars when it comes time to renew my membership!

7 thoughts on “Smugmug Follow-Up

  1. I am a Shutterfly user for I think 5 years now but I got curious when I read your post about Smugmug and so I peeked onto the site. Well, I can say that will try their photo hosting service because I noticed that the site is faster. But of course, I will always love shutterfly :)

  2. I’ve been with SmugMug for over a year myself and have recently started looking into Zenfolio because of the range in products it offers for my clients — frames, square-size prints, gift items, etc. SmugMug is definitely cooler in appearance, but the all-in-one shop is pretty attractive too.

  3. I really feel that Zenfolio has changed a lot since I evaluated it. SmugMug does offer some gift products, but from the sounds of things, Zenfolio offers more.

    If you do switch, I’d be curious to hear how you like Zenfolio. I firmly believe that both services are attractive, but for very different reasons.

  4. Which of the two sites has the larger audience? I tend to lean to Smugmug because of Bay Photo, but Mpix also has a good rep. Have there been specific improvements that might now give Zen Folio the edge? Are there any particular features you would miss if you switched to ZF?

  5. @Stan – At this point, I really don’t know who has the larger audience. Form what I’ve found at SmugMug (though I haven’t done a lot of public galleries there, mostly private for customers) you really have to drive your own traffic there. I have gotten minimal from the SmugMug community. However, they do have groups (such as Nature Photographers) you can join which may give you some traffic.

    Since I never went live with Zenfolio, I really don’t know how much traffic I would have seen that was created by the site itself. I would assume that most of the traffic would have to, again, be generated by the user.

    I’m tempted to contact Zenfolio and see if I can get another trial through them. Since I only did a one month trial a year ago, I don’t know exactly what might have changed. I do really enjoy the customization offered by SmugMug which I now I would miss if I went to Zenfolio.

  6. Thanks so much for your reply. It clarifies the point that whatever hosty you use, the user has to generate the traffic with Google Ads or whatever. What about the public ones like Stockphoto and others? Any reviews of them out there? I will Google, but would also appreciate your thoughts.

  7. @Stan – Welcome back! Since I last commented, I’ve actually switched over to Zenfolio. The cost comparison I did somewhat swayed my decision.

    My quick look at sites such as Stockphoto are that they are very much catered towards stock photo shooters while both SmugMug and Zenfolio are more catered towards event photography or general galleries.

    As far as driving traffic towards your site, I highly recommend using a photo hosting service for the gallery portion of a photographers website and host the rest of the site on your own domain. The reason for this is that it can give you a great opportunity to draw traffic to your website and push it towards your gallery. Not to mention that if you decide to switch galleries you won’t have to start from scratch for new traffic.

    Just my thoughts! If you have any more questions, feel free to comment or contact me directly.

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