Zenfolio vs. Smugmug: Part 2 – Price and Workflow

For those following along, this is part two in my quest to determine which online hosting service I will choose for selling photos.  Part 1 can be found here.

Update: Part 3 and 11 Month Follow-Up now posted!

The main purpose for me to subscribe to a photo hosting site is to allow users to purchase my photos and get them printed and delivered to their door with minimal work on my part.  For this to fit into a business model, it’s necessary that I can set my prices so that I can at least break even — if not make a profit.  What this means for me is that I will need to subscribe to something above the basic hosting packages offered by both Zenfolio and SmugMug.

In order to accomplish this with Zenfolio’s service, I would need to subscribe to the Premium Plan as shown on their site here.  This package would allow me to use my own domain name, as well as set whatever prices I wanted.  While I’m not out to make a lot (if any — especially for friends and family snapshots), I would like to think my time and effort are worth something.  Pricing for the Premium Plan is $100 for a full year.

On the other hand, to accomplish this with SmugMug, I would need to sign up for a Professional Account as shown here.  This package would also allow my own domain name.

Both services offer unlimited photo hosting as well as unlimited bandwidth.  The major feature differences I can see right now from doing a direct comparison is that SmugMug allows digital downloads (with prices I choose) as well as CSS customizable themes.  On the other hand, Zenfolio is $50 cheaper.


Workflow between the two services seems to be pretty much a wash.  There are Adobe Lightroom export plugins by Jeffrey Friedl for both his Zenfolio Plugin and SmugMug Plugin.  I’ll be sure to evaluate how they work during my trial period.  This is a key workflow issue for me since I really don’t want to be forced to upload photos individually due to the quantity of time it would take.

As soon as I’m sure I will have the time to properly evaluate the full feature list, I will be sure to sign up for trials and give more in depth critique / comparisons.

Also, I want to thank Mark MacAskill from SmugMug for commenting on my previous post.  I’ll be sure to check out he features he mentioned once I get a trial account.