If you are interested in getting started today with SmugMug, use the SmugMug Coupon of “STUCKINCUSTOMS” to save 20% off ALL their packages. That will save you money on an already affordable product. You’ll love it!
Which package should you get? I suggest either of the SmugMug Pro packages because I think you’ll end up using all the features. If you wanna sell your photos, be sure to get the SmugMug Pro Business account.
Why I use SmugMug Pro
SmugMug put together this little video… I think it came out pretty well! BTW, they didn’t pay for this or anything… it’s just a cool video, so that is why I’m sharing it!
A Great Interface
Maybe a great example of a portfolio at StuckInCustoms.SmugMug.com. Check it out and I think you will like it!
I wanted my photography portfolio to immediately start with a slideshow, almost full screen, and then slowly meander through some of my favorite shots. Also, I wanted to allow people to interrupt the slideshow at any time. I figured they may want to see more information, or perhaps they quickly want to jump to another image.
An online portfolio is a tricky thing! While it doesn’t need to be all things to all people, it should allow for the most common “viewer behaviors”. First, many people simply just want to sit back and see something pretty flowing into their world. Second, other more “clicky” people will want the power to quickly move around and surf throughout the portfolio on their own.
I chose to Customize SmugMug even further with a custom theme
Easy to Use
I am a very advanced “computer and internet user”. However, that does NOT mean that I prefer to use clunky interfaces and badly designed websites! I want things to be easy and obvious. I don’t have time to read manuals, help pages, and go back and forth on forums to figure out how to do something.
Creating an account on SmugMug was very simple, and getting my photos up was a piece of cake. There are SO many ways to get your photos online — it’s crazy. I imported all of my Flickr photos right into SmugMug with just a few different clicks. Of course, you can also upload right from your computer in the usual way, or by using iPhoto, Lightroom, Aperture, or any other major program.
Not everyone likes to provide the full-size images, and you can set how big the images are, and if people are allowed to download them. Also, you can set your own prices for downloading or printing… makes some extra$$!
After you have your files up, navigating and arranging is very simple as well. SmugMug was designed by people that know what they are doing. You can have multiple galleries and everything you would need is there waiting for you.
My Images are Safe
I think of SmugMug as a “Digital Lockbox” for my images. I can store the max-resolution versions of all my images there and not worry about them. They have another option, if you so choose, where they use Amazon S3 to store your RAW or TIFF files permanently as well. That’s great! I do think it is smart, nowadays, to store your images in multiple locations.
To be frank, whenever I get a new online backup solution of my world, I feel pretty awesome about myself. That niggling “worry” evaporates, and I can once again relax and have a cappuccino in peace.
Also, SmugMug is incredibly “Open”. What does that mean? It means that, while they store the images, they do not “own” them and make them difficult to access in the future. There are all sorts of services I can use to copy my images down to my computer or move them to another online service. There is a powerful API that is open to developers, and they have created a myriad of programs to ensure my images are easily movable, should the need ever arise.
You can Make Money with SmugMug! (Pro Version Only)
Yes! Now all of your photos can make millions of dollars! Hehe, well, not really… BUT, you can make some extra money on the side by turning on various options.
- You can charge people to download digital versions of your photos and set different prices for professional and personal use.
- You can set pricing for Prints. Pick the size offerings and the costs. You can get up to 85% markup. That’s a great profit margin!
- You can also sell merchandise. Smart!
Maybe you are a soccer mom that takes good pictures at the games and then wants to put them up on SmugMug, email the team, and then let parents buy photos. Easy! BTW, that’s not a bad idea is it? You know you already take pretty good pics (beter than those other parents), so why not make a little money off it!
Or maybe you take photos that are a bit different than everyone else in the world, but you have never quite found the perfect place to both host your portfolio and your storefront. This is a perfect solution, and it is so inexpensive to get started.
Below is a screenshot of a sale I had on SmugMug. You can see the customer bought four images. You can also see the base cost (what I pay) and the customer cost (what they pay). The difference in between is my profit. You can set your prices to whatever you wish.
If you want some of these services, you will have to get the SmugMug Pro account. You get so many other features, it is totally worth it. Just think — you basically get to start an online photography business for really cheap! This sort of thing just was not possible a few years ago in an easy and simple way.
If, on the other hand, you want to take things to the “fine art” sales level, that is possible too. There are many print options that you will find available.
Starting an Online Photography Business (or Art Business!)
I can’t tell you how many emails I get from people asking me how to start an online photo business. Or, an art business – to SmugMug, it’s the same thing, really. The solution of starting an online business has always been a hit-and-miss mish mash of technologies that I’ve had to recommend before.
For $149.99 a year (Even cheaper with 20% off STUCKINCUSTOMS SmugMug Coupon), you have all the tools and infrastructure you need to start out!
In years past, you might have been forced to spend thousands of dollars on a website and integrate a clunky e-commerce solution that was more trouble than it was worth. Putting together a payment mechanism for your customers is no small task. There are already a lot of Pros on SmugMug that have helped to shape the photographer and client experience so everything is perfect.
If you are a wedding photographer, then this is an amazing way to get quality work to your clients. I know many wedding photographers that swear by SmugMug — and they are right to do so!
And..being optimistic… you really don’t have to sell THAT much to make up for the yearly fee, do you?
If you do not want to sell your photos, then you can choose one of the other options on SmugMug, which are very well priced. I’ve been paying Flickr for years and years… and I can’t believe how much more value I get out of SmugMug for a comparable price.
SmugMug is a good company!
I visited the SmugMug headquarters out in California, just south of San Francisco. I was able to spend time with some of the owners and founders. I was surprised that it was a family-run company! Several of the people at the company are blood relatives, but they treat everyone there like a member of the family. They even had an in-house chef who made us a homemade meal that would knock your socks off. The last time I had that much organic food, I was feeding off the land in Patagonia. It was more than enough roughage to clean me out. Thanks SmugMug!
But, honestly, these people at SmugMug are top notch. I was impressed by the whole experience, and there is no doubt in my mind that the team at SmugMug will continue to innovate and make the best possible experience available to their users.
Excellent Video Quality on SmugMug
And not just that, but you can also host hi-res video at the site. More and more photographers are starting to add video into the mix, and SmugMug is a great host for video!
I posted a few videos on Flickr and I was appalled by the quality. Slow. Choppy. Disappointing. Who needs that?
Besides the much better quality from SmugMug, I simply like the “presentation” of the video. It just fits and feels right.
A great community – smaller than Flickr, but different
People on SmugMug are true photo-lovers. Already, I think that photographers are some of the kindest people in the world, and you will find this is also the case at SmugMug. I lament, personally, that I am often too busy to engage in the community, but it is nice to know they are there.
I notice that Photography is a bit of a “talkin-sport” where people enjoy talking about photography as much as they enjoy doing it! There are ample opportunities for this around SmugMug.
Even better, there are often real-life meetup events! I’ve been to a few of these with their Community Organizer Candice Cunningham. I find that people really like to get together and hear about, engage in, and practice photography. These events have always been great fun, and I’ve met wonderful people at them. In this digital-internet-world, it’s nice that people like Candice are running around creating a fun sense around the sport!
Flickr also has a good community, but it can also be a strange community. People “game” the system by submitting to strange groups just to get views. It all seems a little forced to me sometimes and unnatural. Just like with Flickr, you will get out of SmugMug what you put into it.
Negatives of SmugMug
I know there are a lot of photo sharing websites out there. Most of my experience is with Flickr. There are many gripes I have with Flickr, and SmugMug solves most of them.
One thing SmugMug does not have is the millions of people that Flickr has. This means your photo may not be discovered quite as much by other photographers. Also, I have a huge existing network of friends on Flickr, which may not move over to SmugMug, so I have splintered my network a little bit. That is okay to a certain degree, because it is most important to me that the average viewer on the site sees the photo nice and big.
Another negative of SmugMug is that it costs earth money. This is not a big deal, since I find it incredibly inexpensive for what you get. I’m not one of these people that thinks everything on the web should be free, but I know some people are like that. However, another way I justify this is that they are storing my very very very important images in a secure way. That is worth a lot.
I address some of the main concerns below.
A New Way of Thinking: Flickr vs. SmugMug
I got some interesting comments below, so I wanted to talk about new ways to think about your photography audience. I have been thinking this for a while but have never communicated it.
Flickr is great, and I have obviously loved it for many years. But, there is a serious “bubble” limitation.
Here on StuckInCustoms.com, we have an interesting demographic. Of the 500K pageviews, half are photographers and half are just “fans”. The thing is with Flickr, that you just get 100% “photographers”.
So, if you make the center of your digital world Flickr, then it is “All photographers, all the time.” This is fine — but in that world, only photographers see your work. It’s a bit like being an oil painter in a museum that only oil painters go to. Does that make sense?
If you want to make an impressive “presence” on the web, you need a pretty “center” for your vision. This can either be a blog or a nice portfolio page that doubles as a business.
Whatever the center of your photography world is, make the images big and beautiful. You want your photos to look their best as soon as you get someone’s attention, right? So why do you want their first experience to be a 400 pixel wide blip on a page filled with noisy comments that have ugly badges to advertise one group versus another.
Many of you may disagree with me — that is fine. This is how I see the world. I think that everyone in the world loves photography, so it’s good to get out of the “bubble”.
This is pretty cool. As of writing this (April of 2011), I already have over 40 million views on SmugMug, and I’ve only been there about a year. It took about 5 years to get to 22 million views on Flickr. Why this is – I am not sure… but SmugMug is doing a great job of serving up images! I think you will probably agree everything is pretty speedy, even though it is a media-rich site.
Make your Online Portfolio Unique – Customize it
You can further customize your SmugMug page to make it totally unique. For more, see the “Customize SmugMug” page.
Here is a sample from Justin Busa, just one of several customization options for your online portfolio.
For more, see the “Customize SmugMug” page.
Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Visit my Ethics Statement. It’s all quite simple!